- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2007

TEXAS TWO-STEP

There’s some serious joy in the state — and not just because Texas and Texas A&M; are undefeated. The local NFL franchises, Dallas and Houston, are both 2-0 for the first time since 1981.

Of course, Houston went without a team from 1997, when the Oilers moved to Tennessee, until the Texans were born in 2002. And a wise guy could say the Texans didn’t really qualify as an NFL team during most of the past six years.

In Dallas, quarterback Tony Romo is showing his out-of-nowhere Pro Bowl debut of last season was no fluke. The Cowboys have rung up an NFL-high 82 points in victories over the Giants and the Dolphins.

Scoring won’t come so easy Sunday night against the NFC champion Bears in Chicago, but the Cowboys appear to be playoff-bound for a second straight year — something they haven’t done since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Texans, who beat the Chiefs by 17 in their season opener, engineered a 34-21 upset of the Panthers on the road Sunday. The young Texans trailed 14-0 before the game was 10 minutes old but roared back with 34 straight points.

If the Texans beat the Super Bowl champion Colts at home this week — they pulled off just that upset in Week 16 last season — they will have the AFC South lead to themselves.

LIONS DON’T SLEEP TONIGHT?

Remember 1980? There were hostages in Iran and hyperinflation. The Phillies won the World Series. John Lennon was murdered. The Miracle on Ice happened.

That also was the last year the Detroit Lions started 3-0.

But the longtime pussycats can match that with an upset of the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday. And the Eagles are playing on a short week of work.

The Lions have posted a 24-72 record under the leadership — OK, that might be a stretch — of general manager Matt Millen.

These Lions, though, have looked good — admittedly against shaky opposition. Still, the bar is set lower for the Lions, and the Rewind gives them props for taking care of business.

The Lions racked up 392 yards and 36 points in a season-opening defeat of the Raiders. On Sunday, Detroit ended a 10-game losing streak against NFC North rival Minnesota with a 20-17 victory in overtime.

Offensive coordinator Mike “Madman” Martz produced 415 yards despite losing quarterback Jon Kitna to a concussion for much of the day and having to play untested 28-year-old journeyman J.T. O’Sullivan.

The Lions’ defense picked off four passes and recovered a fumble, allowing the home team to survive five turnovers of its own.

MEET THE NEW BOSS

Rookie coach Chuck Noll, 37, inherited a Steelers team in 1969 that went 18-49-3 the previous five years. It took Noll 18 games to win two, but by 1974 he had won the first of four Super Bowls.

Rookie coach Bill Cowher, 36, inherited a Steelers team in 1992 that had reached the playoffs in just one of the six previous years.

Cowher started 3-0, made the playoffs and eventually won a title, too.

Rookie coach Mike Tomlin, 35, inherited a Steelers team that had to win three of its last four last season just to avoid a losing record.

But Tomlin is now 2-0 after the Steelers pounded the Bills 26-3 and the Browns 34-7. The 49ers, 2-0 after squeaking past the Cardinals and Rams, are up next in a soft September schedule for the Steelers.

BETTER TO BE LUCKY THAN …

The Broncos edged the Bills 15-14 in their opener on a field goal by Jason Elam as time expired.

On Sunday, Elam and the Broncos did it again.

The Raiders appeared to win on a 52-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski in overtime. The Raiders celebrated, and the Broncos headed off in defeat. But it’s not over until it’s over or until Elam is handed another chance to kick a game-winner.

Officials ruled the Broncos called a timeout just before the ball was snapped, the points came off the scoreboard and Janikowski lined up for another try.

This time, his kick hit the left upright, and 5:25 later Elam won the game with a 23-yard field goal of his own.

NO PAL JOEY

Joey Harrington has never mistreated a dog (as far as the Rewind knows, anyway). But Harrington certainly has to feel like he has been treated like one during his six NFL seasons.

Opponents sacked Harrington, the third pick in the 2002 draft, a whopping 13 times in his first two starts for the Falcons, the team formerly quarterbacked by confessed dogfighting mastermind Michael Vick.

The Falcons scored just a combined 10 points in losses to the Vikings and Jaguars, defeats that dropped Harrington’s record with the Lions, Dolphins and Falcons to 23-45 (.338) — easily the worst of any current starting quarterback with at least 27 starts.

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