DE Charles Grant came up with the first interception of his three-year
NFL career with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter against the
Falcons. Michael Vick tried to flip a screen pass to running back
Warrick Dunn in the right flat, but Grant got in the way, leaped high
and made the grab. Grant returned the pick 8 yards before being dragged
down from behind by Dunn, who saved a touchdown, at the Falcons' 30. The
interception, however, led to a 7-yard TD pass from Brooks to Horn.
DT Chidi Ahanotu is making an impact on the Bucs defense. Released by
Miami, he signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay and switched from
defensive end to tackle. He has recorded three sacks in as many games.
DE Simeon Rice leads the Bucs with six sacks and needs one to reach 100
for his career. But he is not having the success he enjoyed playing
alongside Anthony McFarland and Warren Sapp. McFarland was placed on
Injured Reserve with a torn triceps, and Sapp signed as a free agent
with the Raiders. "I don't know that some of the Beatles, when they
broke up and played on their own, were as successful as they were
together," coach Jon Gruden said.
DE Hugh Douglas might get his first start of the season Sunday if
Derrick Burgess is unable to play. Burgess is nursing a rib injury
suffered against the Giants on Sunday.
DE Jevon Kearse notched the first blocked punt of his career Sunday when
he snuffed a Jeff Feagles punt. "Did you see?" he said to special teams
coach John Harbaugh in the locker room after the game. "I stayed low
just like you said, just like this. I took it right off his foot." Said
Reid: "There are so many things he can do. This is just another thing in
DE Reggie Hayward had Denver's only sack on Sunday night. After an
early-season slump, Hayward has been coming on lately as a consistent
pass rusher, something Denver needs in Trevor Pryce's absence.
NT Chris Hoke has started five games since Pro Bowler Casey Hampton was
knocked out for the season with a knee injury. The Steelers have allowed
only 209 yards rushing in those five games.
DL Jarvis Green scored his first career touchdown when he recovered a
Kyle Boller fumble in the end zone after Tedy Bruschi strip-sacked the
Ravens quarterback. "It felt good. Tedy Bruschi made a great play and I
saw the ball bouncing around and I fell on it," Green said. "I told
myself that I wouldn't let it out of my hands if I got the ball."
DE Julius Peppers blocked a field goal, posted his seventh sack in four
games and intercepted a pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown.
He also chased down running back Michael Pittman on a screen pass,
saving a touchdown.
DE Jason Taylor had his first multi-sack game of the season in Sunday's
24-17 victory at San Francisco. Taylor, who entered with 4.5 sacks,
logged three sacks of 49er quarterback Tim Rattay, including one that
resulted in a one-yard fumble return by linebacker Derrick Pope.
DE Robert Geathers had 1.5 sacks, including one for 10 yards in the
fourth quarter that forced the Browns to punt after they scored
touchdowns on five consecutive second-half possessions. The rookie from
Georgia has 3.5 sacks this season.
DE Andre Carter surrendered the first touchdown in pass coverage in his
career. Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson called a zone blitz in
which Carter was matched against Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael on a
third-and-goal from the 15-yard line with the 49ers leading 10-7 in the
fourth quarter. When safety Tony Parrish did not get over quickly
enough, McMichael caught the go-ahead touchdown.
DE Greg Ellis had a strong game Thursday, adding one forced fumble and
1.5 sacks against Craig Krenzel and Jonathon Quinn, who took over for
Krenzel ankle in the second quarter. Ellis has eight sacks this season,
matching his career-high 2003.
DE Eric Ogbogu notched 3.5 sacks to lead a defense that recorded six in
the game Thursday. Before the game Ogbogu had 4.5 career sacks, with 3.5
of those recorded in 2003.
DE Brad Scioli was inactive for the Lions game. It's the fifth time this
season that Scioli has been made inactive for a game.
DE Josh Thomas is expected to be out indefinitely with a sprained
posterior collateral ligament in his left knee.
