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The End Zone - Week 13


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The End Zone

Week 13 has just ended and here is The End Zone to bring you all the news and results from the weekend’s action. With just four games left of the regular season the hunt for playoff places is hotting up, so I’ll be bringing you all the standings in the NFL. Obviously you’ll get the detailed round up of the weekend’s results, along with the position profile and game feature. Jets Talkin’ fills out the issue but for now, here’s the Position Profile.


The Position Profile

We are now closing in on the final edition of the Position Profile, but this week we won’t worry about that as the Defensive Backs are the focus of our attention. The defensive back’s primary role is pass coverage; that is, the defensive back will stay near a receiver and try to deflect or intercept any passes thrown to him. However, like all defensive players, a defensive back can rush the quarterback and tackle running backs. Collectively, defensive backs are called the defensive secondary. A typical defensive set will have four defensive backs, those being two cornerbacks, a free safety and a strong safety.


The cornerbacks position themselves at the line of scrimmage, directly opposite the wide receivers. They attempt to disrupt the receivers' routes and defend against short passes. They are often the fastest players on the entire team. The free safety is responsible for reading the offensive plays and covering deep passes. Depending on the defensive call, he may also provide run support. He is positioned 10 to 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, toward the center of the field. He provides the last line of defense against running backs and receivers who get past the linebackers and cornerbacks. The strong safety is usually larger than the free safety and is positioned relatively close to the line of scrimmage. He is often an integral part of the run defense, but is also responsible for defending against a pass.

If the defense expects a pass, they may replace one or two of the linebackers with additional defensive backs. The fifth defensive back is called the nickel back, and the sixth is called the dime back. Defensive backs may also be used on special teams to return kickoffs and punts because of their speed.

Next week I will look at the final part of the defensive unit, the linebackers, but until then, enjoy the game!


Week 13 Round Up

Sunday’s games got under way with the Indianapolis Colts looking to preserve their perfect record this season at home to the Tennessee Titans. Steve McNair had an average day for the Titans, throwing for 220 yards, but his team couldn’t make the break through into the end zone at all. They were restricted to just a field goal as the Colts put on another showcase. Although Manning threw for just 187 yards, James rushed for over 100 yards yet again as they dominated the game from start to finish. Indianapolis came away with a 35-3 win to guarantee them a spot in the playoffs this season. Minnesota had been playing well over the past few weeks and looked to keep that run going this weekend as they travelled to Detroit. The Lions were able to score just a field goal in the first three quarters, but the Vikings were able to score a touchdown in each of the first three thanks to the throwing of Johnson (256 yards on the day). Although Garcia and the Lions scored a touchdown in the final period it was too late for them to catch up, falling to a 21-16 loss. After a quiet first quarter the scoring began in the second period during the Packers/Bears encounter, with Chicago taking the lead with 3 field goals. The third quarter was again scoreless but the Bears were able to notch up 10 points and extend their lead. Green Bay was condemned to their tenth defeat of the season as the Bears won 19-7.


Jacksonville has been average most of the season, but has managed to come into this week with a decent winning record. They looked to maintain that record as they took on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The Browns are not having a great season under Romeo Crennel, but there has been some improvement. They couldn’t stop the Jaguars from taking an early 3-0 lead though this weekend, but managed to fight back and go into half time with a 14-3 lead. The Jaguars shut out the Browns in the second half as they scored two touchdowns and a field goal to earn a 20-14 victory. A tense NFC South encounter took place on Sunday as the Panthers hosted the Falcons. Carolina took an early 7-3 lead, and were able to improve that throughout the game, shutting out Atlanta in the second half. Neither quarterback threw for more than 200 yards, but Delhomme was the more accurate of the two, going 17 of 27 for 164 yards and leading the Panthers to a 24-6 victory. Houston’s season has not been good at all, coming into this week with just one victory! Their opponents this week were Baltimore, who hadn’t been superb but had still managed to grind out a few more victories. The game began encouragingly for the Texans, moving to an early 3-0 lead, but the Ravens squeezed in front at the half with a touchdown. Both teams scored 3 field goals in the final period, so Baltimore were able to hang on for a narrow 16-15 victory.


