The best and worst from yesterday's games:


Tagliabue Warms Up to St. Louis

Although he was a sharp critic of the team's move to St. Louis from Anaheim in 1995, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has changed his stance.

"We are delighted to be where we are," said Tagliabue, who yesterday attended his first Rams game since the team moved. "You make your decisions as you go along."

Fans in St. Louis didn't forget Tagliabue's original resistance, and his testimony in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the city against the NFL in 1997 made him more unpopular in town. Tagliabue said that was one reason he hadn't visited St. Louis during the previous four seasons.

"I get to about eight or nine games a year in cities other than New York," he said. "You try to pick a city where you can have a positive experience and have some fun. In the past, there was some conflict ..."

A thaw in the relationship began this summer when Tagliabue visited the Rams following a training camp scrimmage in Champaign, Ill.

Another Loss for Lions

First the Lions lost Barry Sanders and now they've lost his replacement.

Ron Rivers left yesterday's game against the Panthers with an injured right ankle, and X-rays showed a fracture that likely will end his season. Rivers had been Detroit's leading rusher with 70 carries for 291 yards. With Rivers out, the Lions rode the passing of Charlie Batch to a 24-9 victory.

Wheatley Goes Down

Oakland tailback Tyrone Wheatley, the team's leading runner this season, was taken off the field on a cart after injuring his back against the Jets. Wheatley was on the ground for two minutes before trying to stand, but was unable to support himself. The severity of the injury was not immediately clear.

Growing Pains

Bears rookie quarterback Cade McNown, making his second pro start in place of the injured Shane Matthews, did not have a day to remember against the Buccaneers. He completed only 9 of 23 passes for 82 yards and was sacked twice. After being intercepted in the third quarter, McNown was replaced by Jim Miller, and Bears Coach Dick Jauron said he will wait until Wednesday to decide who will start Sunday against the Redskins.



Consecutive field goals made by Buccaneers rookie place kicker Martin Gramatica. After hitting a 34-yarder for his 10th straight, he hit the left upright on a 43-yard attempt that would have tied the NFL rookie record of 11 straight to start a career. That mark is held by Rich Karlis (1982) and David Treadwell (1989), both of the Broncos.


Points scored by the Vikings against the 49ers, marking the first time this season they have surpassed 24 points. Last season, Minnesota did not score fewer than 24 points in any game.


Streak of consecutive games started by Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino that ended yesterday. He was sidelined with a bone spur in his neck.