Chief Hill sends Green Bay packing
Tuesday 12 November 1996
The edges were further blurred on a campaign already notably lacking in certainties on Sunday when five divisional leaders were beaten, and the likely participants in this season's Super Bowl became just that little bit more difficult to predict.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came in Arrowhead Stadium where the visiting Green Bay Packers pitted their league-leading defense against a Kansas City offense that has been much doubted in recent weeks. The Chiefs took a grip on the game early, notching 17 second-quarter points, and won more comfortably than the 27-20 scoreline suggests. Greg Hill had touchdown runs of eight and 24 yards and hauled in a 34-yard pass for another score as the home side amassed 383 yards.
It was only the Pack's second defeat of the season, but any encouragement it may have offered the other pretenders in the NFC was offset by the fact that most of them lost as well. Philadelphia, fresh from a thrilling win in Dallas, were beaten by Buffalo, who sacked Ty Detmer five times. If defeat to the Bills was understandable - Marv Levy's team are the most resilient in the league - the one suffered by Washington will take a lot more explaining.
They gave up 552 yards to the ageing arm of Arizona's Boomer Esiason, a quarterback whose prime was not so much in another year as another decade. The Cardinals prevailed 37-34, with Kevin Butler's winning 32-yard field goal coming 33 seconds from the end of overtime.
The demise of the Skins and Eagles allowed the Dallas Cowboys to move within a game of them at the top of the NFC East following their victory in San Francisco. A game that lived up to expectations ended with Steve Young concussed once again, but perhaps feeling a little better about his long-term future in the Bay Area.
Young had guided his team to a 10-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, but two vicious hits by Broderick Thomas saw him replaced by Elvis Grbac and almost immediately the 49ers lost their offensive momentum. The Cowboys clawed their way back, but when Troy Aikman was intercepted with a few minutes left it seemed the home side had done enough.
On the next play, though, Grbac compounded an already unconvincing display by giving the ball straight back to the Cowboys with a disastrous pass over the middle to Fred Strickland. Aikman made the most of the opportunity, throwing for an equalising touchdown and then masterminding the game- winning drive in overtime which culminated with Chris Boniol's 29-yard field goal.
With Grbac's contract expiring at the end of this season there has been speculation that he may succeed Young sooner rather than later - speculation that the 49ers have done little to douse. Grbac's performance against Dallas may remind the powers that be that Grbac may be nine years younger than Young, but he is a long way from being his equal.
In the AFC, the principal surprise was the defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers by a Cincinnati team that has won all three of its games since Bruce Coslet succeeded Dave Shula as head coach. The Steelers remain strong contenders for the AFC Championship, but will surely have to beat Denver to win the title. The Broncos bucked the trend on a weekend of surprises, their win in Chicago giving them the best record in the league.
NFL RESULTS AND STANDINGS
Cincinnati 34 Pittsburgh 24; Kansas City 27 Green Bay 20; Miami 37 Indianapolis 13; New Orleans 14 Houston 31; NY Jets 27 New England 31; Philadelphia 17 Buffalo 24; St Louis 59 Atlanta 16; Tampa 20 Oakland 17 (OT); Washington 34 Arizona 37 (OT); Denver 17 Chicago 12; Jacksonville 30 Baltimore 27; Seattle 42 Minnesota 23, San Francisco 17 Dallas 20 (OT); Carolina 27 NY Giants 17
W L T PF PA
New England 7 3 0 275 215
Buffalo 7 3 0 191 175
Miami 5 5 0 238 205
Indianapolis 5 5 0 172 208
New York Jets 1 9 0 172 264
W L T PF PA
Pittsburgh 7 3 0 230 160
Houston 6 4 0 230 190
Cincinnati 4 6 0 214 226
Jacksonville 4 6 0 202 208
Baltimore 3 7 0 244 286
W L T PF PA
Denver 9 1 0 262 167
Kansas City 7 3 0 206 168
San Diego 5 4 0 198 218
Seattle 5 5 0 206 239
Oakland 4 6 0 217 190
W L T PF PA
Philadelphia 7 3 0 228 203
Washington 7 3 0 239 190
Dallas 6 4 0 206 165
Arizona 4 6 0 164 238
New York Giants 4 6 0 157 189
W L T PF PA
Green Bay 8 2 0 288 144
Minnesota 5 5 0 169 194
Detroit 4 5 0 187 187
Chicago 4 6 0 144 192
Tampa Bay 2 8 0 115 195
W L T PF PA
San Francisco 7 3 0 234 152
Carolina 6 4 0 217 148
St Louis 3 7 0 201 280
New Orleans 2 8 0 152 235
Atlanta 1 9 0 176 303
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