The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 20, 1991 · Page 35
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October 20, 1991

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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 35

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Sunday, October 20, 1991
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C-8PrO football THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER Sunday, October 20, 1991 MO Pro football m Seahawks, Steelers battling unknown K.C.: Succeeding in a small market THE ASSOCIATED PRESS PITTSBURGH Call it the fear of the unknown. The Pittsburgh Steelers don't know what to expect from brand-new quarterback Neil O'Donnell, who has never started an NFL game. The Seattle Seahawks don't know what to expect from the Steelers, because they don't know gave an inconsistent offense prompted Noll to make the switch. He might have made the move even if Brister were healthy. "He throws the ball well and does everything we ask him to do," Noll said of O'Donnell, a second-year player from Maryland. "I think Neil has great poise and has an understanding of what we're trying to get done." "It's a big opportunity for me," O'Donnell said. "I think I handle pressure well." Seattle's defense might prove more challenging to O'Donnell ; than New York's did especially since the Seahawks won't be sitting on a 20-0 lead, as the Giants were. Seattle is the only American Conference team not to allow a 300-yard passer or a 1 00-yard rusher this season and has an AFC-high 22 takeaways. The Seahawks' problem has been giving the ball right back, as evidenced by their 23 turnovers. "I hope we don't turn the ball over," Krieg said. "We have been doing that a lot, giving up the ball. Our defense has been getting some turnovers but we haven't helped them. We have to be smart with our decision-making." Jr ; U I f isn't in the works by the turn of the century. But a long and uncertain political battle looms over the use of public money for such a venture. Many serious football fans are more seriously concerned about their taxes when the subject comes up. Everything's up to snuff in Kansas City. Too bad Cincinnati can't say the same. Chiefs at top The Chiefs (5-2), who haven't won a division title in 19 years, play in today's AFC highlight game at Denver (4-2). Kansas City is alone atop the AFC West for the first time at any point since 1981. But Kansas City's last win in Denver came in 1982, when a Denver quarterback had two interceptions returned for touchdowns. The quarterback was current Chief Steve DeBerg. DeBerg had big interception problems through much of his career. But last year, at the mellow age of 36, he set a league record for low interception percentage. "Steve has the realization now that to punt the ball isn't the end of the world," says Schottenheimer. Just sick about those Bengals? Don't turn your eyes toward Kansas City, or consuming envy will further debilitate your condition. K.C. and Cincinnati are sister cities of a sort. They're the two smallest U.S. markets supporting both major-league baseball and the NFL. But the NFL in Kansas City is on far more solid ground than here. Though the Chiefs have been bad most of the last 20 years, the bedrock of their franchise 78,000-seat Arrowhead Stadium was always there . . . waiting. Now the team finally looks like a true Super Bowl contender, and sleek, functional Arrowhead is a gold mine. The Chiefs are sold out for the rest of the year, and can expect a big rise next season in their already-strong season ticket base of 53,000. Arrowhead's luxury boxes, meanwhile, are worth more to the Chiefs with each victory. The Bengals, poor cousins, are 0-6 and wondering how they'll survive free agency in smallish luxury-box-less Riverfront Stadium. General manager Mike Brown claims he'll have "a strangled franchise" if a new or massively improved stadium how Pitts- Neil O'Donnell burgh will change to accommodate its new quarterback. And the Steelers (3-3) don't know what to expect from the Seahawks (3-4), who will start Dave Krieg at quarterback for the first time since the season opener. So far, Seahawks coach Chuck Knox has written down Krieg as his starter. Jeff Kemp was waived following last Sunday's overtime loss to the Los Angeles Raiders. Krieg broke his thumb in the opener and hasn't played since. "He gives