Sunday, December 7, 2003

It's rare for Bay teams to miss playoffs

NFL insider

Mark Curnutte
Pity Bay Area NFL fans. Since the Raiders entered the NFL in the 1970 merger with the AFL, only three times in those 33 seasons did they or the 49ers fail to make the playoffs - 1978, '79 and '99.

This season looks like No. 4.

Also, since the Raiders came into the NFL, there never has been a season in which both the Raiders and 49ers had losing records. The Raiders (3-9) are assured of a losing season and the 49ers (5-7) seem headed there - because they are 0-6 on the road and still must play at Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

The worst combined records for the two teams in the NFL was in 1978 and 1979, when the Raiders were 9-7 and the 49ers 2-14 each year, for a composite 11-21 and a winning percentage of .344. Their combined percentage is .333.

RUNAWAY: Jamal Lewis, Deuce McAllister and Ahman Green are on 1,880-yard paces. Only once have two backs rushed for at least 1,800 - Terrell Davis (2,008) and Jamal Anderson (1,846) in 1998.

VICK TO START: The only reason to keep watching the Falcons is quarterback Michael Vick, who will start tonight against Carolina.

Vick told coach Dan Reeves he didn't want him to hold back in game planning, to use anything that was in the playbook last year. A year ago against the Panthers, Vick led the Falcons to a season sweep by a combined 71-0 score. He completed 35-of-46 passes for 450 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the two games.

SALTY VIKE: Minnesota coach Mike Tice is one of the most endearingly profane coaches in the league. Asked if he expected a high-scoring game today with Seattle, Tice said: "If I knew that, I wouldn't be doing this s---. I would be an analyst on TV making a bunch of money, not the lowest-paid head coach in the league doing this crap. So I don't know. You can't guess that stuff."

WHERE'S GALE SAYERS? Emmitt Smith on Bears rookie running back Brock Forsey, a sixth-round pick who rushed for 134 yards in Chicago's victory over Arizona: "You mean Brian Piccolo? I thought he came back to life. He ran the ball well. He had a great game."

HONEST GUY: This from Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney on the conference call with reporters who cover the Titans, Indianapolis' opponent today. Freeney was asked who is the better quarterback: Steve McNair or Peyton Manning? "Peyton Manning, by far. I mean Steve's a great player, but Peyton, he does a whole lot."

NUMBERS GAME: 23, average points by which the Cardinals have been beaten during 11 consecutive road losses. ... 10-1, Eagles record when Donovan McNabb throws a touchdown pass to James Trash. ... 25, games in which Rams wide receiver Torry Holt has at least 100 yards, tying Jerry Rice for the most in NFL history over the first five seasons of a career.

ART'S WORLD: These pearls from former Colts defensive tackle and hall of famer Art Donovan in USA Today. On Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna: "Three years ago, I told somebody in the (Ravens) organization, you ought to try to get this guy Kitna. He takes his helmet off and looks like a Russian soldier." On Marvin Lewis: "That guy has done a wonderful job. I saw on TV where he gets more votes now than (Bill) Parcells for coach of the year, but I think both of them have done a wonderful job. The Bengals were a disaster looking for a place to happen."

AFC NORTH: Butch Davis is 20-25 as Browns coach. They're 4-8 in Davis' third year. Davis has two years on his contract after this season. In the afterglow of a 13-12 win over the 49ers in Week 3, team president Carmen Policy talked of rewarding Davis with a contract extension. Now, Davis is preaching patience, sounding a lot like Chris Palmer after finishing his first two seasons with the expansion Browns at 5-27. Policy did not want to hear that, so he fired Palmer. ... The Steelers clinched only the third non-winning season in Bill Cowher's 12 as their coach. They had losing seasons in 1998 and 1999. The last time the Steelers went through a season without winning two games in a row was 1969, when they went 1-13. Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox kept his record nearly perfect when he threw for 313 yards in the loss to the Bengals. Maddox has now thrown for 300 yards six times during the regular season and has yet to win one of those games (0-5-1).

---Written from notes submitted by NFL beat writers.

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