© St. Petersburg Times, published October 13, 2002
It was a fluke, right? The Bears went 13-3 last season, pulling out several close games at the wire, leaving everyone to wonder if they actually were as good as their record suggested.
Now that they have started this season 2-3, the answer seems obvious, right?
Well, the Bears beg to differ. Yes, they've lost three straight and haven't gotten the unexpected plays on defense that they did a season ago. But they say part of their slow start has to do with injuries.
In every game, they have lost at least one starter for most or all of the season. The latest are left guard Rex Tucker (dislocated ankle) and receiver David Terrell (fractured foot), who will miss considerable time.
"I don't sense a crisis," said coach Dick Jauron, whose team is second in the weak NFC North. "Certainly it's a jolt to everybody's confidence."
Here's another glaring problem for the Bears: pass defense. In losing their past three to pass-happy quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre and Aaron Brooks, the Bears have allowed a combined 921 yards, 10 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 69.3.
There appears to be little relief in sight. Next the Bears face quarterbacks Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady.
"The good news -- if there is any -- is we're only five weeks into the season," Jauron quipped.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The Chiefs have scored a league-best 85 points in the fourth quarter.
That's more than the Jets, Ravens, Steelers, Bengals, Texans, Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, Falcons, Seahawks and Rams have produced all season.
PAYDIRT: There's been an unusually large number of high-scoring games this season.
Games are averaging 45.7 points, the highest in 44 years (47.9 in 1958). The record is 46.5 during the 1948 season.
"I don't think we've ever seen the game played in a more exciting manner than we're seeing right now," ESPN football studio analyst and former Denver linebacker Tom Jackson said. "Wide open runs, interceptions and defenses scoring touchdowns. We're seeing a little bit of everything."
THE LONG ROAD AHEAD: The 49ers finally snapped their six-game losing skid against the Rams last weekend, but more trouble may await.
After facing the Seahawks on Monday night, the 49ers' next six games are against the Saints, Cardinals, Raiders, Chiefs, Chargers and Eagles.
MY PAL JOEY: Rookie quarterback Harrington has led the Lions to one victory in two starts, but apparently he is all the rage in the Motor City.
There reportedly were 650 Harrington jerseys sold at the stadium apparel shop during the Lions' win over the Saints two weeks ago.
"That's phenomenal," team vice president Bill Keenist said. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From Packers receiver Terry Glenn, about the reception he expects today when he returns to New England to face his old team.
"It won't be good. I'm already anticipating that it won't be good. But you know, it's something I'm going to have to deal with. The better we do as a team, the more it will shut them up."
WASHINGTON'S COOL KID: Redskins rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey gets his first start today.
If he doesn't duplicate his impressive performance off the bench (20-for-34 for 268 yards and two touchdowns) in last weekend's win against the Titans, he said it won't because of nerves. "I'm not a guy who gets really nervous. Call it poise, call it comfort. I don't know."
HE SAID IT: Titans owner Bud Adams insisted he isn't considering firing coach Jeff Fisher over the team's 1-4 start, but Adams' comments after a loss last weekend to the Redskins got a lot of attention.
"It looks to me like we're getting outcoached," Adams said.
THEIR BUDDY: You won't find a nameplate for Zach Thomas in the Dolphins' dressing room. You will find one for 54 Buddy Lee. Who's Buddy Lee? The pint-size doll in the Lee jeans ads.
You can't hurt Buddy Lee. Pianos fall on his head, but he keeps going. The Dolphins call Thomas "Buddy Lee" not because he's indestructible, but because he is so short.
You think the Patriots' 6-foot-1, 242-pound Tedy Bruschi is small for a middle linebacker? Thomas is listed at 5-11, 235. Last season, one of the Dolphins taped a picture of a Thomas figurine to Thomas' locker and wrote, "Actual size."
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.