Colts 34, Broncos 31For the fifth straight game, the undefeated Colts went into the locker room at halftime trailing their opponents. NFL officials used that twenty minutes to devise a plan to make sure that league cash cow Peyton Manning and his team could comeback and pray that fans wouldn't put two and two together. Their solution was to give Indianapolis the ball at the Broncos' 11-yard line on a Jake Plummer "fumble" that was originally ruled down and to equip Reggie Wayne with a force field that prevented Denver defensive backs from getting within ten yards of him.
Manning, who came dangerously close to having to sulk and blame his teammates for the loss, was able to again tout the importance of teamwork. "No one man wins a game," he explained. "If Reggie Wayne doesn't catch those perfectly thrown balls that I put softly into his hands in a way no other quarterback in this league can, making it possible for a one-armed kangaroo to get the reception, we don't win. So really the credit goes all around."
Giants 17, Buccaneers 3Twin brothers Ronde and Tiki Barber faced off for the last time ever, which every pregame show felt the need to hype as if it had the utmost significance. "It's not like this is tennis or wrestling or something where they're actually going head-to-head," pointed out Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. "At least when Eli [Manning] faced his brother, they're both quarterbacks and you can compare their stats. In this case, about the best thing you can hope for is that Tiki runs off tackle to the left and Ronde has to tackle him. Even if he does, that probably means Tiki got some good yardage so it's not that big a deal."
Countering Strahan's point, ESPN's Chris Berman said of the one play in the game where Ronde barely missed a tackle on his brother, "The Brothers Barber! Like the Civil War, it's brother against brother and BOOM! WHOOOP! BOOM! 'No, Greg Brady, don't take that surfing! Don't you know that's a cursed Tiki' Barber busts through for the first down!"
Bears 41, 49ers 10Twelve minutes into the first quarter, with your team only trailing by ten points might seem like a good time to get up, grab another beer, and take a leak. San Francisco fans who tested that suggestion found a very different game by the time they returned from the john. Anyone leaving before the final two minutes of the first quarter missed two and, depending on the lines at the Soldier Field restrooms, possibly three, Chicago touchdowns before they returned. "What the hell?" growled one man with his face painted red and gold. "I haven't even gotten drunk yet and this game's already over!"
At the half, the Bears led 41-0. Like many fans, Chicago snuck out early to beat traffic, allowing the 49ers to play unopposed for the entire second half, during which time they put ten points on the scoreboard. Experts agreed the Niners could have scored more if San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith hadn't dropped to his knees begging for mercy immediately after every snap. "Sorry," Smith shrugged, "by that point in the game, it was just reflex."
Chiefs 35, Seahawks 28Shortly after Larry Johnson scored his fourth touchdown of the day, seismographs around the country registered a nationwide tremor of 2.1 on the Richter scale. Leading earthquake experts dismissed the readings, theorizing they were the result of the simultaneous orgasms of everyone who has the Kansas City running back in his fantasy league.
Chargers 38, Rams 24Shortly after LaDainian Tomlinson scored his third touchdown of the day, seismographs around the country registered a nationwide tremor of 1.8 on the Richter scale. Leading earthquake experts dismissed the readings, theorizing they were the result of the simultaneous orgasms of everyone who has the San Diego running back in his fantasy league.
In Elgin, Illinois, police reported one man who'd managed to acquire both Johnson and Tomlinson thanks to his being in a keeper league was found unconscious on the floor of his basement and is in critical but stable condition. "We can just be thankful he didn't also pull off some kind of trade for Peyton Manning," said one paramedic, "or I don't think there's anything we could have done."
Cowboys 35, Panthers 14After being benched in favor of a younger quarterback for the third time in his career, Drew Bledsoe is looking toward the future with an eye on the silver lining. "All around the league," Bledsoe explained, "there are back-up quarterbacks wishing they could be starters. I'm the guy who can make those dreams come true. If I can make Tony Romo into 'the savior of America's Team,' I can make anyone a starter." Romo, who threw just one touchdown and one interception in his first NFL start, may not have put up the most impressive statistics, but Bledsoe insists his plan isn't about raw numbers. "Don't just look at what he did out there. Look at what I would have done in the same situation. I probably would have thrown three interceptions and been sacked five or six times. Compared to that, he's incredible. Tell me Washington's Jason Campbell or whatever quarterback the Lions draft next year wouldn't like to have me playing in front of them!"
Jaguars 13, Eagles 6After two consecutive losses on last second field goals, Donovan McNabb made the case that his 4-3 Eagles should be undefeated. This prompted Philadelphia to go out and lose to a team that got the snot stomped out of them by the god-awful Texans in the previous week. "If you're going to lose a game," smiled the quarterback, "that's how you do it! None of this 'building up our hopes only to have them dashed' bullshit. No 'looking good for 59 minutes only to collapse when it counts.' Just a good old, pathetic outing. We earned that loss!"
