NFC notebook

November 28, 1999|By Vito Stellino

East

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid wasn't happy when Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora challenged an Eagles touchdown with a 44-3 lead last week. "Jim has to do what Jim has to do. We'll keep it in mind," Reid said. Mora defended the move, saying, "Why let them score if they don't deserve a score? I don't care if we're behind by 30 points or ahead by 30 points. To me, every play's important." The call wasn't overturned. Former Giants quarterback Dave Brown will make his first start against his old team when New York plays host to the Arizona Cardinals. Brown is 2-2 since replacing Jake Plummer, who has been sidelined with a fractured ring finger but will suit up as the backup today. He might be ready to return next week although his sore thumb won't heal until next spring. Arizona has been hindered by slow starts and is the only team that hasn't scored a touchdown in the first quarter this year, having been outscored, 83-6, in the first. Giants coach Jim Fassel is benching Kent Graham for Kerry Collins this week, but he's getting flak for not making the move six weeks ago after Graham sat out the first Arizona game with an injury. That would have given Collins more time to get into a groove. He now figures to struggle because of his lack of playing time. The Washington Redskins, who play host to the Eagles today, are in first place after Thanksgiving for the first time since their 1991 Super Bowl season.

Central

Jim Miller suffered his first loss as Chicago starter on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, but Bears offensive coordinator Gary Crowton said he plans to stick with him as the starter at quarterback over rookie Cade McNown for the rest of the year. Miller, who passed for 779 yards in his first two starts, had a more modest 204 yards against the Detroit Lions, but Crowton said: "He did some good things and gave us a chance to win. He brought us back when we were down." Miller is a free agent at the end of the year, but he said he would like to stay in Chicago even though McNown is obviously the quarterback of the future. "I really like it here. I like [coach] Dick Jauron. I want to stay here," he said. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who play at Seattle today, have won two games on the West Coast in their 24-year history and have lost five of their past six games in domed stadiums. Dorsey Levens became the first back in Green Bay Packers history last Sunday to rush as many as 23 times and fail to get 50 yards. He finished with 47. The Minnesota Vikings have been behind by a combined score of 47-3 in the first half before rallying to win the past three games. After a bye week, Minnesota looks to jump out against the San Diego Chargers, who have lost five straight. A year ago, the Lions were 4-7 with Barry Sanders. They're 7-4 without the future Hall of Famer.

West

Ricky Williams scored 75 touchdowns in college at Texas, scoring once every 14.6 times he touched the ball. He touched the ball 221 times with the New Orleans Saints before scoring a touchdown last Sunday on a 19-yard run. He added a second touchdown on a 1-yard run later in the game, so he's now scoring once every 118 times he touches the ball as a runner and receiver. He has a turf toe that will sideline him today in St. Louis, and that will cost him. He needs to average 157 yards a game the last five games to reach the 1,600-yard mark and earn a $1 million bonus. The Atlanta Falcons' Byron Hanspard, who came back from a major knee injury that sidelined him all last season to gain 254 yards this year, was voted the Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates. As if the San Francisco 49ers didn't have enough problems, NFL officials are studying whether they were guilty of salary cap violations in the past and they could be fined up to $6 million. Rams coach Dick Vermeil invited several players who don't have family in St. Louis over for Thanksgiving dinner. His wife cooked two turkeys. Carolina Panthers tight end Wesley Walls acknowledges that he's been unsympathetic in the past when his wife, Christy, who runs a lot, has come down with back spasms. That was before he was hit by them last Sunday and had to leave the field for treatment. "[In the past] I'm like, `Yeah, right.' I have a newfound respect for her. She's a tough woman," he said.

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