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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 9 PRIMER : Around the AFC / WEST

Gives New Meaning to Keeping Time on Field

October 30, 1998

Although they each make enough money to get anything they want, once running back Terrell Davis presented nine of his teammates with Rolex watches, they became his best friends.

"I thought I never would have gotten a Rolex in my life," said wide receiver Rod Smith, who could have gone to a store and bought one. "I'm pretty geeked up about it."

Davis gave watches to three of his starting offensive linemen, quarterback John Elway, fullback Howard Griffith, wide receivers Ed McCaffrey and Smith and tight ends Shannon Sharpe and Dwayne Carswell. He was apparently too cheap to give anything to the backups, and only guessing, but probably doesn't like the other two starting offensive linemen.

Sharpe, overwhelmed by the gift, asked Coach Mike Shanahan to change his game plan after being bribed by Davis.

"Hey Coach, change the first 15 plays to all runs," Sharpe shouted to Shanahan, "because we're all going to be laying it on the line for T.D."

After receiving the watches, the offensive players began working noticeably harder for Davis.

"I've got a bunch of bodyguards," said Davis, who will probably write the watches off as a business expense on his tax return.

It will change, but the Raiders, last a year ago in defense, are now first.

CENTRAL / Get Out the Shovels and Start Digging a Bunker

When things are looking bleak and it appears all is lost, repeat to yourself: It could be worse--I could be living in Cincinnati.

The Bengals have not had a winning season since 1991, and currently stand a dull 2-5.

Coach Bruce Coslet is 16-16 overall, worthy of a downtown statue, but fans have begun calling for his dismissal.

"The people are very frustrated, and I can't blame them," said strong safety Sam Shade, who is in his fourth season in Cincinnati. "I'm frustrated, the team is frustrated, the coaches are frustrated. The mood is just bad for the whole town."

Owner and President Mike Brown gave a vote of confidence--to himself. "I've heard [the criticism] before and I don't have anything to tell you differently," Brown said. "I don't plan to fire myself tomorrow morning."

Since leaving Cleveland to become the Ravens, Baltimore has compiled a 12-26-1 record, the worst in the league since 1996. The Rams have 13 wins in that time, and that's how poorly the Ravens have fared.

This week Coach Ted Marchibroda closed practice to the media and closed the locker room, but eventually the Ravens will have to come out of hiding and lose again. This week they play the Jaguars, who have gone 7-0 against Cleveland-Baltimore in their short time in the league.

Jacksonville and Pittsburgh are tied in the AFC Central, but look for the Steelers to pull away. The Steelers have gone 45-11 since 1970 in November, and Coach Bill Cowher is 11-0 in November games in Three Rivers Stadium.

EAST / They're So Stingy They Don't Even Tip

How stingy are the Dolphins? They have given up only one touchdown at home and are on a pace to give up only 11.3 points a game--which would beat the NFL's all-time mark of 11.7 points surrendered by the 1986 Bears.

Doug Flutie is getting all the attention in Buffalo, but lost in his shadow--now that's funny--has been wide receiver Eric Moulds, who has already surpassed his single-season career highs for catches--29, and yards--294 with 30 receptions for 527 yards in seven games.

This week's Dan Marino-Flutie shootout will include the NFL's all-time single-season leader in touchdown passes in Marino with 48 and the Canadian Football League's record holder in Flutie with 48.

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