We’re more than halfway through the simulated Greatest Teams of All Time season that began back in February and seems like it will end in 2017. What have we learned so far? Well, if you’re a good, well-rounded team with no glaring holes, you’re gonna do just fine (looking at you, ’00 Titans and ’79 Chargers). And, on the other hand, if your run defense is absolute crap, your team’s going to be absolute crap, too, no matter if Peyton Manning is your quarterback or not (my condolences, ’06 Colts). Week 10 is the final week with teams on bye (the ’07 Patriots, ’72 Dolphins, ’99 Jaguars and ’05 Panthers are all off); after this week, it’s back to full slate action for the final seven weeks. For now, though, we’re about to fire up the WhatIfSports sim engine to find out what legally binding results it has for us today…
The Falcons’ two first quarter touchdowns held up as the Atlanta defense held Tampa Bay to six field goal attempts, including Martin Gramatica’s wide-left attempt from 40 yards away as time expired that would have won the game. Tampa Bay dominated time of possession (35:50 to 24:10) and total yards gained (389 to 215), but in addition to having to settle for six Gramatica field goal attempts, the Buccaneers also lost the turnover battle 2-0. Michael Turner rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on just 11 attempts and Matt Ryan added a touchdown throw to Harry Douglas.
Like the 2006 Colts, the Eagles have bemoaned a terrible run defense all season long and that didn’t change in this game as the Redskins pounded out another 237 yards on 39 attempts on the Swiss cheese Philadelphia calls run support. Unlike the ’06 Colts, though, there’s no “What-If” cards being played here since, hey, these Eagles are bad pretty much everywhere. Washington bounced back from a disappointing loss to Dallas last week with a resounding road victory on the back of 168 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns from Earnest Byner and 172 passing yards and a touchdown from Mark Rypien.
In one of the biggest upsets of the season so far, the Vikings marched into Lambeau Field and dominated the Packers, only allowing a first quarter field goal and Bart Starr touchdown pass with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Fran Tarkenton was sensational, going 8-of-11 for 189 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception; one of those touchdowns was a 64-yard strike to Carroll Dale. Bart Starr, meanwhile, was limited to 173 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 30 attempts.
Pete Johnson scored on a 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for the game’s only touchdown and the Bengals scored a road win over their in-state rival. Johnson finished with 85 yards on 16 attempts for the day and Ken Anderson threw for 174 yards on 24 attempts. More importantly, the Bengal defense limited Jim Brown to 89 yards on 22 carries.
The spate of road divisional wins across the league continued as Len Dawson threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns on 25 attempts and the Chiefs got over the .500 bump for the first time all season in a dominant win over Denver. Mike Garrett had a 78-yard catch for Kansas City and finished with 104 yards receiving overall. John Elway had a miserable time for Denver, going 10-of-30 for only 71 yards and an interception; Terrell Davis scored the lone Bronco touchdown.
Leave it to the team that had lost six in a row coming in to break the streak of home divisional losses. Matt Snell scored on an 8-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, providing the only touchdown of the game and the Jets’ first win since Week 2. Joe Namath threw two interceptions but did gain 180 yards on 22 attempts. The Jets’ defense, meanwhile, sacked Jim Kelly four times (including one on the final play of the game from the Jets’ 22-yard-line) and limited the Bills to 240 yards of offense.
Outside of one lost fumble, it’d be tough for the Titans to play any better offensively. Steve McNair went 15-of-18 for 214 yards and a touchdown and Eddie George rushed for 210 yards on 25 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown run, and the Titans finished a season sweep of the Inianapolis Colts (see what I did there?). George added a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and the Titans gained 481 yards overall offensively. Meanwhile, the Colts only mustered 15 yards on the ground on 18 attempts and Peyton Manning was limited to 206 yards and a touchdown on 36 attempts.
Tomorrow: The ’85 Bears travel to San Diego to take on the 7-1 ’79 Chargers; Johnny U (not portrayed by Joe Flacco) takes on the Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh; and the ’92 Cowboys and ’86 Giants have their final meeting of the season.