The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 29, 1996 · Page 39
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 39

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Sunday, September 29, 1996
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-THE SALINA JOURNAL NFL SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1996 D7 NFL MATCHUPS: WEEK 5 Houston (2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-1). noon " ' The Steelers will probably get wide receiver Yartcey Thigpen and outside linebacker Jason Gildon back, but now they have lost punter Josh Miller for six weeks. The Steelers have won their past four meetings with Houston, which features rookie running back Eddie George, last : year's Heisman Trophy winner. George is fifth in the AFC in rushing v {267 yards), three spots behind the Steelers' Jerome Bettis (306), which probably means this will turn into a passing contest. Isn't that how it normally works? We're 3-0 on the Steelers this season. Carolina (3-0) at Jacksonville (1-3), noon This was to be the Expansion Bowl, but, hey, where are the expan- . sion teams? Carolina didn't look like one last week beating the 49ers , And Jacksonville must have said several Hail Marys coming back from its 22-0 deficit against New England. After starting 0-5 last season, the Panthers have won 10 of their past 14 games under Dom Capers. . Jags Coach Tom Coughlin sent a message to his players this week , when he cut starting cornerback Vinnie Clark. That message will be ,, .heeded by his players, especially at home. Denver (3-1) at Cincinnati (1-2), noon Denver's John Elway has never played at Riverf ... er ... Cinergy Field. Last time the Broncos were there was 1981, when Ken Anderson was the Bengals' quarterback. This is the second of three consecutive home games for the Bengals, so they'd better take advantage of the opportunity. Broncos RB Terrell Davis ran for 141 yards against KC, but might have a tougher time against the Bengals, who rank sec- ; , ond in the AFC and fourth in the NFL against the rush. Much of that is because the Bengals held the Saints to 27 yards rushing. Big deal. New Orleans (0-4) at Baltimore (1-2), noon Art Modell sure is enamored with the Steelers. He keeps picking up their players and coaches, hoping to learn something. First it was Marvin Lewis, hired as Baltimore's defensive coordinator. Now it's Bam ,.Morris and Eric Green, two players who have had drug-related prob- ] .Jems with the league. Modell says he can't be worried about players ,, with off-field problems. If he did, he said, he'd only have about three players on his roster. First Cleveland. Now a $900,000 reward for a player who pleaded guilty to marijuana possession. Detroit (2-2) at Tampa Bay (0-4), noon I- Barry Sanders has compiled more rushing yards against Tampa Bay ,(1,690 in 14 games) than any other NFL team. That's probably why Detroit has won the past four meetings with the Buccaneers, who keep -.finding ways for Tony Dungy to avoid his first victory. The Lions scored 37 points and QB Scott Mitchell had 352 passing yards at Tampa last season. Next time someone tells you about the red zone, point up how the Buccaneers are 7 for 7 inside the 20 (two TDs, five FGs) the past two games. Then note how they lost each time. Minnesota (4-0) at New York Giants (1-3). noon ... Don't want to say told-you-so, but Minnesota pulled off the Upset Spe- . cial last week against Green Bay, giving the Vikings their best start since 1975 when they went 12-2. The Vikings came from behind against the Pack, as they have in every game this season. Matter of • fact, they have outscored their opponents, 42-3, in the fourth quarter this season. The only final-quarter points came on a Jason Hanson field goal in the season opener. The Giants? Well, at least they're not 4 the worst team in New York. Oakland (1-3) at Chicago (1-3). noon Oakland is reversing its fortunes from a year ago, when the Raiders • got off to an 8-2 start. Of course, they also lost their last six games to finish 8-8. Their poor start is mirrored by Chicago, which has lost three straight after the opening Monday night victory against the Cowboys. 'Part of the problem is defense. Oakland allowed 40 points last week 'vs. the Chargers, the Bears 35 vs. the Lions. The Raiders will start Napoleon Kaufman for injured Harvey Williams, but the Bears, a play• off team in '95, can't be as bad as they've looked. St. Louis (1-2) at Arizona (1-3). noon „ St. Louis will go to an all-rookie backfield in the desert, starting Tony Banks at quarterback to go with RBs Lawrence Phillips and Derrick .Harris. The Rams have to do something for an offense that has generated an NFL-low 36 points in three games. Not that Arizona is much .better. Until last week, the Cardinals had managed just 23 points in three games. If you never heard of LeShon Johnson before last week , — and why would you? — you know it now after he rushed for 214 . yards on 21 carries. His total before last week? Four yards. Green Bay (3-1) at Seattle (1-3), 3 p.m "•• Green Bay had more than its unbeaten record snapped against Min- 1 peseta. QB Brett Favre got banged around and is unable to take pain• killers because of his addiction. The offensive line, playing