American Football: Kosar back in saddle: Dallas debut successful

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The Independent Online
FOR Bernie Kosar a week has been a long time in sports politics. Last weekend he was the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, his floundering performance contributing to a home defeat by the Denver Broncos. On Sunday he guided the Dallas Cowboys to victory over the Phoenix Cardinals. It had been a turbulent seven days, but by their end Kosar was a happy, if rather poorer, man.

The catalyst was the sensational decision made by Bill Belichick, the Browns head coach, to cut Kosar from the roster after the Denver defeat. Only last month Kosar had signed a dollars 26m ( pounds 18m) deal to keep him in Cleveland for the next seven years. It was worth dollars 4m this year, but by cutting him at the season's half- way point the Browns saved dollars 2m.

Kosar was unemployed for a matter of days. Spurning an offer of around dollars 1m from the Miami Dolphins, he accepted about half that from the Cowboys and, with Troy Aikman injured, went into the Cardinals game as back-up to Jason Garrett. After two series he replaced Garrett and ended up completing 13 of 20 passes, one of them for a touchdown.

Kosar's talent, or lack of it, has long been a matter of debate. Possessing the mobility of a dumper truck, he seems permanently vulnerable to the lightning pass rushes that have become the NFL's stock in trade. On the other hand he is extremely accurate over short and middle distances, and Jimmy Johnson, the Dallas head coach, is not one to let his exceptionally low interception rate go unappreciated.

Johnson is rarely wrong, but Kosar's judgement is more questionable. He picked the Cowboys because he believes them to have a better chance of making the Super Bowl. At Dallas, however, Kosar can only be a co-star, with Aikman certain to start when fit. At Miami, with Dan Marino lost for the season, he could easily have become the team's first-choice quarterback.

The Dolphins managed quite nicely without Kosar, winning 19-14 in Philadelphia. The victory made Don Shula the most successful head coach in NFL history. It was his 325th, one ahead of the mark set by George Halas. 'This one will be special because of the way we won it. The guys hung tough to win a game that meant so much to me,' Shula said. It came at a price, with Scott Mitchell, Marino's able understudy, suffering a separated shoulder and out for at least three weeks. Doug Pedersen, once a back- up in the World League, filled in. The Eagles, having won their first four matches, have now lost their last five.

Todd Philcox, who took Kosar's spot with the Browns, had a miserable day in Seattle, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles. The Browns lost 22-5.

Scores and tables, Sport in Short

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