Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 29, 2002 · Page 14
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 14

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Indiana, Pennsylvania
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
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Page 14
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Page 14 —Tuesday, October 29, 2002 NFL Philly, McNabb roll past Giants By TOM CANAVAN AP Sports Writer PHILADELPHIA — Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles ran to daylight against the New York Giants — on the ground and in the NFC East standings. McNabb scored on a spectacular 40-yard scramble and the Eagles shredded New York's defense for 299 yards rushing Monday night in post-' ing a 17-3 victory and taking a two- game lead over the Giants and Washington in the NFC East, With nine games left in the season, the Eagles (5-2) are seemingly well on their way to a second straight division title and the Giants (3-4) seem as if they're headed for another season that won't include a playoff appearance. "Whatever it takes," McNabb said after gaining 111 yards on seven carries. "That's always been my attitude. You don't have to go out and pass for 300 or 400 yards every game. If it's me rushing for whatever so we can get that big win, I think that's the most important thing." While McNabb stole the show, he had plenty of help from his supporting cast. Duce Staley also gained 126 yards on 24 carries. The Eagles' offensive line helped the backs average 7.7 yards, and Philadelphia's defense limited the Giants to a field goal and forced a crucial third-quarter fumble by rookie fullback Charles Stackhouse at the 1-yard line when New York appeared on the verge of a go- ahead score. "We have to do something," Giants safety Shaun Williams said. "This isn't good. We have to get ourselves together or this is going to turn into a long season." Even with all the mistakes, the Giants still had a chance to spoil the final Monday night game at Veterans Stadium for the Eagles faithful. Down by six early in the fourth quarter, Matt Allen had a punt roll dead at the Eagles 1. All the Giants needed from their defense — which was playing without injured defensive tackle Keith Hamilton — was one stand. One stand and they would get the ball in great position. It never happened. McNabb, who was 14-of-30 for 137 yards, completed a 5-yard third- down pass to Antonio Freeman for a first down and the Eagles were off and flying. Staley ran for 17 yards on the next play, and McNabb hit James Thrash for 32 yards two plays later to get the ball to the New York 39. Faced with a third-and-11, McNabb let his feet ice the game. He went back to pass, broke tackle attempts by Kenny Holmes and Cornelius Griffin, faked a little dumpoff to one of his backs and then took off down the left side and scored almost untouched the rest of the way. "We had a spy on him and he went for the fake," Giants coach Jim Fassel said of the mistake by middle linebacker Mike Barrow. "What a great run that was," Eagles coach Andy Reid added. "Great vision and you saw the acceleration there. That's a big man running. He put it in high gear and took it in." The run symbolized the Eagles' position in the standings — all alone. "I saw No. 5 (McNabb) running all over the place and that just should not happen," Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn said. "He's a playmaker, he runs the offense like he's a point guard, he makes things happen," Barrow added. David Akers kicked Erst-half field goals of 27, 36 and 35 yards to help the Eagles take a 9-3 lead in a half in which they held the ball for more than 20 minutes. Matt Bryant kicked a 26-yard field goal early in the second quarter to tie it 3-3. His kick was set up by a 31- yard run by Tiki Barber and a 21-yard catch by emotional tight end Jeremy Shockey, who caught six passes for 69 yards on a night he was booed every time he touched the ball. Besides the game, the Giants also lost wide receiver Ike Hilliard with a dislocated shoulder. He was hurt on a late hit by Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins in the third quarter, two plays before Stackhouse fiimbled at the 1. The ball rolled out of the end zone for a touchback. NOTES: The Giants are 3-11 following a bye since 1990. They are 1-6 on Monday nights under Fassel.... The Eagles are 6-1 against the Giants on Monday nights since 1970, and are 70 in prime time games under coach Andy Reid. The Eagles have won three straight over the Giants after losing nine in a row. Philadelphia hadn't had two 100- yard rushers since Oct. 8,1995, when Ricky Walters and