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the NFL
Peter King
November 29, 1993
THE OTHER SHULA
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November 29, 1993

The Nfl

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Kosar also became too independent for Belichick's tastes, and that may be what finished him in Cleveland. In the Browns' 24-14 loss to Miami on Oct. 10, Kosar called an audible, and the result was a touchdown pass to wideout Michael Jackson. On Cleveland's next offensive play Kosar called another audible, and it produced a two-yard completion to Jackson. After Belichick called the next play, he shouted to Kosar, "Run the play we're sending in!"

He did not trust his quarterback to run the right plays, and the quarterback did not trust many of the plays being sent in. "I wasn't insubordinate," says Kosar. "I wasn't cancerous about it. When I audibled, I audibled to plays that I knew would work better. The [ Cleveland] offense, as it exists now, cannot be consistently successful."

PARITY STRIKES AGAIN

Just when you thought you had the NFL figured out:

? Dallas, the best team in the league, got snuffed by the NFL's worst defense, losing to Atlanta 27-14. Before the game, Cowboy defensive tackle Tony Casillas had pondered a second trip to Atlanta—for Super Bowl XXVIII. "We might want to take bread crumbs to the Georgia Dome and leave them outside, because we plan on being back in January," Casillas had said. Not so fast, Tony. The Cowboys looked like an ordinary team without quarterback Troy Aikman, who missed his second start after suffering a strained hamstring against the Giants, and without running back Emmitt Smith, who left Sunday's game after suffering a bruised right thigh in the second quarter.

When Smith left, so did the Dallas running game, and quarterback Bernie Kosar showed his limitations as a downfield thrower: only seven of his 22 completions went to wide receivers. One of the best on the planet, Michael Irvin, had one catch for five yards. "I was covered on every play," Irvin said, "but that's never stopped us before."

? Pittsburgh, with a defense that had looked like the old Steel Curtain in an intimidating shutout of Buffalo the previous Monday night, went to Denver and got thrashed 37-13. The Steelers allowed a season-high 107 rushing yards to a poor running team and gave John Elway the time to have a brilliant day—18 completions in 25 attempts for 276 yards and one touchdown. The AFC pennant race is now cloudier than it has been all year.

? Kansas City, which was beginning to look as if it could survive without Joe Montana, put on a pitiful show at home and lost to Chicago. The Bears came in with a 3.4-yards-per-rush average, third to last in the league. K.C. came in with the second-stingiest defense against the run, 3.1 yards per carry. What happened? Chicago backs gained 190 yards on 42 carries. "We were embarrassed," said Chief defensive tackle Joe Phillips. You've got to like what coach Dave Wannstedt is doing with the Bears now. Hamstrung by a mediocre quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, he's building a tough team that can win with defense and a running game, which is a combination that outdoor teams in cold climates need to have.

GAME OF THE WEEK
Philadelphia at Washington, Sunday. What a depressing outlook for two of the league's proudest franchises. Washington is 2-8 for the first time in 30 years, and the starless Eagles have lost six games in a row for the first time in 10 years. Washington is playing with a World League-quality offensive line and a journeyman backup, Rich Gannon, at quarterback. Philadelphia is playing with, well, we're not sure. "In my eight years I've never seen the Eagles so discombobulated," said cornerback Mark Collins after his Giants beat Philly 7-3. "They look so confused."

DISPATCHES
Anywhere But St. Louis Department: The NFL will name its second expansion team on Nov. 30, and last week Baltimore strengthened its chance to upset St. Louis when banking and financial services executive Alfred Lerner entered his bid for a franchise. Yet Jacksonville remains an interesting long shot, in part because of the high regard owners feel for J. Wayne Weaver, the point man for Jacksonville's effort, who made his fortune in shoe stores. Weaver echoes the concern of people in and out of the league about the suspect level of football fervor in St. Louis. He lived there for 20 years. "We couldn't fill a 52,000-seat stadium in the [Don] Coryell years, which were the most exciting years they had," Weaver said. "How are they going to fill a 70,000-seat stadium?" ...Only two times in NFL history has a college contributed two running backs in the same draft who led their pro teams in rushing as rookies. This season it could happen twice: with Jerome Bettis ( Rams) and Reggie Brooks ( Redskins) from Notre Dame and a pair from Division I-AA Northeast Louisiana, Roosevelt Potts ( Colts) and Greg Robinson ( Raiders). The Notre Dame duo might not be a surprise, but how does a small school stockpile that sort of talent? "We tell the kids that if they come, we'll put them in an offense the NFL scouts will love," says Northeast coach Dave Roberts.

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