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Pats visit Dolphins, Rams meet 49ers

Oct. 5, 2002 at 3:11 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (3-1) must figure out a way to stop Ricky Williams when they meet the Miami Dolphins (3-1) in an AFC East clash on Sunday and Mike Martz hopes to finally get a win when the St. Louis Rams (0-4) visit the San Francisco 49ers (2-1) in an NFC West battle.

Both the Patriots and Dolphins started the season 3-0, but lost road games last week. The Patriots fell to the San Diego Chargers, 21-14 and the Dolphins were ambushed by the Kansas City Chiefs, 48-30.

After yielding 180 yards on the ground to Priest Holmes in an overtime win over Kansas City, the Patriots were steamrolled by LaDainian Tomlinson for 217 yards on 27 carries, including scoring runs of 37 and 58 yards, in the loss to San Diego.

"I'm sure that until we defend it (the run) correctly, we'll keep seeing that," Belichick said. "We'll probably see it from Miami with Ricky Williams and on down the line." Williams has rushed for 460 yards in four games for Miami.

The 49ers will not shed any tears for the Rams, who have to dig out of an 0-4 hole without Pro Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner.

Warner completed 115-of-174 passes for 1,533 yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions in five career starts against the Niners - all wins. The Rams have won six straight over San Francisco by a combined score of 197-115 after the Niners captured 17 consecutive games in the series.

Warner suffered a broken right pinky in St. Louis' 13-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week and is expected to be sidelined eight to 10 weeks.

Jamie Martin replaced Warner last week and was 24-of-37 for 262 yards and one touchdown with one interception. A perennial backup in his nine-year career, Martin will make his second career start on Sunday.

The Niners have allowed 47 points in their first three games and are coming off a bye week.

Marty Schottenheimer has the right formula for the San Diego Chargers, who are 4-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 1994 and will visit the Denver Broncos (3-1) in an AFC West contest.

After beating lower echelon teams Cincinnati, Houston and Arizona in the first three weeks, the Chargers made a statement last Sunday with a victory over the Patriots.

Tomlinson leads the NFL with 506 yards rushing to go along with five touchdowns. He should be tested against the Broncos, who are allowing just 56.5 yards per game on the ground. Denver is second in the AFC to San Diego in total defense at 277.3 yards per game.

Herman Edwards, the beleagured coach of the New York Jets (1-3) switched from Vinny Testaverde to Chad Pennington at quarterback for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs (2-2).

Edwards has to wonder what has happened to a team that many considered to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Yet the Jets have been outscored, 102-13 in their last three games.

The Jets offense has gone nine straight quarters without a touchdown and has just one in its last 36 possessions. The defense has yielded 434 rushing yards in the last two games - losses at Miami and Jacksonville - and an average of 185 rushing yards in the first four games.

On Sunday, the Jets face reigning NFL rushing champion Priest Holmes, who has rushed for 438 yards in four games.

Tommy Maddox, who last week came off the bench to rally the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) to their first win of the season, will start Sunday when the Steelers visit the New Orleans Saints (3-1). Maddox has not started in the NFL since 1992, his rookie season with the Denver Broncos.

The Steelers rallied from a six-point deficit to post a 16-13 overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns. With Pittsburgh trailing, 13-7, Maddox replaced Kordell Stewart with five minutes remaining and directed a game-tying 77-yard drive.

The Oakland Raiders (3-0) are the NFL's only other unbeaten team. On Sunday, they visit the Buffalo Bills (2-2) in a game that figures to be an aerial show.

Led by quarterback Rich Gannon, the Raiders lead the NFL in scoring at 37.7 points per game. Drew Bledsoe and the Bills nearly are as potent, scoring at 33.0 points per contest.

In three games, Gannon has completed 91-of-131 passes for 998 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Jerry Rice, the NFL's all-time leading receiver, leads the Raiders with 20 catches for 263 yards and two scores.

Bledsoe has played one more game than Gannon and leads the NFL with 1,345 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Eric Moulds and Peerless Price have benefited from Bledsoe's arrival in Buffalo, combining for 780 yards receiving and six touchdowns.

Bledsoe earned the AFC Offensive Player of the Month and Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) won NFC honors.

McNabb and the Eagles will visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) on Sunday. McNabb is tied with Aaron Brooks of New Orleans for the NFC lead with nine touchdown passes.

Running back Warrick Dunn faces his former team for the first time on Sunday when the Atlanta Falcons (1-2) host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) in a matchup of NFC South teams.

New Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden wanted to keep Dunn, but after sharing time in the backfield with Mike Alstott in Tampa Bay for five years, Dunn signed a six year, $25 million contract with the Falcons last March.

In other games, the New York Giants (2-2) visit the Dallas Cowboys (2-2) in an NFC East matchup; the Carolina Panthers (3-1) host the Arizona Cardinals (2-2) and the Indianapolis Colts (2-1) meet the Cincinnati Bengals (0-4).

Sunday night, the Cleveland Browns (2-2) host the Baltimore Ravens (1-2). Ravens owner Art Modell is a villain in Cleveland for moving the old Browns to Baltimore following the 1995 season. He has yet to return to Cleveland for a game since the Browns re-entered the league in 1999.

The Green Bay Packers (3-1) play the Chicago Bears (2-2) on Monday night. The Packers won in their last eight trips to Soldier Field, but do not get to return this season with the Bears playing their home games in downstate Champaign-Urbana at the University of Illinois.

The Seattle Seahawks (1-3), Detroit Lions (1-3), Houston Texans (1-3) and Minnesota Vikings (0-4) are in a bye week.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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