Originally created 11/27/01

NFL notebook

PITTSBURGH -- Maybe Plaxico Burress should throw a party every week.

Burress' party at a Pittsburgh nightspot was the talk of the town last week, especially after Browns rookie Gerard Warren was arrested. Among the out-of-town players attending was Jevon Kearse, whose Tennessee Titans played the Steelers six days later.

After considerable debate about whether Steelers players should fraternize with the opposition on the week of a game, Burress caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown Sunday in a 34-24 victory at Tennessee.

Kearse? He wasn't a factor as Tennessee squandered a 14-3 halftime lead, missing the second half with back spasms.

The Steelers' 8-2 record going into Sunday's home game against Minnesota (4-6) is their best in Bill Cowher's 10 seasons as coach and the franchise's best since the 1983 Steelers started 9-2.

With quarterback Terry Bradshaw out for all but one game all season with an elbow injury, those Steelers lost four of their final five to wind up 10-6. Bradshaw, apparently aware the injury had effectively ended his career, played only the next-to-last game.

But after yet another well-played game by Kordell Stewart, the 2001 Steelers - unlike the '83 Steelers - seem to be gaining confidence in their quarterback and themselves with each passing victory. They have won eight of nine, and might have won the ninth if Kris Brown hadn't missed four field goals Nov. 4 against Baltimore.

Stewart ran for a touchdown and threw for 254 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions Sunday, the fourth time in five games he has passed for 200 yards or more.

IRVING, Texas -- Rookie Quincy Carter, the opening-day starter who has played just five quarters because of injuries, practiced with the Dallas Cowboys' first team Monday, and coach Dave Campo said he would start Sunday's game at Washington.

Ryan Leaf, the team's fourth starter at quarterback this season, will be the backup after losing all three of his Dallas starts.

Carter hasn't played since tearing his left hamstring Oct. 7 at Oakland.

"It's been stated all of the way through the year that when Quincy was healthy, he would be our starter, and the only reason he wasn't was because of injury," Campo said. "We want to get him out there and let him get going."

At quarterback, the Redskins (5-5) have Tony Banks, cut by the Cowboys midway through training camp to clear the way for Carter. Banks, who replaced Jeff George after two games, is 5-3 as the starter for Washington, the first team to win five straight games after an 0-5 start.

After playing the entire game in the season-opening 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay, Carter injured his throwing thumb in practice and missed two games. The hamstring injury came in the first quarter of his return at Oakland.

During practice Monday, Carter showed no ill effects from the injuries or his changed grip on the football. He moved around with ease and looked good throwing the ball, at times hitting deep receivers in stride despite gusty winds.

In his three starts, Leaf was 41-of-80 for 409 yards with three interceptions and just one TD. He also played late in an overtime loss to the Giants, hitting 4-of-8 for 85 yards. The No. 2 overall pick by San Diego in 1998 is 4-17 as an NFL starter, with 36 interceptions and just 14 TDs.

Carter, the 53rd overall player drafted in April, is 10-of-24 for 38 yards with two interceptions. He ran seven times for 37 yards.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills cut rookie kicker Jake Arians on Monday after he missed a critical point-after conversion in Sunday's 34-27 loss to Miami.

Although it was his first point-after miss of the season, Arians made only 12 of 21 field-goal attempts this year.

The misses included a 44-yard, game-tying attempt that was blocked with 63 seconds remaining in a 27-24 loss to San Diego.

Sunday's point-after miss was critical because it allowed the Dolphins to stay within 10 points - 27-17 - midway through the fourth quarter, and play for a tie when Olindo Mare hit a 39-yard field goal with 1:11 remaining.

Coach Gregg Williams said the decision to release Arians did not come down to his latest miss.

"It's more just that," Williams said. "This is nothing other than another opportunity to get better. It's not a sacrificial lamb thing. There were offensive, defensive and special teams mistakes (against Miami)."

Arians replaced 10-year veteran Steve Christie, who was placed on injured reserve a day before Buffalo's season opener.

Christie, highly regarded for his ability to kick in the clutch and in Buffalo's wintery and windy conditions, was released a month later and is not eligible to return to the team.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Rookie running back Kevan Barlow's dislocated shoulder could keep him out of the San Francisco 49ers' game against Buffalo on Sunday night.

Barlow is listed as doubtful for the game after injuring his shoulder in the 49ers' 40-21 win over Indianapolis.

"It's just a matter of how much rest and rehab you give a guy," coach Steve Mariucci said. "As much as we'd love to have Kevan play, we're not going to rush anything."

Barlow has rushed for 350 yards this season as a backup to Garrison Hearst. If Barlow can't play against the Bills, Mariucci hasn't decided whether he will increase Hearst's workload or add third-stringer Terry Jackson to the rotation.

Mariucci also said receiver Terrell Owens is expected to play against the Bills despite a sprained left ankle and right foot. Owens, the NFC's second-leading receiver with 69 catches for 970 yards and 12 touchdowns, had six catches for 103 yards and a score against the Colts.


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