This week's cheap shots hit R. Johnson, Flutie

Dilfer just wins, generates quarterback controversy

NFL Week 4 in review

October 09, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie were on the same page for once, although not in the same stadium, this week.

The one-time contentious teammates with the Buffalo Bills were victims of cheap shots on Sunday. Flutie, who quarterbacks the San Diego Chargers this season, was clotheslined in Cleveland. Johnson, still with the Bills, took an elbow to the head in Buffalo.

Staying with past form, Flutie played on while Johnson had to leave the game.

Quarterback safety became an issue in Week 4 for the second straight Sunday. Fines almost certainly will follow in the wake of hits by Cleveland's Corey Fuller and the New York Jets' Mo Lewis.

Fuller hit Flutie with an arm to the neck as the quarterback ran a bootleg near the goal line in the fourth quarter. That wasn't the only hit in a 20-16 loss to the Browns Flutie complained about, but it was the most flagrant.

Fuller's explanation to reporters later: "He fakes me out, because I wasn't ready to go for his head. I was going for the kill shot. I was trying to separate him from the ball. I know I am going to see something from the league, but I honestly wasn't trying for his neck."

Johnson, meanwhile, suffered a pinched nerve in his neck when he was clubbed from behind by Lewis as he went into a slide. League rules say a quarterback can protect himself by going into a slide to avoid tacklers.

"I thought that's why you dive," Johnson said after the game. "You're saying, `OK, I'm giving myself up for no more yards,' but you're not supposed to get hit like that. It's just a free shot."

Lewis has already knocked out New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe for an extended period with a hit this season.

Last week, there were two incidents of quarterback abuse. Cleveland's rookie defensive tackle Gerard Warren was fined $35,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit that left Jacksonville's Mark Brunell with a concussion. And Oakland linebacker Elijah Alexander was fined more than $29,000 for a blow to the chin of Seattle quarterback Trent Dilfer.

Deja Dilfer

In what has a familiar ring to it, Dilfer's first start for the Seahawks served up a 24-15 win over Jacksonville and a full-fledged quarterback controversy. Dilfer was filling in for the injured Matt Hasselbeck, for whom coach Mike Holmgren traded and anointed the quarterback of the team's future.

Dilfer completed 15 of 23 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and one interception to win his 12th straight start, going back to last season's Super Bowl run with the Ravens.

After the game, Holmgren was trying to back away - without success - from a controversy over who should start for the Seahawks. Dilfer has started 85 regular-season games. Hasselbeck, out with a groin injury, has started three.

"Trent's played one game," Holmgren said. "I don't think that's a streak of any kind."

Dilfer's response: "This is Matt's football team. He's a captain, and that is one of the biggest honors you can have as a professional football player. This team will play great for Matt. He's earned it. He's banged up, and it's hard to play in this league when you are hurt."

Booker's deep game

Chicago Bears flanker Marty Booker made up for three first-half drops when he threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson in the second quarter against Atlanta. Booker took a lateral pass from quarterback Jim Miller before finding Robinson downfield for the team's longest pass completion of the season.

Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Booker went deep again to catch a 63-yard scoring pass from Miller to open a 17-0 lead in what became a 31-3 win. A former high school quarterback in Louisiana, Booker is the Bears' emergency quarterback.

Two-minute drill

Atlanta rookie quarterback Michael Vick's fast feet couldn't keep him from a six-sack, three-fumble second half after Chris Chandler left with a concussion. One fumble was wiped out by offsetting penalties, and another was returned 90 yards by Brian Urlacher for a Chicago touchdown. Vick was 12-for-18 for 186 yards in his best passing performance. ... The Pittsburgh Steelers bulldozed Cincinnati's defense for 274 rushing yards, led by Jerome Bettis' 153. It was the team's highest total since it rushed for 305 against Miami in the 1988 finale. ... Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez has seven 100-yard receiving games in his five-year career - all in the past 17 games. ... Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson doesn't have a touchdown pass in 97 passes this season. ... Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart hasn't reached the end zone in 83 throws this season. ... Washington Redskins quarterback Tony Banks is 24-for-58, a 41.4 completion percentage, in his two starts.

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