us a lift offensively in that he's a veteran and has made some big plays," Knox said. Pittsburgh coach Chuck Noll The Associated Press Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg returns to action today for the first time since breaking his thumb in the season opener. Brister at quarterback last Monday against the New York Giants, only to have O'Donnell direct them to two field goals and two touchdowns in about 22 minutes' playing time. The Steelers lost, 23-20, but the shot in the arm that O'Donnell wrote Bubby Brister out of his plans for at least two weeks due to Brister's injured knee, but hopes O'Donnell can right the Steelers' shaky offense. The Steelers went nowhere offensively for 2'2 quarters with NFL suffering from lack of QB talent Middling on Midway, made for Madison Ave. BY WILL MCDONOUGH Boston Globe At approximately 5 p.m. last Sunday, Paul Tagliabue was talking with Bill Parcells in the back of an NBC studio in New York, looking at an electronic scoreboard used as a backdrop. As the numbers changed, the National Football League commissioner asked the former head coach of the New York Giants, "What's going on with the scoring in our league this year, Bill?" "Three things," Parcells said without hesitation. "No quarterbacks. Fewer possessions. Better defenses, particularly inside the red zone." The first answer was the one that grabbed Tagliabue's attention. "Quarterbacks?" said the commissioner. "Not enough of them," said Parcells. Parcells is not alone in thinking that one of the major factors in the NFL's scoring famine this year is the lack of talented quarterbacks, a scenario Bill Walsh predicted five years ago. At the time, Walsh, then coach of the dominant San Francisco 49ers, said a shortage of quarterbacks would develop that would rear up and bite the NFL in the backside. "Too many college teams are taking kids who are primarily runners and making them the quarterbacks," Walsh said. "The coaches will play the kid who can both run and pass over the kid who can just pass. The result is (that) we will be seeing fewer dropback passers than we have had before, and the result is that the NFL will start to suffer." Ernie Accorsi, general manager of the Cleveland Browns, who does a lot of scouting, said: "The quarterbacks just aren't out there. This reminds me of the period back in the early '70s when so many colleges went with the wishbone offense and the running quarterbacks. Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama made it work, and many, many other schools followed them. "You can go back through that period and see a cycle where you just did not have a steady flow of quarterbacks coming out. I think we are going through the same thing right, now. The preference is for quarterbacks who can run over quarterbacks who can throw." Said Dick Steinberg, general manager of the New York Jets: "It is a problem, no question. There is a shortage of quarterbacks, and with the way the defenses are changing all of the time, it is getting tougher to play quarterback in this league. Arm strength has become all-important, and there are just a few guys that come along that have the arm strength to throw the ball deep or to the sidelines with a lot on it. "You have to do that now. Defenses are using the nickel package or six defensive backs or sometimes more. Those defensive backs can run faster than ever and close ground faster. It is very difficult not to have a great arm and try to throw the ball deep with success." Not long ago, Washington General Manager Charley Casserly was doing research in preparation for contract negotiations with Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien. "I went back 10 years and charted the quarterbacks from when they came into the league and what they had done during their careers," Casserly said. "When I finished and looked at it, something jumped out at me. "Most of the great quarterbacks in the league, the guys who had done it consistently over a period of years, all came before 1985 or so. Since then, you have had just one or two guys have a big year here or there, but the bulk of the great ones are all 30 years or over right now." Joe Montana, Warren Moon, John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino are in the "consistently great" category. Jim Everett, Don Majkowski, Randall Cunningham and Boomer Esiason have had a year or two at the top. There