Sept. 15, 2003
Carolina Panthers:
Stifling D, just enough offense, opportunistic special teams (thank you, Martin Gramatica): NFL's biggest early surprise does best Bucs impression.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
REPUTATION.  RESTORED.

The Panthers' upset of the defending champs wasn't the only thing no one saw coming: Also re-thinking that preseason devaluation of once-great, then-injured, now-apparently-resuscitated RBs ...

Jamal Lewis, Ravens: It's not that he broke the NFL single-game rushing record with 295 yards; it's that he called it before the game, also proving that "bulletin-board material" is pure myth.

Priest Holmes, Chiefs (122 yds, 3 TDs): How many people out there avoided him like the plague in their fantasy-league draft? Idiots, all of us.

Edgerrin James, Colts (120 yds, 1 TD): Big rushing effort meant Peyton got the breathing room to dismember the Titans.

Other Week 2 stars:
Pats D, Raiders K Seb Janikowski, Hasselbeck-to-Jackson, Packers RB Ahman Green, Dolphins psyche ...

Injury watch:
Broncos QB Jake Plummer (shoulder), Bucs WR Joe Jurevicius (knee), Bears QB Kordell Stewart (neck -- no choke jokes, please).

Week 2 Hot/Not
Trendy team:
Hot: Bills (AFC); Panthers (NFC)
Not: Browns (AFC); Eagles (NFC)

Bucs D:
Hot: Bend, don't break
Not: Best ever

Connection:
Hot: Ramsey to Coles (Redskins)
Not: Garcia to Owens (49ers)

Plummer Revisionism:
Hot: "Jake rules"
Not: "Jake sucks"

Two-hit wonder:
Hot: Seahawks
Not: Lions

Clarett's Ground Work
Mo' power to Mo for telling the NFL where he wants to go: Meanwhile, I'm confused why the

WHO HAD CAROLINA OVER THE BUCS? (OH, BE HONEST!)
THE SET-UP: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR THE WEEKEND
1 MNF: How can you top NFC title-game rematch? Parcells
2 NL Central: Mets at Cubs, Brewers at Cards, Astros idle
3 AL Wild Card: D-Rays at Red Sox, Mariners at Rangers
THE SIT-DOWN: DROP THESE FROM YOUR HOT LIST
1 Ben and J-Lo: Reportedly done. Who else took the under?
2 Writing off Randy Johnson: Unit throws a 1-hitter
3 Oscar De La Hoya: Groaning Boy not so Golden; retiring?
 
league can say with a straight face that Clarett is better off in school. Oh, that's right: There is no good reason.

Why is the NFL so afraid of letting in Clarett and his classmates? A simple force should guide them: Let the free market decide.

Ranking Rant
Top 25 Outrage of the Week: Ohio State (4) ahead of Michigan (5)? What part of "needed 3 OTs to beat an inspired (but not great) NC State" did voters not understand? Maybe it's because the OTs overlapped the initial domination of Michigan over Notre Dame. Here's the important fact: Shut out.

Pennant Races
Before the teams from Boston and Chicago make the discussion moot by blowing their playoff chances, let's note that there's one guaranteed grand slam World Series TV-ratings scenario: Cubs vs. Red Sox. (Slogan: "This time ... well, one of them's gotta win it.")

La Russa's Lament
Tony La Russa is a lawyer by training: He should know better

about making claims without evidence. His blame game with ump Jerry Crawford is, at best, circumstantially supported; maybe he's just frustrated that he's got the best lineup in the division -- by far -- but couldn't avoid a weekend sweep to the Astros that essentially eliminated the Cardinals (5½ back now).

MNF: Cowboys at Giants
A Meadowlands homecoming for the Tuna only ups the ante. But as any good New Yorker would know, you don't order fish on Monday. Giants 30, Cowboys 16.

One of these teams will join the NFL's "Uh-oh-and-2" Club: (In escalating order of hysteria) Bengals, Cards, Jags, Chargers, Jets, Bears, Browns, Eagles.

Rams coach
Mike Martz:

Ridiculous, even by Martz standards: *Still* considering starting Kurt Warning-ya next week? Declare winning Marc Bulger the starter already!
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Wiley on J-E-T-S
NFL: Game of the Week
CFB: Viewer's Guide
 
"Heisman Ballot" Edition
Chris Perry
Michigan RB has it all
 
Craig Krenzel
OSU QB keeps winning ...
 
Brad Smith
Mizzou QB quietly gaining
 
Phil Rivers
NC St QB admirable in L
 
Any Wake Forester
Not! Cinderellas need wins
 

Condolences to the Williams family on the death of oldest sister Yetunde Price ...

Doing wonders for misogyny towards women's golf, both US and Euro sides walked off course when Euros clinched it early. Play it out ...

Remember how kings used to bestow their thrones to their sons? NASCAR's France Dynasty continues, passing from Bill Jr. to Brian ...

Well, that "Wisconsin-as-national-champ" pick got shot to hell, didn't it? Pass the salt ...

"Blizzle the quarterbizzle!": How'd you like to have Snoop Dogg coach your pee-wee football team? How about LA's future NFL team? ...



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