NFC notebook

November 07, 1999|By Vito Stellino

East

WR Randy Moss will get his first chance to duel CB Deion Sanders tomorrow night when the Minnesota Vikings play host to the Dallas Cowboys. Sanders was out with a toe injury last Thanksgiving when Moss played his first game against the Cowboys. The Cowboys say Sanders can shut down Moss even though he had problems with the Colts' Marvin Harrison last week. But the Cowboys have to stop Cris Carter, who has 46 catches to 35 for Moss. Coach Chan Gailey said, "They're still trying to get the ball to Moss. But I think everybody has figured this thing out a little bit and they're double-covering, rolling [coverage] and doing some things to take away the deep ball to Randy. So, that leaves Cris and Jake Reed more open," he said. Reed has 25 catches. Only one member of the Cardinals' front four, Simeon Rice, is healthy. Andre Wadsworth, Eric Swann and Mark Smith are all ailing. The defensive line coach, Joe Greene, is frustrated, too. He lived up to his "Mean Joe" nickname when he got into a confrontation with the driver of a cart carrying audio equipment after the game. The driver ran over Greene's foot (the driver claims Greene dared him to run over it) and Greene slapped him. Greene apologized the next day. The Eagles have scored just 29 second-half points all season, their quarterbacks have been sacked 30 times, and they're converting 25.9 percent of third downs. But coach Andy Reid is sticking with Doug Pederson at quarterback. Washington gets to see how its defense stacks up against the Ravens' when it attempts to stop Doug Flutie, who got 13 points against the Ravens. The Ravens' defense ranks fifth, and the Redskins' defense is 31st. LeShon Johnson is the Giants' leading rusher heading into the bye week with 104 yards.

Central

QB Brett Favre will break Ron Jaworski's record of 116 straight starts today, but he's coming off one of his worst games. His thumb is bothering him and he threw four interceptions and fumbled twice against the Seahawks last week. "We got our checks Tuesday," he said. "I wanted to go apologize and give it back to [Packers GM Ron Wolf] and say, `I'm sorry for stealing.' " RB Leroy Hoard's 43-yard run on third-and-37 last week in Denver was the longest third-down conversion by a run since that stat was kept starting in 1992. Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp has jumped to the defense of coach Tony Dungy, who is getting heat along with offensive coordinator Mike Shula for the team's poor offensive play. "I'm sure a lot of guys would leave this place [if Dungy were fired]. Not just free agents. Some guys under contract, too. Let's just hope it doesn't come to that," Sapp said. The last time the Rams played the Lions in the Silverdome was in 1991 when the Rams were based in Los Angeles. Mike Utley suffered his career-ending neck injury in that game. The Bears will wear a football-shaped patch over their hearts, decorated with Walter Payton's No. 34, the rest of the season.

West

Atlanta coach Dan Reeves is wearing a bracelet on his right wrist that reads "W.W.J.D.?", the initials for What Would Jesus Do. His late friend, golfer Payne Stewart, wore a similar bracelet, and when Reeves' son, Lee, attended Stewart's funeral, he brought it back for his father. The Rams aren't worried that the Titans' strategy of blitzing from every angle and using eight defensive backs will derail their offense. Rams coach Dick Vermeil said: "I don't think they opened a can of worms or anything like that. The reason they were able to pressure us as much was because we had to throw the ball 49 times. When you are down 21-0, then you are not in a balanced scheme of attack." George Seifert never lost three straight games as a coach in San Francisco. He'll suffer that fate today if the Panthers don't beat the Eagles. The 49ers are practicing the shotgun with Jeff Garcia, but coach Steve Mariucci said they aren't ready to use it in a game yet. Neither Joe Montana nor Steve Young liked it, so the club hasn't used it in the past.

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