That 47-day holdout sure had a terrible effect on Eric Dickerson, didn't it?
The Los Angeles Rams' breaker of tackles and records merely rushed for 150 yards on 31 carries and caught a key 33-yard swing pass to generate a 35-24 victory over Seattle at the Kingdome Monday night.
Maybe Dickerson will try to break O.J. Simpson's 14-game rushing record this season. And maybe he'll sit out four games next year and try to break Jim Brown's 12-game mark.
Bobby Mitchell, the Redskins' assistant general manager and Hall of Fame running back, said of Dickerson, "Until watching that game (Monday), I didn't realize that Dickerson was that strong. I don't think Earl Campbell ever hit anybody that hard.
"That's what I liked about Jim Brown -- he had size, speed, strength and sprint. Dickerson comes closer to him in those areas than anybody I've seen."
In his 2,105-yard season last year, Dickerson rushed for 145 yards or more in six games. Now, he has 13 weeks to erase the two-week head start of NFL rushing leader James Wilder of Tampa Bay, who already has gained 393 yards.
Dickerson does get help, though. When it is considered that the Rams' Charles White rushed 36 times for 144 yards two Sundays ago in a 17-6 victory in Philadelphia, you realize that the Rams' offensive line is the same dominant force today that the Hogs were for the Redskins in 1982-83.
The Los Angeles Raiders are 1-2 and last in the AFC West, land of the Goliaths. Quarterback Jim Plunkett has a separated left (nonthrowing) shoulder, for which surgery is scheduled, and he is expected to be out for six weeks. So Marc Wilson is the starter once again.
The Raiders' defense has given up 70 points in consecutive losses to Kansas City and San Francisco. Cornerback Lester Hayes, ever prone to overstatement, said of Sunday's game at New England, "It's a bigger game for us than when we played the Redskins in the Super Bowl."
The vibes are positive for Jess Atkinson, the former Maryland kicker who has replaced the ailing Ali Haji-Sheikh as the New York Giants' kicker.
Haji-Sheikh has a hamstring injury and has been placed on injured reserve for a minimum of four weeks. Atkinson converted two of three field goal tries in a 27-17 victory over St. Louis Sunday, missing wide right from 49 and converting from 19 and 20 yards.
George Young, the Giants' general manager, said, "Sheikh's got a strong leg. He was a Pro Bowl kicker two years ago. But this hamstring has been a nagging injury.
"If Atkinson does well over the next four weeks, I won't say that he'll definitely stay here -- that's the coaches' decision. But I will say that our tendency in the past has been not to change when a guy is doing well."
The pressure is growing on Atlanta Coach Dan Henning and on Buffalo Coach Kay Stephenson. Both teams are 0-3. Home attendances reflect the troubles: 40,000 in Buffalo, 37,000 in Atlanta, the lowest marks in the league Sunday.
Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson gave a brief but firm vote of confidence to Stephenson after a 17-14 loss to New England Sunday. Asked if he felt any temptation to replace Stephenson now, Wilson said, "None whatsoever."
Atlanta owner Rankin Smith Sr. did not return phone calls this week, but it would be difficult for him to have positive thoughts about his team. The Falcons' defense has not given up fewer than four touchdowns in any of the three losses. The offensive line is giving up five sacks a game, a worse pace than last year's ghastly yield of 67 sacks.
Worse yet for Henning, the Falcons' next three opponents are the Rams, San Francisco and Seattle.
Let's dispel two of the favorite beliefs of NFL coaches:
No. 1: "If we commit more turnovers, we will lose the game." That apparently isn't entirely true. On 10 occasions during the first three weeks, the winning team has committed more turnovers.
No. 2: "If our most important running back can gain 100 yards in a game, we will win." Yes, it is true that Dallas is 39-2 in games in which Tony Dorsett has run for 100 yards or more. Yes, it's true that the Redskins are 20-2 in games in which John Riggins has rushed for 100 yards or more.
It is also true, however, that 14 times this season a player has rushed for 100 yards or more and six of those times his team has lost.
You Figure It Out Dept.: Cincinnati has scored 91 points and is 0-3. San Diego has yielded 99 and is 2-1.
Part of the reason for the Chargers' success is quarterback Dan Fouts, now 34. Kellen Winslow may be gone with a knee injury, John Jefferson may have been traded and Charlie Joiner may have grown old, but Fouts has thrown for nine touchdowns and 1,002 yards in three games.
And how about little running back Lionel James? Were it not for a penalty, James, who is 5-6 and 171, would have pulled off the most remarkable individual performance of this season in the 44-41 victory over Cincinnati Sunday. He ran for 127 yards on 12 carries, including a 56-yarder for a touchdown; caught five passes for 118 including a 60-yard touchdown -- and had a 100-yard kickoff return nullified.