Belfast American Football Writing

I write a column on American Football for a local paper - here you can read the reports a couple of days before they go in print; and my confused waffles...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tortilla Bowl?

Mexican flavour to NFL

IT’S Fútbol Americano in Mexico City! When the Arizona Cardinals take on the San Francisco 49ers tomorrow night in Mexico City, the game will be an NFL first -- the first time that a regular-season contest is played outside the US.

American football has been played in Mexico since 1890 when a game was played in Xalapa, Veracruz. Mexico has the most NFL fans outside of the United States.

It is also a week when four teams are trying to stay unbeaten. Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Washington have 100% records, but every player on those clubs is saying, “Hold on, let’s not get carried away.”

“Three games is nothing when you play a 16-game season,” said quarterback Carson Palmer of the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals. “It’s great to have this start. But we still have a lot of games – a lot of big games – ahead of us.”

The numbers prove Palmer right. In the past five seasons, 10 clubs began the year with at least 3-0 records yet did not reach the playoffs.

“It feels good, it feels real good,” says tackle Kenyatta Walker of the 3-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “But I’m not patting myself on the back just yet.”

Meanwhile, there is Week 4 to contend with when the Bucs host the Detroit Lions. Lions’ defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will try to do what three teams have failed to accomplish this year – slow down Bucs rookie running back Carnell Williams.

The first-round draft choice from Auburn leads the NFL in rushing (434 yards, the most ever in a rookie’s first three games) and last Sunday, with an NFC season-high 158 yards, became the first rookie in history to start a career with three consecutive 100-yard rush games.

Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese leads the NFC in completion percentage (66.2), but confronts a defense constructed to limit the long ball. The Lions allow the conference’s fewest passing yards per game (159.5).



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