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The NFL
Peter King
October 02, 1995
Steeler Meltdown
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October 02, 1995

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Lack of experience in the two expansion teams' lines—manned by NFL has-beens and unproven kids—is killing their offenses. One way to quantify this inexperience is to rank the teams according to how many total NFL starts their first-string offensive linemen had in 1994.

1994 Starts by Offensive Linemen

Rank

Team

W-L

Starts

28

Jaguars

0-4

32

29

Jets

1-3

26

30

Panthers

0-3

13

1995 Yards Per Game

Rank

Team

W-L

Yards Per Game

28

Buccaneers

2-2

267.8

29

Panthers

0-3

239.7

30

Jaguars

0-4

214.3

1995 Sacks Allowed Per Game

Rank

Team

W-L

Sacks Allowed

28

Colts

1-2

4.3

29

Panthers

0-3

4.7

30

Jaguars

0-4

5.3

Steeler Meltdown

The Steelers who walked off the field at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium on Sunday after a 44-24 shellacking by the Minnesota Vikings didn't resemble the team that came within three yards of a Super Bowl berth last season. Who were those players wearing Steeler black?

The kicker was Norm Johnson, not Gary Anderson, the three-time Pro Bowl veteran who left as a free agent in the off-season; the quarterbacks were Mike Tomczak and Jim Miller, not Neil O'Donnell, who is nursing a broken bone in his right hand; the tight end was Mark Bruener, not Eric Green, another departed free agent; and the busiest running back was Erric Pegram, not Barry Foster, who was traded to the Panthers and then released. Run-of-the-mill cornerbacks Willie Williams and Alvoid Mays started in place of six-time All-Pro Rod Woodson, who is recovering from knee surgery, and Deon Figures, who is being eased back into the lineup after suffering a gunshot wound to the left knee in the off-season.

What have these changes meant to Pittsburgh, which led the NFL in rushing last season and finished second in total defense? After Sunday's games Steeler runners ranked 15th in the league; the defense was seventh. More telling: Pittsburgh's 17 turnovers through four games are as many as the Steelers committed all last season.

"We pretty much disintegrated," linebacker Kevin Greene said of the loss to Minnesota. No, Kevin. Your team began disintegrating right after the loss to the Chargers in the AFC title game. In the NFL you don't play against uniforms. You play against people.

The Deion Watch

On Monday morning Deion Sanders stepped off a plane in Miami and took a cab to Healthsouth Doctors' Hospital in Coral Gables. By early afternoon Dr. John Uribe had completed a 45-minute operation to clean out two small bone fragments from Sanders's left ankle.

Early last week, a report circulated that Sanders's injury was far more serious than the Cowboys had been led to believe when they signed him to a seven-year, $35 million contract. The report irked Sanders. "I hear some idiot said I'd be out for the year," he said on Sunday. "Come on. I'm not exactly having open-heart surgery. This surgery's about as serious as a yeast infection." Well, maybe not that minor, but, said Uribe, "We found the source of the irritation. Now he should have a stable ankle. We found no arthritis, no spurs, no instability, nothing degenerative." Sanders's recovery should take between two and four weeks, and he could be ready to play at San Diego as early as Oct. 15.

Before Sanders's surgery, Uribe asked him, "Are you allergic to any medication?" Replied Sanders, "Yeah, I'm allergic to being broken. Fix me." Which Uribe did. So scratch all of those rumors about Sanders not being ready to do battle with Jerry Rice on Nov. 12 when the Cowboys meet the 49ers at Texas Stadium.

The Kraft Compromise

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