LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD
Through the first three weeks of the season, the eruption of points has been volcanic. Cleveland scored 44 in 22 minutes against Pittsburgh in Week 1. Chicago got four touchdowns in eight minutes against Minnesota in Week 2. San Francisco rallied to beat Philadelphia with 28 fourth-quarter points on Sunday (page 52). Eleven teams are scoring more than 28 points a game. Last season, combined points per game averaged 40.5; this year the average is 48.9, nearly a 21% increase. What gives? Buffalo coach Marv Levy, fresh off a 47-41 overtime win in Houston, has a theory. "One big factor," he says, "is that officials are not calling the most blatant of holding penalties on offensive linemen. The officials' judgment is awful. Our two guys, [outside linebacker] Cornelius Bennett and [defensive end] Bruce Smith, were getting mugged, held, tackled and karate-chopped on Sunday. Nothing happened. What the hell are the officials doing? It's absolute anarchy out there."
PUT-UP TIME, TONY
Rookie Green Bay offensive tackle Tony Mandarich played his first nine downs as a pro on Sunday. The Packers had worried about Mandarich because, after missing all of training camp, he was beaten fairly consistently in practices before making his debut against the Rams, who won 41-38. But he showed signs of fulfilling his promise. Mandarich subbed for Alan Veingrad on five plays at right tackle and played tight end on the left side on four short-yardage downs. His most significant contribution was leading the way for running back Brent Fullwood on a nine-yard run. Three times on passing plays Mandarich, one-on-one, effectively walled off L.A. linebacker Kevin Greene, who was second in the NFL in sacks last year with 16�. Was he worried that Greene might beat him to get a sack? "It was in the back of my mind," said Mandarich.
STATS OF THE WEEK
?Of the NFL's 41 games through Sunday, the home teams won 21, the visitors 20.
?The Jets scored so often (28 points) and moved the ball so easily (9.3 yards per play) in the second half against Miami that they faced only two third downs. They converted both of them.
?Perils of the run-and-shoot: In its 47-27 loss to Chicago, Detroit scored on four straight possessions—and immediately thereafter turned the ball over four straight times.
?Giants defensive backs had 10 interceptions last year. In a nine-minute span against Phoenix, they had four.
?The Cowboys, who lost 30-7 to the Redskins, have lost their first three games by an average of 19 points. The teams that beat them are a combined 0-6 in other games.
?The Chiefs are 1-16-1 on the road since the start of the '87 season, 0-9-1 since the start of '88.