The Oakland Raiders were at a loss to answer two troubling questions in Week 10: Who was that hyper running back who kept shredding their defense? And how do you stop him?
Fred Lane, the answer to the first question, never let the Raiders solve the second.
With a record 147-yard, three-touchdown rushing performance, the Carolina Panthers' rookie emerged as one of the team's most unlikely heroes.
Undrafted out of Lane College, a small, predominantly black Division II school in Jackson, Tenn., Lane ravaged a Raiders defensive line that included four starters who were first-round draft picks in the 1990s.
His best moment came on the final play of the first quarter, when he spun out of a crowd at the line of scrimmage, caromed off five would-be tacklers and completed an 18-yard touchdown run. He also scored on runs of 15 and 32 yards.
On a day when he was pressed into duty because of a rib injury to starting running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka, Lane wound up setting the team's single-game records for rushing yards and touchdowns.
The Panthers had scored only three rushing touchdowns in their previous eight games. Of course, it didn't hurt that the Raiders had the worst defense in the league and the third-worst run defense going into the game.
Lane went to Lane College (no connection) because he didn't have the ACT scores to get into a Division I-A school. After one season as a defensive back, he rushed for 4,433 yards and scored 41 touchdowns the next three years. He went undrafted, though, after he had knee surgery as a senior and ran a slow 4.67 time in the 40 at the NFL combine.
The Raiders grew so frustrated trying to tackle him Sunday that once, when he kept running after the whistle, Chester McGlockton and Russell Maryland got overzealous and started a near-brawl. Both Raiders were ejected.
After the game, the Raiders told reporters they had no idea who this 5-foot-10, 205-pound dynamo was.
"Yes," Lane said, "but now they know."
So does the rest of the NFL.
He's no Marino
In case anyone was curious how Craig Erickson would do as heir apparent to Miami quarterback Dan Marino, they got a glimpse this week. It wasn't pretty.
With Marino forced out by a sprained ankle, Erickson completed eight of 18 passes for 121 yards and one costly interception. On the Dolphins' next-to-last possession in a 9-6 loss to Buffalo, Erickson took the Dolphins 33 yards backward with a sack and a fumbled shotgun snap.
Marino's numbers were equally ugly. He was 5-for-15 for 76 yards. He tried to play after getting his ankle rolled on by the Bills' Bruce Smith, but when he told coach Jimmy Johnson he had little mobility, Johnson went to Erickson.
Marino said he'll be ready for this week's game against the New York Jets. Johnson said Marino will play if he's healthy.
Runners win, passers walk
In Week 10, this was the formula for success: Teams that ran the ball 30 or more times went 9-2. Teams that threw the ball 40 or more times went 0-8.
The Jets, now leading the AFC East, had spent 38 consecutive weeks in last place before Bill Parcells arrived. Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer is 1-4 against San Francisco. The Cowboys have given up 51 points in the first half this season and 97 in the second. Carolina center Frank Garcia on playing the Raiders: "It's a dream for an offense to go against a soft defense like that." Chicago guard Todd Burger yelled at and shoved teammate and kick returner Tyrone Hughes after a Washington punt rolled out of bounds at the Bears' 7. New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe has thrown an interception in seven straight games.
Best and worst
Best impersonation: J. J. Stokes could have been mistaken for Jerry Rice when he made a spectacular, over-the-shoulder, 29-yard catch at the 1-yard line to set up the 49ers' go-ahead touchdown against Dallas.
Worst impersonation: At 4-5, the Cowboys aren't America's Team anymore. They are 1-5 on the road and 8-8 in their last 16 games.
Best no-call: Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin howled when he didn't get a critical pass-interference call in the end zone against 49ers cornerback Rod Woodson, who twice touched Irvin with his left hand and inadvertently tripped him. This is new to Irvin, but he needs to realize bad teams don't get close calls in the NFL.
Worst no-call: Officials let Redskins cornerback Cris Dishman get away with pass interference in the end zone against Bears receiver Curtis Conway.
Dumbest reaction to a no-call: Considering the Bears were going to lose anyway, Conway went overboard bumping the official and spiking his helmet.
Best reason to reconsider: Less than a week after Bears president Michael McCaskey said he didn't envision making a coaching change, his team's best receiver got ejected for overreacting and his players fought each other. Memo to Michael: As bad as it's been, this is where the wheels fall off.
Best quote: After John Hall beat the Ravens with a 37-yard field goal in overtime, Jets coach Bill Parcells had this to say about his rookie kicker: "We've been trying to get this kid out of his diapers and into his street clothes. [Sunday] we got him out of his Huggies."
Best rebound: A week after missing a costly extra point in a loss to Minnesota, the Bucs' Michael Husted hit a 36-yard field goal to beat the Colts, 31-28, and end Tampa Bay's three-game losing streak.
Best sales pitch: The Vikings' five-game winning streak doesn't hurt the sale of coach Dennis Green's controversial autobiography, "No Room for Crybabies." Green needs to sell a whole lot of books if he's going to buy the Vikings.
Pub Date: 11/04/97