DE Shaun Ellis was awarded a long-awaited contract extension this
weekend, a seven-year deal that will pay Ellis close to $15 million up
front. After coming out with an injury late in the first half, Ellis
returned after halftime to notch a sack.
DL Kevin Carter will not be moved back inside to tackle fulltime, even
though the Titans will be without DT Rien Long knee this week and get Bo Schobel added to the roster off PUP.
DT Randy Starks doesn't even turn 21 until mid-December, but the kid
made some big plays in Tennessee's 31-21 loss to Houston: Two sacks -
one of which sure looked like a safety despite the official ruling - to
go with a blocked field goal and a pass defensed. "Those young guys
they've got potential, especially Randy Starks," cornerback Samari Rolle
said. "He's ready now." "Young Starks is coming of age, man," linebacker
Keith Bulluck said. "You know he's going to play well. I've been
challenging him since he got here, since I lost one of my favorite
players in Robaire Smith. So I've been on Starks a lot. He's showing
that he's here to play, He's young, he's not even 21 yet, and he wants
to be taken seriously, and he has the right attitude to be successful in
NT Ed Jasper, who blocked a 37-yard field goal try in the Falcons' 24-21
win over the Saints Sunday, broke the scheme of special teams
coordinator Joe DeCamillis to do it. He shot a guard gap on a play that
was supposed to be an outside block. "Now, the downside of that is, if I
hadn't blocked the field goal, Joe D. would probably still be chewing me
out right now."
DT Chris Hovan, whose streak of 69 consecutive starts was snapped the
previous week, fell completely out of the team's plan of attack against
Jacksonville RB Fred Taylor. The Vikings decided to activate seven
defensive linemen and told Hovan at the team hotel on Saturday night
that he wasn't one of them. Hovan, who had played in 74 games since
being drafted out of Boston College in 2000, didn't take the news well.
He was gone before reporters reached the locker room after Sunday's
27-16 victory over the Jaguars. Hovan has 21 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks but
has been criticized by coaches for undisciplined play and a general lack
of production this season. Hovan is a free agent at the end of the
season. He reportedly has put his house on the market because he knows
he won't be with the Vikings beyond this season.
DT Chris Hovan's days as a Viking are numbered. After losing his
starting job to rookie free agent Spencer Johnson the previous week,
Hovan was de-activated against Jacksonville. The Vikings wanted better
run stoppers on the field to try to stop Fred Taylor, who rushed for 147
yards on 22 carries 6.7. Hovan is a free agent after the season.
DT Randy Starks had a big game in Houston with two sacks -- one of which
should have been a safety -- and a blocked field-goal attempt.
MLB Derrick Pope responded in place of injured Zach Thomas with a
performance belying his rookie status. Pope had five tackles, one sack
and a one-yard fumble return for a touchdown, marking Miami's first
defensive touchdown of the season. "When I saw Jason Taylor hit the
quarterback and the ball came out, my eyes got as big as the moon," said
Pope, who recovered a Tim Rattay fumble forced by a Taylor sack. "I just
wanted to make sure I picked the ball up and stepped in for a
touchdown." Dolphins interim coach Jim Bates was pleased with the
performance of his team's 2004 seventh-round draft choice. "He's just
got that eye," Bates said. "He made some mistakes. We all made some
mistakes. But he plays hard, he plays with a lot of emotion, and he's a
very, very physical football player."
SLB James Allen took over for Sedrick Hodge in Sunday's game with the
Falcons and will probably start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
LB Ben Leber missed a few tackles on Sunday, and finished with only
Rookie OLB Shaun Phillips has gone four games without a sack, his
longest stint of the year.
LB Jason Babin, one of two first-round picks for the Texans in this
year's draft, was benched in the fourth quarter for the third time this
season Sunday against Tennessee in favor of second-year pro Antwan Peek.
LB Antwan Peek made one of the biggest plays of the game, hitting QB
Steve McNair from his blindside and causing a fumble with the Titans
driving for the potential game-tying field goal. Peek had to leave the
game after the play. "To the point I couldn't do the next play," Peek
said. "I just got so excited, I started throwing up. Sometimes your
adrenaline gets going, and it just happens. That's how fired up I was."
LB Rosevelt Colvin notched his fourth sack of the season on Sunday
against Baltimore and is now tied for second on the team with Richard Seymour behind Willie McGinest, who leads the club with six sacks.
Colvin is now 11 games into his comeback from a fractured hip and
appears to be improving steadily. If he can make a bigger impact over
the final month, he could give New England a defensive boost in the pass
LB Sam Williams made six tackles and blocked a Jake Plummer pass in his
MLB Derrick Pope was pressed into extensive duty in Sunday's 24-17
victory over San Francisco when Zach Thomas went to the bench. Pope
finished with five tackles, one sack and a one-yard fumble return for
Miami's first defensive touchdown of the season.
LB Sedrick Hodge sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right
knee midway through the first quarter of Sunday's game with the Atlanta Falcons and did not return. Coach Jim Haslett said the early prognosis
on Hodge, who was replaced by James Allen, is that he'll probably miss
at least two games.
LB Keith O'Neil continued his strong play on special teams, leading the
unit with four tackles.
LB Donnie Edwards got his first interception of the season after getting
his hands on numerous passes during the year.
LB Barrett Green, who returned to active duty after three weeks on the
inactive list, was ejected from the game for punching Eagles linebacker
Jeremiah Trotter when he ran into the Giants' sideline after pushing QB
Eli Manning out of bounds and drawing a flag for unnecessary roughness.
LB Gilbert Gardner continues to recover from a strained right hamstring.
He has been sidelined for the past three weeks. Gardner is expected to
resume practicing this week.
LB Joey Porter and defensive end Aaron Smith lead the team with seven
sacks. Porter had only five last season after he missed the first two
games because of a gunshot wound.
MLB Sam Cowart was active but didn't play against Arizona. Cowart played
sparingly the last two games since coming back from a knee sprain and
registered just one tackle. The Jets are unsure if Cowart can get back
to 100 percent this season.
LB Nick Rogers was added to the roster for the third time this season.
MLB Ronald McKinnon, who's seen his role diminish over the course of the
season, played perhaps his finest game of the season Sunday. McKinnon
had 10 tackles against the Jets, a power running team. McKinnon comes
out in nickel situations, but he's still effective on first and second
MLB Andra Davis tore his MCL in his left knee and will go on injured
reserve. Davis tore the same ligament, along with his PCL, in college.
He will not require surgery.
LB Randall Godfrey had another good game -- he had five tackles and a sack.
LB Derek Smith scored the first touchdown of his eight-year career when
he recovered a fumble and ran 46 yards to give the 49ers a short-lived
10-7 lead against the Dolphins in the fourth quarter.
OLB Mark Brown made his first career start Sunday in place of Victor Hobson. He made two tackles and played well as the Jets held Arizona to
just 71 yards rushing.
MLB Robert Thomas will return to the starting lineup Monday night
against Green Bay after not starting for five games. Thomas missed two
games because of injury, then watched as Trev Faulk was the starter for
the next three games.
CB Rashad Bauman on Monday was the 14th player placed on a reserve list
this year by the Bengals. Bauman, whose Achilles injury has forced him
to miss the last seven games, was placed on injured reserve. Coach
Marvin Lewis also announced that Bauman's 5-month-old son died Thursday
and would be buried by Bauman and his fiancée this week in Salem, Ore.
CB Marcus Trufant is sometimes giving receivers too much cushion, coach
Mike Holmgren said. Part of that has to do with the Seahawks'
inconsistent pass rush, but Trufant has the physical skills to play more
DB Mike Adams recorded his first career interception for the 49ers, and
fellow rookie Shawntae Spencer had the presence of mind to get the
football for Adams. "I think I was too excited," Adams said. "Shawntae
said, 'What are you doing?' I was so hyped up."
CB Renaldo Hill has played well this season, but he was burned for the
only touchdown in Sunday's game. Hill misplayed a pass to Santana Moss,
and the result was a 69-yard touchdown.
CB Jamar Fletcher becomes the nickel back with Sammy Davis hurt and
Drayton Florence moving into the starting lineup.
CB Drayton Florence will replace injured Sammy Davis in the startling
CB Mario Edwards, acquired as a free agent from the Cowboys to serve as
the team's nickel back, has apparently lost that position to second-year
pro Torrie Cox.
CB Chris Gamble, who entered the game having recorded an interception in
each of his last two games, almost had an interception that he could
have taken to the house. Gamble made a great break on the ball, but
Brian Griese's pass was just a little low for him to grab. Gamble also
returned punts for the Panthers.
CB Brian Williams had one of his best games of the season with a
game-high seven solo tackles and eight total. He forced a fumble in the
red zone that teammate Dontarrious Thomas recovered.
CB David Barrett, following a poor start, has picked up his game
tremendously over the last month. Against Arizona he totaled six tackles
and notched his first interception. He also had a forced fumble and mass
a pass defense for the fourth time in five games.
CB Roc Alexander, who has been a valuable special-teams contributor,
will become Denver's dime cornerback with Lenny Walls out for the season.
CB Randall Gay intercepted his second pass of the season when he dropped
off his man and picked off Kyle Boller in zone coverage. Gay started at
corner against the Ravens opposite Eugene Wilson in what is becoming the
secondary shuffle. Dexter Reid started at safety along with Rodney Harrison, who also lined up at cornerback with Gay moving back to safety
and linebacker Don Davis also taking snaps at safety at times. Troy Brown was once again the slot cornerback in the nickel and recorded one
pass defense. The team's top three corners, Ty Law, Tyrone Poole and
Asante Samuel, all missed the game.
CB Phillip Buchanon had his third interception of the year, running it
back 37 yards out of the end zone.
CB Champ Bailey gave up some big plays to Raiders WR Jerry Porter on
Sunday. The Raiders weren't scared to throw Bailey's direction, and it
paid off. Porter caught three touchdown passes, although the third one
was against a zone coverage in a goal-line situation.
CB DeAngelo Hall was picked on by the Saints on Sunday, especially by
wide receiver Joe Horn nine catches, 101 yards, but was not beaten for
any deep balls. He was the defender when Horn caught a two-point
CB Jason Webster left the Falcons' 24-21 win over the Saints after
aggravating the groin muscle that bothered him earlier in the week. He
did not return and was in street clothes for the second half.
CB Deltha O'Neal sealed the victory with a 31-yard interception return
for a touchdown late in the game. It was the fourth touchdown scored by
the Bengals' defense in 11 games.
CB Tory James had his league leading seventh interception Sunday in the
first half, a turnover that set up a field goal at the end of the first
DB Mike Adams, an undrafted rookie from Delaware, recorded the first
interception of his career.
CB Samari Rolle said a young, struggling defense is obligated to
continue to fight, but the next two weeks could be ugly as the team
faces two of the league's best offenses -- Indianapolis and Kansas City.
"This is only like my second time going through this; it's not fun," he
said. "But you've just got to come to work every day and try to make the
best out of it."
CB Rich Gardner got his first major playing time and appeared to do
reasonable work covering receivers in the middle of the field as part of
the dime package.
S Omare Lowe was activated from the practice squad by New England. Lowe
was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 16.
CB Asante Samuel shoulder joined Tyrone Poole knee and Ty Law foot on
the inactive list.
CB Will Peterson: "After the first half you are supposed to make
adjustments and go out and play better. We came out and played worse. We
threw a pick an interception and then we dropped a sure one by
cornerback Will Allen and you can't beat a good team when you do things
CB Deshea Townsend's interception in the fourth quarter was his fourth
of the season to go with four sacks.
S Donovin Darius had an up and down day against the Vikings. He
intercepted a pass, but then gave up a two-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss in the third quarter. Darius, who also had one pass defensed, said
he'd like to have the play against Moss back and said he didn't turn his
head around quickly enough.
S Yeremiah Bell is another young defensive player who earned praise from
coach Jim Bates following the 49ers game. Bell, who moved up the depth
chart following the team's recent release of free safety Antuan Edwards,
played as Miami's third safety against San Francisco. "Yeremiah came in
and did a real nice job the half that he played," Bates said. "He showed
his talent. He showed his speed. He did some things down the field that
proves he's consistent and getting better." A 2003 sixth-round draft
choice, Bell spent most of his rookie season on Miami's developmental
squad before landing on injured reserve with a leg injury.
FS Cory Hall, who signed with the Falcons last year as an unrestricted
free agent after spending his first four pro seasons with the Bengals,
is with a winner for the first time in his pro career. The Falcons'
24-21 win over the Saints moved Atlanta to 9-2, assuring a winning
season. "It's what I've always wanted. It's like a dream, to be honest
with you. I'm just like, 'Don't wake up, don't wake up, keep winning,
keep on as far as you can," Hall said. "That's why I signed here, to
play with No. 7 and not against No. 7. I call Michael Vick the Jordan of
football. No quarterback is perfect all the time. He has the talent to
make up for some things that maybe he didn't do well earlier in the game."
S Sean Taylor has a new signature play -- the personal foul. Against the
Eagles on Nov. 21, Taylor was flagged for giving WR Terrell Owens an
elbow to the head. Sunday at Pittsburgh, Taylor picked up another foul
for shoving C Jeff Hartings. Both incidents occurred after the whistle
and away from the play. Taylor is assembling a lengthy list of maneuvers
that are calling his character into question. This week he must head to
court for a DUI arrest, recently he was accused of spitting in the face
of a Bengal and his offseason included a string of dubious incidents.
Coaches like how hard Taylor plays but are hoping he can lose the
penalties. "We talk about it all the time," assistant head coach for
defense Gregg Williams said. "Taylor plays with an awful lot of emotion,
but we just can't have those kinds of things that hurt the football
team. We'll review it."
S Yeremiah Bell received extensive playing time in last Sunday's 24-17
victory over San Francisco. The Dolphins' desire to gain a better
assessment of Bell led to the release of FS Antuan Edwards earlier this
FS Shaunard Harts struggled in deep coverage against San Diego in his
first start this year for injured Jerome Woods. It didn't help either
that his backfield mate, Willie Pile, was making the first start of his
short NFL career for injured strong safety Greg Wesley.
SS Willie Pile didn't learn until he was coming off the field after the
opening kickoff that he would be playing for strong safety Greg Wesley,
who began experiencing hamstring soreness during the pre-game. Pile drew
the day's toughest assignment -- principle duty on San Diego tight end
Antonio Gates, who began the day as the AFC co-leader in receptions and
expanded his TD count to 11 with a pair of fourth-quarter grabs against
FS Izell Reese, who had started the season's first nine games, now
hasn't dressed for the past two. He was inactive against the Seahawks in
place of rookie Rashad Baker.
DB Eugene Wilson, who started his last 25 regular season games at
safety, started at cornerback against the Ravens in place of Earthwind Moreland, with rookie Dexter Reid moving in at safety for Wilson.
Linebacker Don Davis rotated in at safety for Reid throughout. That
secondary helped limit Baltimore to 47 net passing yards.
SS Robert Griffith made four tackles in the Cincinnati game, giving him
103 for the season. It marks the third straight time he reached the
century mark in tackles and eighth time in his career.
Offense wins games, Defense wins Championships
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