HIS NUMBERS TALK
As is customary when the Giants make their annual trip to RFK Stadium, Redskins fans showed up early to greet New York quarterback Phil Simms. "We're gonna break your legs, Simms" one guy yelled at him an hour before kickoff. "Gonna have to carry you out today, Simms" screamed another. Well, talk's cheap; performance counts.
On a day when the Redskins held Lawrence Taylor to no sacks and ran the ball down the Giants' throats and shut down New York's rushing game, the 34-year-old Simms came through for the Giants, who prevailed 24-20. He has now quarterbacked them to eight victories in their last nine nonstrike meetings with the Skins. Of course, also on Sunday, Joe Montana threw for six touchdowns against Atlanta and Warren Moon passed for five against Cincinnati, so the accounts of Simms's performance—13 completions in 22 attempts, 283 yards, two TDs, no interceptions—wound up on page 2.
"Pffffft," said Simms with a sour expression after the game. "Stats. Quarterback ratings. Who cares?" Well, O.K. But if anybody out there is keeping score, he is the NFL's top-ranked quarterback (109.3) after six weeks. Against Washington, Simms completed three passes that went for gains of 60 yards or more, the first time he's done that in his career.
Simms's 80-yard TD pass play to wideout Stephen Baker put New York ahead 7-3. A 61-yard completion to tight end Mark Bavaro set up the TD that made the score 14-6. A 63-yarder to fullback Maurice Carthon led to the TD that gave the Giants a 21-13 lead. "I look across the field and I keep seeing him—beating us," said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. "I hope somewhere along the line we can outlive him."
THIS REALLY HAPPENED
In the second quarter of the Chargers' 39-3 win over the Jets, San Diego quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver fumbled a snap from center. New York safety Erik McMillan recovered, and as he advanced the ball, Tolliver tackled him. McMillan fumbled, and Tolliver recovered. So, on one play, Tolliver fumbled, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Got it?
In the last five years, running back Barry Word has gone from ACC Player of the Year (1985), to the Saints' third-round draft choice (1986), to convicted cocaine distributor (1986), to bit player for New Orleans (1987), to long-distance phone company employee (1989), to famous Chiefs running back (1990)—for a day at least. Against the Lions, Word, who backs up Christian Okoye, gained 200 yards on 18 carries. "I've never dreamed of anything like this," said Word after Kansas City's 43-24 romp at Arrowhead Stadium.
Here's how illogical Word's performance was. After spending 4Vz months in a federal prison for the drug conviction, he saw virtually no action with the Saints for two years and was cut before the '89 season. But the Chiefs invited him to training camp, and he won the job as Okoye's backup. Word got hot on Sunday, and Kansas City stuck with him. In the fourth quarter, when Word picked up 127 of his yards, he had two runs—of 53 and 34 yards—that are longer than any rushes that Okoye, Barry Sanders or Herschel Walker has had this season. Here's how the sudden change in Word's pro football world looks statistically:
SCHIZOPHRENICS OF THE WEEK