Farrington alumnus Mario Fatafehi celebrated with Broncos teammate Reggie Hayward after forcing Raiders quarterback Rick Mirer to fumble yesterday. Denver won 22-8.

Tinoisamoa benched
but still productive

St. Louis opened yesterday's game with five defensive backs to knock former University of Hawaii linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa out of the starting lineup for the first time, but it didn't hurt his productivity.

The talented rookie still finished with five tackles, including one of eight St. Louis sacks of Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Tinoisamoa's resulted in a 12-yard loss. Safety Jason Sehorn was the fifth defensive back who stepped in for Tinoisamoa against the pass-happy Vikings.

The Rams won the game to raise their record to 9-3 and all but guaranteed themselves a place in the postseason. There are several other players with island ties who hope to find themselves in a similar position come January.

Chief among them is Seattle tight end Itula Mili (Kahuku/ BYU). He caught only one pass for 2 yards in the Seahawks' big win over Cleveland, but it was for the first touchdown of the game. The 34-7 win gives Seattle an 8-4 mark for the season.

Indianapolis O-lineman Makoa Freitas (Kamehameha/Arizona) started his sixth game of the season in the Colts' tough loss to New England. Even so, the Colts figure to be in the playoffs with their powerful offense. They managed 376 yards vs. one of the best defenses in the league, but still lost 38-34.

Three players with island ties are fighting for their playoff lives in Denver, but yesterday's 22-8 road win over rival Oakland gave the Broncos a big lift. Place-kicker Jason Elam (Hawaii) attempted no field goals, but did hit both PATs he attempted for Denver.

On something of a disappointing note, second-year wideout Ashley Lelie's struggles continued yesterday. He didn't catch a pass and may see a lesser role in the coming weeks with the return of Ed McCaffrey to the lineup. The All-Pro receiver led all Broncos with four catches for 39 yards.

Defensive lineman Mario Fatafehi (Farrington/Kansas State) started his second game for the Broncos. He had two tackles, including a shared sack. Fatafehi also successfully defended a pass and forced a fumble in his best game this year.

Baltimore also kept its drive for the playoffs in gear with a lopsided victory over San Francisco. Ravens defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu (Kahuku/Utah) finished with one tackle.

That was one more than 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (Hawaii). He missed the trip to Baltimore with a bad ankle sprain that had plagued him the previous two games. At 5-7, San Francisco's chances of making the playoffs appear dim.

Atlanta Falcons offensive guard Kynan Forney (Hawaii) saw that light go out a long time ago and even the return of Michael Vick didn't help as the Houston Texans dropped the Falcons to 2-10. It was the 12th start for Forney this season.

All-Pro center Olin Kreutz (Saint Louis/Washington) started for the 12th time this season as well. His was a more successful venture, as the Bears beat Arizona to raise their record to 5-7.

Pittsburgh wasn't as fortunate, much to the chagrin of starting defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen (Molokai/Boise State), who finished with one tackle. The loss to the Cincinnati Bengals eliminated Pittsburgh from the playoff picture.

New Orleans Saints running back James Fenderson (Mililani/ Hawaii) returned to the playing field after missing nearly a month with a bad ankle sprain. He didn't have a carry in the Saints' dramatic win over Washington, but he did have a tackle on special teams.

Three players with island ties were involved in last night's nationally televised game between Florida rivals Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. Jaguars offensive lineman Vince Manuwai (Farrington/Hawaii) returned to the starting lineup after missing one game with a foot injury. Fellow offensive guard Chris Naeole (Kahuku/Colorado) got the nod at right guard for the 12th consecutive time this season. Fellow island boy Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (Saint Louis/ Utah) saw limited playing time for the Jaguars. He had one carry for 5 yards.

Several players with local ties were on the inactive roster. They are Washington Redskins wideout Clifford Russell (Campbell/Utah), Tennessee Titans quarterback Jason Gesser (Saint Louis/Washington State), Buffalo defensive tackle Lauvale Sape (Leilehua/Utah) and Seattle offensive tackle Wayne Hunter.


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