A Day of Football
Posted Dec. 21 at 07:29 PM
It snowed, sleeted, and froze all day Sunday -- no going outside and no getting off the couch. Perfect opportunity for a real-time wrap up of 3-plus hours of Sunday football, so let's get to it.
12 noon EST: I make the decision to bench Brett Favre for the likes of Shaun Hill and Dan Orlovsky. What can I do? A year ago I lost a Super Bowl starting him at Chicago in week 16; I'm not going to ignore the lesson of that experience. Judging by the pictures in New England I should really bench Larry Fitzgerald too, but there's just nobody available who I can realistically consider over him. I leave Larry in the lineup and cross my fingers for a short pass becoming a long TD when a defensive back falls down.
1 p.m.: Blizzard in New England. Every play seems to have the potential to be a turnover. Two bad pass defenses seem to be protected. Sammy Morris looks like he's going to be huge. Tim Hightower looks like his future is as a goal-line specialist, period. New England goes down and scores an easy TD, albeit with LaMont Jordan in at the goal line for Morris.
Quick TD for Miami: long kick return, end-around scoring play by Ted Ginn. Followed by an easy interception of Tyler Thigpen. Ball appeared to have been knocked down by the wind.
Quick TD for the Saints. Also on a WR end-around, interestingly enough.
Bengals INT return touchdown, showing the wisdom of starting a bad defense against an even worse quarterback.
Beautiful 43-yard touchdown from Orlovsky to Calvin Johnson wiped out by an illegal formation penalty on Detroit's first-round offensive tackle. Thanks, rookie. Orlovsky then intercepted. I could have left Favre in the lineup.
1:30 p.m.: Thigpen nice throw for a TD to Devard Darling, who of course no one started.
B.J. Askew TD in Tampa Bay. Fullbacks scoring touchdowns, the bane of fantasy owners everywhere.
Patriots go up 14-0. Only a matter of time before Cardinals pull Warner and Fitzgerald and head for the bus. Can they forfeit the second half? You know they want to.
Early highlight of the day: a ref, unable to get out of the way of Rams' running back Kenneth Darby, flattens him with a forearm shiver to the jaw. Hilarious.
Sweet scramble by Philip Rivers to hit Gates for a touchdown. I start to believe the Chargers can win in Tampa Bay.
Saints go up 14-0 on the Lions. Deuce McAllister with his last Saints TD? Possible. Unless he scores again later in the period, of course, which can hardly be seen as unlikely.
Looks like the Titans are going to cost Albert Haynesworth the Defensive Player of the Year. Their defense looks just fine against Pittsburgh without the injured tackle.
Kevin Faulk catches a TD. The Cardinals have allowed a running back to catch a touchdown in six straight games. Remarkable.
2 p.m.: Chargers driving again. What has happened to the Bucs defense?
Justin Gage TD. Maybe their string of huge, tight, emotional games has finally caught up with the Steelers. Or maybe they don't really want the top seed and likely matchup with the Colts in the second round of the playoffs. As I type, Roethlisberger hits Holmes with a perfect throw for a touchdown. Can't ever write the Steelers off, it appears.
Orlovsky has Calvin Johnson open for a touchdown and throws behind him. Well, he is Dan Orlovsky. Lions get a flag on the next play, however, to keep the drive alive. Kevin Smith TD.
Vernon Davis loses a fumble. Tough to blame him, he's so unaccustomed to having the football in his hands.
Jeremy Shockey drops a pass. An all-too-familiar scene this year.
Beautiful TD throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Chris Henry. A minute later, a beautiful TD catch by David Martin from Chad Pennington. Wow.
Big play from Thigpen to Jamaal Charles, who gets caught from behind by Yeremiah Bell short of the goal line. That shouldn't happen. Larry Johnson scores. A few minutes later, Anthony Fasano scores. A fairly unlikely shootout is going on here.
Shaun Hill throws 3rd INT. I'm wondering if he'll be benched at halftime. Really regretting benching Favre for this guy, bad weather in Seattle or no. Hill apparently has a lot of family in the stands, including his Mom and Grandma, whom Fox shows repeatedly. It would be awkward to bench Hill, but it seems inevitable at this point.
2:30 p.m.: Lot of games at halftime, but Kansas City isn't yet and there's Tyler Thigpen running for a touchdown. Playing like his future as Kansas City's starter depended on it, which of course it does.
Randy Moss takes a quick outlet pass for a long touchdown. Patriots up 38-0. Glad I didn't have Matt Cassel to bench him anywhere, though I'm sure many did. Who knew? It's a blizzard in New England. Stuff like that isn't supposed to happen.
Titans take the lead on Pittsburgh, San Diego takes lead back at Tampa Bay (after a Garcia touchdown for Bucs). Finally the Chargers have a sense of urgency, when it's probably too late. I guess the Bills could win at Denver; stranger things have happened.
3 p.m.: They're showing Hill's family, and then they cut to Mike Martz talking to J.T. O'Sullivan. Uh-oh. (Hill remains in the game, but he's 8 for 21 -- he's not going to turn things around. Bad decision to start him by me. Last year's lesson (avoid bad weather) is currently being trumped by this year's lesson (avoid bad players). Sometimes fantasy football will drive you crazy.
Brief peek at Browns-Bengals, where hopefully you didn't start anyone but the Bengals D and Cedric Benson. Browns working on their fifth straight game without scoring an offensive touchdown. Amazing.
Dolphins tie up Kansas City. Kansas City drives right back down the field, but Thigpen overthrows a wide-open Dwayne Bowe, and then is intercepted on the next play.
Matt Leinart is in at quarterback. Larry Fitzgerald is still out on the field diving around for errant throws. Good for Larry, I'm proud to have made you the first wideout drafted in my dynasty league two years ago. Leinart is then sacked and fumbles it away. Kurt Warner's price just went up.
Rivers to Sproles, who as always looks like the fastest guy on the field and makes a huge play for a touchdown.
3:30 p.m.: Jeff Garcia gets blasted at the end of the run and gets up with blood streaming down his face. Wow. A few plays later he throws a pass that's tipped and intercepted, returned for a game-clinching defensive touchdown. No need to worry about Denver resting players: they've got to win.
Back to San Fran; I realize no one else cares, sorry. Shaun Hill, who's probably only still in the game because of the family thing, leads the 49ers on a TD drive, capped by a scoring pass to Isaac Bruce -- the 1000th catch of Bruce's career. No. 998 looked like he didn't get either foot down, let alone two, but whatever.
Touchdown Dolphins. Tricky little 3rd and 4 play, dump pass to Fasano over the middle. Gotta hand it to the Dolphins. Coaching staff of the year down there, I think.
4 p.m.: Shaun Hill to Josh Morgan for a 48-yard TD. Oh my heavens. I'm not even sure that Morgan was the intended receiver on the play; it looked like Jason Hill was supposed to catch it, but Morgan came in and got it (that's right, two 49ers receivers beat the Rams secondary at a critical moment for a possible game-winning touchdown. Regardless, suddenly Hill has 216 passing yards and 2 TDs. Wow.
Larry Fitzgerald catches a long TD, suddenly achieving a good fantasy day. You've gotta love him being on the field making plays in a blowout loss in New England with other key starters sidelined. Win or lose, there's something to be said for a player who goes the extra mile for his owners like that. Players continuing to play hard and come up with big plays for no other reason than they're professionals; you've gotta appreciate that.
Postscript: Some wild late games. Washington stuns Philadelphia; Eagles end up a foot short of the tying touchdown in a play that eerily recalled Steelers-Ravens last week. DeSean Jackson also appeared to drop a touchdown. ... Bills rise up and upset the Broncos in Denver, setting up a Chargers-Broncos division title battle next week -- fitting after the way the officials blew a call resulting in the Broncos winning the earlier meeting. ... Falcons win in Minnesota. Is that surprising? How can anyone be surprised by the Falcons winning anymore.
And oh yeah, I made the right decision to bench Favre. Unfortunately.
Andy watches as much football as he can each Sunday. If you've got some observations of your own, feel free to add your comments below.
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