are 28 NFL teams, and with the injury factor the way it has been in the past decade, each should have two good quarterbacks on the roster. Most teams are lucky to have one. 111. liLUIHUI Jl UWJUU. iUJJWJWUUUMMlW 8 V f'i . i I ZA Minnesota (3-4) vs. New England (2-4) Key Stat: Rich Gannon, the Vikings starting quarterback, was a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 1987. Comment: The Patriots will watch Gannon roll right and left elude tacklers on scrambles and throw sharp passes. Then they will wonder why they let him go. Gannon's creativity, which helped beat Phoenix last week, 34-7, is the kind of spark the Vikings need if they are going to make the playoffs. Vikinqs 28 Patriots 17. Jets (3-4) vs. Indianapolis (0-7) Key Stat: The Colts have beaten the Jets four straight times and won seven of the last eight games between the two teams, including four straight in the Hoosier Dome. Comment: The Colts are vulnerable to the run and to the pass, and offensively have little clicking despite quarterback Jeff George's solid play. The Jets need a healthy ground game here and for Ken O'Brien to remain tall in the pocket; the Jets are 7-0 when O'Brien has not been sacked. Jets 27, Colts 21. In NFL endorsements, squeaky-clean is in. Bears quarterback Jim Har-baugh, hardly a huge star on the field, is still a hot property, capitalizing on his wholesome image and his team's success. "After Jim McMahon's success, sports was inundated by scandals," explains Nova Lank-tree of Chicago's Burns Sports Celebrity Services. "There was Pete Rose and Wade Boggs and Ben Johnson and Jose Canseco and others. Big names started crumbling before our eyes. "Jim Harbaugh is very appealing to advertisers right now. He will never be an anti-hero. He is the antithesis of stick-a-pin-in-the-ear cool." Lanktree also says that morals clauses in most endorsement contracts are stricter now than ever before. Around the AFC They're worried in Cleveland that rushing leader Kevin Mack could be out all year. The Browns are like the CIA with injuries, but Mack's hip problem shows signs of similarity with Bo Jackson's. When quarterback Jeff Kemp was cut by Seattle, his logbook included 15 interceptions in his last six starts. Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, on whether Kansas City is the team to beat in the AFC West: "I guess so, since we don't play us." Jets coach Bruce Coslet, on being a 13-point favorite at Indianapolis: "You've got to be kidding. On their home turf? That's ludicrous, and any other adjective I can't say in mixed compa-ny." Cleveland has only five giveaways, four fewer than any other team. New England coach Dick MacPherson, on the state of the club since he took over: "There are 20 teams ahead of us, five behind us, and we're tied (at 2-4) with the magnificent 49ers. We are no longer the doormat of the league." Miami's Jeff Cross, on the Dolphins' 42-7 loss to Kansas City: "I remember being on some Missouri teams that lost, Cleveland (2-4) vs. San Diego (1-6) Kansas City (5-2) vs. Denver (4-2) The Associated Press DISHING IT OUT: Oilers defensive back Cris Dishman has had plenty of reason to celebrate this season. Dishman has recovered a fumble or intercepted a pass in five straight games. 77-0. But it wasn't as bad as this, because I knew those teams weren't worth a damn." Around the NFC Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Floyd Peters, describing his players' view of a Barry Sanders touchdown run: "All they saw was a blue flame shooting out of his butt. It was like the flame of a jet's afterburner. Whoosh! And then he was gone." The Bears are out of first place in the NFC Central for the first time in 22 weeks. The Lions are in San Francisco, seeking a sixth straight win. It would be their longest win streak since 1962. But Detroit has lost nine straight on the West Coast. The unbeaten Saints have the fewest first downs in the NFC. The Saints can win without first downs. Their defense has gone 54 straight series of downs without allowing a touchdown. The Giants, very un-Giant like, have lost three fourth-quarter leads this season. Key Stat: Cleveland owns the AFC's No. 2-ranked defense, and Bernie Kosar has not been intercepted in 169 pass attempts this season. Comment: With defensive numbers like Cleveland's and with Kosar limiting his mistakes, the Browns would appear a team that deserves a winning