without Ken Reuttgers, finally showed signs of weakness after allowing six sacks. But Favre appears to enjoy playing against AFC teams — 119 of 167, '•1,284 yards, 14 TDs, 114.0 passer rating in the past five games "against the "other conference," Packers can't lose two in a row, can •• they? Atlanta (1-2) at San Francisco (2-1), 3p.m. How far did Jeff George's free-agent stock dip after his sideline outburst with coach June Jones was caught on national television? Jones suspended his quarterback for insubordination and will go with Bobby Hebert against the 49ers. The timing could be better for Hebert. The 49ers are coming off a humbling loss in Carolina. Sad part is, some •"• owner will take a chance on George when he becomes an unrestrict- 11 ed free agent in the offense. For reference, all you have to do is look "at that equal-opportunity employer Modell. Is this a great country? New York Jets (0-4) at Washington (3-1), 7 p.m. This was said last week in New York: "Two field goals? This is the ; same offense that took the Steelers to the Super Bowl last year? And ,.'we're not getting any productivity? C'mon." Which talk-show caller should be credited — Andy from Hempstead? Joe from the Bronx? Actually, it was rookie wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who made the comment in response to a question about Ron Erhardt's offense, which produced just six points against the Giants. That's all you need to know about the state of the New York Jets. Dallas (1 -3) at Philadelphia (3-1), Monday This has practically become an annual affair, kind of like the Steelers . and Buffalo — a Monday Night game between Dallas and Philadelphia. It usually means a good showing by the Cowboys, who haven't : had many of those this season. And they suffered another loss with the injury to WR Kevin Williams. The Cowboys have won five of their past six meetings with the Eagles, including the past two on MNF. But the • Eagles have won seven in a row at Veterans Stadium and, like Halle Berry, are looking rather impressive. T CHIEFS-CHARGERS Chiefs' Penn finally gets shot Young wide receiver forced into lineup after injuries to starters By KENT PULLIAM The Kansas City Star KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wednesday was game day. Thursday, too. Wide receiver Chris Penn was a star. He made some of the greatest catches no one ever saw. Receivers coach Al Saunders raved about him, but frankly, it was a little hard to take the accolades all that seriously because when games were on the line on Sundays, Penn was on the sideline. Until now. After four games, Penn is PENN the Chiefs' starting split end, quarterback Steve Bono's favorite target, the team's second-leading receiver and charging along right behind Marcus Allen in the touchdown-scoring derby with two. And guess what, Chiefs fans. It's only going to get better. "Right now what I am lacking is game experience," said Penn, who has caught 10 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. "We work on things in practice, but it is not always going to be the way you see it in a game. When you haven't witnessed a lot of those situations the more difficult it is for you to react. "I am reacting, but I am not always making the right reactions. The more I play, the more I will make the right decisions." Penn's time on the field will continue to increase. Penn and Lake Dawson were sharing time at the split-end position, but Dawson's season-ending knee injury makes Penn the guy the Chiefs will look to. Penn's inexperience is a direct T CHIEFS CHIEFS GAME CAPSULE A look at today's Kansas City Chiefs NFL game KANSAS CITY (4-0) AT SAN DIEGO (3-1), 3 p.m. TELEVISION — NBC, Salina cable 3,13 LINE — San Diego by 2. RECORD VS. SPREAD — Chiefs 2-2; Chargers 3-1. SERIES RECORD — Chiefs lead 37-33-1. LAST TIME MET — Chiefs beat Chargers 22-7 In San Diego to sweep 1995 season series. LAST GAME — Chiefs knocked off Broncos 17-14 at home. Chargers won Shootout in Oakland 40-34 over Raiders. CHIEFS OFFENSE — RUSH (No. 14t), PASS (No. 23), OVERALL (No. 22) WR Lake Dawson was lost for season with knee Injury fn win over Denver. World League WR Sean LaChapelle was signed to replace him. WR Tamarick Vanover, who missed last two games with rib Injury, is expected to return. QB Steve Bono has thrown only one interception, fewest among quarterbacks who have played four games this season. Chiefs were 1-for-2 with a touchdown inside the Denver 20 last week. CHARGERS OFFENSE — RUSH (No. 14t), PASS (No. 17), OVERALL (No. 16) QB Stan Humphries threw career-best four touchdowns In win over Raiders. WR Tony Martin caught three of those touchdowns and has six this season to lead NFL. Martin caught 10 passes overall for 138 yards. Team is 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions in '96, but only converted 1-of-10 third-down tries last week. CHIEFS DEFENSE — RUSH (No. 20), PASS (No. 3), OVERALL (No. 7) CB Mark Collins made the 22nd interception of his career. LB Derrick Thomas recorded five tackles and a sack In win over Broncos. DB Dale Carter played again at wide receiver and had one catch for 13 yards. His interception was 16th of career and 12th in fourth quarter of a game. Have allowed only 13 second-half points over