BUBBY, CAN YOU SPARE AN ARM?
"What can you say?" said Boomer Esiason after the Bengals had won 16-12 in Pittsburgh for their sixth straight victor over the Steelers. "We've just got one of those matchup things with the Steelers. I wish we could play them every game." The last four times these teams have met. Cincinnati running back James Brooks has rushed for 113. 127. 105 and 81 yards, respectively. Cincy's crummy defense comes to life against the Steelers, whose quarterback, Bubby Brister, doesn't have the accuracy or the patience to pick apart the Bengals. Pittsburgh hasn't scored a touchdown against Cincinnati in 11 quarters.
The Steelers led the league in stupidity on Sunday. In the second quarter, Brister took a sack half a yard deep in his end zone, after having plenty of time to dump the ball. Following a timeout to set up a crucial third-down play late in the game, two Pittsburgh players went in motion—toward each other. Brister called time again, which drew a delay-of-game flag because a team can't call successive timeouts without running a play. Then, with 2:14 to play, Brister threw the potential game-winning TD pass eight feet over the head of wide-open tight end Eric Green.
OH, AND ONE MORE THING
Steeler punter Dan Stryzinski downed his own second-quarter punt, an 18-yarder, against the Bengals.
If Bills wideout James Lofton had stopped playing after the first quarter of Buffalo's 30-23 win over the Eagles, he still would've had the best day of any NFL receiver in Week 13. Lofton caught three passes for 154 yards in the first 14 minutes. Next best effort: Stephone Paige of the Chiefs, with seven catches for 151 yards in 60 minutes. Lofton wound up with five receptions for 174 yards.
SCHOOL OF HARD KNOX
The Seahawks' last four games have been decided on the final play. They've won three of them, including a 13-10 decision on Sunday, when Norm Johnson's 42-yard field goal beat the Oilers in overtime.
JINX OF THE WEEK
The Falcons controlled the ball for 39 minutes against the Bucs, and they rushed for 222 yards, their best effort since 1986. Still, they lost their 17th straight road game, 23-17, and quarterback Chris Miller was sidelined for the year with a broken collarbone.
STATS OF THE WEEK
?Is Marion Butts of the Chargers the back of the year, or what? He has carried the ball 262 times without fumbling, and he missed being the first back to rush for 1,000 yards this season by a couple of hours. Thurman Thomas of th Bills, whose game in Buffalo started three hours before Butts's game in San Diego, was the first back to reach 1,000 yards in '90.
? Pittsburgh's Gary Anderson, who kicked four field goals against Cincinnati to raise his career total to 202, has made 49 straight inside 35 yards.