By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002
Who's the best running back in the NFL today?
Marshall Faulk? Curtis Martin? Ricky Williams? Edgerrin James?
Chiefs running back Priest Holmes probably doesn't rank high on many lists, but he continues to make a strong case for himself. After leading the league in rushing a season ago, he is second this season behind Williams. And he is coming off the biggest rushing performance to date, 180 yards against the defending champion Patriots.
While everyone else might like Faulk, Martin, James or Williams, Holmes has at least made believers of the Patriots.
"If he's not the best back in the league, he's not far behind," receiver Troy Brown said.
Defensive tackle Steve Martin went a step further.
"We couldn't tackle him for nothing," Martin said. "There's only one other time I had a problem with a back like that, and he is out of the league."
Martin was talking about Barry Sanders.
FACING TRUTH IN SAN DIEGO: Whether the Chargers are as good as their 3-0 record is debatable. The Chargers themselves aren't sure but acknowledge they'll find out today against the Patriots.
"I don't think you can say how good we are until we play these guys," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "I always tell you guys what I feel, and I don't know how good we are. But I think this weekend is going to tell everybody how good we are."
ALL IS NOT LOST: The 0-3 Rams can find solace in the 1998 Bills, the one team that started 0-3 and reached the playoffs.
DID YOU KNOW?: The last time the Panthers started 3-0 was 1996, the year they reached the NFC Championship Game. The last time the Broncos did it was 1998, when they won the Super Bowl.
KATIE, BAR THE DOOR: With the Eagles outscoring their past two opponents 81-20 and not allowing an offensive touchdown in either game, the Texans, who face the Eagles today, are preparing for the worst.
"We can expect a team that is really going to come out there and try to embarrass us," Texans running back James Allen said.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg, talking about the trials and tribulations of his 0-3 team.
"We've been through some times, I'm telling you, and I don't talk publicly about it. We've been through some horrific times. ... These players have a passion for this game, and we will not allow outside distractions to influence our thought process and to influence our passion for this game. It's as simple as that. We're not going to complain or stand around feeling sorry for ourselves."
DID YOU KNOW II?: Giants kicker Matt Bryant worked in a pawn shop the past three seasons before signing.
JUST AN OBSERVATION: Marvin Lewis' defense in Washington is 25th in total defense while his old team, the Ravens, is sixth under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, whom Redskins owner Daniel Snyder once fired.
REAL PAPER CHAMPIONS?: Safety Lee Flowers, who called the Bucs "paper champions" last season, thinks he knows why the Steelers are 0-2.
"We were all paying attention to who's on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week and "we're predicted to win this and we're predicted to win that.' That stuff doesn't mean anything. I think some of the teams get caught up reading their own articles and I think we got a taste of it."
THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW: Dolphins running back Williams, who leads the league in rushing, is well on his way to reaching incentive bonuses that could top $500,000. But his contract stipulates he could forfeit the money if he fails to show up at practice or a game for any reason, including a league-mandated suspension.
HE'LL ALWAYS HAVE BALTIMORE: Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe, who left Denver to play briefly for the Ravens before returning this season, has nothing but good things to say about his former team, which faces the Broncos today.
"I'm grateful to the Ravens. They gave me an opportunity to prove I wasn't a "system guy,' " Sharpe said. "For a long time, I think a lot of people thought I was good because of John Elway, because of Mike Shanahan, because of Terrell Davis, because of Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey, because of the West Coast offense. Then I go to Baltimore, a team whose best finish ever was 8-8, and we win a championship. I think that really solidified my career."
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.