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DOLPHINS HOLD EDGE IN HOME OPENER AGAINST RAIDERS

Mike Ditka, then a rookie tight end with the Chicago Bears, remembers where he was on Nov. 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was driving back from practice with teammate Joe Marconi.

When they heard the news, they pulled to the side of the road and wept.

Two days later they were playing for the Bears against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game ended in a 17-17 tie. Despite the tragedy, the NFL chose to go through with its seven-game schedule on Nov. 24.

It was an emotional day, just as it will be today when the NFL resumes play in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. What kind of football did the 1963 games produce so soon after the assassination in Dallas? What can be expected this time?

A look back at Nov. 24, 1963 provides few clues. There were only two upsets on that date 38 years ago. The Los Angeles Rams, playing at home in the L.A. Coliseum, edged the Baltimore Colts, 17-16, and the St. Louis Cardinals tripped the New York Giants, 24-17, before a sellout crowd of 62,922 at Yankee Stadium. It was one of only three losses for the Giants that season.

In Bloomington, Minn., only 28,763 showed up for the Vikings' 34-31 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Today, displays of patriotism, tributes to rescue workers and memorials to the fallen will be part of the ceremony at NFL stadiums. Those themes will dominate but eventually football will be played.

Game of the Day:

Raiders (1-0) at Dolphins (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Line: Dolphins by 2

The Scoop: Miami, which looked very sharp in winning at Tennessee, is 27-4 in home openers. The Dolphins, however, have a potential headache developing at left offensive tackle. After losing two starters they've turned to journeyman Spence Folau and veteran free agent Harry Swayne, who has been a right tackle most of his career. The Raiders barely escaped from Kansas City with a 27-24 victory. Oakland blanked the visiting Dolphins, 27-0, in the second round of the playoffs last January and has the best record of any team vs. Miami, 18-9-1. The Raiders have not played in Miami since 1994. Duels to watch will be Oakland receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice being shadowed by Miami corners Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain.

Outlook: Playing in the Miami heat and humidity, the Dolphins figure to be too quick for the ponderous Raiders. Dolphins, 17-10.
Top Attractions

Titans (0-1) at Jaguars (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Line: Jaguars by 2

The Scoop: This is a game Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin must have had circled on his calendar. Tennessee has won four of the last five against the Jaguars, including a resounding upset in the 1999 AFC Championship Game. Jacksonville is going for its fifth straight home victory. Titans QB Steve McNair coming off a shoulder injury that knocked him out of opening loss to Miami. Jags had big game from WR Jimmy Smith and RB Fred Taylor in home victory over Pittsburgh.

Outlook: Loss to Miami had to wake up Titans. Tennessee, 14-13.
Bills (0-1) at Colts (1-0)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.
Line: Colts by 10

The Scoop: The Bills showed little ability to score while the Colts rolled up 376 yards in 45-24 opening win over the Jets.

Outlook: Bills' offense wakes up but Colts prevail, 34-27.
Giants (0-1) at Chiefs (0-1)

TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 2

The Scoop: Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil has a 13-4 career record against the Giants, but most of that was during his stint at Philadelphia in the late '70s and early '80s. None of Giants' NFC East competitors won in Week One, but Big Blue doesn't want to start 0-2. K.C. looked surprisingly strong in last-minute home loss to Oakland.

Outlook: Arrowhead is tough on visitors, but Giants play at Philadelphia, Washington and Dallas each year and can deal with it. New York, 27-13.
Rams (1-0) at 49ers (1-0)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Line: Rams by 6.

The Scoop: Rams, who lost 17 in a row in the '90s to San Francisco, now have won the last four in the series. This one figures to be aerial show. The Niners lead the NFC in passing yards at 324. St. Louis is third at 282. Each side boasts a corps of talented receivers -- Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Az-Zahir Hakim on the Rams' side and Terrell Owens, J.J. Stokes and Tai Streets for San Francisco.

Outlook: Niners in a shootout, 49-44.
Best of the Rest

Ravens (1-0) at Bengals (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Line: Ravens by 7

The Scoop: Baltimore showed almost no ability to move the ball on the ground in its opening win over Chicago while Corey Dillon of the Bengals ran all over the Patriots. Dillon won't have it so easy against the Ravens, but the Cincinnati defense is improving. Baltimore has won last six in this AFC Central series.

Outlook: If Bengals QB Jon Kitna keeps his cool, Cincinnati can hang in with low-scoring Ravens. Baltimore, 14-9.
Panthers (1-0) at Falcons (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Line: Falcons by 3 1/2

The Scoop: Carolina pulled biggest surprise of opening week with victory at Minnesota behind rookie QB Chris Weinke. Panthers did not add any big names in the offseason, but quietly patched up offensive line with solid pros such as Todd Steussie, Kevin Donnalley and Chris Mitchell.

Outlook: Carolina has won only once in Atlanta. Falcons, 30-21.
Lions (0-1) at Browns (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Line: Pick 'em

The Scoop: Two rookie head coaches, Marty Mornhinweg of Detroit and Butch Davis of Cleveland, looking for a first victory. The Browns held Seattle to three field goals in 9-6 loss in Cleveland. The Lions were so unimpressive in their loss at Green Bay that Mornhinweg pulled the plug on starting quarterback Charlie Batch and turned to veteran journeyman Ty Detmer, who has been with the team a little more than two weeks.

Outlook: Lions managed only 56 rushing yards at Green Bay and will struggle almost as badly on natural grass in Cleveland. Browns, 21-17.
Vikings (0-1) at Bears (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 3

The Scoop: This is the Bears' home opener and Vikes almost never have an easy time in the cozy confines of Soldier Field. Last year, Chicago "limited" Randy Moss to eight catches for 118 yards and one TD in two games.

Outlook: Vikings escape with 17-16 win over Brian Urlacher and Bears.
Jets (0-1) at Patriots (0-1)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

Line: Jets by 2

The Scoop: Jets must bounce back fast or perhaps fall two behind the leaders in the AFC East. Disappointing Jets defense was mauled by the Colts and must deal with passing threat of Drew Bledsoe to Troy Brown.

Outlook: New England coach Bill Belichick couldn't concoct a defensive scheme to stop his old team last season. Jets, 27-14.
Eagles (0-1) at Seahawks (1-0)

TV: Channel 29, 4 p.m.

Line: Eagles by 2 1/2

The Scoop: Eagles meet up with old friend Ricky Watters, who rushed for 3,794 yards and 31 TDs in three seasons for Philadelphia before moving to Seattle as free agent. Even though Seahawks failed to reach the end zone, QB Matt Hasselbeck had a solid game in his first NFL start. He completed 8 of 9 on third down.

Outlook: Home crowd gives Seahawks edge over road-weary Eagles, 20-17.
Broncos (1-0) at Cardinals (0-0)

TV: ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

Line: Broncos by 8

The Scoop: Denver last visited Arizona in 1989. Cardinals have never beaten Denver, which owns 4-0-1 series advantage. Broncos looked very much like a Super Bowl contender in their Monday Night Football victory over the Giants (31-20).

Outlook: Beware of a letdown by Broncos in Valley of the Sun. Denver, 31-28.

Redskins (0-1) at Packers (1-0)

TV: Ch. 7, Monday at 9 p.m.

Line: Packers by 9

The Scoop: One quarterback Bruce Smith has never collared in his career as an NFL pass rusher is Pack's Brett Favre. Now's his chance. Smith isn't camera shy. He is the all-time leader in sacks on Monday Night with 24 1/2 .

Outlook: Marty Schottenheimer has his hands full in Washington. Green Bay, 24-10.

Dog of the Day

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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