Brainiac QB out of Harvard (SI PLAYERS, April 25) shows he can get physical, too, coming off the bench to throw for 310 yards and rally the Rams to a win over the Texans in his first appearance. Said the economics major, explaining his success, "I was thrown into a situation I didn't have time to think about."
That awful love boat incident, the injury to QB Daunte Culpepper--yet after a 2-5 start, the Vikes have been reaping football's sweetest reward: Four straight wins have them in the playoff hunt. WR Koren Robinson: "We don't get rattled."
Ten ran for at least 110 yards last week, including stars LaDainian Tomlinson (184 yards) and Shaun Alexander (his 20th TD), rookie Samkon Gado (111 yards) and back-in-form Jamal Lewis (season-high 113).
Rocky Mountain highs all around: NBA's Nuggets are near the top of the Northwest, NHL's Avalanche are a surprising 13-8-3, and watch them Broncos! Thanksgiving win has team at 9-2 and, with three patsies left on schedule, bustin' toward playoffs.
What a way to spend the holidays. First the Lions' coach suffered a blowout loss on Thanksgiving Day, falling to 15-28 in his Detroit tenure and to 4-7 in a season in which he had said he would make the playoffs. Then Monday, just 27 shopping days before Christmas, he got fired.
So much for that 5-3 start. So much for coach Joe Gibbs's joy that his NASCAR team's driver Tony Stewart won the Chase. Washington has lost three straight nail-biters. Dispiriting? LB LaVar Arrington of the team's effort: "It seems to always go to no avail."
Giants kicker's three attempts to beat Seattle went wide left, short and short again. Then he saw his counterpart Josh Brown drill the game-winner in OT. "There are going to be times when life kicks you in the gut," he explained to New York's Newsday.
World Series sweep is not why the town has a problem: The Rockets, expected to contend, are 3-11 and NBA's lowest-scoring team. And, oh, those 1-10 Texans. Will they be Not Hot forever? Said CB Dunta Robinson (right) after Sunday's loss, "You're just numb."
SI PLAYERS POLL
Which player's jersey would you buy and wear, not counting your own?
Falcons QB 9%
Retired WR 7%
Packers QB 7%
Raiders WR 5%
FAST FACTS: Poll was conducted at the start of the season.... Ravens LB Ray Lewis was fifth (4%).... Nine percent of players voted for a Hall of Famer, with Jim Brown, Joe Montana and Walter Payton (four votes each) the most popular.... Vick drew 16% of the vote from players age 30 and older.
[ Based on a survey of 357 NFL players ] • For an expanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/Players.
BOB LEVEY/WIREIMAGE.COM (FITZPATRICK)
PAUL SANCYA/AP (MARIUCCI)
DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP PHOTO (ROBINSON)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (FAVRE)
BOB ROSATO (VICK)
RAFAEL SUANES/WIREIMAGE.COM (NUGGET EARL WATSON)
PETER READ MILLER (ALEXANDER)