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Peter King
October 26, 1998
Time's Running OutThe clock is ticking on Barry Sanders as he chases an elusive title
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October 26, 1998

The Nfl

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He never won a high school state football championship while playing in Wichita, Kans., never won a Big Eight title at Oklahoma State and has come no closer to the Super Bowl than the '91 NFC Championship Game, which the Lions lost to the Redskins 41-10. Still, die thought of playing in the Big One, he says, keeps him going.

"I envision playing in a Super Bowl," he said. "I really do. I don't dream about it, just think of it sometimes when I'm awake. Packed stadium, laying it on the line, taking over a game. I can see it happening."

Even if no one else can.

Jake Plummer
Struggling to Find His Game

Trailing the Giants 17-7 on his team's first possession of the third quarter on Sunday, Cardinals second-year quarterback Jake Plummer rolled right and forced a deep sideline pass into heavy coverage. Strong safety Percy Ellsworth intercepted, and New York was on its way to a 34-7 win. "I'm bulletproof, I'm Jake the Snake," Plummer said sarcastically after the game. "I thought I'd slip it in there."

Anointed as a young Joe Montana coming into this season (SI, Aug. 17), Plummer has been having some rough days at the office. Against the Giants he completed 12 of 21 passes for 139 yards, threw one touchdown pass and a pair of interceptions, and was sacked seven times. After Marc Trestman took over as offensive coordinator in the off-season and installed a variation of the West Coast attack, Plummer had to learn his second system in as many years. Though he has completed 59.5% of his passes, his 11 interceptions are third highest in the league, and he has thrown for only six scores.

Plummer is also taking a beating behind perhaps the league's worst offensive line. Last season Arizona quarterbacks were sacked 78 times, the second-highest total in NFL history. Although the Cardinals are on pace to shave 21 sacks off that number, Plummer has still gone down two dozen times. Bottom line: It's ludicrous to dump on this guy when he's often under an avalanche of pressure.

"This is a process that'll take a while," says Trestman. "I like where he's going. We can't treat it as Armageddon when he doesn't play great."

Trading Deadline
Who Needs One In this League?

As the 4 p.m. EDT trading deadline approached on Oct 13, Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi took one call from a fellow G.M. who asked if Accorsi would like to acquire a marginal player. "No interest," replied Accorsi. The discussion took all of 15 seconds.

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