American Football: Falcons are grounded in strange season

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The Independent Online
AS THE pre-season favourites continue to struggle the Atlanta Falcons, last season's beaten Super Bowl team, have yet to record a win with the latest reverse a 35-7 humbling by St Louis Rams on Sunday.

"They beat us in every way you can get beaten," admitted the Falcons coach, Dan Reeves. "I didn't think we were going to be 0-3, but there is nothing in this league that can shock you."

The Rams owe much to their quarter-back Kurt Warner, who had only previously played with the Amsterdam Admirals in the NFL Europe League. He threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter and finishing the rout with a five-yard touchdown run.

The Denver Broncos, who defeated Atlanta in last season's Super Bowl, are in similar disarray. Their third defeat so far was by 13-10 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The future looks similarly bleak in New York, where the Jets continue to toil. The 27-20 loss against the Washington Redskins was largely self- inflicted, the Jets making many unforced errors which will doubtless leave them under the withering glare of their coach, Bill Parcells this week.

"I'm biting my lip right now," said Parcells, who has won two Super Bowls with New York's other team, The Giants. This is the first time in many years I have had to bite my lip over what went on."

In contrast, the New England Patriots continue to confound expectation. Their hard-earned 16-14 triumph over the New York Giants was their third in a row, and once again their kicker, Adam Vinatieri, was the difference, converting a 41-yard field goal with three minutes remaining. It is becoming a habit, Vinatieri having previously converted late efforts to beat the Jets and the Indianapolis Colts.

Elsewhere, the Pittsburgh Steelers' aura of invincibility was eradicated by the Seattle Seahawks. Pittsburgh's quarter-back, Kordell Stewart allowed three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Merton Hanks.

The Jacksonville Jaguars lost for the first time when they were beaten 20-19 by the Tennessee Titans.