SPOTLIGHT / A GLANCE AT THIS WEEK IN THE NFL : NAMES AND NUMBERS
The New England Patriots set some standards they probably would have wanted to avoid in their 37-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots set a team record with their 10th consecutive defeat, a feat performed in front of the smallest crowd in the NFL so far this season. The attendance of 26,280 undercut the previous low of 28,924 for the Indianapolis Colts’ game at New England Nov. 11. Kansas City also set an NFL record with its sixth blocked punt. The victory was Kansas City’s fourth in its past five games. Stephone Paige scored on an 86-yard pass play from Steve DeBerg on the Chiefs’ first play from scrimmage. It was Paige’s longest reception in his eight-year career.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ 16-12 victory over Pittsburgh denied Steeler Coach Chuck Noll his 200th regular-season victory in 22 seasons. It was Cincinnati’s sixth consecutive victory over Pittsburgh.
The Buffalo Bills sacked Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham six times in a 30-23 victory, ending the Eagles’ winning streak at five games. Jim Kelly, with 334 yards passing, had his first 300-yard passing day of the season. James Lofton caught five of his passes for 174 yards to move into third place on the all-time receiving yardage list with 11,889, passing Don Maynard. Cunningham threw the NFL’s longest touchdown of the season, a 95-yarder to Fred Barnett, but the Bills’ heavy pass rush kept him from bringing Philadelphia back.
Jim Everett ended a string of three games without a touchdown with four touchdown passes in the Rams’ 38-23 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Henry Ellard led Ram receivers with six catches for 90 yards, giving him a team-record 402 receptions. He broke Tom Fears’ record of 400. The loss was Cleveland’s sixth in a row at home, a team record.
Vinny Testaverde passed for 351 yards in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 23-17 victory over Atlanta, handing the Falcons their fifth consecutive defeat and their 17th consecutive loss on the road. The victory ended the Buccaneers’ six-game losing streak. Willie Drewrey’s 89-yard touchdown reception from Testaverde was the longest in Tampa Bay history, breaking the record of 84 yards from Doug Williams to Kevin House against Detroit in 1981.
Kevin Butler’s field goal with 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against Detroit was the 128th of career and tied him for the team record with Bob Thomas. Chicago quarterback Jim Harbaugh has thrown 146 consecutive passes without an interception.
Washington’s Art Monk caught 10 passes in the Redskins’ victory over Miami, giving him 112 consecutive games with at least one reception. Gary Clark caught three passes to give him 402 receptions in six NFL seasons.
With three receptions for 25 yards against Dallas, New Orleans wide receiver Eric Martin became the Saints’ all-time leader in receiving yards. He has 321 receptions for 4,890 yards, breaking the record of 4,875 yards in 309 receptions set by Danny Abramowicz. Saint kicker Morten Anderson has scored in 106 consecutive games. He kicked field goals of 43 and 50 yards and had one extra point.
San Diego’s Marion Butts gained 159 yards in 26 carries against the New York Jets to become the seventh player in Charger history to rush for more than 1,000 yard in a season. He has 1,154 yards this year.
Norm Johnson’s 42-yard field goal in overtime gave Seattle a 13-10 victory over the Houston Oilers. It was the fourth time the Seahawks had their game decided on the final play. They’ve won three of them, including a 13-10 victory at San Diego last Sunday on Johnson’s 40-yard field goal in overtime.
Before Sunday, the Miami Dolphins had the leading defense in the NFL; the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense was No. 26 in the league. Chances are they’ll be ranked a little closer this week. Earnest Byner ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns and the Washington Redskins riddled the Dolphins for 467 total yards in a 42-20 victory. The Redskins, who had three consecutive long scoring drives to take a 21-0 lead, had 222 rushing yards against a defense that had been giving up only 85 a game. Byner became the first player to rush for more 100 yards against the Dolphins. Redskin quarterback Mark Rypien almost doubled the Miami season total for passing touchdowns allowed. Rypien threw three touchdown passes; the Dolphins had only given up four and had not allowed a touchdown through the air in five games.
At Pittsburgh, the Steelers made the Bengals look their best, again. The Steelers had apparently righted their early-season offensive problems more than a month ago with one-sided victories over the Rams and Atlanta Falcons. Then they played the Bengals and were held without a touchdown in a 27-3 loss. The next week, the Steelers got back on track with a 24-7 victory over the Jets before Sunday’s rematch with the Bengals. Cincinnati prevented a touchdown again with a 16-12 victory. The Steelers haven’t scored a touchdown against the Bengals in 11 quarters.