Charlie Garner did it against Washington. The Eagles had nine runs of 10 yards or more. The Giants had allowed just 11 such runs entering the game.... Staley has two straight 100-yard rushing games. Akers was 12-for-12 this season before missing a 50-yarder on the opening series of the game. ... The Eagles are moving to the new Lincoln Financial Field next season. Pats' Brady hints at subpar effort By HOWARD ULMAN AP Sports Writer FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots played dominoes and backgammon as usual. No one flung a tile or fired the dice across the locker room. No one pointed fingers, either, as the Super Bowl champs looked for ways Monday to stop a four-game losing streak. They're not about to panic, but coach BUI Belichick knows the blame game can escalate if New England (3-4) doesn't start winning. "I don't think right now it's an issue, but it could become one," he said. "Maybe it has happened and I'm not aware of it. I can't speak decisively on every single player in the locker room. "But I don't really think that's our biggest problem. I think it's more frustration." That may have been quarterback Tom Brady's mood when, less than an hour after Sunday's 24-16 loss to Denver, he hinted that all players may not treat the game with the same significance. "There's different approaches guys take, and you've got to figure out how much this means to people," he said. "To some guys it means an awful lot. You've got to play like your life is on the line. "We're just always a step late on everything." Brady didn't mention names and was not in the locker room Monday during the time allotted for media interviews. But captain and strong safety Lawyer Milloy, one of the Patriots' fiercest competitors, agreed to a point. "I think some of that is true but I think every individual has to look in the mirror right now, including him," Milloy said. "This is a gut check for every individual in this locker room to do whatever he needs to do to get this thing turned around." The Patriots did have some positives. They allowed three points in the second half, had a better yards-per- rush average than the Broncos and forced three turnovers while committing none. But they dug an early hole, failing to lead at halftime for the fifth straight game and being forced to rely on the pass while Denver could control the clock with its ground game. The Patriots allowed the Broncos to convert 8 of 13 third-down opportunities while succeeding on just 3-of-12 themselves. That contributed to Denver holding the ball for 35 minutes, 40 seconds to New England's 24:20. "That was a significant problem for us," Belichick said. "We had some chances to make some big plays in the game that we were close on but we just didn't make them." Their next chance comes Sunday against Buffalo and Drew Bledsoe. The Patriots know they can't make it a grudge match against their former Emmitt Smith relished the moment after breaking Walter Payton's all-time NFL rushing record Sunday. (AP photo) Bush calls to congratulate Smith By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer IRVING, Texas — When Emmitt Smith turned on his cell phone Monday for the first time since becoming the NFLs career rushing leader, he had 34 messages. "It's amazing that it stopped on 34," Smith said, noting that's the same number the late Walter Payton wore for the Chicago Bears while setting the record. The messages were from former Dallas Cowboys teammates and friends who weren't at Texas Stadium on Sunday when Smith broke Payton's mark of 16,726 yards. Among the callers were Troy Aikman, who said he wished he could have been there, and Payton's son, JarretL Smith had the phone on Monday afternoon when President Bush called from Air Force One. "He said the whole world, the whole country saw it and he was happy for me and wanted to call and just talk to me and congratulate me himself," Smith said. "He sounded "Jrie Said the whole world, the whole country saw it and he was happy for me and wanted to call and just talk to me and congratulate me himself. He sounded pretty excited. It's like everybody in the country wanted me to get it." — Emmitt Smith, on President Bush's call pretty excited. It's like everybody in the country wanted me to get it." The record was his with an 11-yard run with 9:10 left in Sunday's' game that was classic Emmitt. He cut left, saw a hole and plunged through it. He got tripped up, but put his right hand down to keep his balance and surged forward. With that run. Smith accomplished a goal he had scribbled on a piece of paper before his rookie season. He finished Sunday with a season-best 109 yards against the Seattle Sea- hawks, but