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Green Steps In to Face Demons of Season Past

NFL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 5

October 02, 2000|JIM BARRERO

It was a more than a year too late, but Trent Green finally had his coming-out party with the St. Louis Rams.

With the Rams high-flying offense in high gear, it only seemed a matter of time before Green, once thought to be the future at quarterback, would get his chance.

It finally happened Sunday, although by now Green has become Kurt Warner's backup.

That the player who caused Green all his grief of the last year was on the field to see it happen was all the more ironic.

San Diego Charger safety Rodney Harrison, who took Green out of the Ram lineup during an exhibition game in 1999 with a late hit, inadvertently opened the door for Warner to lead the Rams to the Super Bowl and a spot in football history.

The offensive monster created that day continues to grow, evidenced by the Rams' 57-31 victory over the Chargers at St. Louis.

But this time, Green was able to finally get in on the fun. Green hooked up with running back Marshall Faulk on a 48-yard pass play to cap his first series in the third quarter. He finished with three completions in four attempts for 75 yards.

Ram players certainly were in tune with the meaning of Harrison's latest visit to St. Louis.

"We want to deal them one because of what happened to Trent," Ram strong safety Devin Bush told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the days leading up to the game. "Trent was our leader. Trent's still one of our leaders. And it was tough for us to accept that. Now we get a chance to go at them."

And did they ever.

Before the game, Harrison met with Green on the field.

"I'm glad it's over with, finally," Harrison said. "I don't have to hear anything else about it, forever."

Hearing about it is one thing, but dealing with it might be another.

MAYBE HE HEARD THE WHISTLE

Plaxico Burress was known because of his ability for the acrobatic catch while at Michigan State.

But what happened to the Pittsburgh Steeler rookie against the Jacksonville Jaguars had nothing to do with athleticism.

The Steeler had three turnovers in a 24-13 victory over the Jaguars and one was a fumble charged to Burress, who spiked the ball at the end of a 19-yard pass play.

Burress stumbled and fell to the ground without being touched by a defensive player. When he got up and slammed the ball to the ground, Jacksonville's Danny Clark scooped it up and ran it back 44 yards.

Six plays later, the Jaguars were stopped on downs at the four-yard line. Burress was the first player to run out on the field and congratulate the defense for protecting a 24-6 lead.

"I'm just glad it didn't cost us the game," Burress said. "I thought the play was over. I was mad because I didn't stay up. I thought I could have run farther. I learned a lesson. I'll never spike it again except in the end zone."

Are you listening Terrell Owens?

TAKE THAT ALL YOU MOSS CRITICS

Randy Moss has been spectacular in his two-plus seasons in the NFL, but even he apparently needs something to push him.

After he had his best game of the year, catching seven passes for 168 yards and touchdowns of 61, 50 and 17 yards in a 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions, it wasn't surprising that something had added some fuel to Moss' fire.

Perhaps Moss jumped a little higher this game because he was motivated by criticism he received on ESPN's "NFL Matchup" show. Former NFL running back Merril Hoge said Moss jogged or didn't run off the line on many plays this season.

"That was the first time I've ever heard somebody criticize me," said Moss, who seems to be a well-insulated individual. "At the same time, I didn't let it get into my head, but I did think about it."

Suzy Kolber, the show's host, said Hoge analyzed Moss using the same game film that NFL coaches use.

"I guess it got him going, didn't it?" Kolber said.

ANOTHER SAPP(Y) BEGINNING FOR BUCS

Warren Sapp, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' star defensive tackle was not in the starting lineup Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Sapp, the NFL's defensive player of the year last season, was replaced by Tyoka Jackson. Sapp was in uniform on the sideline throughout the first quarter and he entered the game on Tampa Bay's first sequence of the second quarter during a 20-17 overtime loss.

Neither Sapp, who blocked a field-goal attempt that helped send the game into overtime, nor Coach Tony Dungy would comment on the benching after the game. Dungy said he would discuss it today.

"It's a decision we made before the game," Dungy said.

And it's one that we surely haven't heard the end of.

THIS IS THE CADE WE'VE COME TO KNOW

It hasn't been such a sweet beginning for Cade McNown in his first two seasons in Chicago, but a 27-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers finally gave the former UCLA quarterback something to smile about.

McNown, who completed 11 of 20 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, eluded the Packer defense all game long.

The Bears went ahead, 24-3, in the third quarter when Marcus Robinson took a pass in the left flat two yards behind the line of scrimmage and darted 58 yards for the blitz-beating score.

The touchdown capped a 99-yard drive in which NcNown, evoking memories of his days as a Bruin, slipped away from LeRoy Butler in the end zone on second and 10 from his one-yard line and scrambled 17 yards.

"We got out of a bad situation," McNown said, speaking of the poor field position, although it could have applied to the Bears' season to this point.

McNown also eluded pressure on his other touchdown pass to Robinson, who beat Butler and Tyrone Williams for a jump ball at the Green Bay 20 and pranced into the end zone for a 68-yard score and a 17-0 Chicago lead.

"It was like he had a four-leaf clover in his pocket," Green Bay linebacker Nate Wayne said of McNown.

Luck of the Irish?

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