There is a remarkable contrast between the teams that call Giants Stadium home. The Giants are the league's version of daytime drama; the Jets are as buttoned up as a starched shirt. The difference is first-year coach Eric Mangini's effect on the Jets. Hired in January, Mangini was determined to instill discipline. More than halfway through the season, he has succeeded. While the Giants point fingers, the Jets band together, as evidenced by quarterback Chad Pennington's reaction to recent criticism. "He has taken a lot of lumps, some of it unfair," Jets guard Pete Kendall said. "But you never hear Chad say, 'The reason we threw for only 117 yards is because the play-calling stunk, my receivers fell down, the offensive line couldn't keep them off me.' He takes it and moves on."
No passing fancy
Chiefs running back Larry Johnson carried 65 times in a five-day span in victories against the Raiders and Broncos, and the pace is not likely to change. Johnson has carried 282 times in 11 games for a league-best 1,202 yards, putting him on pace to rush for 1,748 yards and tie the NFL record for attempts, 410 by Atlanta's Jamal Anderson in 1998. Not only is coach Herm Edwards committed to the run, but also to getting the ball in the hands of his best players. Despite the return of quarterback Trent Green two games ago, he keeps getting the ball to Johnson. "You throw to score and run to win," Edwards said. "I believe in running."
Apparently, the winning recipe of running the ball and stopping the run is overrated. The Colts rank 31st in run defense and are 10-1. The Vikings are first in run defense and are 5-6. The Falcons are the top-ranked rushing team and are 5-6.
Underachieving Washington is the only NFC team in the league's top 10 in the crucial statistics of fewest sacks allowed per pass play and yards per carry, an indication of strong play by the offensive line. The Redskins are fourth in allowing 14 sacks in 322 pass plays and ninth in averaging 4.3 yards per rushing attempt. The other teams in the top 10 in both are AFC West leader San Diego (9-2) and its division rival Denver (7-4).
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is now getting Pro Bowl attention. Despite having started only five games, Romo was added to the Pro Bowl ballot this week. Romo, who replaced Drew Bledsoe in the starting lineup Oct. 29 against Carolina, leads all NFL starting quarterbacks with a passer rating of 110.8. He has passed for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions in his five starts. Two weeks of voting remain.
Both times coach Bill Parcells won the Super Bowl, in 1986 and 1990 with the Giants, he changed kickers in the middle of the season. He used three kickers in 1986 and two in 1990. On Monday, Parcells released Mike Vanderjagt and replaced him with Martin Gramatica, who won the Super Bowl with the Bucs after the 2002 season. Gramatica, a seven-year veteran, has played in three games and attempted one field goal since 2004, when the Bucs released him.
San Francisco's Alex Smith and New Orleans' Drew Brees, whose teams play today at the Louisiana Superdome, are two of eight quarterbacks to take every snap this season. The others are Carolina's Jake Delhomme, Buffalo's J.P. Losman, Detroit's Jon Kitna, Indianapolis' Peyton Manning, New York Giants' Eli Manning and Denver's Jake Plummer. Plummer will miss his first snap today when rookie Jay Cutler replaces him as the starter.
The Seahawks play tonight in Denver, where they haven't won since 1995. John Friesz was Seattle's starting quarterback at the time. Dennis Erickson was in his first season as coach. Matt Hasselbeck was at Boston College. Mike Holmgren had yet to win a Super Bowl with Green Bay. Hasselbeck recently took a stab at explaining Seattle's struggles in the Mile High City: "I don't know ... John Elway, maybe?" The Broncos hold a 19-4 series lead in Denver.
Compiled by Times staff writer Joanne Korth using information from other news organizations.
Airing it out
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, above, has passed for 1,954 yards in his past five games, the highest five-game total in history. Brees threw for more than 300 yards in each game, averaging 390.8. He can tie the NFL single-season record with another 300-yard game today against the 49ers. Here is the list of players with the most consecutive 300-yard passing games:
QB Team Year 300-yard games Total yards Yds/game
Steve Young San Francisco 1998 6 2,022 337.0
Kurt Warner St. Louis 2000 6 2,260 376.7
Rich Gannon Oakland 2002 6 2,168 361.3
Drew Brees New Orleans 2006 5 1,954 390.8
Joe Montana San Francisco 1982 5 1,739 347.8