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The NFL
Peter King
November 07, 1994
The Hunter
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November 07, 1994

The Nfl

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Case in point: Against the Bengals on Oct. 23, Turner recognized a flaw in the Cincinnati pass protection that he thought would allow Johnson to attack the quarterback unblocked. Turner asked Saban to call a play that would have Johnson blitzing, with Turner picking up Johnson's man. Saban agreed, and Johnson stormed into the backfield and trapped quarterback Donald Hollas for a 20-yard sack. "Last year I don't think Eric's input would have influenced the call," Johnson says.

Breathing Room
The Vikings will have one distinct advantage over the rest of the NFL's contenders down the stretch: They lead the league in cap room, a statistic nearly as important as passing yardage, sacks and interceptions. At the moment, the Minnesota payroll is nearly $2 million lower than the $34.6 million salary cap. If the Vikings are hit with injuries, they will have that sum to spend on spare parts and probably won't have to cut anyone to make room for a high-priced replacement. Toward the other end of the scale are the Cowboys, a mere $40,000 under the cap. If Dallas needs, say, a new tackle, either someone will have to go or a lot of contracts will have to be renegotiated before it can purchase one. Of the teams with five or more wins at the season's halfway point, only Minnesota could sign high-priced talent without seriously disrupting its existing lineup or salary structure

Dispatches

Things are so bad for Buc coach Sam Wyche (12-28 in 2½ seasons with Tampa Bay) that after the Vikings' 36-13 rout in Tampa on Sunday, fans pelted Wyche with assorted objects as he left the field. A pair of binoculars missed him by a couple of feet. The Bucs have fallen behind 17-0, 34-0 and 24-0 in the last three weeks....

The Redskins arc 0-12 in NFC East games since opening 1993 with a win over the Cowboys....

The Bills are a funny team. They lose to the Jets by 20 points and to the Colts by 10, then beat the Dolphins and the Chiefs by a combined score of 65-21. After Buffalo whomped Kansas City 44-10 on Sunday, linebacker Cornelius Bennett, who forced a fumble and had an interception, said, "The entire team, including the coaches, was fired up. I don't know if it was just because it was the Chiefs, but the locker room was like we had won the AFC championship before the game had started."

...Lion linebacker Pat Swilling ought to take his demotion like a man and earn his starting job back instead of beefing that he has been made the scapegoat for the team's disappointing 4-4 start. A defensive starter who makes only 49 tackles in 1½ years doesn't have grounds to complain....

Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman has already had two concussions in 1994 and a total of six going back to his high school days, but he tells SI, "I am not at the concussion crossroads of my career. The CAT scan of my brain [last week] was absolutely normal." Still, the league blew it by not fining Cardinal Wilber Marshall for his Chuck Cecil-like hit on Aikman on Oct. 23. Marshall slammed helmet-first into Aikman's face, cutting his chin, causing him to bite a hole in his tongue and giving him a concussion....

Speaking of protecting Aikman, Dallas could be in a huge jam without starting right tackle Erik Williams, who is out indefinitely after he ran his Mercedes into a retaining wall in the wee hours of Oct. 24. Left on the Cowboy roster for the foreseeable future are rookies George Hegamin and Larry Allen, second-year man Ron Stone, recent pickup James Parrish and Mark Tuinei, who has missed two games this year with back spasms.

The End Zone
While 49er coach George Seifert was busy guiding his team to the top of the NFC West, his wife, Linda, was in Tanzania, scaling 19,340-foot Mount Kilimanjaro. On Oct. 15, after a six-day climb, she and six others reached the highest point on the African continent, but the wind-whipped summit was so cold that the party could stay for only 20 minutes. The epicurean highlight of the trip, according to the San Francisco Examiner"? Roasted antelope on a spit.

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