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QB injuries put seasons on brink

The playoffs are more than a month away, but the postseason picture might have taken a dramatic turn Sunday.

Quarterback injuries in Denver, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, all playoff-contending teams, threaten to reshape the postseason landscape.

Are the Eagles (7-3) toast now that Donovan McNabb likely will miss the rest of the season with a broken right ankle? The Giants (6-4) are one game behind in the NFC East and it's questionable whether the Eagles can hold them off with Koy Detmer at the controls and a remaining six-game schedule of four road games and clashes with San Francisco and St. Louis.

Likewise, the Steelers' future is more muddled with the sometimes erratic Kordell Stewart filling in while the team waits to see if Tommy Maddox, who suffered a concussion and a bruised spinal cord, will return. With Maddox, the Steelers (5-4-1) seemed destined to win the AFC North. But Cleveland (5-5) is hot on their heels.

The Broncos (7-3) will be hard-pressed to stay with the Chargers (7-3) and Raiders (6-4) in the AFC West with starter Brian Griese nursing a sprained left knee that will sideline him 1-3 games. Granted, backup Steve Beuerlein still has some skills, but he is no Griese.

Like the Steelers and Broncos, the Eagles aren't about to panic. "People may talk down Koy and talk down the rest of the guys we have, but I think whoever may step in, if I'm not here, is going to open some eyes," McNabb said.

For his team's sake, he better hope so.

REMEMBER THE TITANS?: Like the Rams and Steelers, the Titans are rising from the dead. After starting 1-4, they have won five straight and face slumping Baltimore (4-6) next.

Apparently, the more the media and opponents discount the Titans, the better they play.

Television analysts almost unanimously picked the Titans to lose to the Steelers. ESPN's Hank Goldberg reportedly said the Titans would get crushed.

Then, during warmups, Pittsburgh's Joey Porter and Lee Flowers were talking trash, saying the Titans weren't in the same class as the Steelers, which agitated the Titans even more.

The result was a 31-23 win that was a more lopsided than the final score.

"They got what they asked for _ a butt-kicking," Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "Any other team that comes in here and disrespects this team will get the same thing."

Ravens, are you paying attention?

DID YOU KNOW?: Detmer has completed one pass this season for a 3-yard loss.

SPURRIER'S MUSICAL QUARTERBACKS: Don't look now, but there is another quarterback change in Washington (4-6). Coach Steve Spurrier, who has switched quarterbacks three times this season, said either Danny Wuerffel or rookie Patrick Ramsey will start in place of Shane Matthews, who was 15-for-35 for 113 yards in Sunday's loss to the Giants. "We'll look at it," he said. "We've got to do something to give some excitement to this offense."

Running back Stephen Davis thinks QB isn't the problem: It's Spurrier's pass-happy philosophy. Against the Giants, the Redskins threw 35 times with 21 running plays. "What we do best is run the ball," said Davis, who had 59 yards.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I was telling the ref, "You might as well go out there and block for him if you're going to be that protective.' I mean, this is football. Brett Favre ain't (NFL commissioner) Paul Tagliabue. If he was out there, we'd hit him, too."

_ Vikings defensive end Lance Johnstone, complaining about three questionable roughing the passer penalties against the Packers quarterback.

MAKE A NOTE OF THAT: The Falcons might have done more than just beat the Saints on Sunday. They might have stumbled on how to slow the Saints offense, which leads the NFL in scoring.

The Falcons often used eight-man fronts to shut down the running game. Running back Deuce McAllister was held to a season-low 43 yards on 13 carries before leaving with a sprained ankle. And the Saints were held 15 points below their league-leading 32.2 average.

THE RIGHT ONE: The Texans (2-8) are having a typical inaugural season, but one thing is working out wonderfully for them: quarterback David Carr.

The rookie was 22-of-30 (that's 73.3 percent) for 228 yards Sunday against Jacksonville. In the second half, he was 14-of-17 for 98 yards. During one stretch he completed 11 straight.

OUCH!: On the heels of a rash of illegal hits, Sunday was a real headache. Seven players had concussions or were knocked out of games with head injuries. The Chargers had two players with concussions, linebacker Donnie Edwards and guard Bob Hallen.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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