NFL Losers Try to Keep On Winning

NEW YORK -- What do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals have in common?

In recent years, losing. This season, it's winning -- at least so far.

All five of those teams, stragglers in the 1990s, surged to victories in their NFL openers. Now, it's time to prove those wins weren't flukes.

None have an easy assignment as they seek a 2-0 start Sunday. Tampa Bay is at Detroit, which also won its opener. The Jets are at home against Buffalo, which has won 16 of the 19 between the teams. The Rams entertain the 49ers, who will be undermanned but have won 13 straight in the series.

The Giants visit Jacksonville, which also might be without key personnel but comes off an uplifting comeback victory. And the Bengals, even more amazing in their rally last weekend, are at Baltimore, which has a passing game that could give Cincinnati fits.

"Our players are now starting to believe this is the start of something," said Bucs coach Tony Dungy, who saw the Bucs get off to an 0-5 start in his first season.

They ran over the 49ers with a big-play defense spurred by Warren Sapp. This week's assignment is Barry Sanders, who will be stoked after a subpar opening performance.

"You're always on pins and needles when you play Barry," Dungy said. "The times we've had success at stopping him were times we got ahead early, taking him a little more out of the ball game. But if you let Barry carry the ball between 25 and 28 times, he's bound to break some big runs on you."

So might the Jets' Adrian Murrell, who had 131 yards and a 5.5 average against Seattle. The entire Jets offense looked awesome, not awful, last week.

"They did everything and anything they wanted to do," Bills linebacker Bryce Paup noticed. "It looked like they were practicing."

The current Rams have no practice celebrating victory over the 49ers, but this is their big chance, with Jerry Rice and Steve Young out, rookie Jim Druckenmiller opening at quarterback and St. Louis' confidence soaring.

The Giants arrive in Jacksonville off a rare win over Philadelphia and with a newfound pass rush. New York had 30 sacks a year ago, yet opened with nine against the Eagles.