SPOTLIGHT / A GLANCE AT THIS WEEK IN THE NFL : STRETCH MARKS
The following streaks, none of which have any importance to average people, were broken on Sunday:
--New York Giant quarterback Jeff Hostetler lost his first game as a starter after having won eight in a row.
--The Minnesota Vikings won their first game (20-19 over Atlanta) after 11 consecutive losses in open-air stadiums. But that’s not all. . . .
--The Minnesota Vikings also won their first game on natural grass after seven losses.
--Scott Norwood, the Buffalo kicker of Super Bowl fame, made a 50-yard field goal after having never made one of 50 or more yards in six tries.
--Ray Handley, coach of the New York Giants, and Dick MacPherson, coach of New England Patriots, lost for the first time as NFL head coaches. They both had won once.
The following streaks, of significance mostly to statistical freaks, continued on Sunday:
--Minnesota’s Anthony Carter caught four passes for 28 yards against the Atlanta Falcons, giving him at least one catch in 82 consecutive regular season games.
--Green Bay wide receiver Sterling Sharpe caught one pass for 20 yards to extend his consecutive-game reception streak to 41.
--Chicago’s Neal Anderson scored on a 12-yard run and a seven-yard reception, extending his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown against Tampa Bay to eight
--Tampa Bay’s Mark Carrier had four receptions to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one catch to 50.
--New Orleans quarterback Bobby Hebert is 12-0 against AFC teams.
--Henry Ellard of the Rams caught one pass for six yards to extend his pass catching streak to 66 games.
The following minutiae is provided as a public service to the families of those accomplishing these feats and also to sports agents in renegotiation frenzies:
--Dan Marino threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jim Jensen with 5:47 left to play for the 245th scoring pass of his career, giving him sole possession of fifth place on the NFL’s all-time list.
--Tampa Bay tackle Paul Gruber participated in his 3,000th play as a Buccaneer in the second quarter.
--Buffalo receiver James Lofton moved past Charlie Taylor into fifth place on the NFL’s list of catches with 651.
--The first reception by Buffalo’s Andre Reed was the 400th of his NFL career.
--Green Bay kicker Chris Jacke tied Elijah Pitts, Carroll Dale and Gerry Ellis for 18th place on the Packers’ all-time scoring list with two extra points giving him 210 for his career.
--Pat Leahy’s two field goals for the New York Jets moved him into fifth place on the NFL’s all-time field goal list with 283. He moved ahead of Fred Cox and Jim Bakken.
--Gary Anderson’s 64-yard scoring run was the second-longest in Tampa Bay history. James Wilder ran 75 yards against Minnesota in 1983. Anderson’s run was the longest by a Buccaneer in Tampa Stadium. Vinny Testaverde set the previous mark with a 48-yarder against Minnesota last year.
NOW THAT’S PROGRESS
San Diego’s 34-14 loss to San Francisco marked Coach Dan Henning’s play-calling debut. Henning fired offensive coordinator Ted Tollner last week, saying he was unhappy with the team’s offensive direction. Last week the Chargers scored 20 points against Pittsburgh. On Sunday, the Chargers scored 14 points. It leaves some in San Diego asking “Where have you gone, Ted Tollner?”
Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly threw a career-high six touchdown passes. He also had a career-high 31 completions in 43 passes. Kelly’s performance was clearly significant to anyone who has him in a rotisserie football league. Don Beebe caught 10 of Kelly’s passes. Before Sunday, Beebe had caught only three touchdowns in his three-year career.
Former USC quarterback Rodney Peete completed 25 of a career-high 38 passes for 271 yards for the Detroit Lions. Teammate Robert Clark had 10 catches for a career-high 143 yards.
Steve Young, filling in for injured Joe Montana, threw three touchdown passes for the San Francisco 49ers. Young completed 26 of 36 passes for 348. yards. Two of touchdown passes went to Jerry Rice, who had nine receptions for 150 yards.
