WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 6 (Part 2)

Week 6 action in the Greatest of All Time season continues today, but if you missed yesterday’s games, I would implore you to check that post out first. All that happened was the ’07 Patriots losing a regular season game, the ’05 Panthers refusing to kneel down and fumbling the game away with fifteen seconds left in the process, and Jim Taylor setting the single-game rushing record for the ’62 Packers. So…yeah. Check that crap out. Once you’re done, finish reading this week’s recaps below.

1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) 24, 2000 Tennessee Titans (4-1) 10

James Stewart stepped out of Fred Taylor’s shadow for a day, rushing for 128 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 attempts and the last undefeated team remaining in the league fell at home to their division rival from northern Florida. Eddie George rushed for 122 yards on 25 attempts for the Titans, but Steve McNair had a rough day, going 13-of-26 for only 131 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions (both to Aaron Beasley, who had his second straight two interception game). Meanwhile for the Jaguars, Mark Brunell went 18-of-30 for 205 yards, 108 of which went to Jimmy Smith.

1985 Chicago Bears (4-2) 16, 1973 Minnesota Vikings (1-4) 0

Aided by three missed Fred Cox field goals and two other failed Vikings possessions in the red zone, the Bears shut out the Vikings and earned their first home victory of the season. Minnesota actually outgained the Bears 298-250, but Cox’s misses from 39, 44, and 46 yards would prove devastating to the team later in the fourth quarter when they twice drove inside the Bears’ 20-yard line and were forced to go for touchdowns both times. Walter Payton rushed for 105 yards and added 41 more yards and the game’s lone touchdown as a receiver. Chuck Foreman gained 129 yards from scrimmage for the Vikes.

2008 Arizona Cardinals (4-2) 30, 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) 24 (OT)

Edgerrin James’ ten-yard touchdown run with 6:48 remaining in overtime capped a 13-play, 69-yard drive for the Cardinals that took over eight minutes to complete and continued their improbable good fortune to start the season. Michael Pittman (102 yards receiving, 52 rushing) had caught a ten-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson with 2:37 remaining in regulation to tie the game up. Ultimately, however, the Buccaneers couldn’t overcome two Cardinals return touchdowns in the first half – the first, a 13-yard interception return by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the first quarter; the second, a blocked punt that was returned five yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Hence, even the Buccaneers outgained the Cardinals 375-237 in total yards during regulation, the score was still even at the end of four quarters.

1992 Dallas Cowboys (4-2) 23, 1972 Miami Dolphins (1-5) 17

Emmitt Smith’s 6-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds remaining capped a 31-carry, 207-yard personal performance and gave the Cowboys a late comeback win over the Dolphins, dropping the owners of the perfect season down to 1-5. Miami entered the final period with a 17-10 lead thanks to  two punt return touchdowns – one from 65 yards in the first quarter, the other from 62 yards in the third – by an undisclosed player (apparently special teams players don’t matter to you, do they WhatIfSports? DO THEY????), but two Lin Elliott field goals and Smith’s touchdown run sent the Dolphins to ignominious defeat yet again. And as usual, the main culprits were Bob Griese and Earl Morrall, who combined to go just 8-of-27 for 78 yards through the air.

1979 San Diego Chargers (4-1) 30, 1976 Oakland Raiders (1-5)

The combo of Dan Fouts to John Jefferson produced 209 yards and a touchdown through the air for San Diego and the Chargers racked up 444 yards of offense against the Raiders to sent Oakland to a dismal 1-5 record. Fouts ended up with a spectacular stat line: 14-of-23 for 330 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Ken Stabler’s two-yard touchdown throw to Fred Biletnikoff got the Raiders within a touchdown with 5:48 remaining, but three plays later Fouts found Jefferson for a 69-yard score that put the game out of reach.

2009 New Orleans Saints (2-3) 34, 1999 St. Louis Rams (4-2) 31 (OT)

Drew Brees (22-of-34, 266 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) converted two fourth downs on a critical fourth quarter drive, ultimately finding Devery Henderson for a one-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 remaining to tie the game and John Carney won the game in overtime with a 27-yard field goal as the Saints upset the Rams at the Trans World Dome. The Rams had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Jeff Wilkins’ 52-yard field goal attempt went wide left. Then after the Saints punted on the first possession of overtime, Kurt Warner threw his third interception of the game, which was returned by Darren Sharper to the Rams 17-yard line, setting up Carney for the chip shot game winner. Kevin Carter notched four sacks in defeat for St. Louis.

2012 Atlanta Falcons (2-4) 31, 1986 New York Giants (1-5) 25

Matt Ryan was a dazzling 16-of-24 for 290 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and the Falcons kept the Giants frustrated, handing them their fifth loss in seven games. Roddy White had 118 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches and Julio Jones added 97 yards and a touchdown on four catches of his own. In what has become a common refrain for the Giants, an excellent Joe Morris performance (130 rushing yards on 25 attempts) was wasted thanks to poor quarterback play from Phil Simms (13-of-29, 201 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions).

Next week: The ’75 Steelers try to keep up with 1990 Buffalo’s K-Gun; the ’98 Broncos meet the ’79 Chargers and the ’91 Oilers take on the ’00 Titans in mid-season battles for divisional supremacy; the ’85 Bears try to cool off the red-hot ’91 Redskins; and Tom Brady takes on Johnny Unitas.

AFC East

  1. ’07 New England: 5-1
  2. ’90 Buffalo: 4-1
  3. ’68 NY Jets: 2-4
  4. ’72 Miami: 1-5

AFC North

  1. ’75 Pittsburgh: 4-2
  2. ’81 Cincinnati: 3-3
  3. ’58 Baltimore: 2-3
  4. ’64 Cleveland: 0-5

AFC South

  1. ’00 Tennessee: 4-1
  2. ’91 Houston: 4-1
  3. ’99 Jacksonville: 4-2
  4. ’06 Indianapolis: 2-3

AFC West

  1. ’79 San Diego: 4-1
  2. ’98 Denver: 4-2
  3. ’69 Kansas City: 2-3
  4. ’76 Oakland: 1-5

NFC East

  1. ’91 Washington: 4-1
  2. ’92 Dallas: 4-2
  3. ’86 NY Giants: 1-5
  4. ’60 Philadelphia: 0-5

NFC North

  1. ’62 Green Bay: 5-1
  2. ’85 Chicago: 4-2
  3. ’52 Detroit: 2-3
  4. ’73 Minnesota: 1-4

NFC South

  1. ’02 Tampa Bay: 4-2
  2. ’09 New Orleans: 2-3
  3. ’05 Carolina: 2-4
  4. ’12 Atlanta: 1-4

NFC West

  1. ’08 Arizona: 4-2
  2. ’99 St. Louis: 4-2
  3. ’89 San Francisco: 2-3-1
  4. ’05 Seattle: 1-3-1 
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