The New York Jets were going to do it again. Up 13-0 on the resurgent New England Patriots at the half, it looked like the J-E-T-S were on their way to another victory. A surprising 7-3 going into the game, the Jets are doing their best impression of last season’s Giants. Except they’re not as good.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of Kerry Collins, but Vinny Testaverde is worse. I guess I should never condemn a team because of the weakness of their quarterback after what the 2000 Baltimore Ravens did. Still, Vinny always seems to find a way to lose the ballgame. In the first half on Sunday, however, he was clicking on all cylinders. Meanwhile, surprising starter Tom Brady and the New England offense were sputtering.
I don’t know what Bill Belichick pulled out of his hat during intermission, but the Patriots were a different team in the second half. Brady rallied his team, scoring 17, while Vinny managed just 3. Testaverde had a chance, driving the ball down field with under five minutes, his team trailing by a point. And then, of course, he found a way to choke, throwing an interception and handing the Patriots the 17-16 victory.
Drew Bledsoe better start looking for someone to buy his house, because he won’t be staying around New England next season. Since coming in for him in Week 2, Tom Brady has led the Patriots to a 7-3 record. Not since Big Bad Bill Parcells coached in Foxboro has there been this much hope for Pats fans.
Week 12 Highlights
Dallas at Washington — Call it the curse of Sports Illustrated. Maybe just the curse of the Cowboys. Whatever you call it, the Redskins’ amazing win streak came to an end. Emmitt Smith looked like the Emmitt Smith of old. Quincy Carter looked, well, better than Ryan Leaf. And the Cowboys dealt a deadly blow to the Redskins playoff hopes. The Cowboys can’t beat anyone else, but they beat the Skins for the ninth straight time, 20-7.
Minnesota at Pittsburgh — It felt like the late ’70s again. The Steel Curtain dominated for 54 minutes, crippling the Vikings usually potent offense. Daunte Culpepper was injured, and the Vikings looked anemic. Todd Bouman was in at QB with the Vikings trailing 21-3, and all was lost. Or was it?
The Vikings came storming back in the game’s waning minutes, scoring twice before receiving the ball on the Pittsburgh 10-yard line with 2:13 remaining. And then the Steelers realized there was still a game going on. The defense recovered to pull out the victory, 21-16, and extend the Burgs’ record to 9-2.
Arizona at Oakland — Bill Gramatica dancing? That means only one thing. The Cardinals, that’s right the Dodos of the Desert, pulled out a win against one of the NFL’s finest. The Cards put up 34 points, giving them 99 in the last three games. Jake Plummer and David Boston proved once again that they are one of the league’s deadliest QB-WR duos, as the Birds improved to 5-6.
Tennessee 31, Cleveland 15 — Eddie are you OK? Are you OK, Eddie? You’ve been hit by, you’ve been struck by, a smooth Steve McNair.
New Orleans 27, Carolina 23 — They say the Superdome was built on a graveyard. A Panther graveyard.
Miami 21, Denver 10 — The Broncos slip on the Griese Fiedler of Pro Player Stadium.
Tampa Bay 16, Cincinnati 13 — Wait, I swear I saw that dance somewhere else. Wait a minute. — Two Grammaticas!
Chicago 13, Detroit 10 — Oh, oh, oh, oh-11.
Baltimore 39, Indianapolis 27 — Playoffs?! Mora’s got to concentrate on keeping his job.
Seattle 13, San Diego 10 — San Diego’s battery has run out of Charge.
St. Louis 35, Atlanta 6 — Warner to Falcons: No defense? No problem.
Philadelphia 23, Kansas City 10 — If only Vermeil had stayed with the Eagles. Or the Rams. Hello, Ron Jaworski? We have an opening at QB —
Monday Night Preview: Green Bay at Jacksonville
Jacksonville, just two years removed from 14-2, is a wounded team at 3-7. The Packers come into the game holding a 7-3 record and the inside track to the playoffs. Brett Favre will look to keep pace with the NFC Central-leading Bears.
The Verdict: Favre connects with Ahman Green early and often. Packers 27, Jacksonville 17.