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The End Zone - Week 12


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The End Zone

The twelfth week of the NFL regular season has come to a close, so as usual here I am to bring you up to date with all the action! Along with a detailed round up of the week’s results I will be bringing you a Position Profile on the defensive line, and a preview of all the week 13 games. I’m really sorry but due to time constraints (and my eventful weekend) I was unable to include a game feature, but the round up is detailed enough for the moment! It will return next week though. Jets Talkin’ makes another appearance, but let’s get things under way with the results from Week 12!


Week 12 Round Up

The week 12 games got under way early with two matches taking place on Thanksgiving Thursday, as has been the tradition for some time now. Atlanta (7-4) put together a balanced offensive effort thanks to Michael Vick throwing for 146 yards and Warwick Dunn rushing for 116, and they looked like an extremely competent team. The Falcons took a 27-0 going into the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions (4-7), and fourth quarter touchdown from the Lions couldn’t help as they fell 27-7. In a closely contested game the Dallas Cowboys (7-4) had a very good showing from quarterback Drew Bledsoe, throwing for 232 yards on 29 completions. Denver (9-2) may not have had the same level of numbers as Dallas, but they were able to hold a 21-14 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Cowboys were able to fight back and tied the game with a touchdown, pushing the game into overtime. However it was the Broncos who scraped it with a field goal to win 24-21.


Going into week 12 Tennessee (3-8) quarterback Steve McNair had missed a practice or two due to a slight injury; however it didn’t seem to affect him during the Titans game against the San Francisco 49ers (2-9) on Sunday. He took advantage of the fragile Niners secondary to throw 23 of 41 for 343 yards, leading the Titans to a 33-22 victory. The Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) are a very effective offensive team, and they again proved that point as they took on the New England Patriots (6-5) this past weekend. Trent Green completed just 19 passes, but they connected for 323 yards, whilst the Chiefs running back Larry Johnson rushed for 119 yards on 31 carries. Tom Brady and the Patriots had no effective answer and could only watch as the Chiefs took a 26-16 victory. Houston (1-10) have had a disastrous season so far, and were looking for just their second win of the year as they took on the St Louis Rams (5-6) this past weekend. Things were looking good for the Texans as they were leading 24-3 by half time. But as had been the trend all year the team fell apart, allowing the Rams to put in a second half showcase to tie the game at 27. Rams QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 310 yards on the day, including a 56 yard completion for a touchdown in overtime, giving St Louis a 33-27 victory.


9 receptions for 147 yards is a great set of numbers, and it was put up by T Houshmandzadeh of the Cincinnati Bengals (8-3), making up nearly half of the quarterbacks passing yards of the day! Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards on 22 of 30 passing on the day, and the opposition just couldn’t match up! Baltimore (3-8) had been the Bengals opponents, but after going 17-0 behind by half time the Ravens were condemned to their 8th loss of the season with a 42-29 scoreline. The league’s best defence has been in Chicago all season, and they continued to clamp down on opponent’s offences this past Sunday. Tampa Bay (7-4) has had a good season so far, but was always going to have trouble breaking down the tough Bears (8-3) defence. Although neither offensive unit was extremely effective, Chicago was able to hold on to a 13-10 victory despite a late fight back from the Buccaneers in the fourth quarter. Last week the Panthers (8-3) had been involved in a tough loss against Chicago, and this week they looked to get back on to winning form against the Buffalo Bills (4-7). Neither team were able to make a definite break through as they were restricted to two field goals each, going into the final quarter tied at 6. It was the Panthers who were able to make the difference though, scoring a touchdown to counter a Bills field goal in the final period, giving them a narrow 13-9 victory.


