Bengals 13, Ravens 7
With a chance to wrap up the division and keep alive the positive momentum that's been with this team since the firing of offensive coordinator Jim Fassel and subsequent appointment of head coach Brian Billick to playcalling duties, Baltimore choked away the opportunity.
"What do you expect?" Billick shrugged. "Everyone's been patting me on the back, telling me how great we are, I can't coach with distractions like that!" With his team still leading the AFC North by two games, owner Art Modell threatened to fire Billick, not because he's unhappy with the coach's performance, but because Billick never bothers to coach his team unless his job is on the line.
Cardinals 34, Rams 20
For the first time all season, Edgerrin James finally broke 100 yards rushing, meaning Cards head coach Dennis Green had to devise a new way to screw with all the fantasy owners who wasted a first round pick on the once-star running back and carried him all season despite Arizona's terrible offensive line's inability to open running lanes. While James racked up the yardage, Green called upon Marcel Shipp whenever the team got within sniffing distance of the end zone. Shipp scored three touchdowns on just 21 yards rushing crossing the goal line for the first time since 2002.
"In my defense," Green pointed out, making his case for why he wasn't just screwing the fantasy stats, "you can't really prove that I wasn't planning to use Shipp in goal line situations all year since we haven't really had any goal line situations all year. So suck on that."
Falcons 24, Redskins 14
Atlanta called a players only meeting to motivate itself to a come from behind victory over the worst team in a division that includes a Jeff Garcia-led Philadelphia squad.
"Truly we are back on the playoff track," declared running back Jerious Norwood, whose 69-yard touchdown actually ranked him ahead of Michael Vick in total rushing yards in a Halley's Comet-like "look or you might not see it again for seven decades" event. "Having defeated a team headed by a senile old man who knows more about NASCAR points races than any of the developments in football since 1992 proves we are a force to be reckoned with."
Patriots 28, Lions 21
When two teams match up, one with three of the last five Vince Lombardi trophies to its credit and the other being the Detroit Lions, there can be only one outcome. Detroit, however, made a case for a new outcome, forcing four turnovers and running out to a 21-13 lead on New England.
"It was very exciting," smiled quarterback Jon Kitna. "When you're in a situation like that, you never know how we're going to blow it. Sure, we let Corey Dillon punch in two touchdowns in the final nine minutes despite the fact he can barely walk without a cane, but there were a lot of other options open to us as well."
Though he wouldn't talk about it on the record, Kitna implied the Lions might blow next week's game due to a series of costly and untimely fumbles. "I'm not saying anything," he giggled. "You'll just have to wait and see!"
Titans 20, Colts 17
Rob Bironas was checked into a Nashville hospital and put on 24-hour suicide watch following his 60-yard field goal to complete the most unlikely of upsets, knocking off AFC-leading Indianapolis.
"It was everything I ever could have hoped for," Bironas muttered, staring off in the distance in a state of catatonia. "No one gave us a chance and here I had it all on my shoulders to pull out the win. The adrenaline was pumping, but as soon as that ball split the uprights, I realized the rest of my life had nowhere to go but downhill."
The field goal, the longest in Tennessee franchise history, gave the Titans their first victory over the Colts in four years, but Indianapolis coaches downplayed the loss. "I'll take the blame," said Tony Dungy, "I accidentally flipped the calendar to January third instead of December third. Peyton and I both saw that and assumed it was time to choke away everything we've played so hard for all season. My bad."
Bears 23, Vikings 13
Rex Grossman's next plan may be purchasing an in stadium billboard reading "Seriously, I dare you to start Brian Griese." Afterall, the Chicago quarterback has done everything else he can think of to tempt his coaches into putting him on the bench. Grossman completed just six passes for 34 yards on Sunday, which means his teammates caught just three more of his tosses than the Vikings defense did.
Despite his third three-interception game in the past five contests, the Bears have given no indication they will promote back up quarterback Brian Griese to the starting spot. "Think about it," reminded cornerback Ricky Manning, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the win, "Griese was cut by Tampa Bay in favor of Chris Simms, by Miami in favor of A. J. Feeley, and by Denver in favor of Jake Plummer. How much difference do you honestly think he's going to make?"