American Football: Lewis shatters rushing record

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The Independent Online

Clairvoyance is not a talent with which Jamal Lewis is normally associated, but the Baltimore Ravens running back clearly has the ability to peer into the future with great accuracy. As his team prepared for Sunday's contest with the Cleveland Browns, Lewis had confided to a friend that, if he was given the ball 30 times, he would have a "career" day.

Lewis did indeed carry the ball 30 times, and when he had finished destroying the Browns for 295 yards, he had shattered the NFL's all-time single-game rushing record of 278, set by Cincinnati's Corey Dillon three years ago.

He also scored two touchdowns in a 33-13 win. It would have been three had a 60-yard touchdown scamper not been called back for a holding penalty. The future was always going to be bright for Lewis, who possesses a rare combination of power and speed, and who now seems to have fully recovered from a knee ligament injury which forced him to miss the entire 2001 campaign.

"I guess the guy is Nostradamus," Cleveland's Earl Holmes said. "He went out there and did his thing and we didn't do our job. He said what he said, he did it, and it's in the history books."

The only historical issue for debate from Carolina's scrappy 12-9 overtime win in Tampa Bay was when did a team last have three kicks blocked in a single game. Having had a punt and a field goal already blocked, the Buccaneers simply had to convert an extra point attempt as time expired to win. Yet again, a Carolina hand intervened, and the Panthers duly won a penalty-strewn affair in overtime when John Kasay converted a 47-yard effort.

Similar excitement in St Louis, where the Rams' Jeff Wilkins kicked a 28-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 27-24. A bruising contest had been tied with 19 seconds left when the 49er quarterback, Jeff Garcia, found Terrell Owens, but Ram nerves held firm.

So too did Oakland's, although last year's Super Bowl runners-up were given a scare in a 23-20 win over the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. Given no chance before kick-off, the Bengals, inspired by a brave effort from their quarterback, Jon Kitna, looked set to take things into overtime, until Sebastian Janikowski spared Raider blushes with a 39-yard field goal with nine seconds left.

Of the surprise early pace-setters, the Washington Redskins continue to defy expectations of a season of struggle. Trailing by 10-points in Atlanta, the Redskins came back strongly under the leadership of their young quarterback, Patrick Ramsey, who threw for 356 yards and a pair of touchdowns as his team prevailed 33-31.

The Kansas City Chiefs continue to possess the ability to score from all quarters. The running back, Priest Holmes, ran in three touchdowns in his side's 41-20 thrashing of Pittsburgh, but there were also contributions from Dante Hall's 100-yard kick-off return, and a 46-yard interception return from Jerome Woods.

Like the Chiefs, the Buffalo Bills seem capable of keeping the scoreboard moving, but they will have to face sterner tests than the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Florida team were undone by the passing of Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe, who gained 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as the Bills continued their impressive start to the season with a routine 38-17 verdict.

More surprising is the state of the Philadelphia Eagles, who looked simply awful in their 31-10 home loss to the New England Patriots. They could do nothing right and, after a five-turnover performance, they were booed from the field.