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Martz betting on QB choice

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By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 24, 2002


They are waiting in St. Louis today, waiting to see if Rams coach Mike Martz is as smart as he looks.

He is, after all, the one rolling the dice, betting that returning quarterback Kurt Warner to the starting lineup today won't disrupt the team's winning streak, which stands at five, all guided by backup Marc Bulger.

It won't take much to bring out the second-guessers. A Warner interception here or a Warner fumble there. Heaven help them if the Rams lose.

Warner knows his every move will be scrutinized and says he's ready for it.

"If I go out and miss some passes, I go out and miss some passes. That's just the way it goes," Warner said. "But I'm going to go and give it everything I've got. I still know what I can do on the football field. I'm focused on playing well. I played well for a long time. I don't look at the situation like all of a sudden I'm going to fail, I'm not going to be able to play football again.

"I'm just going to do what I do and let the chips fall. I'm not going to play not to fail. I'm going to play to succeed and be perfect."

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the AFC's highest-rated quarterback (minimum nine games)?

MAYBE HE SHOULD SKIP THE PREGAME MEAL: Browns rookie running back William Green has a condition called ulcerative colitis that causes him to vomit during games. He did it Sunday against the Bengals.

His teammates have nicknamed him "Steamin' Willie Beamen" after the Jamie Foxx character who played quarterback in the movie Any Given Sunday.

"That's what he did in college all the time," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "He throws up at practice sometimes."

DID YOU KNOW?: With three catches today against the Cardinals, Raiders receiver Tim Brown would become the third player to reach 1,000 career receptions, joining Jerry Rice and Cris Carter.

DID YOU KNOW II?: The Saints plan to wear their 1967 uniforms (black jerseys and gold pants) for their Dec. 1 home game against Tampa Bay.

THE ONLY ONE: That Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox is expected to play this season after temporarily being paralyzed from a concussion and a spinal cord injury is a minor miracle, according to Pittsburgh neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, who treated him.

"If you are lying on a football field unable to feel your arms and legs and are unable to move, I can't imagine a more frightening experience," Maroon said. "I have seen this in quite a few athletes and they haven't returned to function."

HERE WE GO AGAIN?: If New England's season seems familiar, it should. The Patriots are 5-5 after a big Sunday night loss to the Raiders.

The Patriots were at this point last season, at 5-5 and coming off a Sunday night loss to the Rams.

Though they ran the tables the rest of the season and won the Super Bowl, a repeat performance seems unlikely.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The Bengals (1-9), who play at the Steelers (5-4-1) today, haven't won a road game against a winning team since Dec. 2, 1990. That's 38 straight road games.

The last team they beat on the road? The Steelers.

STAT OF THE WEEK II: The Jets, who've won three straight, have held opponents scoreless in the fourth quarter during that stretch.

MO' MONEY: Quarterback Jon Kitna has been playing well lately, but the Bengals reportedly are considering playing Akili Smith and Joe Germaine now that the team is guaranteed a sixth straight losing season.

"If they're going to change the quarterback, that just goes to prove the fact that we're not interested in winning in the long term here," Kitna said. "All we're worried about is the bottom line."

Kitna has another beef: A clause in his contract would pay him a $1.625-million bonus if he's involved in at least 80 percent of the team's offensive plays. He's on pace to fall just shy of that mark.

MIAMI'S MAGIC NUMBER: To say the Dolphins need to ride running back Ricky Williams, who wears No.34, is an understatement, tackle Mark Dixon said.

"We have a formula around here," Dixon said. "It's No.34 right, No.34 left and No.34 up the middle. When we are not doing that, we are in trouble."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "This team plays with a lot of anxiety, and that's good. Keeps you focused. We've got to keep that anxiety in our belly. But it's a horrible way to play, because you can never relax." -- Jets coach Herman Edwards about his team's turnaround from a 1-4 start.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Jets quarterback Chad Pennington with a passer rating of 99.8.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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