Last week I highlighted the performance of Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, and I’m going to do the same this week. San Diego (7-4) had what turned out to be a close game against the Washington Redskins (5-6), but the Chargers had a standout star yet again. Tomlinson rushed for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25 carries, with the third being the most important of the lot. The Redskins had taken a 17-7 lead over the first three quarters, but San Diego scored 10 fourth quarter points to send the game into overtime. It was then that Tomlinson was able to break away and score his third touchdown of the night, giving the Chargers a 23-17 victory. Minnesota (6-5) were sitting at 2-5 a few weeks ago and looking for some inspiration and help. But since Brad Johnson has taken over as starting QB after Culpepper’s injury, the Vikings have been on a roll. This past weekend they took on the Cleveland Browns (4-7), who had been having an average season under head coach Romeo Crennel. Minnesota took the early lead and never looked back, easing to a 24-12 victory and giving them a 4 game win streak. After being shut out last week the Miami Dolphins (4-7) needed a victory this week to get back on track, and they had a chance as they took on the Oakland Raiders (4-7). They got off to a good start with a 7-0 first quarter lead, and they were able to hold on despite a determined Oakland offensive fight. However the result was certified in the fourth as the Dolphins scored 10 point to ensure a 33-21 victory.


Another team in need of a win this past weekend was the Arizona Cardinals (3-8) who have struggled to get any momentum going so far this year. They had a tough game as they took on the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3) who have had one of the tougher defences to crack this season. The Jaguars took an early lead, and maintained it throughout. Although the Cardinals had over 300 yards from quarterback Kurt Warner they were limited to just a field goal until the fourth quarter, when they managed to put together two touchdown drives. It was too late though as the Jaguars had built a comfortable cushion and finally won 24-17. Eli Manning has been a wonder at quarterback for the Giants (7-4) this season, and again he put up a decent set of numbers this weekend. Manning threw for 344 yards on 29 completions against the Seattle Seahawks (9-2), who were led by Matt Hasselbeck’s 249 yards. The lead went back and forth until the final quarter, when a two point conversion from Shockey tied the game for the Giants. Jay Feely had three attempts to win the game for New York; however he lost his previous form (23 of 25 for the season) to miss three field goals and send the game into overtime. Seattle was able to convert a 36 yard field goal in the extra period for a 24-21 victory.


Green Bay (2-9) have not had their best season so far this year, but they were hoping to get a much-needed victory against the injury and suspension depleted Eagles (5-6). Neither team had great days from their quarterbacks, with Mike McMahon starting for Donovan McNabb and passing for just 91 yards. Philadelphia had the lead going into the second quarter, until a touchdown gave the lead to the Packers at the half. David Akers made it a one point game in the third, and then followed that with two more field goals in the final period to earn the Eagles a 19-14 victory. To round off the Sunday games the New York Jets (2-9) were looking to rebound from their disastrous shut-out last week as they took on the New Orleans Saints (3-8). The Jets took an early lead with a Mike Nugent field goal, but two touchdowns in the second quarter gave the Saints the lead. The Jets retaliated with a 27 yard touchdown pass from Bollinger to McCareins, and then followed that with a field goal in the fourth to go ahead 19-14. The Saints retook the lead with a touchdown, and the Jets had one last chance to win the game. It was tough, but Mike Nugent was forced to attempt a 53 yard field goal with just 14 seconds left. In agonising fashion the kick fell just short, allowing the Saints to earn their third win of the year with a 21-19 victory.


And finally on Monday night the Indianapolis Colts (11-0) looked to preserve their unbeaten run as they took on the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) who were welcoming back Ben Roethlisberger from injury. The Colts used their first offensive play to great effect as Manning hit Harrison for an 80 yard score! They took a 10-7 lead into the second quarter, and the Steelers had no answer for the powerful Indianapolis offence. Edgerrin James became the first running back to rush for 100 yards past the Steelers in 23 games! Even their defence was tough, registering three sacks and making two interceptions, one of which pretty much sealed the game mid-way through the final period. Indianapolis eased to a 26-7 victory over Pittsburgh, preserving their perfect record.


Position Profile

This week I’m looking at the first line of defence, the Defensive Line! The line is normally made up of 4 players, but depending on the defensive schemes it could vary between 4 and 3. Every defensive lineman has one job, top get in their gap, sit down in the hole and watch for the play. If the quarterback looks as if he is going to throw, the linemen will pursue and try to sack him in the backfield. But if they are doing a running play, and the defence executed their play correctly, the play will go nowhere. The linebackers usually call the plays on defence to tell all the players where to go on the field, more on them next week. The linemen may shift on the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped as long as they don’t cross. Defensive linemen may also double team a player to open up a gap for a linebacker to blitz on.