Atlanta quarterback Chris Miller suffered a broken right clavicle in the third quarter against New Orleans and probably will not be able to throw for four or five months, Falcon Coach Jerry Glanville said. . . . Pittsburgh tackle Tunch Ilkin, sidelined for a month with a dislocated elbow, left in the third quarter against Cincinnati with a bruised back. . . . Detroit cornerback Bruce McNorton suffered a broken left arm in the first half against Chicago. . . . Phoenix running back Johnny Johnson left the game against Indianapolis in the second quarter after aggravating a twisted right ankle.
THE BRADSHAW FACTOR
Former Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw minced no words on “The NFL Today” on CBS before the Rams played the Browns at Cleveland Stadium. Bradshaw questioned the wisdom of Bernie Kosar’s complaining about the dedication of his teammates and the Browns’ management after last Sunday’s 30-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Bradshaw indicated he believed a player in a leadership position who takes a tack such as Kosar’s could have a more detrimental effect on a team than help it, and he predicted a blowout victory for the Rams, who handed the Browns their seventh consecutive defeat, 38-23.
Kansas City linebacker Derrick Thomas, who began the day with a league-leading 15 sacks, didn’t play in the Chiefs’ 37-7 victory over the New England Patriots at Foxboro, Mass. He rested a knee he injured last Sunday in a 27-24 victory over the Raiders. Apparently, the Chiefs didn’t miss Thomas’ contributions. Despite his absence, the Chiefs applied pressure on New England quarterback Tommy Hodson all day and sacked him six times. They lead the league with 42 sacks this season. Defensive ends Bill Maas and Neil Smith had two sacks each. Hodson completed 20 of 39 passes for 211 yards, but he also had two passes intercepted.
New England Coach Ron Rust, after the Patriot’s team-record 10th loss in a row, 37-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs, was asked if his team had reached its low-water mark of the season: “I hope it is. I thought we hit it a long time ago.”
Chief quarterback Steve DeBerg, who passed for 312 yards in the first two quarters against the Patriots: “That’s as well as I’ve ever seen an offense function for a full half.”
Philadelphia’s Seth Joyner, who intercepted a pass late in the 30-23 loss to Buffalo then fumbled the Eagles’ chances away when he tried to lateral the ball to a teammate: “We’re an opportunistic defense, an opportunistic team. We live by the sword and we die by the sword. Today, it didn’t work for us.”
Pittsburgh’s Bubby Brister, after a 16-12 loss to Cincinnati gave the Bengals a one-game lead over Pittsburgh in the AFC Central: “It’s not over. If we win the rest of our games, we’re 10-6 and that might be good enough to win the division. But everybody’s angry: I’m angry, Chuck’s (Noll) angry, the whole team’s angry. We had too many opportunities to win.”
Seattle kicker Norm Johnson, after his field goal in overtime gave the Seahawks a 13-10 victory over Houston, the fourth Seattle game this season decided on the last play: “I kicked two field goals and an extra point and I’m completely exhausted. These kinds of games wear you out, even if you’re a kicker.”
OOPS, GREAT CALL!
Chicago Coach Mike Ditka’s decision in overtime first looked like a blunder, then turned out fine in the Bears’ 23-17 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Bears, who had tied the score, 17-17, on Kevin Butler’s 19-yard field goal with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter, decided to defend the north goal and get a strong wind at their back. The Lions drove to the Chicago 17-yard line. Eddie Murray made a genius of Ditka and missed a field-goal attempt from 35 yards. The Bears then picked up three first downs before Jim Harbaugh and Neal Anderson connected on a 50-yard pass play for a touchdown and the victory. Said Ditka: “This isn’t good for my health. We were fortunate, and sometimes in life you have to be fortunate.”
Troy Aikman and Steve Walsh, former first-round draft picks who battled for a starting position with the Dallas Cowboys, went head to head as opposing quarterbacks. The Cowboys’ Aikman and Walsh, traded to the New Orleans Saints two months ago, were nearly identical statistically, but Aikman prevailed in a 17-13 victory. He directed the Cowboys on two 80-yard touchdown drives in the second half. “Troy was just excellent,” said Dallas Coach Jimmy Johnson. “Troy made some great plays . . . and, for the first time in 14 games, had no interceptions.”
Walsh completed 18 of 27 passes for 177 yards and no touchdowns; Aikman completed 15 of 21 for 177 yards and one touchdown. There were no interceptions.
THE EASY WAY
The Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers clinched their division championships Sunday off the field. The 49ers won the NFC West title when the New Orleans Saints were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys. After Chicago defeated the Detroit Lions in an afternoon game, the Minnesota Vikings defeated Green Bay at night. That victory gave the Bears the NFC Central championship.