Johnny Bailey began his pro career playing more like college football's all-time leading rusher than a ninth-round draft pick.
"He didn't gain that yardage in college by accident," Chicago Coach Mike Ditka said after Bailey sparked the Bears to a 17-9 triumph over the Cardinals Saturday night in Phoenix with 86 yards in six carries, two for touchdowns, including a 55-yarder.
"He made a great move to the end zone. The last guy I saw make a move like that was Ozark Ike from the comic strip."
The 55-yarder came 1:32 into the second half on a misdirection play and was the first pro carry by Bailey, who gained 6,320 yards at Texas A&I but still lasted until the ninth round of April's draft.
"I took it to the right side and saw the pursuit come with me. I saw a hole to the left, cut back and after that I knew it was history," said Bailey, who later ran five yards for a score. "You don't expect that coming into the NFL. They're not supposed to come that easy."
A few days ago, Coach Bruce Coslet expressed hope that his decision to name a starting quarterback would be a difficult one. Saturday night Tony Eason and Ken O'Brien gave him every indication it will be a tough call.
O'Brien made up most of the ground he lost in last week's preseason opener against the Eagles with a solid performance in New York's 20-0 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. And Eason put on another strong showing, continuing the most celebrated position duel of Coslet's first training camp in New York.
"The race is tightening up," Coslet said. "They're both good players who can lead this team. It's going to be a tough decision."
Coslet's timetable calls for the competition to end after Saturday night's game against the New York Giants. That's when he plans to name his regular season starter.
Had you asked Coslet to make his decision immediately after the Jets' 17-6 win over Philadelphia, he would undoubtedly have gone with Eason, who was 12 of 17 for 162 yards. O'Brien, who started, struggled to complete three of 10 for 28 yards.
But O'Brien might have turned his season around against the Chiefs. He worked only two series, but showed enough on the first to give Coslet reason to believe he had shrugged off last week's lethargy. O'Brien was five of eight for 61 yards and a touchdown.
What did O'Brien and Eason think of their showing? Who knows? Both quarterbacks, who are best friends, continue to keep their competition as low-key as possible. They showered quickly and hopped on the team bus before reporters got to the locker room.
Eason started and played three series. He was eight of 12 for 73 yards and a touchdown. Before being replaced by O'Brien, he completed five straight passes. The fifth was a 13-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to rookie Rob Moore.
O'Brien took over for the Jets' final series of the half, and directed a 72-yard, 11-play drive that culminated with an eight-yard pass to Al Toon to make it 14-0.
Coach Don Shula said the team was "as bad as it can get" in Saturday's 23-14 preseason loss in Philadelphia. Miami's plan to be more physical this year took a beating. The Eagles had a 77-34 advantage in plays and controlled the ball for more than 41 minutes.
"It definitely was the type of game you don't want to be associated with," Shula said. "Some of our worst losses in recent years have been to teams that ball-controlled us the way Philadelphia did. It's a pretty helpless feeling when you get dominated like that."
Quarterback Dan Marino sat out the game, but Miami's problems went beyond that. The only bright spot Shula could point to was Scott Secules' 70-yard touchdown pass to Mark Duper in the second quarter.
The Dolphins had the ball for just 11 plays in the first half, while the Eagles scored on three long drives. Thye have lost a team-record seven straight preseason games since 1988.
One of Shula's goals for this season is to make the Dolphins bigger and stronger to compete against physical teams like Philadelphia that have manhandled them the last few years. So far, in losses to the Bears and Eagles, Shula hasn't seen progress in that area.
"It's something we've been working hard to overcome, but we didn't get it done against Philadelphia," he said. "We didn't do a good job of covering and we missed a lot of tackles. Offensively, we didn't generate anything except the two touchdowns.
"It was about as bad as it can get."