- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

An already-weird NFL season just got weirder.

The Dolphins limped to Chicago at 1-6 on Sunday and pounded the previously perfect Bears by 18 points. Falcons quarterback Michael Vick finally looked like a capable passer — until he lost three turnovers in a 16-point defeat by one of the league’s worst teams, the Lions.

The Patriots’ Tom Brady and Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger between them won four of the past five Super Bowls and threw 23 interceptions in all of last season. They combined for seven interceptions on Sunday. Adam Vinatieri, who made 62 of 74 field-goal attempts at Gillette Stadium as a Patriot, missed two there in his return as a member of the Colts.

The weirdness, of course, transcends last weekend.

The Saints, who finished last season with five straight losses and a 3-13 record, now are 6-2. So are the Ravens, who won six games last season.

The Dolphins, on the other hand, won their final six games last season and the Redskins their final five. Those teams now are a combined 5-11. And the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers are 2-6, tied for the AFC North cellar with the predictably lousy Browns.

Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, drafted second overall by the Saints in April, has yet to reach the end zone — aside from a punt return — despite getting 127 touches on offense. Marques Colston, drafted 252 overall by the Saints, counts an NFL-high seven touchdowns among his 44 receptions.

Bucs quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, drafted in the sixth round out of ho-hum Toledo, has outplayed fellow rookies Vince Young of the Titans and Matt Leinart of the Cardinals, who dueled for the 2005 national title.

The Bucs’ Matt Bryant fell short on the only 50-plus-yard field-goal attempt of his previous four seasons in the league. Bryant beat the Eagles with a last-second, 62-yard kick, the third-longest in NFL history.

Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard had thrown only two passes since Nov. 26, 2000. He holds an 11-1 touchdown-interception ratio since replacing injured Trent Green during a season-opening loss to the Bengals.

“Damon’s always been a smart player and very efficient,” said Brady, who beat out Huard for the Patriots’ backup job in 2001. “When he was in Miami and Dan Marino went down, he stepped up. He’s 5-2 [for the Chiefs]. It’s fun to see.”

Midseason awards — MVP: Peyton Manning over Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Defensive MVP: Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher over Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Rookie of the Year: Colston over Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Coach of the Year: The Saints’ Sean Payton over the Bears’ Lovie Smith.

Furrey-ous in Motown — Former XFL and Arena League receiver Mike Furrey has 41 catches for the Lions. That’s 41 more than Mike Williams, who was drafted 10th overall last year but is a nonentity under new coach Rod Marinelli. It also is 41 more than for Charles Rogers, who was drafted second overall in 2003 and was cut by Marinelli in exasperation this summer.

Playing behind Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, Furrey caught just 21 passes for the Rams in 2003 and 2004 before coach Mike Martz moved him to safety last season. Furrey started 11 games but was a free agent in March following the Rams’ coaching change. His cell phone rang at the Ohio state high school basketball tournament, and new Lions offensive boss Martz was on the line.

“It was an odd number,” Furrey recalled. “I had no idea who it was. Mike wanted me to come up here and play [slot receiver] for him and see what I could make of that. Knowing this offense and knowing Mike, I couldn’t turn it down.”

Wrong West — The Chiefs have won the AFC West just once since 1997. Maybe they should switch to the NFC West. Last Sunday’s 31-17 victory over their cross-state rival Rams made the Chiefs 4-0 against the NFC West. The Chiefs doubled up the Rams, Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks 130-65. Kansas City is 1-3 otherwise while being outscored 104-53.


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