It probably was coincidental and not the result of the unnecessary violence that commissioner Pete Rozelle warned against before the season, but the level of violence could have been measured in splints on Sunday in the National Football League.

Quarterbacks Fran Tarkenton, Lynn Dickey and Bill Munson suffered broken legs and defensive end Elvin Bethea a broken arm. Tarkenton also suffered a broken thumb on a different play.

There is a continuing controversy in New York because Jet's team physician James A. Nicholas admitted quartterback Richard Todd to a hospital for a knee injury without consulting coach Walt Michaels Todd missed Sunday's 17-0 loss to Seattle.

Quarterback Terry Bradshaw played for the fifth week with a fractured left wrist and suffered an injury of his left shoulder in the Pittsburgh Steelers' 35-31 victory over Cleveland. Quarterback Brian Sipe of the Browns was replaced in the same gem when he suffered a bruised left arm.

Quarterback Ron Jaworski of the Philadelphia Eagles played the two previous weeks with a broken thumb on his throwing hand and lost for the second time in three weeks to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, 17-14.

Dallas Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach has been playing with a sprained thumb on his throwing hand and a bruised hip.

Quarterbacks Jim Zorn of Seattle, Steve Bartkowski of Atlanta, Archie Manning of New Orleans and several Tampa Bay signal callers have been sidelined by injuries.

At age 37, Tarkenton reportedly is considering retirement after this, his 17th season, despite a contract that pays him an estimated annual salary of $350,000.

He was injured in the third quarter when tackled for a 12-yard loss by defensive end Gary Burley. Tarkenton said Burley's full weight was on the injured leg.

The Vikings have a 6-3 record after a 42-10 breeze past the Cincinnati Bengals, a two-game lead over Detroit in the NFC Central, and a nice combination of a rookie, Tommy Kramer from Rice, and nine-season veteran Bob Lee behind Tarkenton.

Tarkenton said yesterday he hopes to be back in time for the playoffs.

Tarkenton was tackled for a loss in a broken audible play in third quarter of the Vikings' 42-10 victory over Cincinnati. The jolt cracked the fibula, smaller of two bones between the foot and knee, just above his right ankle.

Dr. Don Lannin said it was very doubtful the quarterback would be back for the rest of the regular season, but Tarkenton said yesterday "I hope I'll be back in six weeks."

Lee has just recovered from a broken throwing hand. Kramer led the Vikings to three touchdowns, including passing for one, after replacing Tarkenton.

Dickey of the Green Bay Packers suffered a broken lower left leg on the final play of a 24-6 loss to Los Angeles. It was not clear how Dickey was hurt, but it is believed his foot slipped in loose dirt as he was tackled.

The Packers have a 2-7 record as they look ahead to a game in Washington on Monday night with a rookie, David Whitehurst of Furman, the only other quarterback on the squad.

Whitehurst has thrown only five passes and completed two; was sacked once for a 14-yard loss, and he rushed once for a 13-yard gain.

Quarterback Munson of the Chargers suffered his injury in the fourthquarter, after replacing James Harris, sidelined by an ankle injury.

It was Munson's pass attempt and he was intercepted as the Chargers lost, 17-14, to Denver. He was tackled as he released the ball and his left leg was fractured.

Defensive end Bethea suffered his broken arm in the fourth quarter of Houston's 34-29 loss to Oakland. It apparently happened in a pileup.

In the freakiest suspicion of the season, coach Bum Philips said he had a hunch that the Raiders used heliumfilled balls on their kicks at Oakland and he is going to have one tested by Rice University.

Kick returner Billy (White Shoes) Johnson said, "I have never seen anybody hang kickoffs like Ray Guy did. I told Andy Bourgeois (special teams coach for the Oilers) that the ball was hanging up there too long."

Head coach Phillips detailed kick returner Johnson to Keep one of the balls and give it to equipment manager Greg Doremus to be taken back to Houston, although Phillips said, "There's probably nothing to it."

The Oilers also became suspicious because of the Raiders called for a new ball before each punt, causing delays at times before kicks. "One time the Raiders brought the ball all the way upfield to get it in play," Doremus said.

Kick returner Johnson's only run back came late in the fourth quarter, and when he ran out of bounds near the Houston bench, Doremus took the ball.

He said two person asked for it "First a ball boy." Doremus said, "and a few seconds later, and Oakland equipment man."

The Oilers brought back two balls, one which defensive back Zeke Moore of Houston intercepted and ran back for a touchdown. "Nobody came by and asked for Zeke's ball," Doremus noted.

In the Chicago Bear's 28-27 victory over Kansas City, Walter Payton now may gain 1,500 yards or more.

Coach Ted Marchibroda sprang a new use of Don McCauley on the Buffalo Bills as they were beaten by the Baltimore Colts, 31-13. Normally used mostly on short-yardage running situations. McCauley caught six passes for 598 yards as quarterback Bert Jones went to McCauley and Lydell Mitchell with a barrage of screen passes.

McCauley did not carry the ball at all. Mitchell rushed for 82 yards in 21 carries were shut out by the New York 60 yards.

And, after his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were shut out by the New York Giants, 10-0, for their 23d straight loss coach John McKay said. "We couldn't score against a strong wind." Which may be of some comfort to Detroit, the Bucs' next opponent, which lost, 17-6, to Atlanta.