ONE FROM THE HEART
When it was over, when the Jets had come within an intercepted Hail Mary pass of shocking the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium on Sunday, an emotion rarely seen in the NFL was shared by Bruce Coslet and members of his former team. For nine years, as an assistant coach and then as offensive coordinator, he had helped build a state-of-the-art offense in Cincinnati. Now, in his first game as an NFL head coach, with the Jets, Coslet had watched the Bengals score the last 15 points of the game to salvage a 25-20 victory. Coslet calmly removed his headset and made his way to midfield, where Cincinnati quarterback Boomer Esiason ran to meet him. They embraced in a bear hug. "You've got a lot to be proud of," Esiason said into Coslet's ear. "I love you, Bruce."
Coslet could only nod. His upper lip quivered. A wave of Bengal players and coaches peppered him with the same sentiment, and after a minute or so he had to turn to leave. It wouldn't be right to break down in front of old friends, he thought. "God, we should have won," he said to the sky as he wiped away the tear.
Coslet will have other chances—plenty of them. The Jets finished 1989 with a massive rebuilding job ahead of them, and Coslet and defensive coordinator Pete Carroll already have the team en route to performing the way playoff contenders play. "Football's fun again for us," said quarterback Ken O'Brien after Sunday's game. "I love it around here now. We're a new team, with a new attitude."
On Saturday night, Coslet sat in his Cincinnati hotel room, thinking of the significance of the game. "My players know this is important to me," he said. "I want to look good in front of [Bengal founder] Paul Brown, in front of Boomer, in front of everybody." In another part of the city that night, Esiason showed how much respect the Bengals had for Coslet. He pulled out his playbook and said, "This is the thickest playbook we've ever had for a game since I've been here. Probably 50 percent of these plays Bruce has never seen."
The Bengals needed them all.
THE HERSCHEL WATCH
The Vikings ran 66 offensive plays in their 24-20 loss at Kansas City, and Herschel Walker, in his new all-purpose role, was on the field for 62 of them. The positions Walker played:
?Running back in pro set or split backfield: 24 plays.
?Running back in I formation: 9.
?Running back in single-back formation: 7.
?Running back in shotgun formation: 6.
?Wide receiver: 6.
?Back in motion to wide receiver: 5.
For the record, Walker rushed 14 times for 68 yards and caught five passes for 70 yards.