the Cowboys lost 17-14. His career rushing total stands at 16,743 yards. "It is a process, a long process," he said. "My responsibility is no bigger than it has been. I don't feel any adde d press ure at all." After the game. Smith celebrated with friends and the 200 relatives that came to town. Among the highlights was receiving a Lamborghini sports car from his wife. As he savored his latest record- breaking feat, the 33-year-old Smith was asked what happens next. "I'm still working. Life is there," Smith said. "You ask me what is left. It's like I don't have nothing else to do. I've got plenty to do. Just because I got it and it was a goal, now I go back and create new goals." He said he believes he can play at least two more seasons. But he also knows-his future with the Cowboys isn't certain. He has one year left on his contract, and it would take up a large chunk of Dallas' salary cap. ~ "Everybody assumed that once this record was done.I was going to sit on the bench and Troy (Hambrick) would come in," Smith said. "I don't know if that's a reality or not. We'll see." Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hasn't openly addressed Smith's status, saving that sticky situation until after the season. Jones went through the same ordeal two years ago with Aikman, the quarterback who won three Super Bowls for the Cowboys in the 1990s. Aikman was coming off a series of concussions and back problems when he was cut, but Smith hasn't been plagued by injuries and is oh pace for his NFL-record 12th straight 1,000-yard season. Coach Dave Campo said Monday the Cowboys would continue to use the bigger Hambrick in certain situations as a change-of-pace back. He also said they need to get more of a look at Hambrick, who has just 31 carries. Redskins' offense turning to Davis Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has suggested that the team's woes stem from players who aren't treating games with the proper sig- (AP photo) nificance. quarterback. "We're getting prepared to go play the Buffalo Bills, no matter who's the quarterback," said wide receiver Troy Brown, who was drafted in 1993 along with Bledsoe. Bledsoe injured his chest seriously in the second game last season, and Brady started the rest of the games, going 14-3 and winning the last nine. That success with an unproven quarterback is a sign that the Patriots might overcome their current slump. "We're the one team that can fight through adversity because we've done it before," Milloy said. "We have a Super Bowl championship because of that, but we need to have a sense of urgency right now." The Patriots trail first-place Miami (5-2) by only two games in the AFC East. And only v nine of the 16 AFC teams have better records than New England. Belichick would like to see a better effort from coaches and players, an effort that ends in success. "When you lose, you don't think it's ever good enough," he said. "There's always more that you can do." Still, the Patriots have a legitimate shot at the playoffs as long as they can find a way to win. "It's eating away at my soul," Milloy said. "I'm a very sore loser, but the fortunate thing is that this is a team with 60 other guys that need to feel the same way that I do." Ravens' Lewis could be lost for season By DAVID GINSBURG AP Sports Writer pWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ray Lewis will miss a fourth straight game Sunday with a shoulder injury, and the Baltimore Ravens are concerned that they could lose their Pro Bowl linebacker for the rest of the season. Quarterback Chris Redman, who sat out Sunday's 31-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, also will be sidelined this week when the Ravens play at Atlanta. Lewis has not played since partially separating his left shoulder Oct. 6 while pouncing on a loose ball against Cleveland. Ravens coach Brian Billick said Monday the team soon might be forced to think about shutting down Lewis for the year. "That has to be a consideration," Billick said. "There's always that potential, although I don't think we're in that window yet. I think we have a couple more weeks. "But you can't rule that out. If it's a season deal, then that's the challenge we face." Redman, who has been bothered by back spasms, will miss at least one week and maybe two, according to Billick. Redman will be replaced by Jeff Blake, who went 29-for-50 for 298 yards but threw three interceptions against Pittsburgh after learning he would start shortly before the game. "Jeff Blake performed very well, given the circumstances," Billick said. The defense was the problem against the Steelers. After splitting two games without Lewis, their