WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 9 (Part 1)

Week 9 action of the Greatest of All Time season includes the ’76 Raiders meeting the ’73 Vikings in a quasi-Super Bowl rematch; the Tony Dungy-led ’06 Colts going up against the defense he built in the ’02 Bucs; and the ’60 Eagles trying to avoid losing by 60 to the ’07 Patriots. Doesn’t seem too likely, however. Oh and by the way, the bye teams this week are the ’85 Bears, ’89 49ers, ’68 Jets and ’86 Giants. TO THE SIM ENGINE.

2007 New England Patriots (8-1) 41, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles (1-7) 16

In a rare show of sportsmanship completely out of character with that particular edition of the Patriots, Bill Belichick opted not to completely embarrass the hapless Eagles, choosing instead to let Tom Brady throw only 22 times and ease into a 25-point victory at Gillette Stadium. Brady finished with 239 yards and two touchdowns and Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris combined for 213 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles’ horrendous run defense. Randy Moss also finished with over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown.

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) 34, 2006 Indianapolis Colts (2-6) 3

Keyshawn Johnson had 164 receiving yards and a touchdown and Brad Johnson, of all people, outplayed Peyton Manning as the Buccaneers improved to 6-2, best in the NFC South. Michael Pittman added 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts for Tampa Bay, who gained a total of 435 yards against the Colts’ bombed-out shell of a defense. Peyton Manning was a mediocre 18-of-30 for 180 yards and an interception.

2000 Tennessee Titans (7-1) 26, 2009 New Orleans Saints (4-4) 18

Frank Wycheck caught two touchdown passes from Steve McNair, Eddie George added 125 rushing yards on 24 carries and the Titans withstood a late Saints’ charge to come away with a road victory and advance their record to 7-1. McNair finished 14-of-26 for 213 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for Tennessee. Drew Brees threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns on 45 attempts but also threw two interceptions. The Saints did have an opportunity to tie the game late, however, after Pierre Thomas caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Brees and the Saints’ defense forced Tennessee to punt. From their own 18-yard line with 1:44 left, the Saints were able to drive 61 yards down to the Tennessee 20 with 13 seconds left, but two consecutive Brees Hail Marys fell incomplete.

2005 Carolina Panthers (4-5) 36, 2008 Arizona Cardinals (4-4) 14

Jake Delhomme got some virtual redemption for his horrible playoff performance against the Cardinals, throwing for 228 yards and three touchdowns on just 21 attempts and the Panthers blew out Arizona in Charlotte. Steve Smith had five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown; Ricky Proehl and Kris Mangum also had touchdown receptions for the Panthers. Kurt Warner was efficient, going 16-of-26 for 233 yards and two touchdowns, but the Cardinals’ anemic run game (just 57 yards on 31 carries) put their passing game behind the 8 ball far too often.

1969 Kansas City Chiefs (4-4) 17, 1952 Detroit Lions (2-6) 3

The Chiefs defense held the Lions to 200 total yards of offense and were aided by an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown on their way to victory at Tiger Stadium. Kansas City could only muster 257 yards of offense themselves, but Len Dawson did find Gloster Richardson with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 5:33 remaining to put the game out of reach. The Lions subsequently drove down to the Kansas City 6, but Bob Hoernschemeyer was stuffed on a 4th-and-2 and the Chiefs were able to run out the clock in peace.

1973 Minnesota Vikings (2-6) 38, 1976 Oakland Raiders (2-6) 6

Chuck Foreman ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns for Minnesota, who won for the first time since Week 1. Foreman also added 42 yards receiving for the Vikings and Fran Tarkenton went 17-of-24 for 170 yards and a touchdown. Ken Stabler, on the other hand, had a rough day, going 12-of-25 for just 140 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

2012 Atlanta Falcons (3-5) 31, 2005 Seattle Seahawks (2-5-1) 20

Matt Ryan was an efficient 18-of-26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns, both going to Julio Jones, and the Falcons survived a 135-yard rushing day from Shaun Alexander to move to 3-5. Jones and Roddy White combined for 154 receiving yards for Atlanta, who scored 31 points despite two missed Matt Bryant field goals. Matt Hasselbeck was an unspectacular 12-of-24 for 163 yards.

Tomorrow: The ’62 Packers at the ’98 Broncos, the Steel Curtain going up against Jim Brown and the ’92 Cowboys visit the ’91 Redskins.

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