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the NFL
Peter King
November 23, 1992
UP WAS DOWN
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November 23, 1992

The Nfl

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Team

Year

Points

Average Per Game

1. Buccaneers

1977

53

5.3

2. Seahawks

1992

59

5.9

3. Steelers

1945

79

7.9

UP WAS DOWN

What a man-bites-dog day it was in the NFL on Sunday. The best division in the league, the NFC East, went 0-5 for the first time in its 22-year history. The quarterbacks down the stretch in the Giant-Bronco game were Kent Graham and Tommy Maddox. Bubby Brister and Vinny Testaverde were heroes. Herschel Walker was a goat.

This is the week that was.

Moon over Minnesota. The Oilers endured what probably will go down as the 18 most significant hours for the team in 1992. With Houston needing to beat the Vikings to resurrect its flagging season, free-spirit Oiler wideout Haywood Jeffires, an unlikely choice, was asked by the offensive coaches to fire up his teammates. "We're not going to let the outside world—the media, the tans—convince us that we're a bunch of bums!" Jeffires said in a rambling 10-minute pep talk last Saturday night. "All of us are as important as a Warren Moon and a Ray Childress tomorrow! Go out and make plays!"

The Oilers survived four turnovers and got heroic play from Moon to win 17-13 and remain a game behind the Steelers in the AFC Central race at 6-4. Playing with a bad headache, the result of a concussion suffered two weeks earlier. Moon kept the game-winning drive alive with a gutsy third-down play on which he twice escaped being sacked and then eluded a downfield tackle as he scrambled for a first down. However, as he dived for the final, critical yards, Moon took a missile-like helmet in the shoulder from Viking safety Vencie Glenn. The blow fractured Moon's upper left arm, and he will miss at least the next three games.

Now Houston will need all the leadership it can get from Cody Carlson, who completed the winning drive against Minnesota, as well as from Jeffires, who can ramble on forever about the quirkiest things. For instance: "if I'm reincarnated. I want to come back as a homeless person. The homeless are such great survivors." Even Jeffires admits, "I might be the odd-ballest leader in sports history."

For the second time this season the Redskins have lost a starting cornerback to a broken forearm. Martin Mayhew was sidelined in Washington's 35-16 loss to the Chiefs, and Darrell Green broke his right forearm in September. "I've never seen two broken forearms in the same season, " says team doctor Charles Jackson.

The San Diego Snowmen. Charger fans can't forget how their team fell apart in the AFC Championship Game on a frigid day in Cincinnati a decade ago. What's more, in 1987—the last time San Diego played in the snow—Denver drilled the Beach Boys 24-0. And because 28 of the Chargers' 47 players played college ball in temperate climes and had no winning experience as pros with the white stuff, San Diego seemed to be easy pickings when snow started falling in Cleveland on Sunday. Not so.

"When I woke up this morning, I was like a little kid waking up for Christmas." said San Diego linebacker Junior Seau, who grew up in suburban San Diego, went to Southern Cal and had never before played in snow. "I wanted to play right then." Quarterback Stan Humphries, who was pelted in the back by an iceball hurled from the stands early in the game, threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller against lousy pass coverage by the Browns with 2:05 left to give the Chargers a 14-13 win.

Two keys to the Steelers' offensive success this season have been quarterback Neil O'Donnelland tight end Eric (liven. Bui in Pittsburgh's 17-14 defeat of the Lions, neither was on the field for the winning touchdown drive. O'Donnell tore a hamstring midway through the fourth quarter and was replaced by Bubby Blister, while Green received a six-week suspension for a second violation of NFL substance-abuse rules early in the week and was replaced by Tim Jorden. Naturally Blister threw a one-yard touchdown pass—only his second completion since O'Donnell beat him out for the starling job in training camp—to Jorden for the victory.

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