Around the NFL - Week 4
Mike Ditka’s new defense was as fierce as the old one. In successive wins over the Eagles and Vikings, the Bears registered 20 sacks,
getting nine in a 27-7 defeat of division rival Minnesota at Soldier Field. “Nine sacks today and 11 last week will get you in the Guinness Book
of Records” said Ditka.
Heading the candidates for inclusion was DE Sean McInerney who had 3.5 sacks against the Vikings for a total of 5.5 in two weeks. “We
have to play the way Bear fans expect us to play,” he said. “We’re not here to lose. This team is on top and we want to keep it that way until
the regular Bears return.”
The strike however was a disaster for Vikings head coach Jerry Burns who regular team had won its first two games and looked like a strong
candidate for the playoffs. His replacement team was 0-2. “We were off to such a good start and this strike shattered the season for us” he
Speaking of shattered dreams, the defending Super Bowl champion Giants were the NFL’s only winless team at 0-4. The Washington
Redskins, led by RB Lionel Vital who rushed for 128 yards and scored on a 22-yard run, journeyed to Giants Stadium and won 38-12. Vital
was cut by both the Redskins and Giants in 1986 but did get some professional sports experience that year. He was signed by baseball’s
Chicago White Sox and played right field in the Instructional League.
Vital was assisted by former Saints and Vikings RB Wayne Wilson who scored two touchdowns and a defense that got six sacks. “The only
thing we did well was run kickoffs back,” said Giants’ head coach Bill Parcells. “And we certainly had ample opportunity to do that.”
By the second week of replacement games, approximately 145 regular players had returned, topped by 17 with the St.Louis Cardinals. They
hosted New Orleans, a team with 11 players back, in what appeared to be the best match-up. But when it was over, the Saints had outgained
the Cardinals 368-143 and had 29 first downs to their 10.
Naturally St.Louis won however. CB Mark Jackson, who played two years in the CFL, and regular safety Leonard Smith, returned fumbles for
touchdowns and the Cardinals came out on top 24-19. First Saints’ replacement QB Kevin Ingram fumbled the snap on a fieldgoal attempt
and Jackson picked it up and scored. Then Ingram, replacing injured starter John Fourcade, fumbled on his first passing attempt setting up
Smith’s touchdown return.
In Denver, the 3-0 Raiders were heavily favoured over the Broncos who had lost their first replacement game by 30 points to Houston. But
with help from returning regulars and a fifth-down fieldgoal, Denver prevailed 30-14. Yes a fifth down fieldgoal – the teams were tied at 14-14
just before half-time when the officials lost track of the sequence of downs and it was actually fifth down when Mike Clendenen kicked a 31-
yard fieldgoal. “We yelled and screamed,” said Raiders’ head coach Tom Flores. “But they lined them up anyway”.
Flores also was unhappy as he watched the Broncos, helped by regular linemen Dave Studdard and Billy Bryan, rush for 204 yards against a
Los Angeles defense that included regulars Howie Long and Bill Pickel. RB Joe Dudek, cut by Denver in the summer, ran for 128 yards and
two touchdowns. The Raiders had one play to smile about as little Ricky Calhoun (5-7, 190), a rookie from Cal-State Fullerton, returned a
punt 55 yards for a touchdown.
The Rams, who had lost six games in a row, got an inspired pre-game pep talk from coach John Robinson and went out and defeated the
Pittsburgh Steelers 31-21. Regular players had a lot to do with the victory. On defense, S Nolan Cromwell blocked a punt, which Kirby
Jackson, a replacement rookie from Mississippi State, recovered in the endzone for a touchdown. On offense, RB Charles White rushed for
a career high 166 yards and scored one, while veteran QB Steve Dils hit 13 of 19 passes for two touchdowns. “It was an emotional pep talk,”
said Dils. “He had a lot of frustration inside him that he wanted to get out.”
In Atlanta, the San Francisco 49ers, with 11 regulars back, built a 20-0 half-time lead and defeated the Falcons 25-17. Joe Montana
quarterbacked the team for five series and produced two touchdowns and a fieldgoal, one score coming on a six-yard pass to WR Dwight
Clark. In Seattle, Cincinnati rushed for 270 yards and outlasted Seattle 17-10. RB Marc Logan, a rookie from Kentucky who was cut by the
Bengals in pre-season, led the attack with 103 yards and a touchdown. Regular LB Reggie Williams had two sacks.
QB Gary Hogeboom suffered a cracked rib but he led the Colts on two drives to fieldgoals before his injury in a 6-0 shutout of the Jets.
Chuck Banks, who played for Houston in 1986, rushed for 159 yards. In Foxboro, Mike LeBlanc, who had been cut by the Patriots in both
1985 and 1985, came back and rushed for 146 yards on 35 carries as New England stopped Buffalo 14-7. “I never expected to carry the ball
so much” LeBlanc said. “But I’ll do whatever it takes to try and impress the coaches”.
WR Kelvin Edwards ran 62 yards for a score on a reverse on the very first play of the game as the Cowboys beat the Eagles 41-22. Edwards
wound up catching six passes for 100 yards. He had played for New Orleans in 1986 but had been released during the pre-season in 1987.
Liffort Hobley, the only Dolphins’ player to cross the picket line, intercepted two passes, made six tackles and returned a fumble 55 yards for
a touchdown in Miami’s 42-0 rout of Kansas City.
Quote of the week
Detroit K Mike Pringle on the 31-yard FG that defeated Green Bay in overtime. “The Lions were my team growing up so doing it for them
makes it more special. But I know I’m going home when the strike is over.”