Dallas shows a defense full of holes

Week 2 In Review

September 15, 1998|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

How about those Dallas Cowboys?

Their defense gave up an incredible 13.5 yards a play in the first half against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, and 9.5 yards a play for the game.

The Cowboys were humiliated by Denver's perfect first half of offense: five possessions, five touchdowns, a 35-17 lead. The Broncos had scoring drives of 84, 80, 59, 80 and 80 yards at the half, and finished the game with 515 total yards.

How bad was it? Terrell Davis had 154 of his 191 rushing yards at the break, and looked as if he were running against well, Denver linebacker John Mobley said it best: "Terrell ran like he was going against a high school team."

Then there was this damning testimony from Dallas safety Darren Woodson: "We were in the wrong formation on almost every play."

If there was any doubt about the direction the Cowboys were going after their 38-10 romp over Arizona in Week 1, it dissipated in the thin air of the Mile High City in Week 2. It's a long way down.

Knockout-proof

Even as two more quarterbacks (Dallas' Troy Aikman and Minnesota's Brad Johnson) were sidelined for a month or more by injuries, the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre continues to show why he's the toughest quarterback in the NFL.

Favre took the Tampa Bay Bucs' best shots and bounced back for more in a 23-15 Packers victory. He was hammered on one vicious hit by defensive end Regan Upshaw. He got up laughing, slapped Upshaw's helmet in recognition of the great hit and threw a touchdown pass two plays later.

"I give him all the respect in the world," said Upshaw. "He got up like a soldier. He's the toughest quarterback in the league."

Said defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who delivered at least one punishing hit of his own: "Wasn't even close to knocking him out. Are you crazy? You can't knock him out. Trust me, you can't knock him out. You can wobble him, but you can't knock him out."

Favre has started 95 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak in the league.

Fool-proof

Chad Cota, safety for the New Orleans Saints, showed he is nobody's fool in a 19-14 win over his former team, the Carolina Panthers. When Carolina quarterback Kerry Collins handed off to fullback William Floyd early in the third quarter, Cota was ready to come up and play the run. Then he noticed that a Carolina receiver was not trying to throw any blocks, as you'd expect on a run, but still running a pass pattern.

Cota surmised pass, then intercepted Floyd's lame throw for Fred Lane in the end zone. It was a huge play because the Panthers were threatening to increase a 14-10 lead.

Over the line

Count Jacksonville running back James Stewart among those who think the Kansas City Chiefs defense sometimes crosses the line of aggressive behavior. On his final run of the game in a 21-16 Jaguars win, Stewart says he was on the ground when a Chiefs defensive lineman kneed him in the chest.

Stewart got up shouting at the Chiefs.

"I was voicing my opinion," said Stewart. "I felt like they need to lay off the cheap shots. I was down, on my back, and a defensive lineman came across my chest with his knee. Same thing happened in the preseason game [in Kansas City], too.

"A lot of people think they're a little nastier than they need to be."

Woe is them

The Bucs, Detroit Lions and New York Jets, all 0-2, are fighting history this season. In the past two years, 16 teams started 0-2 and only the New England Patriots made the playoffs.

By the numbers

Held to 35 rushing yards last week, the Saints erupted for 207 against the Panthers.

The Broncos scored 30 points for the 25th time in Mike Shanahan's 54 games as coach.

Jason Garrett's start at quarterback for the Cowboys next Monday night against the New York Giants will be his third in the NFL.

The Giants have gone 74 games without a 300-yard passing performance from their quarterback. Last one was by Phil Simms (337 against Arizona) on Nov. 28, 1993.

Running back Curtis Martin, who got a six-year, $36 million contract from the New York Jets, has rushed for 58 yards in each of his first two games and is averaging 2.6 yards a carry.

Audibles

The Packers rank last in the league in rushing with 56 yards a game and only 2 yards a carry. And that was before they lost running back Dorsey Levens with a broken right leg. The Miami Dolphins have started 2-0 each of Jimmy Johnson's three seasons. The Raiders drew only 40,545 to their home opener against the Giants in a stadium that seats 62,500. Longtime special teams coach Wayne Sevier replaced Frank Novak in San Diego this week after the Chargers gave up 24.8 yards per nTC kickoff return and 16 yards per punt return in their opener. Sunday, the Chargers gave up 1 yard on one punt return and an average of 19.7 on three kickoffs. Sevier must know something. Green Bay's special teams are struggling, as well. They've given up touchdowns on kick returns on consecutive weeks. This week it was Jacquez Green's 95-yard punt return for Tampa Bay. The Cincinnati Bengals are 6-23 in their last 29 September games.

Best and worst

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