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NFL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 4

49ers' Owens Makes a Spectacle of Himself

September 25, 2000|HOUSTON MITCHELL

The NFL took a step closer to becoming the XFL on Sunday.

Sunday's meeting between San Francisco and Dallas, the former kings of the NFC, was ugly and emotional. These teams were playing more for pride, far removed from the NFC titles they played each other for six times in the past.

San Francisco defeated the Cowboys, 41-24, Sunday at Irving, Texas, and 49er receiver Terrell Owens rubbed it in by going to midfield after both of his touchdown catches to celebrate on the Cowboys' star logo.

Emmitt Smith responded to Owens' first outburst with his own midfield celebration after a one-yard touchdown just before halftime pulled the Cowboys to within 17-10.

When Owens caught a touchdown pass with 4:05 left to make it 41-17, he again took off toward midfield. This time, Dallas safety George Teague followed Owens and leveled him as he went to kneel on the logo.

Teague was ejected.

"You don't disrespect someone in front of their home crowd, but I guess that's his style," Smith said of Owens. "This game is played with a lot of emotion, and it shows when you are both winning and losing.

"Teague did not make a good decision by going after Owens, but he did what he had to do, and I liked it."

49er Coach Steve Mariucci and Cowboy Coach Dave Campo apologized to each other when they met at midfield after the game. Both refused to elaborate what was said then, or to their players after the game.

"I went to the star the first time because it was the right part of the game and I wanted to get a spark going in my team," Owens said. "It was a spur of the moment thing. I guess I should have picked my time better [on the second one]. I wanted to get back at Emmitt."

Just minutes before Teague was thrown out of the game, Dallas cornerback Darren Woodson also was ejected. Woodson, upset that referees didn't call a penalty when 49ers center Jeremy Newberry stepped on his chest after the whistle blew, kicked the ball and then threw his helmet.

San Francisco and Dallas, two teams that have combined to play in 13 Super Bowls, are both 1-3 this season.

LOST IN CONFUSION

Tennessee planned to use quarterback Steve McNair only in an emergency.

When Neil O'Donnell staggered off the field in the fourth quarter, sirens were going off.

McNair replaced O'Donnell and threw a touchdown pass to rally the Titans to a 23-20 victory over winless Pittsburgh.

"Steve's a hero," running back Eddie George said. "He's done this numerous times. When our backs are to the wall, he comes out and makes plays. That's why he's Steve McNair."

McNair came in with 2:35 left after O'Donnell, making his first start at Three Rivers Stadium since leaving Pittsburgh, had his lower lip split open on a sack. He wobbled to the sideline, assisted by George.

"He couldn't stay in there," George said. "I looked in his eyes and he was gone. He had blood coming from his mouth and he was dazed. I didn't want the defense to see that."

Apparently, George doesn't realize that O'Donnell has that dazed, deer-caught-in-the-headlights look at all times.

BEARS FIND THEIR HANDICAP

The Chicago Bears' quest to reach the playoffs after an off-season makeover appeared to end on the first official weekend of autumn with their 21-14 loss to Detroit. The last team to start 0-4 and make the playoffs was the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who finished 11-5.

Quarterback Cade McNown fell to 2-8 as a starter with another erratic performance. He ran for one touchdown and passed for another while going 21 for 35 for 261 yards. But he also threw three interceptions and lost one of the Bears' two fumbles, so he was responsible for four of their five turnovers.

"We're seeing with a young quarterback that sometimes you have to suffer through mistakes," Bear Coach Dick Jauron said. "I think he's progressing, although not as fast as anybody would like."

McNown was booed frequently Sunday.

"I feel like I've had four road games," he said after the Bears' second home game.

But at least when he plays at home, McNown knows where to find the best parking spots so he can make a quick exit after the game.

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