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Pro Football Spotlight

October 17, 1994

IT'S NOT NICE TO FOOL WITH MOTHER NATURE OR PRIME TIME

You don't tug on Superman's cape, spit into the wind or get Deion Sanders upset.

Sanders returned to Atlanta on Sunday as a 49er, to be booed by a sellout crowd of his ex-fans and reviled by his ex-teammates and treated them all to a prime Prime Time performance, including a fight with Andre Rison, followed by an interception which he returned 93 yards for a touchdown in the 49ers' 42-3 rout.

Sanders finished his touchdown run with the usual high-step, pulling a groin muscle in the process, obliging him to leave before he could pop any more bubbles.

The Falcons, off to a 4-2 start, led the NFC in interceptions--four by Sanders' old backup, Vinnie Clark--and obviously forgot who they were running their mouths about, with Sanders' friends, Rison and linebacker Jessie Tuggle, leading the choir.

Tuggle said Sanders had never been committed to the Falcons.

Rison said Sanders' departure "might be one of the best things that ever happened to this team."

Asked what he might say to his old buddy, Rison replied, "I ain't into kissing up so, whatever he wants to do."

A wounded Prime Time protested his innocence before the game.

"Yeah it hurt," said Sanders. "I mean because I gave my all to these guys and then some. For them to say I wasn't a team player--I mean, what else do I have to do, come and pick you up and take you to the damn game?"

Sanders made his point in the game. Afterward, he embraced Rison on the field.

Memo to Rison: Before your next meeting, concentrate on the good times you and he had.

BRING ON THE OILERS

The Falcons' four victories have come against the Rams (twice), Redskins and Buccaneers.

AN AFTERNOON WITH THE BUNGLES

That victory teams get each week against the Bengals does come in handy.

The problem is: Whatever they have might be contagious.

Ask the Steelers, who struggled to a 14-10 victory in Three Rivers Stadium that almost had the winners fighting among each other.

Pittsburgh quarterback Neil O'Donnell was sacked eight times by a defense that had three all season and ranked No. 26 in the NFL overall. The Steelers didn't score in the second half.

"That team shouldn't even be on the ball field with us," Steeler linebacker Greg Lloyd said. "We've got to come out and hit them in the mouth and choke 'em and put them out of the game in a hurry. We let ourselves get in a dogfight with an 0-5 team and that's scary."

Linebacker Kevin Greene, trying to inspire the offensive unit, even went into its huddle to deliver a pep talk.

Apparently, it wasn't inspiration the offense was looking for.

Said O'Donnell: "John L. (Williams) yelled to him, 'Get the hell out of here!' "

Note: Of the Bengals' eight sacks, top pick Dan (Big Daddy) Wilkinson had none.

SHORT HONEYMOON IN K.C.

The Chiefs' failure to score a touchdown in two games isn't going down well in Kansas City, where the natives are turning analytical.

"It's time for Marcus Allen to take on a supporting role," wrote the Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock.

"At 38, Joe Montana doesn't handle a pass rush, no matter how tame, like a 28-year-old."

Chief Coach Marty Schottenheimer says he'll split playing time 50-50 between the 34-year-old Allen and rookie Greg Hill.

"That's a positive step," writes Whitlock. "But not quite enough. The load should be about 75-25 in Hill's favor."

TONIGHT'S GAME

Kansas City at Denver

6 p.m., Channel 7

This isn't exactly the way John Elway and Joe Montana would have liked to face off.

They have been quarterbacks in seven Super Bowls. Only last season each led their team to the playoffs.

This year they are on the edge of mediocrity. Montana (6) and Elway (5) have thrown as many interceptions as they have touchdowns. Three of Elway's interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

The Chiefs (3-2) rolled to a 3-0 start before losing their last two without scoring a touchdown.

The Broncos (1-4) won in Seattle last week for their first victory.

Leonard Russell had Denver's first 100-yard rushing game last week, gaining 103 yards.

Chief Coach Marty Schottenheimer, the former Browns coach, is 0-7 at Mile High Stadium. Two of those Brown-outs were in the playoffs. The Broncos have defeated the Chiefs 11 consecutive games at Mile High--six of the last seven have been decided by six points or less and four of those have been decided by three points or less.

"I'm not coming," Schottenheimer joked. "I'm staying home. Bob Moore, our PR guy, will be in charge of all sideline operations."

But Mile High is losing its mystique. Despite having the NFL's best home-record since 1976, the Broncos have lost their last three home games and five of their last eight.

NOTEWORTHY

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