They're not exactly the NFL's glamour-pusses, having dispatched the Raiders one week, the Lions the next, but they've won four straight, and, man, they've got nice legs. Carolina rushed for a club-record 262 yards on Sunday behind its duo of DeAngelo Williams (number 34) and Jonathan Stewart (28). The running, said coach John Fox, "inspired us." Next up: Atlanta's susceptible D.
Talking about Marion Barber, the shaggy Cowboys back who cut through Washington's defense for 114 yards on Sunday. He had 66 of those yards—and a couple of catches—in Dallas's season-saving fourth quarter. Coach Wade Phillips to the Star-Telegram: "When the game is on the line, he's the guy you give it to."
Bucs Who Stop Here
When they dig in, they dig in. In winning for the fourth time in five games, Tampa Bay held a Vikings back named Adrian Peterson—you may have heard of him—to 14 second-half yards. Life without "that defense of ours," said QB Jeff Garcia, "would be scary."
Stalled no longer. The third-year Penguin sank mighty Detroit with three third-period goals (that would be three more than he had against them in all of last year's Cup finals), then upended the Sabres with two more.
Getting stomped by the Titans is no shame: Everybody's doin' it. Still ... Jacksonville got outscored 21--0 in the second half, QB David Garrard (above) completed 13 of 30 passes in the game, and the team hasn't beaten anyone but the winless Lions in a month. At 4--6, might the Jags have a playoff surge in them? Tackle Khalif Barnes to The Florida Times-Union: "I won't even say the p word."
Here they go again. At 1--8, L.A.'s other "NBA team" was 6 1/2 games back in the Pacific. Coach Mike Dunleavy, 54, told the L.A. Times he could shoot better than his cast's recent 6-for-26 three-point effort, "Now. Crippled." Worse, Dunleavy's at odds with guard Baron Davis (left). Said Davis, "There's definitely a disconnect."
A week after being grounded by the Giants, Philadelphia tried to take to the air but didn't get far. En route to a 13--13 loss—no other way to look at it, Eagles fans—three of QB Donovan McNabb's 58 pass attempts landed in Cincinnati arms.
With friends like these.... The middleweight got laced into by old buddy Jermain Taylor—the two were roomies at the 2000 Olympics—losing last Saturday's bout unanimously. At least, said Lacy, "I'm not a sore loser."
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
Who is the best all-around athlete in the NFL?
Devin Hester, Bears WR 16%
Terrell Owens, Cowboys WR 10%
Randy Moss, Patriots WR 8%
Julius Peppers, Panthers DE 7%
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers RB 6%
Players could not vote for a teammate.... Eagles running back Brian Westbrook also got 6%.... Of the 28 players who received multiple votes, Tennessee's Vince Young (0.7%) was the only QB.... San Diego's Shawne Merriman (2.7%) was the only linebacker to draw more than 1%.... A third-year NFLer, Hester played offense, defense (cornerback) and special teams at Miami.
[Based on a survey of 320 NFL players] • For more on the poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.
RICK HAVNER/AP (WILLIAMS)
BRIAN DOWLING/CAL SPORT MEDIA (STEWART)
DOUG BENC/GETTY IMAGES (GARRARD)
LISA BLUMENFELD/GETTY IMAGES (DAVIS)
LOU CAPOZZOLA (STAAL)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (OWENS)
ROBERT SEALE (HESTER)