Miami running back Mark Higgs, a 5-foot-7 fourth-year pro from Kentucky, ran for 111 yards in 27 carries and became the first Dolphin since Andra Franklin in 1982 to gain more than 100 yards in consecutive games. Higgs became a starter when Sammie Smith suffered a knee injury that will keep him sidelined at least two more games. Higgs ran for 146 yards last week against Buffalo.
The Chicago Bear defense sacked Tampa Bay quarterback Vinny Testaverde six times and got to his backup, Chris Chandler, once. John Roper, Richard Dent and Steve McMichael had two sacks each.
Herschel Walker had a good day on his return to home state. Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner and three-time All-American at Georgia, rushed for 125 yards in 25 carries in the Vikings victory over the Falcons.
CBS commentator John Madden announced that he has no plans to ride in a blimp. “I’d never like to be in a blimp,” Madden said during the Rams-New York Giant telecast. While it was assumed that Madden would spend his life blimpless, this is the first official confirmation of that. Madden, who refuses to fly in an airplane, travels to his assignments in a bus.
The most serious injury of the day was to Colt running back Albert Bentley, who is out for the season with extensive ligament damage to his right knee. Bentley, who missed Indianapolis’ opening game because of a separated left shoulder, hurt himself on a four-yard reception late in the third quarter. “It’s a devastating loss for us,” Colt Coach Ron Meyer said.
Elsewhere, Ram tackle Jackie Slater partially dislocated his right shoulder and linebacker Fred Strickland sprained his left knee. The Lions’ All-Pro nose tackle Jerry Ball pulled his right hamstring. New York Jet quarterback Ken O’Brien twisted his ankle and running Blair Thomas hurt his back.
BATTLE OF THE BACKUPS
Tom Tupa, starting in place of the injured Timm Rosenbach, completed six of 19 passes for 218 yards in Phoenix’s 26-10 victory over Philadelphia. Jim McMahon, replacing injured Randall Cunningham, completed 18 of 32 passes for 158 yards. Tupa may have had fewer completions but his 36.3 yard per catch average was impressive.
Other quarterbacks in starting roles because of injuries were Steve Young, subbing for Joe Monatana in San Francisco, and Jeff Kemp, playing for Dave Krieg in Seattle. Young passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns, and Kemp passed for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
‘QUOTE ME ON THAT’
“You’re dogs when you lose. We’re dogs right now. I’m just disgusted. I’m getting tired of losing,” said the new-attitude Eric (Lassie) Dickerson, who was held to 60 yards in 19 carries for Indianapolis.
“It was a discouraging home opener. We’re going hunting and shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Atlanta Coach Jerry Glanville, who should probably be leaving tickets for a podiatrist rather than Elvis Presley.
“If I had to attach a grade to my performance, it would be passing,” said Seattle quarterback Jeff Kemp, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Kemp also wins the Pun-of-the-Day Award.
‘I WAS MISQUOTED’
With half an apology to David Letterman, the following is a top-five list of things said before Sunday’s kickoffs that deserve further examination.
5) “Lots of blitzes by the Rams means lots of touchdowns for the Giants,” said CBS commentator Terry Bradshaw. The Rams beat the Giants, 19-13.
4) “Last year helped me coming into this year (to) get some experience and learn a little about the game, the NFL game,” said New England quarterback Tommy Hodson. Hodson continued to learn as Cleveland beat the Patriots, 20-0. He completed 12 of 26 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions.
3) “It’s up to us to create some things. Get some turnovers, make things happen,” said Philadelphia defensive end Reggie White. White’s version of making things happen turned out to be one tackle and helping out on another. Phoenix lost one fumble, the Eagles lost five. Phoenix beat the Eagles, 26-10.
2) “But this is one game I don’t have to worry about our players being up for,” said Denver Coach Dan Reeves. The Broncos were up for a 16-13 loss to the Raiders.
And finally . . .
1) “Philadelphia could be a better team with Jim McMahon at quarterback,” said ESPN analyst Joe Theismann. Phoenix beat Philadelphia, 26-10, and Theismann remains only on the cable.