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Sam Farmer / ON THE NFL

Athlete's foot takes over league

October 13, 2008|Sam Farmer

What has always been a game of inches became, on Sunday, a game of feet.

Specifically, the feet of Atlanta's Jason Elam, St. Louis' Josh Brown, Minnesota's Ryan Longwell and Houston's Matt Schaub.

Elam, Brown and Longwell won their games with last-second field goals. Schaub fooled Miami on fourth down, running a quarterback draw to score the winning touchdown with three seconds to play.

Let's throw the red flag and take another look at those eye-rubbing endings:

It looked as if Chicago had the Falcons beat when Kyle Orton threw the go-ahead touchdown pass with 11 seconds left. But Atlanta wasn't done. After a short kickoff gave the Falcons the ball at their 44-yard line with six seconds left, rookie Matt Ryan connected on a deep outside throw to Michael Jenkins, who was knocked out of bounds at the 30 with one tick on the clock -- just enough for Elam to hit a 48-yard kick for a 22-20 win.

The winless Rams, a two-touchdown underdog at red-hot Washington, got a 49-yard field goal from Brown as time expired, ending an eight-game losing streak with a 19-17 victory. What might have been an easy kick got a lot tougher after St. Louis lineman Richie Incognito was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for bickering with an official.

Detroit, also winless, nearly pulled off a shocker by winning at Minnesota with backup Dan Orlovsky at quarterback. But the Vikings would come back and clinch the 12-10 victory with a 26-yard field goal by Longwell with nine seconds remaining. Just as they did six days earlier at New Orleans, the Vikings benefited from a long pass-interference call that kept the final drive alive.

A week after blowing a late 17-point lead to Indianapolis, Houston finally picked up its first victory with a comeback against Miami. Schaub, whose opening two drives ended with interceptions, atoned for that by running three yards up the middle for the winning touchdown. He never would have gotten the chance had he not connected with Andre Johnson for a 23-yard gain on a fourth-and-10 play.

Finally, there were the fickle feet of the Dallas Cowboys. After kicker Nick Folk forced overtime at Arizona with a 52-yard field goal at the end of regulation, the Cardinals responded in the extra period by blocking Mat McBriar's punt for a touchdown.

Nobody could call Reggie Bush a bust after his first two seasons, but the Saints running back certainly didn't live up to the hype. He's living up to it now. Less than a week after running back two -- and nearly three -- punt returns for touchdowns against the Vikings, Bush scored another two, one on a run, one on a reception, in a rout of the Raiders.

If he keeps this up, he'll be in the thick of the running for most valuable player by season's end.

Because teams can only wear their alternate uniforms twice a season, the New York Jets will go back to being the green-and-white Jets for Sunday's game at Oakland. No more blue-and-gold New York Titans.

Speaking of Gotham teams, New York Daily News NFL writer Gary Myers has a great naming-rights sponsor for the new stadium to be shared by the Jets and Giants.

JetBlue.

The real killer for the Redskins was the touchdowns the Rams scored on a fumble runback before halftime.

Washington played five games without a turnover by its offense . . . before losing three first-half fumbles to St. Louis.

Field awareness must not be a strong suit for Detroit's Orlovsky, who rolled right and tried to pass out of his own end zone. He didn't notice he was well out of bounds at the time, easily across the wide, white back line for a safety.

Remember, Dan, the white zone is for immediate loading and unloading only -- no parking.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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