Falcons turn back to an old friend; Moss off and running

Atlanta has 22 players on its roster that are 24 years old or younger. Viewed another way, Atlanta has 22 players on its roster that weren't born when Morten Andersen kicked off his NFL career in 1982.

What started 25 years ago will now continue again, as the Falcons have brought in Andersen, the NFL's all-time scoring leader, to be their field goal kicker.

Atlanta gave the 47-year-old Andersen a tryout on Monday and signed him later in the day. Andersen replaces the struggling Matt Prater.

In the past two weeks, Prater has connected on only 1-of-4 field goal attempts, including a miss from 26 yards during Sunday's loss to Jacksonville.

During his 24 NFL seasons -– and that's a phrase that could only have been written about Andersen and George Blanda -– Andersen connected on 825 extra points and 540 field goals.

Andersen kicked for the Falcons last season, but the team opted to go with Prater this season. However, Andersen lived near the Falcons' training complex and as soon as Prater struggled Sunday for the second straight week, costing Atlanta points it desperately needed, the Falcons arranged a workout for their old standby.

And old standby will be alive and kicking on Sunday.


No videotape could have helped New England pull off the deals it did to put the Patriots in the position they are today.

The Patriots traded a fourth-round pick last April to Oakland, which turned out to be former University of Cincinnati cornerback John Bowie, for wide receiver Randy Moss.

Two games into the season, it looks as if Bowie-for-Moss is even more lopsided than Michael Vick-for-LaDainian Tomlinson.

Moss already has caught three touchdown passes this season, as many as he caught all of last season. He has been the weapon that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady never had. Despite missing training camp with a lingering hamstring injury, Moss already is in Pro Bowl form, which would be a rarity in New England.

The only time Brady has ever played with a wide receiver that went to the Pro Bowl was in 2001, when Troy Brown was voted in. But it looks as if Moss and Brady are headed there this season in tandem.

Using Moss as his primary target through the first two games, Brady has completed 78.9 percent of his passes this season for six touchdowns and one interception.

One of Brady's other chief targets has been wide receiver Wes Welker, who actually cost New England more than Moss. New England gave Miami second- and seventh-round draft picks for the diminiutive but productive Welker.

Both have been major contributors to New England's back-to-back, identical 38-14 victories.


Last season, the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs all advanced to the playoffs. This season, those four teams have a combined 0-8 record.

The biggest surprise of that group is the Saints, whom many predicted to represent the NFC in this season's Super Bowl.

But the Saints have been off in every facet of the game, none more so than their passing offense and defense.

Last season the Saints averaged 281.4 passing yards per game; this season, they're at 215.5. Their yards per pass play has shrunk from 7.8 per play to 5.1. Their points per game has dropped from 25.8 last season to 12 this season.

Defensively, New Orleans has gone from surrendering 6 yards per pass play last season to 11.5 this season. Much of the damage was done Sunday in the team's loss to the Bucs.

For as much as they struggled with Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne in Week 1, the Saints had to know it was going to be worse with Buccaneers wide receiver Joey Galloway in Week 2.

No receiver has torched the Saints quite like Galloway, who has scored a touchdown for Tampa Bay in each game he has met New Orleans. In those six games against the Bucs' NFC South rivals, Galloway has scored 10 touchdowns, two of them coming Sunday.

Last November, the last time Galloway faced the Saints, he caught four passes for 97 yards and two touchdowsn.


While the Saints are struggling, the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans are each 2-0.

But maybe the upstarts shouldn't be such a surprise. The Packers now have football's longest regular-season win streak at six games. Behind them, with football's second-longest winning streak, are the Texans, who now have strung together four consecutive victories.

Nobody can be much happier with the start of the season than all Texans. Whereas Dallas and Houston haven't lost a game yet, New York has yet to win one.


Cowboys running backs Marion Barber and Julius Jones will not face a tougher run defense than the one they go against Sunday night in Chicago.

During the season's first two weeks, the Bears held San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and Kansas City's Larry Johnson to a combined 80 yards rushing. Tomlinson had only 25 rushing yards vs. the Bears, the second worst day of his NFL career, and Johnson piled up a mere 55.

Anyone who is going to beat Chicago is going to have to find some other way than on the ground to do it.


San Diego head coach Norv Turner was supposed make an explosive offense even more dangerous. But something has happened to short circuit these Chargers.

Through two games, their offense hasn't resembled the potent one from last season.

San Diego averaged 30.8 points per game last season; this season they are averaging 14. San Diego averaged 13.9 points per game in the first half last season; this season the Chargers have yet to score in the first half. Tomlinson averaged 113.4 yards per game last season; this season he's at 34 yards per game.

On Sunday, the Chargers hit the road again for a game in Green Bay against the unbeaten and defensive-minded Packers.

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