Just when you thought you had seen it all from the greatest show on earth, the St. Louis Rams and Head Coach Mike Martz pull a new rabbit out of their hat.

With reigning league MVP Marshall Faulk sitting out with a bruised right knee, the Rams plugged in Trung Canidate, hoping the second-year running back would be able to provide a viable rushing attack against the New York Jets. What the Rams got instead seemed like the second coming of Faulk himself.

Making his first career start, Canidate rushed for 195 yards on only 22 carries, scored two touchdowns and caught three passes for 37 yards. In all, Canidate racked up 232 yards from scrimmage, a total Faulk would have been proud of. Rushing through huge holes all day, Canidate displayed his amazing speed and vision, dominating the normally stingy Jets’ defense and helping St. Louis stay undefeated an d improve to 6-0.

The emergence of Canidate opens up a veritable Pandora’s box of problems for opposing defenses. How will opposing teams attack an offense with both Faulk and Canidate in the backfield, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt split wide, and former MVP Kurt Warner running the show? You can almost see Martz smiling at his desk right now pondering the possibilities.

As amazing as he was, Canidate was only one of a number of young players who had breakout performances on Sunday.

The upstart, and first place, Chicago Bears also got career numbers from two of their rookies, running back Anthony Thomas and wide receiver David Terrell in their 24-0 shellacking of the Cincinnati Bengals. Thomas, Chicago’s second-round pick out of Michigan, set the Bears’ all-time single game rushing record for a rookie, running for 188 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. By running past such Bears legends as Walter Payton and Gale Sayers, the A-Train proved he has the potential to be a dominant back in the NFL. Terrell, the Bears’ first-round pick in 2001, also stepped up his game, catching seven passes for 91 yards, including a long of 41.

If Chicago can get similar offensive performances from Thomas and Terrell throughout the year, the Bears and their young, aggressive defense could be in the playoff hunt come December. But Bears fans shouldn’t get too excited because, starting now, Chicago’s schedule gets significantly more difficult. The Bears still have two games against division rivals the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one against the Vikings, and a tough inter-conference match-up with the Cleveland Browns. And now the Bears will have to forge ahead without their top wide out, Marcus Robinson, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the win against Cincinatti.

A few closing thoughts: Isn’t Peyton Manning supposed to be throwing touchdown passes to his own receivers rather than opposing defensive backs? He doesn’t seem like the same guy who was the favorite for league MVP at the start of the year. What ever happened to Brian Greise and his ability to throw downfield? The loss of Ed McCaffrey was a big one, but great quarterbacks overcome those types of obstacles. And how about those Washington Redskins finally getting their first win of the year? If Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer had known how miserable this season was going to be, he never would have left the cozy confines of the ESPN studios. Good luck lasting through the year, Marty.