DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL
What an electrifying Sunday, with the Rams and 49ers combining for 34 points in the last 13 minutes of a game the Niners won with one second to play; the Dolphins routing the Bills while holding Buffalo's vaunted offense to 10 points—in Buffalo; and the Raiders just (barely) winning, baby, over the Giants. Then there were these four highly improbable comebacks:
? Vikings 21, Bears 20. Minnesota scored the final 21 points, all of them in the fourth quarter. It was the biggest lead the Bears had ever blown under Mike Ditka. The transformation of the Vikings seems complete now. No longer is this a team of whining all-stars. Now it's a clutch-play, hustling-to-the-end group that won't give up. Entering the game Minnesota had lost 30 of the last 31 games in which it trailed going into the fourth quarter. "In the past," tackle Tim Irwin said, "when things got tough, we'd turn on each other. Today we turned on the Bears."
And what about the play of Viking quarterback Rich Gannon? He's a 79% passer in the last two weeks, and went 8 for 8 for 118 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Chicago. "Nobody could have played the fourth quarter any better than Rich did," said Minnesota offensive coordinator Jack Burns. "And I mean nobody."
?Cards 27, Redskins 24. Phoenix scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a 24-6 deficit. Fourteen points came courtesy of the $3 million-a-year right arm of Washington's Super Bowl MVP quarterback, Mark Rypien. He threw two interceptions to embattled Cardinal cornerback Robert Massey, who returned both of them for TDs in the first seven minutes of the final period.
The Cardinals broke up their steady offensive line 14 months ago when they dealt guard Derek Kennard and a fifth-round choice to the Saints for Massey, a trade that Phoenix tackle and team leader Luis Sharpe has publicly criticized. Before Sunday, Massey's career with the Cardinals had included five starts, no interceptions and, last season, a bout with viral hepatitis. "He'd been frustrated for two years about the trade," said Phoenix safety Tim McDonald. "He told me, 'I wanted to make the Cardinals look good for making the deal.' " The win was the first for Phoenix in 350 days.
? Colts 24, Bucs 14. Indianapolis scored the last 17 points, and Tampa Bay coach Sam Wyche saw it coming. He went ballistic three days before the game, after the Bucs had a lackluster practice. "It's going to be embarrassing Sunday," said Wyche. "They're just watching themselves melt into oblivion. We could lose 45-3."
Said Tampa Bay quarterback Vinny Testaverde, of what was then a 3-1 start by the Bucs, "We've been reading too much about how good we are." How good you are! Are you kidding? With wins over the Cardinals and Packers at home and the toothless Lions on the road?
Now, Indy quarterback Jeff George, he's good. Playing in his first game since straining ligaments in his right thumb in the preseason, George threw two interceptions in his first three attempts but then rallied the Colts with two second-half touchdown passes.
? Broncos 20, Chiefs 19. Denver scored 14 unanswered points in the final two minutes. Kansas City nosetackle Dan Saleaumua, crestfallen after the game, walked up to Bronco quarterback John Elway amid the delirium at Mile High Stadium and said, "You did it again. What's new?" Canton, here he comes.