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Around the NFL

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
Published September 25, 2005

MOSS vs. OWENS

The showdown we've all been cringing for takes place today when two of the NFL's most enormous ... um ... talents square off. So, who is the better receiver, Oakland's Randy Moss or Philly's Terrell Owens?

Touchdown celebrations are the first tiebreaker.

Statistically, the two are remarkably similar this season. Moss has 10 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns, including a 70-yarder. Owens has 12 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns, including a 68-yarder.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Moss' No. 18 Raiders jersey is the NFL's top seller.

THE HUMAN JOY STICK

Falcons quarterback Michael Vick frequently says he just wants to "be me" on the football field. Apparently, that's not allowed when Vick is at the controls of the Madden 2005 video game. Vick plays all the time but never picks the Falcons as his team.

"I can't play myself. It's illegal," Vick said. "If I play myself, it's an advantage. I always win. I know what to do. Can't nobody play me like me, so the guys I tend to play with don't like when I play myself." QUOTABLE

"We, as the Patriots, are everybody's measuring stick around the NFL, right or wrong. Right now that stick is not too high."

- New England linebacker Mike Vrabel

HOSTILE HOMECOMING

Seventeen months after Eli Manning told the Chargers he would not play for them if the team drafted him No. 1 overall, Manning makes his first trip to San Diego as the Giants' starting quarterback.

Get ready for boos.

Yet, Manning's reception in San Diego can't be any worse than John Elway received 22 years ago as a Broncos rookie making his first trip to Baltimore after refusing to play for the Colts, who drafted him No. 1 overall in 1983.

"I didn't realize that so many people would take it so personally," Elway told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It was as if I had offended each one of them individually."

Colts fans literally booed Elway off the field. In the days before in-helmet radio communication, the noise disrupted Elway's play calls. Coach Dan Reeves replaced him in the fourth quarter with Steve DeBerg, who rallied Denver to a 17-10 victory.

COUNTING TO TWO

In the past three seasons, 12 teams began 2-0 and failed to make the playoffs. In that time, three teams that started 0-2 reached the playoffs. Four years ago, New England was 0-2 and won Super Bowl XXXVI.

A NEW D DAWNS

The Colts' new-and-improved defensive front is the rage of the league. Indy has nine sacks and 17 pressures in two games. Only one of those sacks is from Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney, who is routinely double- and triple-teamed after leading the league last season with 16.

"I'm in heaven," Freeney said. "I'm getting chipped, bouncing off chips, bouncing off guards, falling all over myself."

Information from the Boston Globe, Buffalo News and Indianapolis Star was used in this report.

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