After catching two touchdown passes on Sunday in a 28-14 win
over Kansas City, San Diego wide receiver Tony Martin leads the
NFL with 13 TD grabs. A seven-year veteran, Martin credits
pickup basketball last summer with enhancing his breakaway
skills.... The 8-4 Panthers lead the league in covering kickoffs
(their opponents' average start is the 22.4-yard line) and are
second in returning them (to the 30.9-yard line). Both units are
spearheaded by Michael Bates, the bronze medalist in the 200
meters at the 1992 Olympics, whose 31.9-yard average on kick
returns leads the league by almost five yards. He has also
forced a fumble and a blocked punt.... A sign of the Lions'
desperation under coach Wayne Fontes was their unscripted triple
lateral--from wideout Brett Perriman to tackle Ray Roberts to
wideout Johnnie Morton--late in the first half of a 31-14 loss
to Chicago.... Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh was the league's
highest-rated passer last year, but he's struggling in 1996. On
third downs he has a league-low 43.4 rating.... Under Bruce
Coslet the Bengals are 4-1 and have outscored their opponents
69-21 in the fourth quarter.... The Ravens, who went 0-4 in
November to fall to 3-9, are the fifth straight team that has
had a losing season after moving to a new city. Their roster is
so thin that assistant coaches have had to play on scout teams
during practice.... Oakland backup quarterback Billy Joe Hobert
was pressed into service as a punter after Jeff Gossett was
injured on Sunday. Hobert punted twice for 40 and 39 yards; the
39.5-yard average is just .2 of a yard below Gossett's season
mark... Talk about the Big Easy: New Orleans defensive end
Renaldo Turnbull, who has earned $6.25 million in signing
bonuses since 1994, has 10 tackles in eight games this year.
Quote of the Week
"I want a Land Cruiser for that one."
--Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe, after quarterback-car dealer
John Elway floated a pass that got him creamed.