last four games. CHARGERS DEFENSE — RUSH (No. 22), PASS (No. 30), OVERALL (No. 30) CB Willie Clark had 83-yard interception return for touchdown to seal win over Oakland. Have seven interceptions as a team, and 12 takeaways tie Miami for AFC lead. Club picked up four sacks against Oakland. SPECIAL TEAMS — Chargers PR Darrien Gordon leads conference with 20.5 return average. K John Carney's 40 points lead AFC.... New Chiefs K Pete Stoyanovich is 4-for- 5 on field goal attempts and 11-for-11 on extra point tries. STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Chiefs have won 10 of last 12 games against Chargers.... Chiefs are 4-0 for first time in team history.... The 40 points scored by Chargers vs. Raiders was most since they had 45 vs. Miami in 1993. ... Kansas City RB Marcus Allen has 106 touchdowns rushing, tying Jim Brown for second on NFL career list.... Both teams are undefeated vs. AFC West this season and have had nine of their last 13 games decided dy seven points or less. ... Chiefs have won last 12 games against their division. result of his inexperience, that Catch-22 that faces young people starting a career in every field. When boss Marty Schottenheimer made personnel decisions the last two years, he went with experience. The Chiefs signed Eric Martin in 1994. Martin took playing time and practice time from Penn. Last year it was Webster Slaughter. That left Penn only the Wednesday and Thursday "games" he played against James Hasty, Dale Carter and Mark Collins. Penn suited up for just two games last year. His rookie season he suited up for eight games. In two seasons he caught four passes, returned 11 kickoffs and four punts. "It was very difficult in the beginning," Penn said of not being allowed to suit up last season. "But after we started winning and kept on winning and everything was clicking together I could see how I was helping the team with the big picture. "I had to suck it up. Me, Dale and Hasty and Victor Bailey used to have contests going back and forth. We kind of made a game out there every day. That made it a lot better. "Unfortunately I am not playing against Dale and Hasty. Techniques that work against them might not work against other guys." Schottenheimer says he is not surprised that Penn has emerged as an effective receiver. "It's not really a surprise," Schottenheimer said. "A guy catches as many balls as he did in college (105 his senior year at Tulsa). But we were very young at receiver, not unlike the situation we find ourselves in this year." Penn has become one of the reliable receivers for Bono. On third down deep in their own territory last week, Bono looked for him. It was a set play. On the Chiefs' go-ahead touchdown drive, Bono called for Penn to run a play they never even practiced. Again he went to him for a critical gain. "I want to continue making plays and continue to be there for Steve in those situations," Penn said. "The more he gains confidence in me, the more he will look for me." He'll have plenty of chances over the next few weeks. Marty-Carl system produces wins KC is only NFL team to reach playoffs every year in the 1990s, but team covets a Super Bowl By DOUG TUCKER The Associated Press PETERSON KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs, the only team to reach the playoffs every season this decade, are nearing an embarrassing record. If a seventh straight Carl Peterson-Marty Schottenheimer team makes the postseason without cashing a Super Bowl check, it will tie the unenviable standard for postseason frustration Houston established from 1987-93. "Since the goal we set for ourselves every year is winning the Super Bowl, you would have to say that we have not been successful, judging us by our own standards," said Schottenheimer. "We still have not achieved what we set out each year to achieve." Nevertheless, the contrast is overwhelming between the confident, unbeaten Chiefs of today and the disorganized, demoralized organization Peterson and Schottenheimer took charge of in 1989. In the two years before owner Lamar Hunt finally cleaned out his front office and handed Peterson the keys to Arrowhead Stadium as president, general manager and chief executive officer, the Chiefs won a total of eight games. They had only one postseason appearance since 1971, and attendance and credibility had plunged to disturbing lows. It got so bad, some people speculated Hunt was deliberately sabotaging his team in order to justify a franchise move. Now, the Chiefs have won 17 of their last 20 regular-season games and they're off to a franchise-first 4-0 start. Peterson and his personnel department have assembled a powerful mix of draft picks, free agent pickups and long-term projects. And Schottenheimer and his staff have coached them into a cohesive unit of winners. "My job is to develop players and his job is to win on Sunday," said Peterson. The Associated Press Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer has made the Chiefs consistent winners. Hiring Schottenheimer, who had been fired the year before by Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, was the first decision Peterson made. As might be expected of two strong-willed men, they have not always agreed, "Carl and I have had this