PHILADELPHIA (AP) – How important are special teams? Just ask the Chicago Bears, who have gotten more out of their unit than any other team in the NFL. The Bears’ special teams lead the league with four fumble recoveries, which resulted in 20 points. Kicker Robbie Gould has not missed in 23 field-goal attempts. And the spectacular Devin Hester, who returned a missed New York Giants field goal 108 yards for a touchdown last week, leads the league with seven punt returns of at least 20 yards, four more than his next closest competitor. …

Talk about crazy numbers. Drew Brees threw for a career-high 398 yards last week, but New Orleans still lost to Pittsburgh. Carson Palmer threw for a career-high 440 yards, but Cincinnati still lost to San Diego. Neither quarterback threw an interception. They face each other Sunday. …

Speaking of Brees, in the last two games, he has thrown for 712 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. …

Herm Edwards made his choice. Kansas City’s starting quarterback this weekend will be Trent Green, who missed eight games after suffering a concussion in the Chiefs’ season opener. Green will play Sunday against Oakland, then get just three days of rest before taking on Denver on Thanksgiving. Damon Huard was 5-3 as Green’s replacement, and was the league’s fifth-rated passer. …

Atlanta is a maddening team, and part of the reason is the Falcons have had a slew of injuries. The news didn’t get any better last week when defensive end Patrick Kerney, the Falcons’ sack leader, needed surgery to repair a ruptured right pectoral muscle. He is out for the season after starting 105 straight games. John Abraham, who injured his groin in the season opener, could be back in two weeks. …

Carolina defensive tackle Kris Jenkins is talking Super Bowl. Really. After the Panthers beat Tampa Bay on Monday night to improve to 5-4, Jenkins told reporters in Charlotte: “With the integrity that this team has, I think that goal is still not out of reach. I think we can still reach that goal.”

and get a Super Bowl.”

We just have to take it one game at a time, make sure we keep playing as a team and getting better and better.” …

The Patriots have lost consecutive games – to Indianapolis and then the Jets – for the first time in 57 games. They lost four in a row in 2002. … Chicago entered this season 0-15 under Lovie Smith when trailing at halftime. This season, the Bears have come back to win three of the four games they trailed at the half. …

In nine games, Seattle has three rushing touchdowns, or 26 fewer than it finished with last season. The Seahawks are on pace for more than 1,000 fewer total yards this season. The good news? Shaun Alexander could be back for Sunday’s game against the 49ers. …

Cleveland hasn’t won two games in a row since the 2003 season, a span of 51 games. The Browns beat Atlanta last weekend by four points and host divisional rival Pittsburgh at home today. Since returning to the league in 1999, the Browns have won just three of 15 matchups with the Steelers.



(c) 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-11-18-06 1814EST



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