American Football: Eagles fall to Krieg's blitz

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The Independent Online
IT IS not just the presidential campaign that has made it a busy weekend for the spin doctors. A day of frenetic, and often confusing, action in the race for the Super Bowl also required a lot of explaining.

Take the Philadelphia Eagles. Six days after appearing to establish themselves as the Class of '92 they lost their 100 per cent record at Kansas City. Or the Buffalo Bills. After four commanding victories they have now been humbled by successive defeats. The Miami Dolphins, meanwhile, remain erratically unbeaten.

The Eagles, who crushed Dallas in last week's Monday night game, lost to a deceptively simple game plan instigated by Marty Schottenheimer, the Kansas City head coach. He likes his teams to run, but realised the futility of such a tactic against the league's most miserly defense. 'I'm not very bright, but I'm not stupid either. You can't run the ball against Philadelphia,' Schottenheimer said.

Dave Krieg, Schottenheimer's quarterback, is a master of the play-action (faking the run, and then passing) and though he completed only 12 of 26 passes he fooled the Eagles enough to secure a 24-17 win. Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia's quarterback, was sacked six times, and unable to find the end zone until the fourth quarter.

So are the Eagles suddenly vulnerable? After the game, came the spin. 'It's not like a shocker,' Cunningham said. 'They played us great on third down. We can't allow that to happen again. We know we're a quality team and we're not going to lose confidence over this.' Rich Kotite, the Eagles head coach, was also into damage interpretation. 'To be honest, I didn't think we were going to go 16-0,' he said.

In Los Angeles the Buffalo Bills found themselves up against a Raiders team convinced they were better than a poor start suggested. The game bore out the Raiders' theory as they limited the Bills' top-ranked offense to a solitary field goal in a 20-3 victory.

Todd Marinovich, the Raiders' quarterback, threw two touchdown passes, and Eric Dickerson ran for 52 yards leaving the Bills tight end Pete Metzelaars to come up with the rationalisations. 'The last couple of games, we haven't had the breaks go our way. As for losing two in a row, we have experienced that before. We are a veteran team, we know what it takes to get us to the Super Bowl.'

Miami almost became the third pace-setting team to lose. They trailed 17-7 at home to Atlanta with 20 minutes left when the Miami cornerback, Vestee Jackson, stepped in front of Mike Pritchard to pick off a Chris Miller pass, and ambled 30 yards for a touchdown. A few minutes later Dan Marino directed the game-winning drive which culminated in Mark Higgs' one-yard TD run.

The result requiring least interpretation came from Dallas, where the Cowboys rebounded from their defeat by the Eagles to trounce Seattle 27-0. The spin here came from the Dallas safety James Washington. Asked to pinpoint the game's turning point, he replied: 'When the ball was kicked off.'

NFL: Miami 21 Atlanta 17, Kansas City 24 Philadelphia 17, NY Giants 31 Phoenix 21, Cleveland 17 Pittsburgh 9, San Francisco 24 New England 12, Dallas 27 Seattle 0, LA Raiders 20 Buffalo 3, Houston 38 Cincinnati 24, Indianapolis 6 NY Jets 3 (OT), New Orleans 13 LA Rams 10. Did not play: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Diego, Tampa Bay.

----------------------------------------------------------------- NFL STANDINGS - WEEK SIX ----------------------------------------------------------------- AMERICAN CONFERENCE EAST DIVISION W L T Pct PF PA Miami. . . . . . . . . . 5 0 0 1.000 130 77 Buffalo. . . . . . . . . 4 2 0 .667 166 102 Indianapolis. . . . . . .3 2 0 .600 54 78 NY Jets. . . . . . . . . 1 5 0 .167 84 123 New England. . . . . . . 0 5 0 .000 46 119 CENTRAL DIVISION W L T Pct PF PA Houston. . . . . . . . . 4 1 0 .800 132 83 Pittsburgh. . . . . . . .3 2 0 .600 91 74 Cincinnati. . . . . . . .2 3 0 .400 99 128 Cleveland. . . . . . . . 2 3 0 .400 71 78 WEST DIVISION W L T Pct PF PA Denver. . . . . . . . . .4 1 0 .800 70 75 Kansas City. . . . . . . 4 2 0 .667 140 84 LA Raiders. . . . . . . .2 4 0 .333 90 109 San Diego. . . . . . . . 1 4 0 .200 46 101 Seattle. . . . . . . . . 1 5 0 .167 43 116 NATIONAL CONFERENCE EAST DIVISION W L T Pct PF PA Dallas. . . . . . . . . .4 1 0 .800 122 89 Philadelphia. . . . . . .4 1 0 .800 124 58 Washington. . . . . . . .2 2 0 .500 71 77 NY Giants. . . . . . . . 2 3 0 .400 110 113 Phoenix. . . . . . . . . 1 4 0 .200 89 140 CENTRAL DIVISION W L T Pct PF PA Minnesota. . . . . . . . 4 1 0 .800 129 98 Tampa Bay. . . . . . . . 3 2 0 .600 115 83 Chicago. . . . . . . . . 2 3 0 .400 108 131 Green Bay. . . . . . . . 2 3 0 .400 74 104 Detroit. . . . . . . . . 1 4 0 .200 95 97 WEST DIVISION W L T Pct PF PA San Francisco. . . . . . 5 1 0 .833 160 108 New Orleans. . . . . . . 4 2 0 .667 87 61 Atlanta. . . . . . . . . 2 4 0 .333 116 123 LA Rams. . . . . . . . . 2 4 0 .333 83 116 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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