Much of the blame for the Cardinals' recent troubles—three straight losses—belongs to quarterback Neil Lomax, who was intercepted four times in Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Giants. In the first nine games, Lomax was picked off only six times. Receiver Roy Green offers this excuse: "He's hurting, but he isn't talking about it. You could call it a 'body injury'...his entire body hurts." Over the past three weeks Lomax has suffered a pinched nerve in his throwing shoulder, a sprained ankle, a bruised finger and bruised ribs.
THE BOO OF THE WEEK: This is what wide-open-mouthed receiver Butch Johnson had to say when he was traded from Dallas to Houston on April 13: "I'm just going to go to Houston and catch a lot of passes. I feel real free. I feel like the sky's the limit."
But on July 20 he was traded to Denver, for which he has caught 37 passes for 524 yards and 5 touchdowns. Now he's saying that getting out of Houston pronto was his No. 1 objective all along. He claims his time with the Oilers was "a summer vacation," and that he deliberately dogged it to get traded to either the Broncos or the Raiders.
"I knew before I talked to Hugh [Campbell, Oilers coach] or anyone else that I'd get out of there.... I'm telling you, I didn't play at my level of ability. I had to do it in a way where it didn't look like Brad Van Pelt [who was traded by the Giants to Minnesota and refused to report for 12 weeks]. I did it in a way that didn't hurt the organization. Anyway, how would the nation have looked at me?" Good question.
Buford McGee, the rookie Charger back who was filling in for injured Earnest Jackson, scored the 25-yard touchdown 3:17 into overtime on Sunday to beat the Dolphins 34-28—even though he wasn't running the right play. Don't blame McGee. Ernie Zampese, San Diego's assistant head coach, was the man who boo-booed.
On third-and-10 from the Charger 25, Zampese, who was sitting up in the coaches' box, turned to Dave Levy, offensive coordinator, and said, "log 80," which is a run to the right. However, what Zampese meant to say, was "log 90"—a run to the left—because he wanted to get the ball on the left hash mark for Rolf Benirschke, who is more effective from the left. Levy wigwagged in log 80, and San Diego went right—right into the end zone.
"I knew I said '90' in my own mind, but it came out '80,' " says Zampese. "I screwed up and we scored and won the game."
60 pounds of buffalo meat
20 pounds of assorted vegetables (carrots, celery and onions)
a variety of seasonings (juniper berries, bay leaves, parsley, shallots and peppercorns)
3 gallons of Burgundy
Place in a large roasting pan and let marinate for three days.
Roast 2½ hours at 350°.
Stir in 28 New England Patriots.
Well, not quite. That's the recipe Norman Wade, the executive chef at the Westin-Copley Place in Boston, concocted to feed the Patriots before their Nov. 11 encounter with Buffalo. Wade, who was born in England and educated in London and Paris, bought the buffalo from a meat broker in Chicago. It cost $13 a pound.
Wade plans to repeat his Chef's Table Feast soon. "I can get bear, lion, ram, Mahi Mahi [Hawaiian for dolphin fish], even horsemeat," he says. And when the Patriots play the New York Jets? Airline food, of course.
Tim Vogler, the Bills' offensive guard who started for the first time in his six-year career Sunday, isn't exactly a household word around the league. So it didn't surprise him that his opponent—Cowboy All-World defensive tackle Randy White—hadn't heard of Vogler until he spoke to the Buffalo media during a conference call last Wednesday. "There are even people in Buffalo who don't know my name," says Vogler, who went to Ohio State. "I wouldn't expect them to know it clear down in Texas."
They do now, after the Bills upset the Cowboys 14-3 to turn the NFL East standings into a Gordian knot with Dallas, Washington and the Giants tied for first, all with 7-5 records. Vogler, who threw a key block on White to spring Greg Bell loose on a game-opening, 85-yard touchdown run, was still a bit disappointed. "I figured that was how I was going to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame—most years on a roster without starting. I could have been a Trivial Pursuit question."
Meanwhile, it's crying time in Dallas. "This is total humiliation," says Tony Dorsett, Cowboy running back. "There's no ifs, ands or buts, and that's with capital letters! If the guys on this team are not embarrassed by this performance, you're showing me a loser."
Says John Dutton, defensive tackle, "We were the worst team in football [Sunday]. We were the 0-11 team. There's no other way to look at it. We lost to the worst team in football 14-3. What else can you say?"
Answers Dorsett, "We're the laughingstock in the NFL right now."
Jack Lambert, the Steeler inside linebacker who has started only three games this season because of the dislocated big toe on his left foot, was hardly overjoyed when he heard coach Chuck Noll say that the injury could end the All-Pro's 11-year career. "Any time Jack comes in hard and puts stress on his toe, he reinjures it," Noll says. "It might be that the toe will never heal sufficiently."
Lambert has been pushing himself to return, taking injections to numb the pain. But he can't fool his Steeler teammates. They can see the worry in his grizzled face. "Sometimes he comes back to the huddle and says the toe hurts," says linebacker Robin Cole. "What I think he needs is a year off. But in pro football, you can't take a year off."
If Lambert is through—he's thinking about rehabilitative surgery after the season—and if tackle Larry Brown, who's having difficulty recovering from a recent knee injury, retires, only three members of the Steelers' four Super Bowl teams would remain: John Stallworth, Mike Webster and Donnie Shell.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Buffalo rookie running back Greg Bell carried 27 times for 206 yards and two touchdowns, including an 85-yarder, as the Bills beat Dallas 14-3 for their first win this season after 11 losses.
DEFENSE: Mark Haynes, a Giants cornerback, intercepted two others to lead New York to a 16-10 win over St. Louis and into a first-place tie in the NFC East.
Here are the five teams that have made the most yardage this season with a zebra carrying the ball for them:
And the five that have lost the most: