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It's not Elway, Marino anymore for Dolphins, Broncos

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2002

Jay Fiedler and Brian Griese aren't Dan Marino and John Elway by any standard. But they'll be doing Sunday night what Marino and Elway rarely did in their long and distinguished careers: facing each other on the football field.

The game at Denver involves two 4-1 teams who could meet again in the playoffs. Miami leads the AFC East and the Broncos are tied for second with San Diego behind unbeaten Oakland in the AFC West, the NFL's strongest division.

Until recently, the quirks in the schedule kept these teams from meeting very often.

From 1975-98, they played once, in 1985, the only matchup between Marino and Elway early in their careers. They played twice late in 1998, Elway's last season and Marino's next-to-last year -- once in the 15th game of the regular season and again in the second round of the playoffs.

But Griese and Fiedler will do. And so will Ricky Williams, who has given the Dolphins the running game they've lacked since Jim Kiick, Mercury Morris and Larry Csonka were pounding away 30 years ago with Griese's father, Bob, at quarterback.

Green Bay (4-1) at New England (3-2)

Packers WR Terry Glenn warmed up for his return to New England by catching eight passes for 154 yards in a win over Chicago. The Packers are seeking their fourth straight victory.

The Patriots lost their last two and allowed Priest Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson and Ricky Williams to rush for more than 100 yards in the last three games. New England needs to improve its running game.

Kansas City (3-2) at San Diego (4-1)

KC's Holmes leads the NFL in yards rushing (590), total yards from scrimmage (803), points (60) and first downs (44). San Diego's Tomlinson is third in the NFL with 554 yards rushing.

While the Chiefs are second in the NFL in scoring 34.2 points per game, their defense is dead last in the league.

The Chargers will try to bounce back from their first loss in five games, but the defense is beat up. Linebacker Junior Seau might be back after missing the 26-9 loss at Denver, but Chargers aren't so sure about defensive end Marcellus Wiley and strong safety Rodney Harrison. Holmes ripped off 181 yards last year in San Diego, the most ever allowed by the Chargers.

Oakland (4-0) at St. Louis (0-5)

The battered Rams are reeling, and the hottest team in the league is on its way to St. Louis. The Rams' training staff has been busy trying to ready CBs Dexter McCleon and Aeneas Williams to face Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Rich Gannon.

The Raiders scored 52 and 49 points in their last two games and lead the series between former Los Angeles teams 7-2.

New Orleans (4-1) at Washington (2-2)

First-round draft pick Patrick Ramsey makes his first NFL start, having led the team to victory in relief last week at Tennessee. His job will be tougher because the Saints have a better defense, and because running back Stephen Davis isn't 100 percent after spraining his knee.

There is nothing wrong with the Saints' featured runner, Deuce McAllister, who leads the NFC with 461 yards rushing. Saints coach Jim Haslett was chided by Redskins coach Steve Spurrier in January for spending too many hours in the office, but he has New Orleans tied for first place in the NFC South.

San Francisco (3-1) at Seattle (1-3), Monday night

The first Monday night game in Seattle since 1992 matches Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren against his former QB coach in Green Bay, Steve Mariucci of San Francisco.

The 49ers seized control of the NFC West with a 37-13 defeat of St. Louis. The Seahawks, who had a bye after a breakout performance in a 48-23 win over Minnesota, have three defensive standouts -- John Randle, Shawn Springs and Brandon Mitchell -- returning from injuries.

Pittsburgh (1-3) at Cincinnati (0-5)

Pittsburgh has led for only 2 minutes, 54 seconds this season, but it's still better than the Bengals, who have led for 2:30. The Steelers are running out of time to salvage their season; they haven't opened 1-4 since 1988, when they finished 5-11. QB Tommy Maddox gets his second career start, hoping for a big assist from Jerome Bettis, who has run for 100 yards nine times in 12 games against the Bengals.

The Bengals have their bye next week, making it an opportune time for a coaching change if owner Mike Brown is inclined.

Baltimore (2-2) at Indianapolis (3-1)

The Ravens have looked like a different team since the bye week. After being outscored 35-7 in their first two games, the Ravens won twice in six days.

Indianapolis struggled to pull away from expansion Houston and had to hang on against winless Cincinnati.

If injured linebacker Ray Lewis (shoulder) plays for Baltimore, it could be another long day for the Colts, who are 4-6 at home since last year and have lost two straight to Baltimore, the city they once called home.

Jacksonville (3-1) at Tennessee (1-4)

The Jaguars' second road game of the season is the first of five away games in the next seven weeks. The Jaguars have never won at The Coliseum.

The Titans have lost four straight and are desperate to avoid matching their longest skid since 1994, when they lost their first five games under then-interim coach Jeff Fisher.

Buffalo (2-3) at Houston (1-3)

Drew Bledsoe brings the hottest passing show in the NFL to Reliant Stadium in what should be easy pickings -- except the Bills have scored 163 points in five games and allowed 180.

Bledsoe leads the NFL with 148 completions in 218 attempts for 1,762 yards. He's thrown 12 TD passes, tied for second in the league, and receivers Eric Mould and Peerless Price are 1-2 in AFC receiving.

Despite a 35-17 loss at Philadelphia prior to their bye week, the Texans felt their passing game improved. They'll need it this week.

Cleveland (2-3) at Tampa Bay (4-1)

The Buccaneers have won four straight, thanks to an opportunistic defense that has to be anticipating the Browns with a starting quarterback coming off a concussion (Tim Couch) and a backup (Josh Booty) who's never taken a snap in a regular-season game.

Bucs LB Derrick Brooks has scored three TDs on interceptions.

Carolina (3-2) at Dallas (2-3)

Carolina followed three straight wins with two close losses. QB Rodney Peete, once a backup to Troy Aikman, returns to Dallas trying to preserve a winning record, while the defense looks to keep alive streaks of not allowing a 100-yard rusher or giving up more than 17 points. Dallas will need big plays. Quarterback Quincy Carter threw for a career-best 262 yards and no interceptions in a loss to the Giants, but an overthrow of wide-open Antonio Bryant in the closing minutes is what'll be remembered most.

Atlanta (1-3) at New York Giants 3-2)

Giants defenders can be thankful they won't have to chase around Michael Vick. The swift second-year quarterback has a shoulder injury and almost certainly won't play.

The Giants have injury concerns in the secondary, with both young Wills -- Peterson and Allen -- bothered by toe and groin problems, respectively. But their passing game has been in gear.

Detroit (1-3) at Minnesota (0-4)

The Lions come off only their third victory in 20 games under coach Marty Mornhinweg. Vikings coach Mike Tice still is looking for his first win.



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