NFC notebook

September 19, 1999|By Vito Stellino

East

The Cardinals have won four straight regular-season games, their longest winning streak since 1988. They have won 10 of their past 17, seven on game-winning kicks. In 10 of 26 career starts, Jake Plummer has led the Cardinals back from fourth-period deficits. Plummer faces a Miami team the Cardinals have not beaten in seven tries. The last time the Giants got more than one touchdown without the offense scoring one before last Sunday in Tampa was in 1951, when Tom Landry got one of them on a 9-yard fumble recovery. When the Eagles scored 21 points against the Cardinals in the first quarter last week, it was just 12 fewer than they scored in the first period all last year. The Eagles play host to a Tampa team that has two players the Eagles drafted (Damien Robinson and Steve White) and then cut. When the Cowboys play the Falcons tomorrow, it'll match two coaches, Dan Reeves of the Falcons and Chan Gailey of the Cowboys, who grew up in Americus, Ga. Reeves coached Gailey in Little League baseball and gave him his first NFL assistant's job. "When we're not playing Atlanta, I guarantee you those people are pulling for me and the Cowboys," Gailey said. "But it's Atlanta. I'm afraid I'll end up being second fiddle on this one." The Redskins are playing two games in a row at Giants Stadium, against the Giants this week and the Jets next week. The Giants game matches a Giants offense that is 29th rushing against a Redskins defense that is 28th stopping the run.

Central

Jeff George hasn't lost his confidence sitting on the bench in Minnesota behind Randall Cunningham. "I'm one of the top five quarterbacks in the league. I'm not ashamed to tell anybody that. I've said that from Day One. My time will come. This is just the hand I was dealt." The Packers, who won their home opener last week, are 35-2 at Lambeau Field, counting playoffs, since they pulled out of Milwaukee after the 1994 season. Tampa Bay's Trent Dilfer, benched for Eric Zeier last week against the Giants, returns to the starting lineup against the Eagles. "The highlight of the weekend was the support my teammates showed to me," he said. "I had a ton of people that mean a lot to me on this team come to me, not just with words, but with actions, and show me support and encouragement and that means a lot." The Bears will continue to spell quarterback Shane Matthews with rookie Cade McNown, who got one series in the first half last week and is expected to get another one this week. Herman Moore's streak of catching a pass in 107 straight games was ended last week when the Lions receiver was injured early in the opener.

West

St. Louis gets a bye the second week of the season, and coach Dick Vermeil is still savoring the win over the Ravens. "Playoff teams win at home. We won at home. Playoff teams win openers. We won our opener. Playoff teams keep teams that were losing losing. We did all three of those things that playoff teams do in one game," Vermeil said. The 49ers, who lost their opener, haven't started off 0-2 since 1982. The 49ers' record against winning teams since winning the Super Bowl after the 1994 season is 13-18. Dom Capers, fired as the head coach in Carolina last year, is now the Jacksonville defensive coordinator and returns to Carolina to the stadium where he used to sleep three nights a week. "We know for certain he's going to blitz and he's going to blitz a lot," said Wesley Walls. The Falcons, who play Dallas tomorrow, are 5-15 on Monday nights and have lost eight straight and 11 of their past 12 on Monday night. With Chris Chandler ailing, the Falcons are expected to start Tony Graziani at quarterback even though he has a 24.4 passing rating in two seasons. He saw limited action in preseason after getting poked in the eye against the Ravens. New Orleans has lost six straight games to San Francisco by an average score of 23 points. The Saints punted on seven of their first eight possessions against Carolina last week.

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