My roommate is one of the luckiest SOBs I know. He's been talking to this cute girl for a while, trying to find a time they're both available to set up a first date. So she calls him over Thanksgiving and asks if he wants to join her for the Bears game. They had something like fifth row seats! That's lucky enough already, but then...
The Bears and the Broncos played one of the most exciting games I've ever seen. Well, if you don't take high stakes into account-the result merely kept both teams at the edge of the playoff picture, and there's pretty much no history between them. But the game was so full of spectacular plays and breathtaking moments that I could fill up an entire toasts blog to the players from that game alone. I'll try to get to the other games too, but there's a lot to say for Chicago and Denver.
Here's to you, Special Teams Player of the Week Devin Hester. Two more return touchdowns, and Todd Sauerbrun's fear of you led to a squib kickoff that Rashied Davis returned to midfield. I have a feeling many more return specialists will be drafted higher, thanks to you, Josh Cribbs, Leon Washington, and all the other dynamite game-breakers playing this year.
Here's to you, Bernard Berrian. That game-tying TD catch was one of the niftiest grabs I've ever seen. You could drop 10 balls next week and I'll still think you've got amazing hands, just for that one play.
Here's to you, Charles Tillman. You'd already earned a toast when you broke up two passes at the goal line to hold the Broncos to a field goal in the second quarter. Then, for good measure, you picked off a pass that should have set up an easy score.
Here's to you, Bears special-teams coach Dave Toub. You've got those guys blocking their hearts out, and the way you engineered the rush on that punt block was pure brilliance.
Here's to you, Andre Hall. Did you think, while on the practice squad at the start of the season, that you'd be here right now, racking up 167 total yards against the Bears?
Here's to you, Tony Scheffler. I saw you make at least three improbable catches in heavy traffic, including that touchdown you caught with your thighs.
Here's to you, Adewale Ogunleye, for your two sacks, six tackles, and forced/recovered fumble. And here's to you, Hunter Hillenmeyer, who led the team in tackles, and seemed to be everywhere all game long. That's what you have to love about the Bears - different guys step up on defense every week.
Here's to you, Asante Samuel. For once, a defensive player was the key to a Patriots victory. Take away your two interceptions, and not only does your team lose, but Tom Brady gets outplayed by A.J. Feeley.
Here's to you, Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth were kept under 100 yards COMBINED. That's happened one other time this season.
Here's to you, Wes Welker, for getting open when Moss and Stallworth were shut down, to the tune of 13 receptions and 149 yards.
Here's to you, Philip Rivers. Solid, solid game. And here's to you, Antonio Gates, for two very nice long TDs. I can't believe they still call you a tight end.
Here's to you, Frank Gore. Finally! Way to put the team on your shoulders.
Here's to you, Kurt Warner. Yes, those two interceptions were costly, and that fumble even more so, but any time you get within 20 yards of 500, you deserve a hearty toast.
Here's to you, Trent Dilfer. Nothing fancy, but a good game with no huge mistakes. That's what got you a Super Bowl way back when. Wow. I just toasted the QBs of both the 1999 and 2000 Super Bowl winners, who are both supposed to be in the waning years.
I'm just going to take this moment to say, I feel bad for all the good QBs eligible for next year's draft. With Jeff Garcia, Brett Favre, Jon Kitna, Warner, Dilfer, Vinny Testaverde, and Damon Huard all being their team's best option at quarterback, I have a feeling that there will be a lot of guys slipping farther than expected.
And then there's running backs. Earnest Graham, Kenton Keith, Ryan Grant, Andre Hall, Justin Fargas, Derrick Ward, Jesse Chatman, Kolby Smith, and several other once-no-names clearly being able to handle the load, there's not much call to spend tons of money on an RB. Of course, on the other hand, you've got Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson doing quite well, so the elite rookie backs might not slip much. This trend will probably affect free agents more. Okay, back to the toasts.
Here's to you, Phillip Buchanon, Jermaine Phillips, Greg White, Tanard Jackson, Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly, and Kevin Carter. The Bucs needed every one of those six turnovers you guys participated in to pull off the win.
Here's to you, Defensive Player of the Week Patrick Kerney. 7 tackles, 3 sacks, a FF, and an INT - can't ask for much more than that.
Here's to you, Matt Hasselbeck, for quarterbacking a great second half to come back and win it.
Here's to you, Dwight Smith - you're a close second behind Kerney with your 2 picks and a TD. And along with you, I'll toast Chad Greenway and Darren Sharper, for each returning another pick for a TD. Thanks to you guys, it was fine that your offense only put together one long scoring drive.
Here's to you, Kolby Smith and Justin Fargas - remember when the AFC West had all the best running backs, and divisional matchups always featured exciting ground games. This one looked like that, except without the name recognition.
Here's to you, Kirk Morrison. On most any other team you'd be an all-pro.
Here's to you, David Garrard. Still no interceptions, and you're still getting the best out of the receivers you have.
Here's to you, Bills defense, for giving Maurice Jones-Drew such an interesting stat line. How do you rush 10 times for 10 yards, when one run was a 17-yard touchdown?
Here's to you, Chicago CBS affiliate, for allowing me to see the Texans/Browns game. Not a very sexy matchup, and usually if that's the best they've got, they won't show an afternoon game. But I very much wanted to see this - Matt Schaub against Derek Anderson: are they both for real? The NFL's two newest teams; both teams have great uniforms, coaches I like a lot, and are looking like they might be putting together regular playoff contenders with a lot of young talent.
Speaking of young talent, if Sunday was any indication, Brandon McDonald is an up-and-coming Pro Bowler. Here's to you, Brandon McDonald. 4 PDs including an interception, and he was covering Andre Johnson most of the day! Oh, and Johnson only finished with three catches for 37 yards (neatly coinciding with McDonald's 3 tackles - I'd like to see Johnson's YAC, I bet it's small).
Here's to you, D'Qwell Jackson, for 10 tackles and 2 assists. I love a guy who's all over the field.
Here's to you, Jamal Lewis. Actually watching you play, I understand why you've still got it though others your age don't. You take really small steps and keep low, and that's what makes you so explosive even when your speed isn't top-notch. I don't think there's anyone I'd rather have running on a muddy field; while everyone else was slipping, you were steadily making your way to 137 yards.
Here's to you, Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson. Finally, you did what you do, and humiliated the Titans.
Here's to you, Dhani Jones. 6 tackles, 3 assists, a sack, and a forced fumble. Very solid play.
Here's to you, Drew Brees. Three passing touchdowns and one rushing, and the 8-yard run was the longest play of the four. You might be one of the best red-zone quarterbacks in the league. Way to keep your wits about you.
Here's to you, Peyton Manning. After falling behind to Atlanta somehow in the first quarter, you said to yourself, "Wait just a minute. I'm freakin' Peyton Manning." And two quarters later, it was 31-13.
Here's to you, Anthony Gonzalez. Keep it up, the Colts need you to grow up fast for the playoffs.
Here's to you, Roddy White. You're on pace for 1126 yards - can we stop saying Atlanta doesn't have any receivers?
Here's to you, Marion Barber. You're still a heck of a runner - are you officially Dallas' starter yet? I mean, Julius Jones is fine-(here's to you, Julius for outplaying your brother Thomas)-but Barber's brilliant. The choice is obvious.
Here's to you, Terence Newman. That 50-yard INT return pretty much debilitated the Jets permanently.
Here's to you, Offensive Player of the Week Brett Favre. 75.6% passing for 381 yards and 3 TDs without any INTs against the best picker-offers in the league-go ahead, try and make a case for someone else.