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NFL notebook: O'Neal returns to Denver's good graces

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 7, 2002

DENVER -- Ejected from Monday's game after bumping an official, Broncos cornerback Deltha O'Neal took his medicine and got back to playing solid defense Sunday.

He intercepted two passes and returned one 28 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown in Denver's 26-9 win over San Diego.

"I let my team down last week, but I came back strong," O'Neal said. "This feels good."

O'Neal, who ran into an official after being whistled for pass interference in Denver's 34-23 loss to Baltimore, endured jibes from his teammates and others all week. The league also fined him $15,000.

"It went from the players to my family to my mother," O'Neal said. "They were mocking me, making jokes. But I know my teammates have still got my back when it comes to war."

Coach Mike Shanahan said O'Neal's interception and scoring return was "a great play. It's nice to see him come back."

Shanahan, however, was upset by O'Neal's prancing before he crossed the goal line.

"Until he puts that ball down when he's going into the end zone, I'm going to strangle him," Shanahan said. "You've got to get the ball in the end zone. Then I don't care what you do. But act like you've been there."

Seau sits out loss

DENVER -- Chargers linebacker Junior Seau missed the game against the Broncos with a sprained ankle.

Seau, who tied for the team lead with nine tackles in a win over New England last week, leads the Chargers with 26 tackles. He was hurt in a win at Arizona on Sept. 22.

Seau, an 11-time Pro Bowl player and the team's MVP the past five seasons, has played 191 games. Russ Washington holds the franchise record at 200.

CHIEFS: Two safeties were banged up: Greg Wesley bruised his left chest and Lyle West had a left hip pointer.

COWBOYS: The new surface at Texas Stadium, RealGrass, appeared to cause plenty of problems. Offensive lineman Larry Allen aggravated an ankle sprain, safety Darren Woodson sprained an ankle, safety Lynn Scott sprained a toe, and special teams player Randal Williams sprained an ankle. Also, Michael Wiley appeared ready to try a halfback pass when he stumbled on the turf.

49ERS: Receiver J.J. Stokes sprained his medial collateral ligament. Coach Steve Mariucci said Stokes would be listed as questionable.

GIANTS: Tight end Jeremy Shockey left with turf toe, cornerback Will Peterson aggravated a toe injury and offensive lineman Jason Whittle had back spasms.

JETS: Cornerback Jamie Henderson re-injured his right shoulder and guard J.P. Machado sprained his right ankle.

RAIDERS: Running back Charlie Garner strained his left hamstring and did not return after scoring on a 69-yard reception early in the fourth quarter.

RAMS: Cornerback Aeneas Williams sat out with turf toe, ending his streak of 177 consecutive starts. Williams was replaced by rookie Travis Fisher, who made his first start. Also, running back Marshall Faulk left with back spasms late in the third but returned.

REDSKINS: Running back Stephen Davis sprained a ligament in his right knee at the end of the first quarter. He returned in the third with the knee tightly taped and finished with 90 yards on 18 carries.

SAINTS: Cornerback Dale Carter, serving an indefinite suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, was denied reinstatement by commissioner Paul Tagliabue. ... Linebacker Travis Carroll broke his right lower leg against Pittsburgh.

SEAHAWKS: The league fined linebacker Marcus Bell $25,000 for knocking down umpire Carl Madsen during the Sept. 29 game against Minnesota. It's the largest fine in the league this season.

STEELERS: Jerome Bettis went over 11,000 yards rushing, the 12th player to do so.

TITANS: Cornerback Samari Rolle started despite straining his right hamstring a week ago, an injury the team expected would keep him out 2-4 weeks.

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