SI Vault
the NFL
Peter King
December 14, 1992
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December 14, 1992

The Nfl

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In case you missed last week's episode of the Patriots' soap opera: Recuperating from colon surgery, coach Dick, without consulting franchise czar Sam or acting coach Dante, names gutsy Hugh to replace charismatic Scott at quarterback. Sam flips lid. Hugh is swarmed by mediocre Colts and reinjures shoulder. Scott replaces Hugh in second half, but he struggles too. Pats plunge to new depths—draw 19,429 to Foxboro Stadium, lose 6-0.

Just when you think it can't get any worse in New England, it does. Dick MacPherson, who said he wasn't going to make coaching decisions while recovering from acute diverticulitis, angered team president Sam Jankovich by making one without even consulting acting coach Dante Scarnecchia. MacPherson told quarterback Hugh Millen, who was coming off a separated shoulder, that he could have his job back. But neither Millen nor his replacement, Scott Zolak, moved the Pats, and New England was dealt its second straight shutout. The crowd was the team's smallest for a nonstrike game since New England moved into Foxboro, in 1971.

The fans want Zolak, who led the Pats to their only two wins, even though he has passed for 15 net yards in each of the last two weeks. "They say adversity builds character," Millen says. "Well, we have 50 aspiring monks."

Green Bay at Houston, Sunday. Huge playoff implications here, but the game also matches the two wide receivers chasing Art Monk's single-season record of 106 receptions. Sterling Sharpe of the Packers, who leads the league with 88 catches, needs to average 6.3 receptions in his last three games to surpass Monk's total. Haywood Jeffires of the Oilers, who's tops in the AFC with 74 through Sunday, must average 8.25 in his last four games to reach 107.

Leave it to Mike Ditka to make money off his biggest headache of the year. Remember when he bawled out quarterback Jim Harbaugh for having called an audible that turned into an interception in the Bears' disastrous 21-20 loss to the Vikings on Oct. 4? Well, Ditka and Harbaugh have made a local radio commercial for a mobile-communications company, in which Ditka admonishes Harbaugh for making his own calls. Harbaugh acknowledges the bad audible, and Ditka says, "No, no. Now I'm talking about your calls off the field. You should be making them with a car phone from Cellutech."

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