As New Englanders no doubt remember, Week 10 on the NFL gridiron was highlighted by two of the league's best teams putting up their dukes and fighting it out to the bitter — and I mean bitter, Patriots fans — end. The same scenario could be found in the equally competitive NESN.com Fantasy Football League, where the two divisional leaders faced off in a massive showdown this weekend.
In the midst of a five-game winning streak, Kathryn Tappen brought her Western division-leading Tappenators in to face Terrence Johnson's Eastern division-leading Crooked Lettas in the clear-cut game of the year.
And it was the Tappenators who claimed the colossal mid-November classic, earning a 117.1-109.95 victory and taking a four-game lead in the division. Kathryn got relatively poor performances from several of her typical stalwarts, but three players made the difference: Chris Johnson (35.2 fantasy points), Kurt Warner (29) and Maurice Jones-Drew (20.5).
"Terrence's team was our most feared opponent on the schedule," said a beaming Kathryn following her squad's sixth straight triumph, "especially given the dominance the Lettas have shown this season."
But the GM was just as happy that one of her players heeded her request not to run up the score on Terrence.
"I was happy to see Jones-Drew take a knee at the Jets' goal line to run down the clock rather than score," Kathryn stated proudly. "That truly demonstrated good sportsmanship and we greatly appreciated it. This game is all about being a good sport."
In that spirit, Kathryn proceeded to ask the reporters in attendance what she should get her opponent as a token of her gratitude for supplying her with yet another win.
"I respect T-Dog enough to know that he's not a fruity guy," she said. "So I'm thinking Omaha Steaks will serve him well as he consoles his team following this devastating loss. Bon Appetit!"
Yes, it's all about sportsmanship.
Terrence was heartbroken but realistic following his first loss in a month.
"I can't make any excuses here," he glumly said at his postgame news conference. "Steven Jackson and Thomas Jones both returned from byes and my team was at full strength. We've played really well to this point, and you can't ask for a better situation than to have a shot at the team you're tied with for the best record. We all knew how dominant the Tappenators have been, and my team knew this game would show us exactly where we stand.
"That being said," he continued, "when Kurt Warner, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson combine for 84 of the 117 points that beat you, and Minnesota's defense only gives you nine points against Detroit, you either feel like you've entered the Twilight Zone or that the big shiny bottle of Cristal was really Boone's Farm.
But in his typical Belichickean fashion, Terrence was ready to put the loss behind him and move on.
"I expected a close one from the start. The Tappenators proved to be the better team this time, and hats off to them. In the mean time, we have to focus on our next game. … At this point, our sole focus is rebounding and working to maintain our division lead."
The closest competition Terrence has in the Eastern division just so happens to be my Gray Cutoff Hoodies, who got back to the .500 mark after narrowly besting Cole Wright's shorthanded squad I MEAN BUSINESS 105.25-95.85 despite two of Cole's players being on a bye week. Cole actually held a small lead following the Pats-Colts tilt on Sunday (after starting both Peyton Manning and Joseph Addai), but the Hoodies bounced back thanks to a third-quarter touchdown from Ray Rice on Monday night.
"It's a sad day in New England," I told reporters after the contest was decided, sweating profusely. "Not only might I have to change the name of the team since my faith in the great gray cutoff hoodie himself has been seriously brought into question, but I almost lose to a team without a starting wide receiver and tight end? I'm not a proud man today. I'm not proud."
"What can I say?" Cole asked forlornly with his hands raised. "The Bears game on Thursday threw me off a bunch. And I still almost won.
"I'm not gonna lie, the thrill is gone for me. It's gonna be tough to jump back in the mix. But I'm dead in the water, son. My season is a wrap and it had so much promise early on!
"But I [still] MEAN BUSINESS!"
In other NESN.com action, Heidi Watney's Favre Forever squad took over second place in the West with a 107.7-96.1 decision over Naoko Funayama and UNITAS. Heidi got big games from Brett Favre himself, Randy Moss and Adrian Peterson to move to 4-6 on the season. She currently holds the tiebreaker over Cole.
"It was a little too close for comfort," Heidi said, "seeing as how Naoko started a player on a bye week [as well as Clinton Portis of the Redskins, who missed Sunday's game with a concussion]. But seeing as how she is in the middle of the Bruins season, I can understand the oversight. Favre Forever will take the win any way we can."
In the fourth and final fantasy tilt of Week 10, wow, who woke up John Chandler?! Chandler's More Cowbell squad squashed John Carchedi's Italian Ninjas 155.25-89.45 to improve to 3-7 on the campaign.
Chandler was unavailable for comment after the game — he was in the stadium chapel giving thanks to all that's holy for Sunday's temporary resurrection of LaDainian Tomlinson's career. But Chandler's opponent had plenty to say afterward.
"Chandler didn't just beat me," Carchedi whispered morosely to reporters in front of his locker, "he made me feel bad about myself. I was defeated so soundly, so completely, I am now questioning my own talents and mental capabilities. I am now a shell of the man I once was. That's how badly I lost."
This is yet another testament to the importance of fantasy football in our GMs' lives.
Stay tuned next week for all of the breaking news from Week 11 and keep the John Carchedi and the Italian Ninjas in your thoughts.