Axe is coming down

KEN FIDLIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Add a couple of names to the pro football coaching carousel. No way in the world that Lane Kiffin survives a 25-point, fourth-quarter collapse by his Oakland Raiders against the Chargers.

Ditto for Scott Linehan, whose St. Louis Rams came out strong early against the Buffalo Bills but wilted late. You can probably make this firing a tandem effort because general manager Jay Zygmunt may not survive owner Chip Rosenbloom's displeasure.

The Raiders appeared poised for a major upset, with a 15-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but when the Chargers caught fire the Raiders were helpless to stop them.

The Rams raced out to a 14-6 lead against Buffalo, then got trampled in the second half, outscored 17-0.

Both St. Louis and Oakland have the convenience of a bye week to install new head coaches, though it's unlikely either team will go outside its own organization. Look for Jim Haslett, the Rams' defensive co-ordinator, to move into the head coaching role there. Look for either Paul Hackett or wide receivers coach James Lofton to take over being Al Davis' lackey in Oakland.

Falling hard

The mighty fell, and fell hard. First, it was the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos who got caught looking past the much-abused Kansas City Chiefs and ended up paying with a 33-19 thumping that snapped a 12-game winless streak for the Chiefs that stretched back 11 months. They hadn't even led in a game for the past 22 quarters until they emerged from the first quarter yesterday up 6-0.

The high-powered Broncos' offence stumbled, committing two interceptions and two fumbles.

"You can't have four turnovers and expect to score a lot of points," Denver QB Jay Cutler said.

Down in Big D, the Cowboys undefeated season ended at the hands of their hated rivals, the Washington Redskins who won at Texas Stadium for only the second time in their past 13 visits. It's also the last visit there by the Skins. Next time they come to Dallas, the Cowboys will be in their new stadium in Arlington.

Washington survived a late Dallas rally to hang on for a 28-26 win.

Time for Texans?

The Texans were a trendy pick, with some justification, to make a move into the fringe of contention in the AFC. After a 6-10 mark in 2006 improved to 8-8 last year, the young Texans were expected to take things to the next level.

So far, there's been nothing but stormy weather for Houston, and we're not just talking about Hurricane Ike, which was a hugely disruptive force, causing them to take an unwanted bye week. The Texans have been forced to play on the road for their first three games against some of the AFC's best teams in Pittsburgh, Tennessee and, yesterday, Jacksonville. After two blowouts, they took the Jaguars to overtime before dropping a three-point decision but there is reason to believe that, if Houston is as good as expected, some teams are going to start paying soon. The Texans play their next four (and five of their next six) at home in Reliant Stadium.

"People still have their backs turned to us," said Mario Williams, their 6-foot-6 283-pound defensive behemoth. "So it's time to establish ourselves as a great team."

Maybe that's true but to be a great team you have to pay attention. For example, it's one thing to get fooled by an opponent on a fake punt. It's quite another thing to get fooled on a fake punt when there's no punter on the field.

In the first quarter yesterday, the Jaguars lined up on what seemed like a routine fourth down punt play. But instead of punter Adam Podlesh, fullback Montell Owens took the snap and ran 41 yards for a touchdown.

Scary moment

The most gruesome NFL image yesterday was the sight of Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin taking a helmet to the head by Jets safety Eric Smith while trying to catch a meaningless touchdown pass in the last minute of the Jets' 21-point victory.

Boldin was immobilized and taken off the field by ambulance but, according to team officials, he was able to move his extremities and communicate with medical staff.


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