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NFL Spotlight

Teams Thrive on Roadwork

September 25, 2006|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

So, what has happened to home-field advantage in the NFL?

So far this season, it has been more of a disadvantage.

In 13 games Sunday, only three home teams won: Seattle, Indianapolis and Miami.

In Week 1, only five of 16 home teams won. Week 2 was more normal, with home teams going 12-4, but road teams still hold a 25-20 record this season heading into tonight's game, in which Atlanta is favored over the host New Orleans Saints.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the fewest number of home teams to win in a week since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 came in Week 1 of 1983, when only two home teams won.

In Week 11 of 2001, three home teams won, which means if Atlanta wins tonight, this week would tie that for second fewest home victories in a week.

"In order to be one of the elite teams you have to go on the road in a hostile environment, and find some kind of way pull out a win like we were able to do today," said Chicago Bears Coach Lovie Smith, whose team won, 19-16, at Minnesota.

Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis concurs, saying that the location of his team's 28-20, come-from-behind victory over the defending Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers was more important than how they won the game or who the victory came against.

"It's most important for us to win a divisional football game on the road," he said.

The Bears, Bengals, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens all improved to 2-0 as visitors with road victories Sunday. The Saints have won their first two games on the road.

Tennessee might want to start taking notes from those teams. A 13-10 loser Sunday at Miami and one of the three road teams to lose, the Titans are 1-12 in road games since Nov. 21, 2004.

Simms Hospitalized

Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms was resting in a hospital Sunday night after his spleen was removed following his team's 26-24 loss to Carolina.

"Chris is doing well and we anticipate a full recovery," team physician Joe Diaco said in a statement, adding that the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms was in stable condition.

Simms, 26, took several hard hits in the game. He left briefly at the end of the third quarter, but returned early in the fourth. He led a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a field goal, but went to the ground on one knee and later walked to the locker room under his own power.

There was no immediate word on how long the fourth-year pro might be sidelined.

Wayne's Brother Killed

The brother of Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne was killed Sunday in Louisiana when the delivery truck he was driving crashed into a highway guardrail.

Rashad Wayne, 32, was pronounced dead at the scene, said James Gallagher, a spokesman for the Kenner Police Department.

Reggie Wayne played Sunday in the Colts' 21-14 victory over Jacksonville, then boarded a plane for Louisiana.

Uh-Oh and Three

Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Tampa Bay and Tennessee all fell to 0-3. Only the 1992 San Diego Chargers, 1995 Detroit Lions and 1998 Buffalo Bills have made the playoffs after losing their first three games.

Kansas City and Oakland, which are 0-2 but had a week off, could join that dubious group next week.

Et Tu, Matt?

A loss to Baltimore is always painful to Cleveland Browns fans, since the Ravens were the Browns before owner Art Model moved the franchise to Baltimore in 1995.

But Sunday's 15-14 Ravens victory was especially hard to swallow because the game-winning field goal came with 20 seconds to play and it was kicked by Matt Stover, the only player who was with the Browns at the time of the move.

"Sure it means a lot," said Stover, who also made kicks of 32 and 43 yards. "The Browns are a long, lost family.

Turn Down the Volume

The New York Giants were penalized 11 times for false starts last year in a 24-21 overtime loss at Seattle and shortly thereafter allegations arose that the Seahawks artificially enhanced the crowd noise at Qwest Field.

So the NFL sent a memo to both teams before their game Sunday saying it would monitor the situation for their game.

Unfortunately for the Giants, they couldn't blame crowd noise for quarterback Eli Manning's three first-half interceptions that led to a 35-0 halftime deficit in a 42-30 loss. It was the largest halftime deficit in the Giants' 82-year history.

Injury to Insult

Mike Patterson, a 292-pound defensive lineman for Philadelphia, huffed and puffed and even slowed to a walk, but he still beat the entire San Francisco team to the end zone when he returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown in the Eagles' 38-24 victory at San Francisco.

"I didn't hear a whistle, so I just picked it up and ran with it," Patterson said. "I felt it on the 40, started breathing real hard. I just tried to remember my form."

Patterson got to midfield before most of the 49ers realized the ball was still live.

"He looked really quick for about a good 40, 50 yards, but I think reality hit -- how big he was," quarterback Donovan McNabb said.

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