record. Of course, the Cleveland defense fell flat last week against Washington, allowing 21 second-half points after allowing only 19 during the second half of its first five games. Cleveland does a better job of containing inconsistent San Diego. Browns 20, Chargers 16. Houston (5-1) vs. Miami (3-4) Key Stat: The Dolphins' 42-7 loss to Kansas City last week was their worst since a 35-0 defeat 21 years ago to the then Baltimore Colts. Comment: Miami has neither the defense in the middle to stop the run nor the pass rush to negate Warren Moon and his gifted Oilers receivers. Miami's only hope is that Dan Marino and the offense can simply outscore the Houston offense in a high-octane offensive game. Not likely. Oilers 30, Dolphins 20. Seattle (3-4) vs. Pittsburgh (3-3) Key Stat: Seattle leads the AFC in takeaways (11 interceptions, 11 fumbles) but also leads in giveaways (15 interceptions, eight fumbles). Comment: Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg is expected to return from his thumb injury, and Pittsburgh leans toward reserve Neil O'Donnell instead of Bubby Brister. Pittsburgh continues to struggle in the first half and roll in the second. That won't be enough against Seattle. Seahawks 20, Steelers 17. Tampa Bay (1-5) vs. New Orleans (6-0) Key Stat: Through six games in 1990, the New Orleans defense had allowed 123 points. Through six in '91, the number is a league-low 53. Comment: The Saints defense has not allowed a touchdown in 16 quarters and no rushing scores in 35 quarters. Even a rested Tampa Bay team, fresh from a week off, can't solve this defense. Tampa Bay has dropped six straight in the Superdome dating back to 1982 and meets a superior physical foe. Saints 34, Buccaneers 9. Key Stat: The Chiefs can win their fifth straight game in a season for the first time since 1971; John Elway is 9-5 vs Kansas City. Comment: Elway has thrown for eight touchdowns and has been intercepted 24 times by Chiefs, who defend him with rotating zone coverage and angled pressure from their defensive ends. Elway has a penchant for making big plays, but this is the best start for any team coached by Marty Schottenheimer and it continues. Chiefs 20, Broncos 16. Atlanta (3-3) vs. Phoenix (3-4) Key Stat: Deion Sanders is the first Falcons player to score a touchdown via a kickoff return, punt return and interception Comment: The Falcons are still pinching themselves after beating San Francisco for first time in six meetings. But the Cardinals lead the league in fumble recoveries (17) and will force mistakes. Cardinal receivers Ernie Jones (34 catches) and Rickv Proehl (24) will burn Atlanta's blitzing defense. Cardinals 28 Falcons 26. Detroit (5-1) vs. San Francisco (2-4) Key Stat: The Lions can reach 6-1 for the first time since 1956; 49ers quarterback Steve Young averages 6.1 yards Der carry. K Comment: Barry Sanders has four straight 100-yard rushing games. After the way the Falcons chewed them up on the ground, Sanders has to be eager to take on the 49ers, a team he has never played against. But can you imagine the 49ers fallina to 2-5? No way. 49ers 25, Lions 19. 9 Rams (3-3) vs. Raiders (4-3) Key Stat: Rams tackle Jackie Slater has played in a club-record 215 games; Raiders kicker Jeff Jaeger leads the AFC in points (60) and is 7 of 7 from 40-49 yards. Comment: Jaeger is a solid kicker, but so is the Rams' Tony Zendejas, the league's only kicker to not miss this season (1 1 of 11 in extra points and 8 of 8 in field goals). The game will be decided by one of the two. Jaeger gets the edge. Raiders 23, Rams 20. , ' (Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia and Washington have bye week). " - THE NEW YORK TIMES More people saw Elvis in a supermarket The most spectacular play you never saw? Last Sunday night in Seattle, during a TNT commercial break that ran too long, the Raiders' Elvis Patterson picked up a punt that everyone else thought was dead in the end zone for a touchback. The ball was ruled live, and Patterson went 107 yards for a touchdown. But the score didn't count. Both teams assuming the touchback had begun moving new squads onto the field. "We ended up," said back judge Jim Poole, "with too many men on the field for both teams." Offsetting penalties were ruled, and the punt was repeated. The 107-yard return wasn't even recorded on tape by TNT. T

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