Jaguars 24, Giants 10New York coach Tom Coughlin's underachieving, stacked-with-talent team faced off against his former team, which often was tagged as an underachiever despite being stacked with talent during his stint as head coach. "Um, lack of discipline!" offered Coughlin to explain why neither team ever lived up to expectations. "Being the great coach that I am, I try and I try to instill some discipline to these youngsters, but they always want to do things like 'adjust our strategy to game situations' or 'concentrate on game film instead of arguing about who was three minutes late to a mandatory meeting.' I just can't work like this!"
Exhibit A in Coughlin's case was Giants running back Tiki Barber, who was held to just 27 yards rushing. "Between my poor performance and Eli Manning throwing two interceptions, I guess we really ruined Coach's homecoming," Barber sighed deeply. "I don't know why we didn't play harder considering this game was so important to him and we certainly want to do everything we could possibly do to make such a charming, pleasant guy happy."
Titans 31, Eagles 13Much like the groundhog seeing his shadow or the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, Donovan McNabb's season-ending injury is an annual event NFL fans look forward to all year.
"Torn ACL?" asked Titans wide receiver Bo Scaife. "Where does the time go? I suppose I'd better start my Christmas shopping." With McNabb missing the end of the season for the third time in the last five years, the Eagles now have to decide whether to hand quarterbacking duties over to Jeff Garcia or A.J. Feeley—the football equivalent of deciding between having sex with the girl with chlamydia or the girl with gonorrhea.
Steelers 24, Browns 20Pittsburgh celebrated victory over one of the franchise's oldest and greatest rivals, thanks to a come-from-behind touchdown pass with just over thirty seconds left in the game. Lost in the excitement was the fact that the defending Super Bowl champions needed a last-minute rally to snatch a win from an awful Cleveland team they beat 41-0 last year just to keep from falling into the AFC North basement.
The Steelers didn't have much time to celebrate their second straight win, already looking ahead to division-leading Baltimore. "The Ravens are tough, but we have a strategy we haven't tried all season," hinted head coach Bill Cowher. "We're considering not spotting them three touchdowns before we attempt a comeback this time. It's just crazy enough to work."
Chargers 35, Broncos 27LaDainian Tomlinson, who set an NFL record by scoring 15 touchdowns in his previous five games, set another NFL record with 19 touchdowns in his last six games. The San Diego running back also became the fastest player in history to rack up 100 career touchdowns, doing so in four fewer games than Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith needed.
"Clearly he's a very special player who is bound for Canton, and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest players every to strap on the pads and helmets," mused teammate Antonio Gates. "On a related note, does everyone remember that I'm the greatest tight end in the game? My unique combination of size, strength, speed, agility, and baby-butt-soft hands is redefining the position and makes me virtually impossible to defend... when anyone bothers to actually get me the damn ball, instead of just giving it to Mr. MVP-to-be."
Panthers 15, Rams 0Steve Smith got his touchdown, the only one anyone scored all day. Carolina notched one of three shutouts in the NFL this afternoon, each of which helped prove that watching teams not score points really isn't much fun.
"It's a good thing he broke that 62-yarder when he did," a half-asleep Panthers fan in a recliner at home recounted. "Heading into halftime, we'd seen one field goal, St. Louis had 33 yards of offense, and that pillow that Tony Little invented on the other channel was starting to look pretty good. He dropped a ten pound barbell on those eggs and they didn't break, and the feather pillow didn't even slow it down!"
Buccaneers 20, Redskins 17Tampa Bay's rematch of last year's divisional playoff game with Washington reminded everyone that these two pathetic shells were actually playoff teams just one year ago. Cadillac Williams rushed for 122 yards, long after all but the most desperate fantasy owners had given up on starting the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"Every so often I like to put forth a modicum of effort," Williams laughed, "to make guys smack their foreheads and wonder aloud why they're starting Wali Lundy or Leon Washington when they drafted me in the late-first or early-second round. Then, just when I know they're going to start me next week, I'll run for twelve yards on eleven carries, fumble twice, and sit out the entire second half for no reason. It's fun for me—I enjoy crushing spirits."
Bears 10, Jets 0Last week's upset victory over the hated Patriots was exciting, but such highly-charged games tend to angry up the blood and the digestive system. "Sure, it was exciting," agreed Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, "but doctors advised us we should take it easy or we could get ulcers." Chicago, visiting the Meadowlands for the second straight week, obliged New York by setting out to have the dullest game possible.
"I have to admit," agreed Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, "after coming from behind to rally so strongly and ultimately dominate the Giants last week was a thrill, but it felt nice to just relax and half-ass our way through a game." Led by Grossman's five-yard passing performance in the first half, the Bears managed to keep the game scoreless until the third quarter, not scoring a touchdown until the fourth. "I know the stands are full of people who paid more to rent those seats their families are sitting in for three hours than they did for their first car, and they deserve a good game, but sometimes I just need a little 'Rex Time.' Is that so wrong?"
Chiefs 17, Raiders 13Quarterbacks Trent Green and Aaron Brooks both returned to the helms of their respective teams. Not that that really matters, since—as always—the game hinged on Chiefs rusher Larry Johnson, who ran for 154 yards and scored two touchdowns.
"It's great to having Trent back. Concussions are always a scary thing, especially one that takes you out of the game for ten weeks," related head coach Herm Edwards. "But seriously, with L.J. running the ball—especially against Oakland—your drunk Uncle Jim probably could have stepped in there and gotten a win."
