Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is getting frustrated with technical glitches in the NFL's transmitter system used to call plays into the quarterback.
Gibbs said the transmitter was malfunctioning virtually the entire game last week in Green Bay, forcing the coaches to call in the plays using hand signals. Gibbs called it a ``monstrous problem'' because the time between plays is shorter than it used to be, and he had to burn timeouts he would have preferred to save for the final minutes of a close game.
``Not only that,'' Gibbs said, ``I'm running around on the sidelines not thinking about the next series. I'm thinking 'How can we fix that headset problem?' Being a coach and a P.E. major, I know nothing about electronics.''
Furthermore, Gibbs feels it isn't fair that one team can continue to use its transmitter even when the other team's is broken.
``I think the rule ought to be, if you can't talk to your quarterback, the other team shouldn't be able to talk to theirs,'' Gibbs said. ``There's a tremendous advantage there.''
The Redskins also have an inexperienced QB in Jason Campbell, while the Packers have Brett Favre.
Gibbs said he sent letters to the league office twice last year after malfunctions during road games, requesting the rule be changed.
``I think they've made up their mind that they're not going to do it, which I think is a big mistake,'' Gibbs said.
Gibbs doesn't appear to be in favor of the transmitter concept in the first place. Asked if he's concerned another team could intercept the transmissions, he laughed.
``That's a very interesting question,'' he answered. ``Where I am today in the NFL, and where the NFL is, I've said we need a real, real good electronics coach. I have no clue. I couldn't tell you what's possible and what's not.''
AFC SOUTH NFL'S BEST? Look through the NFL standings and only one division has every team at .500 or better. It might be time to consider the AFC South one of the league's toughest divisions.
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, who moved to the division only this year, thinks so.
``If you look at the teams, our four teams are winning. They're playing well, winning on the road and just playing good football. It's still early, as you know. It's only into Week 7 right now. There's still a lot of football to be played. But I'd say it's one of the tougher divisions,'' Schaub said.
His Texans (3-3) host the Tennessee Titans (3-2) on Sunday, and Indianapolis (5-0) visits Jacksonville (4-1) on Monday night. The AFC South teams are a combined 6-2 against the NFC and 9-4 in their own conference. That includes Tennessee and Houston both losing to Indianapolis.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Houston, the NFL's most recent expansion franchise, has improved significantly.
``I think our division has earned some respect around the league,'' Fisher said.
Titans linebacker David Thornton suggests it's the league's most improved division.
``Any team you play in the AFC South, it's going to be a dogfight. It's a physical division. Some of the top teams in the league are playing in that division right now and playing really well,'' Thornton said.
CHRIS WHO?: When coach Marvin Lewis was asked this week whether the Bengals miss suspended receiver Chris Henry, he had a pointed, one-word response.
``Who?'' Lewis said.
As much as Lewis would like to avoid the subject, there's no getting around how much the team's offseason problems are hurting it again this year. The Bengals haven't been able to replace Henry, their No. 3 receiver suspended for the first half of the season for violating the NFL's conduct policy.
``He's not on our team,'' Lewis said, trying to cut off discussion of the subject.
Oh, yes he is, though not on the active roster. And with every failed third down and every loss, the Bengals (1-4) miss him more.
Without Henry in the offense, the Bengals have become two-dimensional. Carson Palmer throws to either Chad Johnson or T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who have 83 catches for 1,083 yards - nearly 60 percent of the team's total offense.
The rest of the receivers have combined for 16 catches, 153 yards and one touchdown. Henry had nine touchdown catches last season, tying Houshmandzadeh for most by a Bengals receiver even though he sat out three games for his misconduct.
Another telling statistic: Cincinnati is converting an AFC-low 33 percent of its third-down plays without Henry.
Miss him?
``I don't know what effect it has,'' Lewis said. ``I think anyone's third receiver is (only) their third receiver.''
The quarterback knows better.
``It's not just third down where you're affected,'' Palmer said. ``Your whole game plan is affected when you're missing guys like that.''
BIG AUDIENCE: New England's rout of Dallas in a meeting of unbeaten teams drew the most viewers in more than a decade for a regular-season Sunday game, afternoon or at night. The Patriots' 48-27 victory on CBS attracted 29.1 million viewers.
That's the most since 29.7 million people watched the Cowboys (who were 5-4) face the San Francisco 49ers (7-2) on Nov. 10, 1996, in a matchup of the winners of the previous four Super Bowls. Dallas won 20-17, but neither team advanced to the NFC championship game that season.
WHY CAN'T WE BE FRIENDS: When Terrell Owens was going through his tumultuous final season with Philadelphia in 2005, Brad Childress was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles - and one of the many people he feuded with in some form.
At one point during training camp, Owens told the coach not to talk to him and became upset when Childress greeting him by saying, ``Hey, Terrell.''
But Childress, who now coaches the Vikings and will face Owens and the Cowboys on Sunday, said this week there aren't any bad feelings lingering from that year. When Minnesota played Dallas in the preseason, Childress said, Owens came over to the coach and greeted him with a hug.
The Vikings are obviously more concerned about stopping Owens and the Cowboys' passing game with a defense that ranks last in the league in yards allowed through the air.
Praising Owens' speed, Childress recounted a story from Philadelphia when Owens raced supposedly the fastest player the Eagles had after one practice and ended up ``smoking the guy by six, seven yards.''
``He still has that burst. He can still run by you,'' Childress said.
AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Minneapolis, Rachel Cohen in New York, Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Teresa M. Walker in Nashville and Joseph White in Washington contributed to this story.

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