All is not lost yet, Redskins fans (or Bucs fans, or Bears fans, or Cardinals fans, or Bills fans or Bengals fans). Since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, three teams that started 2-5 have made the playoffs: the 1990 Saints, who finished 8-8 and earned a wild-card berth; the 1995 Lions, who finished 10-6 and earned a wild-card berth; and the 2002 Jets, who finished 9-7 and won the AFC East.

History has been even kinder to teams that have started 3-4 since 1978: Thirty-six of them have made the playoffs. That means the Cowboys, Saints, Browns and Chiefs still have at least a historically proven chance of postseason play. . . .

Peppi's, a deli near Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, has jumped on the Ben Roethlisberger bandwagon. For $7 (matching Roethlisberger's jersey number), you get a "Roethlisburger" featuring beef, sausage, scrambled eggs, American cheese and, just maybe, bypass surgery. Not to be outdone, the Brentwood Express offers a "Ben Roethlis-burger" topped with bacon, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, cheddar and provolone. . . .

There have been 130 passing plays of 40 or more yards league-wide this season, up from 105 through eight weeks a year ago and 98 in 2002. The number of 30-yard and 20-yard passing plays are both also up from last season.