Bills 24, Texans 21They say those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it—"they" being the Houston secondary that allowed Buffalo receiver Lee Evans to make 83-yard touchdown catches on consecutive first quarter drives.
"The first time, he got in front of me for an easy catch then turned on the jets and just flat outran me like I was standing still. It was a little embarrassing," admitted Houston cornerback Demarcus Faggins. "The second time, I was just like 'Burn me twice, shame on you!' Did you know he broke a Buffalo record for most single-game receiving yards that's stood for almost thirty years? That's really impressive. Offhand, you don't know of any teams that might be looking to sign a cornerback who's probably going to be put on waivers tomorrow, do you?"
Patriots 35, Packers 0Brett Favre missed the entire second half of New England's blowout of his Packers after injuring a nerve in his throwing arm, which prevented the quarterback from gripping the football. Though he was unable to play, Favre remained on the sidelines in pads and helmet for fear that seeing him in street clothes might prompt Jonestown-like mass suicides throughout Green Bay. It's too early to know whether the injury will end Favre's streak of 251 consecutive starts—though heir apparent Aaron Rodgers, who played the remainder of the game after the tree-time MVP was pulled, is ready to take the reins.
"I've been looking forward to taking over the team, but obviously this is not the way I would have wanted it to happen," Rodgers said. Pressed to describe how he would have wanted it to happen, Rodgers replied, "Given my druthers, I suppose I'd rather have had this happen at a time when our offensive line could form a pocket that didn't collapse after a second and a half, our defense could keep games close enough that opponents don't know we're going to pass on every play in the second half, any of our running backs could generate more than 50-60 yards, and our receiving corps featured more weapons than just Donald Driver."
Bengals 31, Saints 16Chad Johnson played on a pulled right hamstring, scoring three touchdowns on 190 yards receiving. Combined with last week, his 450 receiving yards and five scores make for the best two-week total in league history, rekindling Cincinnati's spirit in the process. Heading the other direction, the Saints' post-Katrina return to New Orleans adrenaline rush seems to have worn off. The Saints have lost three of their last four games and their last two at home.
"We were so fired up to be back in the Superdome and to see how much it meant to the people of New Orleans to have us back," described receiver Joe Horn. "Certainly we don't want anything so devastating to ever happen again, but if we could just maybe get a little tornado or—can you get a tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico?—I'm pretty sure something like that would be enough to motivate us into the postseason."
49ers 20, Seahawks 14Reigning MVP Shaun Alexander returned to the Seattle lineup, taking away one of the team's fallback excuses for how it lost to the ragtag 49ers.
"We still didn't have Matt Hasselbeck," offered linebacker Julian Peterson. "It's still completely conceivable that we're a Super Bowl contender that just happened to let Frank Gore run for 212 yards and turned the ball over five times to one of the NFL's weakest defenses. It's just... Hasselbeck... y'know?"
Ravens 24, Falcons 10Jamal Lewis tied a career high with three touchdowns, looking at times like he'd stepped out of a flashback to 2003 when the Baltimore running back rushed for 2066 yards. "A lot of people seemed to think I was washed up, that going to prison for an entire offseason might have upset my training and athleticism," Lewis said. "It's night to get out there and prove them wrong... and now that I've proven it, I can go back to napping under the bench between offensive series, eating Ho-Hos by the box at halftime, and using the pages of my playbook to make origami swans for another three years."
Michael Vick continued to struggle as he has since stringing together two above average games last month to become the subject of overeager sportscasters' "best quarterback in the NFL" debates, losing for the third straight game due largely to his inconsistent play. "On the plus side," Vick pointed out, "the Ravens are a very good team with a winning record. Losing to them is not nearly as bad as losing to Detroit or Cleveland, so in a way, you could really say we're improving."
Dolphins 24, Vikings 20What was supposed to be Daunte Culpepper's chance to face his ex-team instead provided Joey Harrington with a chance to defeat Minnesota for the first time ever, having lost his previous six meetings with the Vikings as a Detroit Lion. Since absolutely no one whose last name isn't Harrington cares about that, the Dolphins found another way to make the game interesting.
Miami pulled out the win despite finishing the game with a net rushing total of -3 yards. To put that into perspective, the entire Dolphins team ran for three fewer yards than you did while sitting on your couch eating tortilla chips in your underwear and touching yourself during beer commercials.
Cowboys 21, Colts 14Undefeated Indianapolis finally fell after becoming the first team in history to go 9-0 in consecutive seasons. Unfortunately, ESPN analyst Michael Irvin predicted the Cowboys would break the Colts win streak, which means he will be even less bearable than normal.
"Tony Romo was the missing piece. This team is over .500 and the rest of the NFC East is hurting. These are your next Super Bowl champions," Irvin insisted, ignoring accusations of bias. "And don't discount the University of Miami for the BCS championship. They're 2-5 in the ACC, but they're 3-1 outside their conference and are the best team in college football!"
Cardinals 17, Lions 10Arizona broke its eight game losing streak, though admittedly it was by beating Detroit with leading rusher Kevin Jones out with a sprained ankle. While the streak is broken, there's not much to brag about, making it very similar to that time when you bagged that fat chick with the mole who was drunk on shooters just because you hadn't gotten any in a couple of months.
- NFL WEEK 1 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 2 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 3 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 4 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 5 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 6 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 7 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 8 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 9 COVERAGE
- NFL WEEK 10 COVERAGE
Jake Bell is a former NBC sportscaster and head writer for Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge.