WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 11 (Part 1)

Alright, so here’s what’s going on: since my favorite day of the offseason is now TOMORROW and I’ll be giddily breaking down the entire 2013 NFL schedule on Friday, we’re moving the Greatest of All Time season simulations to today and tomorrow and postponing the next installment of Paup Fiction until next week. If any of you are the crying type, now’s as good a time as any to let those tears out. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to Week 11 of the season we’re running through WhatIfSports in which the 2000 Titans and 1979 Chargers are the best teams in the league and the 1989 49ers and 1958 Colts are among the worst. SO REALISTIC. There aren’t any bye teams this week, so everybody’s gotta play every week from here on out. YIPPEE. Let’s light this candle…

1991 Washington Redskins (7-3) 33, 1968 New York Jets (3-7) 14

Ricky Ervins rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and the Redskins used 466 yards of offense to fuel a lead that grew as large as 27 points and improve their record to 7-3. Mark Rypien threw two interceptions but also picked up 291 yards on 31 attempts and Art Monk, Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark all gained at least 66 receiving yards for Washington. Joe Namath threw for 229 yards, one garbage-time touchdown and an interception on 31 attempts.

1979 San Diego Chargers (9-1) 29, 1973 Minnesota Vikings (3-7) 10

Dan Fouts went 21-of-29 for 277 yards and a touchdown and the Chargers scored the first twenty-six points of the game en route to a dominant road victory in Bloomington. Clarence Williams and Mike Thomas each added a rushing touchdown for San Diego and the Charger defense even netted a safety in the third quarter when Woodrow Lowe sacked Fran Tarkenton in the end zone. Tarkenton could only manage 96 passing yards on 14 attempts and the Vikings barely had the ball for more than twenty minutes of game time.

2000 Tennessee Titans (9-1) 22, 1976 Oakland Raiders (2-8) 16 (OT)

Eddie George’s three-yard touchdown run with fifty seconds remaining in the extra period lifted the Titans to 9-1, keeping pace with the Chargers in the process. The Raiders had taken a 13-3 lead in the third quarter and jumped back ahead 16-13 on a 25-yard Fred Steinfort field goal with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Steve McNair engineered a seven-play, 33-yard drive that was capped by a 52-yard Al Del Greco field goal with ten seconds remaining and the game went to overtime. From there, both teams wasted scoring opportunities: Tennessee via an interception from the Raider 38 and Oakland via a missed 49-yard field goal attempt by Steinfort. Finally, the Titans drove 61 yards in eleven plays to punch the ball into the end zone and secure the victory.

1962 Green Bay Packers (8-2) 17, 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4) 14

Tom Moore scored two rushing touchdowns, including one on a 20-yard run with 1:53 remaining in the game to give Green Bay victory in a sloppy game at Lambeau Field. The Buccaneers took a 14-7 lead into the fourth quarter on the strength of two Brad Johnson touchdown passes in the second quarter but turned the ball over three times and had a punt blocked in the disastrous final frame. Overall, Tampa Bay had five turnovers – four of them being Johnson interceptions. The Packers committed three turnovers of their own, though, and came away with no points out of two possessions deep in Tampa Bay territory in the fourth quarter. Jim Taylor was the major offensive star in the game, rushing for 125 yards on 20 carries.

1972 Miami Dolphins (5-5) 31, 1990 Buffalo Bills (5-5) 13

Larry Csonka rushed for 121 yards, scoring on runs of 54 and 35 yards in the process and the Dolphins won their fourth game in a row to get to .500 for the first time all year. Bob Griese was brilliant as well, going 14-for-20 for 226 yards and a touchdown and the Dolphins outgained the Bills 433-216 in total offense. Jim Kelly could only manage 11 completions and 123 yards on 30 attempts and Buffalo found their fortunes to be the reverse of the Dolphins, plummeting down to .500 after a 4-1 start to the season.

1998 Denver Broncos (5-5) 26, 1991 Houston Oilers (5-5) 21

Terrell Davis rushed for 140 yards on 26 carries, one of those going for a 46-yard touchdown and the Broncos, further aided by four Jason Elam field goals, defeated the Oilers at the Astrodome to move both teams to .500. John Elway went 15-of-26 for 224 yards and a touchdown to Rod Smith; Ed McCaffrey was the major receiving star, though, picking up 122 yards on just four catches. Lorenzo White rushed for 86 yards and scored twice on just ten carries, but Warren Moon was limited to only 106 yards on 26 dropbacks.

1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) 34, 2009 New Orleans Saints (4-6) 21

Fred Taylor scored on touchdown runs from 16, 7 and 43 yards away and the Jaguars built up a twenty-point lead en route to an easy home victory at Alltel Stadium. Taylor gained a total of 125 yards on just 13 carries and Mark Brunell added 235 yards and a touchdown through the air on 26 attempts. Drew Brees threw for 285 yards and a touchdown on 41 attempts for New Orleans, who had a 14-10 lead late in the second quarter but then gave up 24 unanswered points before piling on a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter.

1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) 30, 1981 Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) 20

Terry Bradshaw threw two touchdown passes and Rocky Bleier’s 25-yard touchdown run in the third quarter broke a 17-17 deadlock for good, sending the Steelers to 7-3 and giving them a two-game lead in the AFC North over Cincinnati. Had the Bengals been able to win at Three Rivers Stadium, they would have tied the Steelers’ record and would have also owned the tiebreaker due to a season sweep. The Bengals’ offense could only manage 248 yards, however, and Ken Anderson was limited to just 145 yards passing on 31 dropbacks. Bleier rushed for a total of 67 yards and also had a two-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Tomorrow: The ’89 49ers try to will their way back into the playoff race in a must-win road game at the ’05 Seahawks; the ’85 Bears defense takes their shot at The Greatest Show on Turf; and the ’64 Browns and ’60 Eagles both try to keep their respective games against the ’07 Patriots and ’92 Cowboys within 40 points. Won’t be easy.

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