Sweet debut! Taking over for injured Chester Taylor, the Vikings rookie rushed for 103 yards and grabbed a 60-yard TD pass in a thrashing of Atlanta, thrilling the score of family and friends on hand. Said his father, Nelson, "The dream started when he was seven.... Man, it's overwhelming."
Looking like a No. 1. Last year's top pick—remember how Houston passed on Vince Young and Reggie Bush?—had two sacks and a TD return in his best game as a Texan. After, Williams (right) explained, "I was never really whoever else you might compare me to."
A 13--3 stretch meant a six-game lead on the Tigers. (Detroit manager Jim Leyland on his team's title hopes: "We don't have a heck of a chance.") Also this: Cleveland starts a nine-game home stand on Friday.
Feel-good story on the last-place Giants: Reliever Giese is making his first stop in the bigs after nine bush league seasons and a stint selling cars, to which he was ill-suited. "I couldn't rip [people] off," he says. But he can shut them down. Through Sunday he'd pitched two perfect innings.
Rough start. Sent in to spell an ineffective Cedric Benson, the Bears' sixth-year running back fumbled the ball away near midfield, leading to the Chargers' game-clinching touchdown drive. What happened on the big play? Said Peterson, "I think it slipped out."
Last season he was a Colts cornerback, winning the Super Bowl. Now he's a Saint—and had to play the Colts on opening night. That meant getting burned for three touchdowns. "That's on me," said David of his play. "No one else to blame."
Hard Knocks indeed. HBO's series chronicled Kansas City's 0--4 preseason, but the Chiefs' regular-season reality hurts worse. Three points against the Texans is just the half of it. Next stop: Soldier Field.
Unnerving subplot for the first-place Red Sox: Key starter Matsuzaka (left), in his first big league season, was 1--4 with a 9.57 ERA in his last five starts. ("I feel like I'm the one guy dragging on this team," he said.) Might Boston roll the dice and drop him from their playoff rotation?
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
What is your favorite road trip?
Your least favorite?
Washington, D.C. ...8%
Los Angeles (6.2%) and Boston (5.7%) were the other cities to draw more than 5% of the "favorite" vote.... Cleveland (6.6%) and Tampa Bay (6.4%) each got more than 5% of the "least favorite." ... Milwaukee, home of Laverne and Shirley (above, right), was named "least favorite" by nearly 31% of voters under age 24.... Through Sunday, the Brewers had the best home record (45--26) in the NL.
[Based on a survey of 454 MLB players]
For an expanded version of the poll go to SI.com/players.
DOUG PENSINGER/GETTY IMAGES (VIKINGS PETERSON)
WARREN WIMMER/WIREIMAGE.COM (BEARS PETERSON)
AARON M. SPRECHER/ICON SMI (WILLIAMS)
ROBERT BECK (MATSUZAKA)
GARY ROTHSTEIN/ICON SMI (CUBS FAN)
ABC/PHOTOFEST (LAVERNE & SHIRLEY)