American Football: Warner and Favre off the pace

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The Independent Online

Not long ago, Kurt Warner and Brett Favre were considered two of the best quarterbacks in the game, but both players looked well past their best in the first week of play in the National Football League.

Favre, who led the Green Bay Packers to two Super Bowls in the 1990s, endured a wretched performance in his side's 30-25 home defeat against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing four interceptions.

Similarly, Warner, the hero of the St Louis Rams' Super Bowl triumph of four years ago, continues to struggle to recapture former glories. Not only was Warner sacked six times in his side's 23-13 defeat against the New York Giants, but he fumbled six times and looks short of confidence.

Difficult decisions loom for the Rams. Warner struggled early last season too, and when he was sidelined with an injury, his replacement, Mark Bulger, led the Rams on a five-game winning streak. Another poor performance from Warner next week and the switch may be made again.

The Carolina Panthers gained an unlikely 24-23 victory after trailing the Jacksonville Jaguars by 17 points, with their quarterback, Rodney Peete, horribly out of sorts. In desperation, Carolina's coach, John Fox, replaced Peete with Jake Delhomme, who threw for three touchdowns, the last with only 16 seconds left.

"He came in, gave everyone a high-five, and told us we're going to win the game," said the receiver Muhsin Muhammad, the recipient of Delhomme's first touchdown pass. "We had no doubts in our minds after that."

The Tennessee Titans owed their 25-20 win over the Oakland Raiders to their punter, Craig Hentrich, who converted three field goals after the kicker, Joe Nedney, was forced off with a thigh strain.

In Buffalo, the Bills overwhelmed the New England Patriots 31-0. The victory was especially sweet for the Buffalo quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, who was discarded by the Patriots two years ago. It was his first over his former side. Bledsoe's joy, however, could not match that of the safety Lawyer Milloy, who was released by New England a week ago only to be signed by Buffalo.

Steve Mariucci, the new Detroit coach, enjoyed a successful debut as his side defeated Arizona 42-24 with four Joey Harrington touchdown passes. Dennis Erickson, who replaced Mariucci in San Francisco, saw his new charges overwhelm the hapless Chicago Bears 49-7.

In the weekend's biggest upset, the Miami Dolphins lost 21-20 at home to the Houston Texans. "One of their players said to me, 'I'll see you after today's practice'," the Texans receiver Jabar Gaffney explained. "That was their thinking." Kris Brown converted a 35-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining to seal the win.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Detroit 42 Arizona 24; Pittsburgh 34 Baltimore 15; Cincinnati 10 Denver 30; Miami 20 Houston 21; Cleveland 6 Indianapolis 9; Carolina 24 Jacksonville 23; Green Bay 25 Minnesota 30; Buffalo 31 New England 0; Kansas City 27 San Diego 14; NY Giants 23 St Louis 13; Dallas 13 Atlanta 27; San Francisco 49 Chicago 7; Seattle 27 New Orleans 10; Tennessee 25 Oakland 20.

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