What a difference a year makes! They started last season 0--4 as QB Chad Pennington looked on glumly with his wrist in a cast. Now, Chad's back, Curtis Martin is romping up the alltime rushing list and they're 2--0 heading into an early-autumn bye week.
Detroit's strapping receiver didn't look like a rookie while snaring two touchdown passes in a win over Houston. He promised to give the TD balls to his mother and brother. What can the former Texas star do for an encore? He plays a coach in Friday Night Lights, out next month.
Pat Tillman Foundation
The organization--named for the former Cardinal who died as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan--is picking up steam. NFL players wore helmet decals with Tillman's number 40, and his jersey was retired during Arizona's loss to New England. Proceeds from jersey sales go to the foundation, which promotes volunteerism and public service.
The Cal coach and quarterback guru has the Bears at 2--0 and lots of protégés in the NFL. Joey Harrington (Lions) and Kyle Boller (Ravens) led teams to victory; Trent Dilfer (Seahawks) backed up Matt Hasselbeck as Seattle whipped Tampa Bay; David Carr (Texans) threw for 313 yards; and A.J. Feeley (Dolphins) started his first game since 2002.
SI cover jinx? Postinjury frailty? Difficult offense? Pshaw. Vick scrambled for 109 yards in Atlanta's win over St. Louis, five days after entering the Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame. Later, he announced his intentions for future Sundays. "I think I'll continue to get better," he said.
What a difference a year makes! They started last year 9--0, but now they've lost to Denver (minus Clinton Portis) and to a Panthers team depleted by injuries to offensive stars Steve Smith and Stephen Davis. K.C. is easier to run against than Michael Dukakis.
For the first time since his rookie season--19 years, 274 games, 1,493 receptions ago--he failed to catch a pass. Is that a swan song we hear? Rice, 41, who threw his helmet in frustration on the sideline, said, "Life goes on. I'll just start another [streak]."
That era of Montana magic--or Young magic, or even Garcia magic--seems so long ago. Trying to pull out a close one against the Saints, San Francisco was undone by offensive interference and a Ken Dorsey interception on its final two plays. Now they're 0--2 and off to meet the unbeaten Seahawks in Seattle.
The Steelers linebacker traded pregame barbs with Ravens coach Brian Billick. Then, during Baltimore's 30--13 trouncing of Pittsburgh, in which he had just three tackles, Porter gratuitously shoved already limping tight end Todd Heap to the ground. Heap left with a severely sprained ankle. Porter implied Heap may have been "fake hobbling," but Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister explained, "Porter's an ahole.... There's no reason for anyone to take a cheap shot like that."
Rough year. First the safety heard reports of "Clinton heart surgery" and thought someone knew something he didn't about his health. ("I was like, What happened to me?") Then the Eagles cut him. San Diego picked him up, but he didn't play in loss to Jets.
LENNY IGNELZI/AP (JETS)
ELSA/GETTY IMAGES (CHIEFS)
JAMES D. SMITH/ICON SMI (RICE)
RIC FELD/AP (VICK)
STEVE GRAYSON/WIREIMAGE (TEDFORD)
GENE LOWER/SLINGSHOT (BANNER)