leading tackier, Baltimore (3-4) allowed touchdowns on each of Pittsburgh's first four possessions and tumbled into third place in the AFC North. Lewis' recovery has been slow, although he lifted weights and went through limited work at practice Friday. But Billick doesn't want to risk further injury to his star defensive player on the turf in Atlanta. "He needs to keep it a little less active than he's been," Billick said. "We'll reevaluate it next week, possibly two weeks." The Ravens will also be without defensive end Michael McCrary on Sunday. McCrary missed the Pittsburgh game with a knee injury, and Billick doesn't want to bring him back on a hard surface. By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer ASHBURN, Va. — Steve Spurrier admitted the inevitable Monday. The big-play coach has a move-the- chains offense. Two months into his rookie NFL season. Spurrier has realized he can't mold the Washington Redskins' offensive talent to fit the game plans that worked so well at the University of Florida. Instead, he's having to mold the game plans to fit the talent. That means running Stephen Davis more often — assuming Davis' knee and fumble problems don't persist — and throwing quick. West Coast-style passes to beat deep zones and heavy rushes against his makeshift blockers and immobile quarterbacks. That's just what the Redskins did Sunday night when they broke a two-game losing streak and beat the Indianapolis Colts 26-21. If there was any doubt, one play said it all: The Skins ran an inside handoff to Davis on a third-and-seven; he gained nine yards to keep alive a drive that led to the team's second touchdown. "That's what kind of team we probably are," Spurrier said. "And mat's what probably works for us best. Running and mixing in the throws and so forth. "But who knows?" he said, not wanting to abandon the downfield attack altogether. "We can hit some deep balls. We still believe we can throw it deep, and hopefully we can hit some deep balls soon." For now, a run-first attitude can get the Redskins (3-4) to .500 in just a few days, because they next face a Seattle team that has the worst rushing defense in the league. Davis" status for that game is uncertain after he sprained his right knee for the second time this season in the first half against the Colts. Results of an MRI weren't available late Monday, and the training staff said Davis was "day-to-day." Davis initially said the knee hurt more than when he sprained it against Tennessee on Oct. 6, and he wasn't sure if he could play against the Seahawks. However, Spurrier later said the injury was "not too severe," and Davis "probably should be OK to play this week." Davis had 80 yards when he left the game at halftime. Surprisingly, the running game didn't lose a step. Kenny Watson, a first-year player from Penn State, had 56 of his 67 yards in the second half, including 42 punishing yards up the middle to essentially run out the clock on the Redskins' final drive. It was only the second game this season that featured a steady, working mix of Davis and the passing game; it's no coincidence that Shane Matthews was the quarterback both times. Davis had 104 yards on 26 carries in the season-opening victory over Arizona, working with the patient veteran Matthews, who doesn't hesitate to audible Spurrier's plays from pass to run at the line of scrimmage. Besides his knee, the growing concern with Davis is his fumbling streak. He wasn't even hit when he lost a fumble for the third consecutive game Sunday, and he had one spurt last season when he fumbled five times in six games. Spurrier said Davis will get some extra take-care-of-the-ball lessons from running back coach Hue Jackson this week. "We've had too many fumbles out of Stephen," Spurrier said. "He knows that. We'll work on those things." The biggest surprise Sunday wis the play of the patchwork offensive line. Left tackle Alex Sulfsted made his first NFL start. Right guard Wilbert Brown made his third career start. Left guard David Loverne started for just the sixth time. Yet all three helped blow holes open for Davis and Watson and allowed just one sack, a tribute to their pass protection as well as Matthews' good judgment. Sulfsted and Watson both received game balls from Spurrier. Coach Marty Schottenheimer didn't start featuring Davis until the fifth game last year, and the team recovered from an 0-5 start to finish 8-8. It appears Spurrier's learned the same lesson in about the same amount of time. ' "Usually the team that runs thp best wins the game," Spurrier said. "That may be one reason we won the game last night."

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