Titans 28, Texans 22Are you serious? Do you really care what happened in a game between Tennessee and Houston? What kind of pathetic football addict are you?
Okay, if you insist, we'll point out that this is the first time in more than two years that the Titans have won back-to-back games. We might as well point out that the Titans haven't lost in three weeks. Some will point out that Tennessee was on bye last week making the latter statement less impressive; we'll point out the Titans last two games played the Redskins and Texans, making the former statement less impressive.
Perhaps the saddest fact of this game is that if this morning you gave up on your fantasy football season and said, "Fuck it! I'm putting in Sage Rosenfels," there's about an 80 percent chance you would have done better with the Houston benchwarmer than you did with whomever you actually started at quarterback.
Ravens 35, Saints 22Baltimore's sputtering offense this season led to the firing of offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, which put the responsibility for play-calling in the lap of Brian Billick. Billick, who engineered the unstoppable Viking offenses of the late 90's, masterminded a dominating performance for the Ravens against one of the NFL's better defenses, raising the question of why the team hasn't been performing this way all along.
"Clearly, the problem was Fassel," Billick pointed out. "What possible control did I have in that situation? I'm only the head coach. Every time he would send in plays that didn't work, I was all like, 'Nuh-uh, you shouldn't do that,' and he'd be all, 'Shut up, Brian! I'm the offensive coordinator around these parts! You have no control over me!' He implied at one point that my title of head coach meant I should perform fellatio on him and shut the hell up. It was really embarrassing." Upon realizing Brian Billick only seems to get wins when his job is threatened, Baltimore owner Art Modell vowed to threaten to fire Billick before every game for the remainder of the season.
Falcons 29, Bengals 27An NFL mandate handed down earlier this week orders that any sportscaster showing a highlight of Michael Vick throwing a touchdown is required, at risk of losing his station' FCC license, to declare the Atlanta quarterback has answered his critics and proven he can be a complete quarterback. "Seven touchdowns in two weeks," Vick grinned, throwing his hands above his head in triumph. "Please overlook five and a half years of mediocrity, injuries, and a tendency to get happy feet and take off running at the slightest defensive pressure. These last two games are a much better reflection of my ability and could not in any way be a fluke."
Packers 31, Cardinals 14NFL broadcasting rules forced fans in Green Bay and Phoenix to watch this game while waiting for Gamebreak highlights of Seattle/Kansas City and Atlanta/Cincinnati. "It was great," smiled one Arizona man. "When I saw what was on, I told my wife, 'You know what? We should spend some time alone together. Why don't I turn off the game and we can just talk? I won major points for that. I might even get some tonight!"
Hall of Famer Brett Favre threw for one touchdown and ran for another, prompting his first ever Lambeau Leap that critics admitted made him look like more than a half-crippled old man. The positive review, however, was tempered by the fact his performance came against the Cardinals, who died on the inside sometime during the third quarter of that Monday Night Football game against Chicago.
Browns 20, Jets 13A good indicator of when a game is not going to be very compelling is if the pregame hype centers around it being a matchup of two former coordinators for some other better-established coach. For example, when Tony Dungy's Colts take on Brian Billick's Ravens, no one makes a big deal about it being a showdown between two former Dennis Green coordinators because there are much more interesting stories to be explored before scraping the bottom of the storyline barrel and resorting to the coordinator match-up angle.
That said, New York versus Cleveland was a showdown between former Bill Belichick coordinators Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel. Crennel, who's been with his pathetic team for two years, beat Mangini, who's only been with his terrible team for one year.
Raiders 20, Steelers 13In 1972, these teams clashed in the AFC Championship game, a contest that will forever be remembered as a tight game that was ultimately decided by what NFL Films named the greatest play in the history of professional football, the Immaculate Reception. We only mention this because fans of both teams would rather talk about a game that took place nearly a quarter century ago than to relive anything about this terrible, terrible display.
Oakland walked away with a victory despite generating less than 100 yards of offense, thanks in large part to Pittsburgh's decision to start quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a week after he suffered a concussion that knocked him out of the game in Atlanta. "This is my time to shine," Roethlisberger told the press two hours after throwing four interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns, as he sat in a closet full of mops with his helmet on backwards. "Honey is the only food that never goes bad, but Bit O' Honey can pull the crowns right out of your teeth. Okay, giant tarantula, I'll get you that Justin Timberlake CD the next time I go to Hardees!"
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Jake Bell is a former NBC sportscaster and head writer for Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge.