Week 13 started with a bang on Thursday night as the NFL Network featured two of the most popular teams in the NFL, Green Bay and Dallas. The Network's presentation was outstanding and the game even better, with the Cowboys victorious, 37-27.
Nine early games on Sunday had many twists and turns. The Redskins opened against the Bills with 10 players on defense to honor their fallen teammate, safety Sean Taylor. The Bills' Fred Jackson (more on him later) ran for 22 yards on the play. Washington's defense held after that, but the Bills came from behind in the game and ended up winning after Washington was penalized 15 yards for taking successive timeouts.
Buccaneers tight end Jerramy Stevens had not caught a pass in his previous three games, but he emerged as the hero in Sunday's win over New Orleans, catching the game-winning touchdown pass with four seconds left. The Bucs, who finished last in the NFC South last season, have a three-game lead with four games to play.
We're now up to 19 kickoffs returned for touchdowns this season -- that already breaks the previous single-season record of 18, and there are still four weeks to play. There were plenty of other great individual performances in Week 13. In general, it was another terrific weekend of NFL action.
Who is Fred Jackson?
Jackson played high school football in Arlington, Texas, and then played four years at Coe College, a Div. III school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As a senior at Coe, he ran for 1,702 yards and 29 touchdowns. He then played two seasons with the Sioux City Bandits of the United Indoor Football League, scoring 53 touchdowns for the Bandits in 2004. In 2006, he played in NFL Europe and rushed for 731 yards.
Since 1980, there have been only 13 Div. III players who have started one or more games at running back in the NFL -- the last one before Jackson was Chris Warren of Ferrum College, on Dec. 24, 2000.
Jackson, who is 6-foot-1, 215 pounds with good speed for the position, is not even the most famous Coe College alum with the Bills organization. Coe also happens to be the alma mater of Buffalo GM Marv Levy.
Hard times in K.C.
Kansas City quarterbacks have been sacked 42 times this year -- they were sacked 41 times all of 2006.
Smooth sailing for Viking ship
The defense has allowed 5 rushing TDs through 12 games. The offense is averaging 5.6 yards per rush, which remains on pace to set a new NFL single-season mark.
The Vikings have won three in a row, and their last four opponents all have losing records (at San Francisco, vs. Chicago, vs. Washington, at Denver).
There was at least one interception thrown in each of the 14 games played Sunday -- and a total of 40 for the day. Three of the 40 were returned for touchdowns. Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu had three of his own, including one that sealed a win for the Seahawks in Philadelphia.
The Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli, and McCown brothers, Josh and Luke, combined for 13 TD passes and 937 yards on Sunday. More importantly, their teams were a combined 4-0. It marks the first time two sets of brothers started and were victorious in four games on one day. For the first set of NFL brothers playing quarterback in the same season, you have to go back to Ed and Joey Sternaman in 1927. The Sternamans were the only brother tandem until 1980 -- when Craig Bradshaw played two games for the Houston Oilers -- arch rivals of his brother Terry's Steelers.
Amazingly, the Mannings and McCowns are two of six brother QB tandems to have dotted NFL rosters in recent years. The others are: Carson and Jordan Palmer, Damon and Brock Huard, Koy and Ty Detmer, and Matt and Tim Hasselbeck.
LT = TD
I had the honor to witness Tomlinson's first college game. Tomlinson, a freshman at TCU, made his college debut on Sept. 6, 1997 against Kansas. On his very first carry, he fumbled.
Of course, he did go on to score 54 touchdowns in a storied college career. And things have turned out okay for him since then.
Number-one draft pick JaMarcus Russell made his NFL debut in the second quarter of Oakland's win over Denver; his first attempt was a 16-yard completion. … Two of Peyton Manning's TD passes in a win over Jacksonville came after the Colts won replay challenges that kept drives alive. … St. Louis and Carolina both won their first games at home this season. … David Carr, the top pick in the 2002 draft, was listed as the third QB Sunday for the Panthers, behind Matt Moore. … Houston's defensive end Mario Williams -- another top overall pick -- sacked Tennessee QB Vince Young twice and was credited with an additional half-sack, giving him 8.5 for the season… Three teams, Carolina, Minnesota and the Jets, enjoyed their highest-scoring games of the season Sunday. … Chiefs DE Jared Allen caught his first NFL pass and scored his first NFL touchdown. So that means he is only eight behind Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel. … San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis had 18 tackles (17 solo) for the second week in a row. Willis leads the NFL with 128 tackles and should be shoe-in for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. ... Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson threw two TD passes Sunday against Detroit. That's double his total for each of the first three months of the season (he had 1 TD in September, 1 in October, 1 in November).