This is an article from the Oct. 19, 2009 issue
And you didn't think anyone could look good in mustard-yellow and tobacco-brown. But there was the Broncos' QB, leading a 98-yard drive to force OT and then beating the Pats. "This was the best I've seen the field," said Orton of his 330-yard passing day. Smile, Mile High fans. His career record at home is 18--2.
The Angels' lefty celebrated his 39th birthday (Oct. 6) by pitching in all three ALDS games against Boston (he closed out Game 1) and not allowing a run. After Oliver's career-low 2.71 ERA this season, free agency, even at his age, could mean a raise from his $2 million salary.
A 4--1 start had the remade pucksters in first place. Sniper Marian Gaborik (right, seven points) was healthy, backup goalie Steve Valiquette shut out the still mighty Ducks and coach John Tortorella wasn't easing up. "A pat on the back is a few feet from a kick in the butt," he said.
At 6--0 for the first time in 24 years (and one of nine Division I unbeatens) No. 11 Iowa is starting to feel, as linebacker Jeremiha Hunter (right) said, "Like everything is going our way." Especially the ball. Iowa has forced at least four turnovers in each of three games.
The team that brought Detroit its first win in 644 days went to Carolina and got beat by those winless cats too. After the Panthers ripped off 18 unanswered points to drop Washington to 2--3, Redskins QB Jason Campbell compared it with having been eaten by the Lions: "This one stings more."
Yes, that's Kubel with a K, and the Twins' rightfielder had nine of them—while going 1 for 14—as Minnesota was swept by the Yankees. That dropped his career postseason batting average to .095 and left a bitter aftertaste to a sweet, 103-RBI season. Said Kubel, "It just happens."
Limping to a 2--3 start wasn't so bad, but losing star winger Daniel Sedin (broken foot) for a month could be a doubly tough blow. It's the first time linemate and twin Henrik has played sans Dan in three seasons. "I'm hoping I can be very effective without Daniel," Henrik said.
It's no fun when the coach benches you after a lousy throw, then scolds you in the media. It's less fun when the coach is your dad. The Colorado QB has been grounded indefinitely; coach Dan Hawkins says new starter Tyler Hansen is "a trooper.... We're just going to go with him."
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
WHO IS THE NFL'S MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER?
Wes Welker, Patriots WR 7%
Drew Brees, Saints QB 5%
Darren Sproles, Chargers RB 3%
Leon Washington, Jets RB 3%
Andre Johnson, Texans WR 3%
Players could not vote for a teammate.... Brees's former backup in San Diego, current Chargers starter Philip Rivers, was the next choice among quarterbacks (tied for ninth at 1.6%).... Rams defensive end James Hall (1.2%) was the only defensive player to receive more than 1% of the vote.... At 5'6" (and 185 pounds), Sproles is the shortest player in the league.
Based on a survey of 246 NFL players