NFC notebook

November 21, 1999|By Vito Stellino


When Donovan McNabb of the Eagles duels Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts today, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid hopes the receivers do a better job than they did last week against the Washington Redskins, when they dropped six of his throws. McNabb has a rocket arm and the receivers have to adjust, although it would help if McNabb took something off the ball at times. "The same thing happened when I was in Green Bay with Brett Favre," Reid said. "He throws a ball hard. But they have to catch it." Arizona Cardinals quarterback coach John Garrett should be able to give his team a good scouting report on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett, his brother who is 6-2 as a starter while filling in for Troy Aikman. John, a year older than Jason, said: "I've got to get my work done, but it does make for a great memory. My son is too young, but I'll be able to tell him someday that we played against Uncle Jase. It'll be a lasting memory." The Cowboys are trying to ignore that they're 6-15 on the road the past three years as they prepare to go to Arizona. "If you carry that baggage with you, it will weigh on you and bring you down," said coach Chan Gailey. "Every week is a new week and a new game and a new situation. Our record is different this week than it was last week. Our outlook is different. The stadium is different." It's still a road game, though. The Giants, who will try to stop Stephen Davis of the Redskins today, are 3-11 under coach Jim Fassel when an opposing running back rushes for at least 100 yards.


Jim Miller of the Chicago Bears, who passed for 422 yards in an overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings, will make his second straight start today, against the San Diego Chargers. Shane Matthews, who will be third string because of a hamstring injury, says he feels well enough to play but, "You can't get injured because someone can always take your job." Cade McNown has come back from a sprained knee and will be second string and go back to taking a series or two. Three Green Bay Packers field-goal attempts have been blocked in as many games. "Three in three games that's got to stop," coach Ray Rhodes said. QB Charlie Batch has missed parts or all of seven of 23 games since he became the Detroit Lions' starter. It's likely to become eight today with Gus Frerotte expected to start against Green Bay because Batch is still bothered by a sprained thumb. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense has gone onto the field 22 times after a turnover this year and given up just 19 points, on four field goals and a touchdown. The Minnesota Vikings, who are off this weekend, are 7-1 the weeks before a bye under coach Dennis Green and 8-1 the weeks after.


Rookie running back Ricky Williams has been bothered by injuries this year, but he already has 722 yards rushing, the second-highest total by a New Orleans Saint since 1990. He gets a tough test today against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that is tied for first with the Ravens. If the 2-7 Atlanta Falcons upset the Bucs today, they will be talking about making the playoffs with an 8-8 record. They play only one other team with a winning record (the Tennessee Titans) and think 8-8 might get a wild-card spot in the NFC this year. Jeff Lewis, who has been the Carolina Panthers' third-string quarterback the first nine games, moved to the backup spot last week and figures to start late in the year. The Panthers brought him along slowly because, among other things, they would have had to give up a second-round pick to Denver in addition to the third-round choice they already gave up if he started eight games this year. St. Louis coach Dick Vermeil is denying he ran the score up while leaving Marshall Faulk in the game late in the fourth quarter. Faulk ran 18 yards for the final touchdown in a 35-10 victory over Carolina. Vermeil said he wanted to work on his running game and said the score could help in a tie-breaking situation down the road. "If he had gotten hurt, then you are really subject to criticism. I can't tell you how many games I've broadcast where Emmitt Smith is out there and they have a 21-point lead and he's carrying the ball," Vermeil said. The San Francisco 49ers aren't used to being a team that has lost five in a row. Coach Steve Mariucci said: "You don't live through it. You survive. You exist. This is not living. This is not like one of those teams used to losing. This is an awfully frustrating feeling. People in the building don't know what to say to each other."

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