ON THE NFL : NFL WEEK 10 : He was always good, no two ways about it

Think Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney is astounding in the way he spins past those left tackles and gets to the quarterback?

Just imagine him with the ball in his hands.

Colts Coach Jim Caldwell once did.

Back when he was a college coach, Caldwell recruited Freeney to Wake Forest, floating the offer he could play both on the defensive line and in the offensive backfield.

“That was the only way I could entice him, but obviously he didn’t bite,” said Caldwell, who wound up losing Freeney to Syracuse. “I don’t think you could envision the great career that he’s had to this point. But you knew he was special, there’s no doubt about that.


“He could run and catch, and he’s powerful. We could put him to work back in those days. I made the promise to him, and if he had showed up we certainly would have done it, due to the fact that he’s a little unusual in terms of his speed. . . . I don’t know why that pitch didn’t work.

“But usually once a year he’s in a conversation with one of his teammates, and he’ll bring me over and say, ‘Hey, Caldwell, tell ‘em: Didn’t you try to recruit me to play running back?’ It always happens at least once a year.”

In New England, Bill Belichick has had a lot of success bringing defensive players over to the other side of the ball for an occasional play, most notably using former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel as a tight end (nine career receptions -- all of them for touchdowns). And the Colts have dabbled in it, this season lining up defensive tackle Eric Foster as a blocking back.


Now that’s a souvenir

After scoring a pivotal touchdown at Denver on Monday, Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward spotted a Steelers fan wearing his jersey and sitting in the second row behind the end zone. The Pro Bowl receiver flipped the ball to him.

“Usually when I score a touchdown, I reward the Steelers fans who [are] wearing my jersey as a sign of appreciating their support, a token of my affection,” Ward explained. “I can’t shake their hand or sign anything, but what better way than to give them a touchdown ball so they can go home and say that Hines Ward gave me a ball?”


Must be his month

OK, so assigning a win-loss record to a quarterback is a bit of a phony statistic. These guys aren’t pitchers. (And if so, are their backups considered closers?) Regardless, the NFL noted something interesting this week: Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has won 13 consecutive November games.

If the Cowboys win at Green Bay today, Romo can set the record for most November wins in a row since 1970. Surely, he’d trade it all for one playoff win.

Quarterbacks with the most consecutive wins in November (since 1970):

*--* TEAM YEARS WINS Tony Romo 2006- 13 Bob Griese 1970-74 13 Steve Young 1992-96 13 Ken Stabler 1975-77 11 Trent Dilfer 1998-2005 11 *--*

Source: NFL


Rolling along

New Orleans is 8-0 for the first time in franchise history, and the Saints lead the league in scoring with a 37.9-point average. A big game today against St. Louis could earn them a spot in the NFL record books. The teams with the most points in the first nine games of a season in NFL history (*Saints’ total through eight games):

*--* TEAM YEAR POINTS Los Angeles Rams 1950 358 New England Patriots 2007 355 St. Louis Rams 2000 354 Dallas Cowboys 1966 320 Baltimore Colts 1964 314 New Orleans Saints 2009 *303 *--*

Source: NFL