There are three main types of defensive linemen, first there is the Nose Guard. The nose guard is an extremely important player of the defence. He lines up over the centre and is usually the fastest defensive lineman. He has to be fast in order to shoot the gaps and squeeze their way through. On the other hand, he also has to be strong, so that he can stand up his man and read the play. Secondly we have the Tackle, who is an extremely valuable player on the team. He must sometimes block for a blitzing linebacker, get in his gap, or post up his man and read block. If a defensive tackle reads a pass play, they must be able to shoot the gaps and pursue the quarterback. Both nose guard and tackle must be very fast on the play, if a running back gets past a player, all units must be able to stop them on their pursuit angles. And finally we have the Defensive Ends, who are much like the tight end of the defence. The defensive end’s job is to provide pressure on the quarterback and cause problems for the opposing offence. Defensive ends are usually extremely fast for players of their size, often the fastest and smallest players on the defensive line. They must be able to shed blockers to get to the ball. Defensive ends are also often used to cover the outside area of the line of scrimmage, to tackle ball carriers running to the far right or left side, and to defend against screen passes. Defensive ends are usually the only players on the line who are ever used to cover offensive players running receiving routes, albeit ones that are very close to the line of scrimmage.


Jets Talkin’

I’m still in shock, and that’s very unusual for me. I was hoping for a victory this week against the Saints, however I expected a loss and a big one at that. I’m shocked though as Brooks Bollinger seems to have suddenly found his way in the league, what a game this guy had on Sunday! Brooks was on fire as he threw for a career high 251 yards, the highest total for a Jets QB this season since Chad’s 264 in our opening day loss to Kansas. Bollinger also made his longest completion of his career with a 36 yard bullet to Justin McCareins, which set up a 27-yard strike again to McCareins for a touchdown. Curtis Martin rushed for 91 yards, making him just the fourth running back in history to rush for over 14,000 yards. He also became the third running back in history to reach 3,500 carries. Other important notes for the game include rookie Mike Nugent kicking his longest career field goal at 45 yards, second year receiver Jerricho Cotchery gaining a career high 72 yards and a career high 33 yard reception, and second year safety Rashad Washington picked up his first career sack. But even after all of those great things happening, the Jets fell to the Saints 21-19 after Nugent missed a 53 yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining.


Next week we travel to New England to take on the injury-hit Patriots, and this will be a game that is going to be tough. The Patriots may not have had their best season this year, but they are still a formidable foe with Tom Brady firing on all cylinders. Maybe, just maybe young Brooks can pull off another showing like this week and lead us to that elusive third season victory?


Week 13 Preview

Unlucky for some, its week 13 of the NFL season this weekend. Things are getting tense with just 4 more games left in the regular season after this week, so expect all the stops to be pulled out when the teams take to the field in the coming weeks. On Sunday we will see the Tennessee Titans attempt to break the Indianapolis Colts win streak, whilst the Minnesota Vikings look to continue their run of form as they take on the Detroit Lions. Chicago will host Green Bay this weekend, with Jacksonville travelling to Cleveland and Atlanta going to Carolina. Baltimore look to add more misery to Houston’s season in their encounter this Sunday, Pittsburgh have a tough test against Cincinnati, whilst the Dallas Cowboys have an important divisional encounter against the New York Giants.


The Saints look to put a winning run together as they host Tampa Bay, Buffalo take on Miami in an AFC East encounter, Arizona have a repeat of the Mexico game on their minds as they face San Francisco, whilst Washington take on St. Louis. The New York Jets have an extremely tough test against AFC East leaders New England, Denver face off against Kansas City and in the late night game Oakland take on San Diego. Monday night will see Seattle take on the Philadelphia Eagles.


Wrap Up

Another week is over and the NFL is just as exciting as ever! Along with all the games that took place, the Detroit Lions felt the need to fire head coach Steve Mariucci after their 27-7 loss to the Falcons on Thanksgiving Day. Mariucci had a 15-28 record with the Lions, and now he has been replaced by defensive coordinator Dick Jauron on an interim basis. I know I’m slacking though and for that I apologise, the game feature was going to appear, but due to the amount of time I spent on the round up and also due to the fact I was away this past weekend it failed to make the cut. Next week though it will return! All of the usual features will return, and now that we are entering the final stages of the regular season I will be bringing you details on the divisional standings each week. The pass has been thrown; will you catch it next week, in The End Zone?

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