Cincinnati have been a wonder this season, and they were looking to this week to show they could beat a big team, and in doing so guarantee a winning record for the first time in 15 years. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the guys standing in the way of that goal, and they were able to make it an extremely tough game. Pittsburgh took the lead early on, but the Bengals moved in front by 4 at the half. A field goal was the thing that separated the two teams in the second half, giving the Bengals a 7 point lead overall. Big Ben Roethlisberger looked fit and ready as he threw for nearly 400 yards, however it was the 227 yards from Carson Palmer that helped give Cincinnati a 38-31 victory. The only New York team to be doing well this season are the Giants, and they had a chance to show their talent this week as they took on the Dallas Cowboys. The teams came into this weekend tied for the top spot of the NFC East, and this game was viewed by many as the division decider. Neither team played exceptionally well on the day, although the Giants took a 10-0 half time lead, and with a third quarter touchdown they halted the Dallas fight back. New York came away with a 17-10 victory and the divisional lead. Another playoff contender this season is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fighting as they are in the close top three of the NFC South. This past weekend they took on the team that are rooted to the bottom of that division, the New Orleans Saints. The Buccaneers were not very effective through the air, and had to rely on 96 rushing yards from Cadillac Williams as they won this encounter 10-3.


The AFC East was one of the best divisions last year, but this season it’s been one of the worse, with even the Patriots struggling! This week they took on division rivals the New York Jets, who have been hampered by injuries to key starters all year. New England didn’t play exceptional, but they didn’t play bad either as they were able to silence the Jets and come away with a fairly easy 16-3 victory. The other AFC East match up that took place Sunday saw the Miami Dolphins take on the Buffalo Bills. The Bills raced out to a 21-0 first quarter lead, and from there many teams would give up and realise they were without hope. But the Dolphins didn’t, they fought back, although it did take them a while. A field goal was the Dolphins only score of the first half, and they fell further behind as the Bills notched up a safety in the third period. However it was in the final 15 minutes that Miami came to life, scoring 3 unanswered touchdowns to take a single point lead! And that’s how the game finished with the Dolphins grabbing a 24-23 victory. In a repeat of the game that took place in Mexico earlier in the season, the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Arizona Cardinals, and on this day the Cardinals had an outstanding showing from QB Kurt Warner. He threw for 354 yards as Arizona looked to break the Niners apart. Although San Francisco had a 7-3 lead at half time, they couldn’t match the Cardinals in the final two periods as they fell to a 17-10 loss.


St Louis had a big part to play this weekend, as if they lost they would hand the NFC West division title to the Seattle Seahawks. Washington were the ones who the Rams had to overcome to keep their dream alive, but the Redskins were not going down easily. Actually they put up such a fight that they dominated the entire game, taking a 10-7 lead at half time, then scoring two final quarter touchdowns to ensure a 24-9 victory. Clinton Portis was the star of the show for Washington, racking up 136 yards on 27 carries. There was an exciting game taking place down in Kansas City on Sunday as the Denver Broncos came to town to take on the Chiefs. It was even all the way through, as Denver and Kansas both scored a touchdown in the first period, both scored two in the second, and both were limited to a field goal each in the third! It all came down to a fourth quarter battle, and in the end it was the Chiefs who had the better of the exchange, scoring a touchdown in reply to the Broncos field goal, giving them a 31-27 victory. The final game on Sunday saw the Oakland Raiders take on the San Diego Chargers, and this one began fairly even with both scoring a field goal in the first period. The Chargers literally took charge in the second period, scoring two touchdowns to the Raiders one, and then proceeded to shut them out for the entire second half. San Diego was able to come away with a 34-10 victory.


On Monday night the Philadelphia Eagles took on the newly crowned NFC West champions the Seattle Seahawks. The Eagles were injury-hit, and it showed as the Seahawks completely outclassed them, with Seattle’s defence forcing six turnovers and scoring three touchdowns. Philadelphia was humbled by the game, being battered from pillar to post as they were shut out for the first time since 2003. Seattle proved they are a force to be reckoned with as they came away with a huge 42-0 victory.


Game Feature

This week the Cincinnati Bengals travelled to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who are always a powerful team on both offence and defence. The Bengals are desperate to score a big win and prove that they are true contenders this season, and Pittsburgh provides the perfect opposition.


The Steelers began the game with Hines Ward making a 14-yard reception, giving him 115 consecutive games with a catch, a new Steelers record. The drive stalled immediately after though and they were force to punt. Three impressive first downs got the Bengals possession under way, but an incomplete pass on 4th and 4 at the Pittsburgh 32 turned the ball over. The Steelers took advantage of the possession as Roethlisberger went 3 of 3 for 54 yards to move them to the Cincinnati 4. The Bus Jerome Bettis finished the drive with two short rushes to score a touchdown. In reply the Bengals overcame a five yard delay of game penalty to complete three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Houshmandzadeh was the guy Carson Palmer found for the tying score, but the game wasn’t tied for long. The Steelers moved deep into Bengal territory, and Big Ben was able to find Morgan for a 25 yard completion and the touchdown, ending the quarter up 14-7.


Cincinnati returned the kickoff for 46 yards and was able to capitalise on the great field position that produced. A couple of decent gains from Rudi Johnson allowed Palmer to find Kelly in the end zone for a 1 yard score, tying the game at 14. A 4 yard loss didn’t give Pittsburgh the best start on their following drive, and things got worse two plays later as Roethlisberger threw an interception that was returned to the Pittsburgh 22. Two vital third down conversions helped give the Bengals the lead a Palmer hit Houshmandzadeh for a 6 yard score. In reply the Steelers began to put together a decent drive, however Hines Ward fumbled the ball and turned the ball over, making it two Pittsburgh turnovers in as many possessions. They caught a break though as the Bengals fell to a three and out. With a little under three minutes remaining the Steelers were able to gain 64 yards with good clock management, however they were halted at the Bengals 5 and were forced to end the half with a field goal.


So far things had been close and it was tough to predict who would come away with this important victory. Cincinnati began the quarter with a 51 yard drive, but a couple of incomplete passes limited them to just a field goal, putting them ahead by 7. Pittsburgh looked to reply quickly, and that they did as after a 34 yard kick return it took them just 4 plays to find the end zone. Roethlisberger found Hines Ward for the game tying score, but the Bengals didn’t waste any time in getting right back into the lead. A 94 yard kick return from Cincinnati set up Rudi Johnson for a 2 yard touchdown, thus returning the lead to the Bengals. 31 passing yards looked to get Pittsburgh right back into it on their following possession, however they were halted just inside the Bengals half and were forced to punt yet again. After a three and out from Cincinnati Ben Roethlisberger attempted to hit a long completion for a touchdown, however the Bengals defence was up to the task and made the interception. They couldn’t capitalise and fell to a three and out as the quarter ended.


Pittsburgh’s drive didn’t go well to open the final period, fumbling the ball twice! Luckily for them they were able to recover the ball each time; however the Steelers were halted shortly after and were forced to punt. Cincinnati fell to a three and out, but they regained possession shortly after by intercepting another Roethlisberger pass. They began the drive from the Pittsburgh 49, and within three minutes Rudi had gone over from 14 yards for the touchdown, giving the Bengals a 38-24 lead. A score was needed by the Steelers if they wanted to get back into the game, and that’s exactly what they got. Some great clock management allowed Pittsburgh to move to within the Cincinnati red zone. Big Ben found Ward in the end zone for the second time in the game, bringing the Steelers to within 7, and still with 3 minutes to play. The Pittsburgh defence needed to get the ball back quickly, and that they did as the Bengals fell to a three and out in less than a minute. It came down to this, what would be Pittsburgh’s final possession of the game, they had to move quickly if they were to score. But it all went wrong as Roethlisberger was sacked twice on the drive, the second one whilst at 4th down, resulting in the ball being turned over on downs. Palmer took a knee three times to close out the game.


Cincinnati came away with a hard-fought 38-31 victory, and they could now take the division if they win their next two games, of course it all depends on the results that Pittsburgh get!


Standings after Week 13


In the East the Patriots are top with a 7-5 record, followed in second by Miami at 5-7 and Buffalo in third at 4-8. Rooted to the bottom are the Jets with a poor 2-10 record. In the North the Bengals remain top with a 9-3 record, followed by the Steelers at 7-5. The bottom two are the Ravens and Browns, both with 4-8 records on the year. Over in the South the Colts have confirmed their playoff berth with their 12-0 record, but they haven’t got the division just yet as the Jaguars are in second at 9-3. Third are the Titans with a 3-9 record, but with the worst record in the AFC the Texans are rooted to the bottom on the division at 1-11. Finally in the West the Denver Broncos are top with a 9-3 record, but they are closely followed by the Chargers and Chiefs in second and third respectively with 8-4 records. At the bottom sit the Raiders on 4-8 for the year.



Starting with the NFC East the New York Giants are top at 8-4, whilst the Cowboys are close behind on 7-5. Washington still have a slim chance in third at 6-6, however Philadelphia are nearly out of it for good at the bottom with a 5-7 record. Up North the defensive-minded Bears are top with a 9-3 record, whilst in second and third lay the in-form Vikings at 7-5 and Detroit with a poor 4-8. Green Bay are having a horrendous season, sitting at the bottom of the division with a 2-10 record. Carolina are resting atop the NFC South with a 9-3 record. However they are being chased by the Buccaneers at 8-4 and the Falcons at 7-5. The Saints have no chance at the bottom with a 3-9 record. Finally we have the West, where the Seahawks have clinched the division title with their 10-2 record. St Louis lost this week to move to 5-7 in second, whilst Arizona’s victory put them at 4-8 in third. Resting at the foot of the division is the San Francisco 49ers with poor 2-10 record.


Jets Talkin’

This week was a poor showing from the Jets, and I doubt we will be registering another victory this season. In a game where the player with the highest amount of offensive yards (other than the QB) was a receiver with just 35, it shows you how much our offence is lacking. Brooks went 15 of 37 for 135 yards, and the team were limited to just a field goal as we were demolished by an under strength Patriots team. The only score for us came from rookie kicker Mike Nugent, converting from 38 yards to tie the game. Then we fell to pieces as the Patriots were able to take the game 16-3. We can be thankful that our defence is still a force to be reckoned with, as they limited New England to just the one touchdown.


No injuries to speak of this week, all I can say is that next week the Raiders are the opponents, and LaMont Jordan will be looking for a successful return to New York after he was let go in the summer. Can Brooks, C-Mart and co pull off a win?


Wrap Up

It’s getting all very interesting in these final few weeks of the season, with division titles and playoff spots being decided. The Colts remain undefeated, the Seahawks have won the NFC West, and there are a lot of teams still in contention for the playoffs in both conferences. You may notice the lack of a preview for next week, but due to the addition of the standings that has now been removed. I’ll of course bring you all up to date with the happenings in the NFL every week until the Pro Bowl, so just keep it here! The pass has been thrown; will you catch it next week, in The End Zone?

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Man, the Giants will be owning for years to come!


Anyway, I think the only threat left to ending the Colts perfect record are the Seahawks. I think it will be played in Seattle, in frigid conditions. If the Colts escape that game with a win, the Cardinals will be a stepping stone for greatness.


After that, they just have to worry about that whole winning the Super Bowl thing.

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