discussion," Schottenheimer said at his weekly media luncheon, nodding toward a grinning Peterson in the back of the room. "When we cut to 53 players, I care about the future. On Sunday, I don't care about the future. I care about today. Carl and I go around and around all the time about this." Peterson, keeping his eye on the big picture, likens the free agency era to a college coach working with four-year scholarships. "You know you'd better start finding out when they're freshmen and sophomores if they are going to be contributing, winning players," he said. "That's where you get this tug-of-war with Marty and me. I'm always concerned with playing time for guys." Yet, short of a Super Bowl ring, their partnership has been steadily, unerringly successful, producing a regular-season record of 76-39-1 (a .659 winning percentage). This "My job is to develop players and (Marty's) job is to win on Sunday." Carl Peterson Chiefs' general manager year's version, bolstered by a deep, talented defense featuring Pro Bowlers Neil Smith, Derrick Thomas, Dan Saleaumua and Dale Carter, takes a 12-game AFC West winning streak into San Diego today. An offensive line anchored by outspoken center Tim Grunhard and quiet guards Dave Szott and Will Shields is also among the best. And no matter what happens in the playoffs, one of the proudest moments for the Peter- son-Schottenheimer era will come when Marcus Allen, signed off the Raiders four seasons ago, is enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a Chief. Besides Carter, playing superbly at corner- back in his fifth NFL season, the secondary features free agent acquisitions Brian Washington and James Hasty, who were considered mere journeymen after several seasons with the New York Jets. But Peterson signed them in 1995 and they have become steady playmakers. "If we bring a player in from somewhere else, the first thing I tell him is I don't care anything about your background, where you're from or what you've done or what your reputation is," Schottenheimer said. "The only thing I care about is what you do from the moment you get up out of this chair and go to work for us. "That comment has been made to a multitude of players we've brought in here. Some stayed and some didn't." Quite obviously, the ones who stayed have produced. The Peterson-Schottenheimer system works. Yet, right next to their fragrant regular-season record sits that smelly 3-6 playoff mark. They haven't made it to the Super Bowl. "We have set our standards very high," said Szott. "And we've won a lot of football games. But I'd rather be 10-6 and go to the Super Bowl than be 16-0 and be out in the first round." T GREEN BAY Packers' Favre unable to dodge adversity in wake of drug rehab By ARNIE STAPLETON The Associated Press GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brett Favre says the NFL hasn't gotten back to him on his request to have a beer if he wants. "Nothing. I'm not going to worry about it, really," Favre said. "I'm worried about beating Seattle." Last week, Favre revealed that he's protesting his status in the NFL's drug abuse program. He said that because he came forward earlier this year to let the league know he had an addiction to painkillers, he I FAVRE shouldn't be treated like a player who got caught doing illicit drugs. So, Green Bay's MVP quarterback has asked commissioner Paul Tagliabue to lift his two-year ban on alcohol. The league won't talk about the matter. Favre said he wasn't surprised his request was the talk of sports world last week. "You know, it seems like everything I I do, or everything that goes on in my family, becomes big news," Favre said. "It seems like football takes a back seat to a lot of things, which is unfortunate." Two weeks ago, Favre's sister, Brandi, 19, was arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting at a motel in Slidell, La. No one was injured. And last month, their brother, Scott, 29, was arrested on felony DUI charges after an accident that killed a family friend. Favre, whose agent, James "Bus" Cook, is negotiating with the Packers on a seven-year, $50 million contract exten- sion, has told friends the only time he feels like he can get away from it all is when he's on the football field. But he can't take narcotics anymore because of his addiction to Vicodin, and he was walking around gingerly early in the week after being sacked a career- high seven times in the Packers' 30-21 loss to the Vikings on Sunday. Minnesota's front four put so much pressure on Favre that the Vikings didn't have to blitz in the second half. All seven sacks were by linemen. The Packers' entire offensive line had a bad day, especially left tackle Gary \ Brown, who's fighting for his starting job with rookie John Michels at practice this week. The Packers, who are 20-1 at home since December 1993, have lost 12 of their last 13 games on turf. But Green Bay is a 9%-point favorite at the Kingdome today. Favre said it was important for the Packers to prove they can win on turf. "If we want to get to that Super Bowl that we've all talked about, heck it's in a dome on turf, you know?" Favre said. "We're good enough now that we shouldn't be making excuses."

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