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Something’s missing for Gore

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Times Staff Writer

Frank Gore’s game-day ritual always included his mother.

No matter where he was, while driving to the stadium, he always talked to his mom.

But Sunday, as the San Francisco 49ers running back was on his way to face the St. Louis Rams, his phone was silent.

Liz Gore died Wednesday in the Miami area after a lengthy battle with a kidney ailment. Gore dedicated Sunday’s game to her, then rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-16 49ers victory.

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“This morning, I just kept looking at my phone and it never rang,” Gore said. “She didn’t call. I shed a few tears and it was tough to get up, but I decided to play and I had to do my best.”

Gore, third in the NFL last season with 1,695 yards rushing, departed for Miami shortly after the game so he could attend his mother’s wake today and funeral on Tuesday.

“When I got up this morning, it was tough,” Gore said. “But I know that my mom and the man above were watching over me, so I would be all right. I had to get my mind right.”

He had a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that tied the score, 7-7, then broke a 43-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one to give the 49ers a 14-13 lead in the third quarter.

After each touchdown, Gore pointed to the sky to acknowledge his mother.

“I knew she was with me on those runs,” he said.

A moving fan

Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett, in a Buffalo, N.Y., hospital after suffering a life-threatening spinal cord injury last week, was well enough Sunday to watch part of the Bills’ 26-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“We had a TV put in his room and he watched part of the game,” Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital spokesman Mike Hughes said. He added that Everett, who slept through part of the game, was joined by his mother, Patricia Dugas, a family friend and a Bills player’s wife.

Since arriving at the hospital paralyzed from the neck down, Everett has begun voluntarily wiggling his toes, bending his hip, moving his ankles, elevating his legs and slightly moving his arms, doctors said Wednesday. On Thursday, Everett slightly -- and voluntarily -- moved three fingers on his right hand, something he had previously been unable to do.

Lovable winners

The Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans, who have combined to go 46-114 over the last five years, are both 2-0.

It is the first 2-0 start in the six-year history of the Texans, who have defeated the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers.

The Lions aren’t getting too excited after wins over the Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings, however.

“It feels good, but it’s just a start,” said lineman Jeff Backus, whose team has an NFL-high 72 losses the last six seasons.

“We have to keep it going.”

Low-flying offense

Almost as surprising as the Lions and Texans are the New Orleans Saints, who advanced to the NFC championship game last season but are 0-2 and have been outscored 72-24.

The Saints led the league in total offense last season with 391.5 yards a game, but that’s down to 318 in 2007, and it took nearly seven quarters before they scored their first offensive touchdown, which came Sunday in a 31-14 loss to Tampa Bay.

“We really need to take a deep look at ourselves, identify the problems and figure out how to fix it,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said.

Celebrations to remember

Chad Johnson got beer poured on him. Terrell Owens got flagged.

Two of the NFL’s most entertaining touchdown celebrators paid a price for their actions Sunday.

Johnson, as promised before the game, leaped into the “Dawg Pound” at Cleveland, where fans promptly doused the Cincinnati Bengals receiver with beer.

“It was fun and it was cold,” Johnson said. “I think I gave the fans their money’s worth.”

Owens, of the Dallas Cowboys, poked fun at New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick when he leaned against the goal post and raised the football to his face as if he were videotaping with it.

Referees called a 15-yard penalty on Owens for using the goal post as a prop.

“It was all in good fun,” Owens said.

“I hope they don’t give me a hefty fine like they gave Belichick.”

Monday preview

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb brings a 9-3 record against the Washington Redskins into tonight’s NFC East Division rivalry game at Philadelphia.

The Eagles (0-1) swept Washington (1-0) last year, including a 27-3 victory during which McNabb passed for 257 yards and two touchdowns in his final game before a knee injury knocked him out for the season.

The Redskins, coming off a 16-13 overtime win against Miami, are trying to erase the sour taste of last season’s 5-11 finish.

Philadelphia is trying to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2003.

“We want to win this division, and this is one step in doing that,” Redskins running back Clinton Portis said.

“This would be a big win for them, but it will be an even bigger win for us, if we can get it.”

Injury report

Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna sat out two quarters after a concussion knocked him out of the game against Minnesota, but he returned to lead an overtime victory. . . . Minnesota quarterback Tarvaris Jackson left because of a pulled groin in overtime and did not return. . . . Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson sprained his left knee against Carolina and will undergo an MRI exam today. . . . Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison was taken off the field on a stretcher because of a neck injury against Buffalo but returned to the sideline midway through the third quarter and was walking freely. . . . Chicago punter Brad Maynard pulled a groin and sat out a game for the first time in his career, ending a streak of 161 consecutive games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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peter.yoon@latimes.com

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Begin text of infobox

Winning form

By leading the Green Bay Packers to a 35-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, Brett Favre passed John Elway for the most wins by a starting quarterback. The top five:

Quarterback

Wins

Brett Favre… 149

John Elway… 148

Dan Marino… 147

Fran Tarkenton… 125

Johnny Unitas… 119

Source: NFL.com


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