American Football: Cunningham on the receiving end: Leading quarterbacks given rough treatment by hit men

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The Independent Online
THE brutal truths of life as an NFL quarterback were brought home to two of the position's most notable exponents at the weekend with Randall Cunningham and Joe Montana suffering at the hands of defensive hit-men whose jobs it is to make their lives painful.

Of the two Cunningham fared worst, his left leg broken in the second quarter of the Philadelphia Eagles game at the New York Jets. Cunningham, whose inspirational play has been such a factor in the Eagles unbeaten start to the season, was caught by the Jets' Marvin Washington and Scott Mercereau after attempting a pass, and his leg snapped in the pile-up as all three hit the floor.

He will miss eight to 10 weeks, but was able to look on the bright side. 'I'm very flexible, my bones are like rubber bands. I'm lucky I didn't blow a knee,' said Cunningham, who missed almost all the 1991 season with torn knee ligaments. Despite Cunningham's absence the Eagles overturned a two- touchdown deficit to win 35-30 their third come-from-behind victory in succession. They are now clear leaders of the NFC East, after the New York Giants' defeat by the Buffalo Bills.

Montana had thrown two touchdowns for the Kansas City Chiefs before being hit by Aaron Wallace of the Los Angeles Raiders as he ran into the sidelines. The hit injured a hamstring, drew a 15-yard penalty and incurred the wrath of Montana's team-mate, Neil Smith - 'it was a cheap shot, it was out of bounds' - but Wallace, in the manner of a car drivers everywhere, had a different story. 'I wasn't trying to hit him or injure him. We both were slowing down and I ran into him,' he said. Montana himself could shed little light on the subject: 'They say it happened when he grabbed me but I don't remember.' Montana was optimistic that the injury would not force him to miss any games. The Chiefs went on to win 24-9.

Rick Mirer, the rookie quarterback whom the Seattle Seahawks hope will follow Cunningham and Montana into the game's higher echelons, also took his share of punishment as the Seahawks faced the San Diego Chargers. Mirer had to leave the game in the second quarter with a twisted ankle but returned to throw for 282 yards including a touchdown, and ran for another. The Seahawks won 31-14 and have already won more games this season than the whole of last.

NFL: NY Jets 30 Philadelphia 35, Seattle 31 San Diego 14, Kansas City 24 LA Raiders 9, Denver 35 Indianapolis 13, New Orleans 37 LA Rams 6, SF 49ers 38 Minnesota 19, Chicago 6 Atlanta 0, Dallas 36 Green Bay 14, Buffalo 17 NY Giants 14, Tampa Bay 27 Detroit 10. Did not play: Pittsburgh, Houston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, New England, Phoenix.

----------------------------------------------------------------- DIVISIONAL STANDINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------- AMERICAN CONFERENCE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Eastern Division W L T F A Buffalo 3 1 0 81 60 Miami 2 1 0 60 57 Indianapolis 2 2 0 65 75 New York Jets 2 2 0 119 82 New England 0 4 0 51 119 Central Division Cleveland 3 1 0 79 66 Pittsburg 2 2 0 92 75 Houston 1 3 0 81 79 Cincinnati 0 4 0 37 89 Western Division Denver 3 1 0 102 65 Kansas City 3 1 0 66 49 Seattle 3 2 0 92 73 LA Raiders 2 2 0 66 63 San Diego 2 2 0 67 94 ----------------------------------------------------------------- NATIONAL CONFERENCE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Eastern Division Philadelphia 4 0 0 112 95 New York Giants 3 1 0 83 54 Dallas 2 2 0 79 72 Washington 1 2 0 76 67 Phoenix 1 3 0 64 76 Central Division Detroit 3 2 0 88 90 Chicago 2 2 0 80 53 Minnesota 2 2 0 51 82 Green Bay 1 3 0 80 77 Tampa Bay 0 3 0 27 97 Western Division New Orleans 5 0 0 134 74 San Francisco 3 2 0 125 101 LA Rams 2 3 0 77 106 Atlanta 0 5 0 91 150 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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