American Football: Eagles hand Owens indefinite ban

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The Independent Online

It has been described as the ultimate team game and, as if to prove that no individual is bigger than his team, the Philadelphia Eagles suspended indefinitely the gifted but self-obsessed receiver Terrell Owens.

Few doubt Owens' ability to affect the course of a game, but it seems the Eagles have finally tired of his verbal excesses. Having spent much of last season criticising the play of his quarterback, Donovan McNabb, Owens then spent the summer in a contract hold-out. Last week, he chastised the franchise for failing to acknowledge the milestone of his 100th career touchdown, then became embroiled in a locker-room brawl with a former team-mate. He later apologised, but the Eagles have had enough. Without him their prospects seem bleak: a 17-10 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday is further proof.

In contrast, the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers remain on course for the playoffs thanks to their respective running backs, Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Alexander gained 173 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns as the Seahawks dispatched the Arizona Cardinals 33-19. He had left the game in the first half with a stomach problem, only to return in the second half with an 88-yard touchdown run. "He's playing like the best back in the NFL," said Arizona's coach, Dennis Green. "He can catch the ball, he does a decent job of pass protection, and he makes big plays."

If Alexander has a rival, it is surely Tomlinson. This week he established a new personal best with four touchdowns to help the Chargers defeat the New York Jets 31-26. Cincinnati matched their best start since 1988 by beating Baltimore 21-9. Their quarterback Carson Palmer shone, throwing for 247 yards and two touchdowns. The last time the team were 7-2, they made the Super Bowl.

The biggest play of the day came in Kansas City, where Larry Johnson scored on a one-yard run as time expired to help the Chiefs edge the Oakland Raiders 27-23.

The play represented a huge gamble by the Chiefs' head coach, Dick Vermeil. Spurning an easy game-tying field goal, Vermeil went for it all. "I just figured I'm too old to wait," said Vermeil who, at 69, is the oldest coach in the game.