The Minnesota Vikings lost quarterback Tommy Kramer and safety Keith Nord for the rest of the year Sunday, the most serious casualties in a costly weekend for several National Football League teams.
Kramer underwent surgery yesterday to repair a torn ligament in his right knee and Nord incurred a complete tear of his right Achilles' tendon. Both were injured in the 19-16 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which improved the Vikings to 2-1.
Kramer had completed his first eight passes before his knee buckled under him as he was pulled down out of bounds by the jersey by cornerback Mike Washington.
"I don't think it was a cheap shot or anything," Kramer said. "but I know I relaxed when I went out of bounds. Then, all of a sudden, he's grabbing my jersey and down I went, with all my weight on my right ankle."
Kramer was replaced by five-year veteran Steve Dils, who went on to complete 16 of 33 passes for 205 yards. Coach Bud Grant said Dils will become the No. 1 quarterback and will be backed up by second-year player Wade Wilson.
The New York Giants, a disappointing 1-2, got some bad news yesterday, too: middle linebacker Harry Carson was placed on injured reserve with cartilage and ligament damage to his left knee. He was scheduled to undergo surgery today and is expected to be out at least five weeks.
Carson incurred the injury in the Giants' 28-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Coach Bill Parcells thinks he has the perfect replacement for Carson, however. He said he is thinking about moving Lawrence Taylor, an all-pro at outside linebacker, to the inside.
Detroit running back Billy Sims has a broken bone in his right hand and is expected to be out at least three weeks. The hand is in a partial cast, and Sims, who gained only four yards on two carries in a 30-14 loss to Atlanta before the injury, "could be out longer than that," according to Coach Monte Clark.
But the Dallas Cowboys got a break: they learned that running back Tony Dorsett has a bruised right knee and not a stretched ligament as they had originally feared.
Dorsett limped off the field after carrying the ball 13 times for 49 yards against the Giants. He is listed as a probable starter for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.
In Houston, tackle Doug France of the Oilers, losers of 10 in a row, cut his hand in a freak accident and is expected to be out for at least three weeks. Coach Ed Biles is also contemplating replacing quarterback Archie Manning with Gifford Nielsen.
The third week of the season also finds a number of teams with Super Bowl aspirations struggling. The most noticeable are the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers. The Jets have scored only 64 points and have yielded 69. They've lost to the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots the last two weeks, and have given up 524 yards on the ground in the process.
The Jets' front four calls itself the Sack Exchange, but it has spent most of its time lately trying to tackle ball carriers instead of rushing passers.
New England running back Tony Collins had 212 yards Sunday, including touchdown runs of 39, seven and 23 yards. He also had six rushes of 20 yards or more as the Patriots averaged seven yards a carry.
Said offensive tackle Marvin Powell: "It seems this team has to be up against the wall, the absolute firing squad, before we start playing. It seems like it's stage fright. We were told the Patriots were a team that could beat any other team. It just fell on deaf ears."
The Chargers, under Coach Don Coryell, are living up to their reputation as a team with a big offense and little defense. Dan Fouts has thrown for 951 yards and seven touchdowns, but he's also thrown six interceptions. San Diego lost to Seattle, 34-31, Sunday.
The Chargers have given up 89 points. Only Houston and St. Louis have yielded more.
As recently as two seasons ago, the Cincinnati Bengals were in the Super Bowl. They are now 0-3, have scored an NFL-low 23 points in three games and quarterback Ken Anderson isn't providing much offense. He has completed 61 of 87 passes so far for 550 yards and one touchdown, and the team's leading rusher, Charles Alexander, has gained only 123 yards.
Tampa Bay, even without quarterback Doug Williams (who jumped to the USFL), was expected to be a playoff contender, but apparently the Buccaneers miss him more than they'll admit.