There are three identical reasons for the 1999 achievements of the 11-2 Indianapolis Colts and the 11-2 St. Louis Rams:

3. Because both teams lost so often for so many years, accumulating barrels of draft choices, they've both had so many shots in so many drafts that they couldn't miss drafting a few great ones.

2. Each team has a solid head coach and first-class offensive coach: Jim Mora and Tom Moore of the Colts, Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz of the Rams.

1. Each has Hall of Fame talent at quarterback as well as at running back: Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James of the Colts, Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk of the Rams.

Perhaps the most significant single explanation for their success is that Moore and Martz both coach interactive, two-threat football--on nearly every play, their opponents have a pass and a run to worry about.

You can always stop Manning, but not Manning and James--or Warner and Faulk.

* * * *

Seven Years of Co-Threats

The coach who made two-threat strategy a necessity for those seeking NFL championships is Hall of Famer Bill Walsh. As the 1979-89 leader of the San Francisco 49ers, Walsh showed that passing is the way to go in pro football if you also make it a point to run the ball.

He believed so strongly in co-threats that to win his first Super Bowl with a Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Montana, Walsh called running plays half the time when he didn't have one good running back to his name.

You couldn't do it that way now.

You need greatness now, or at least excellence, at running back.

Every Super Bowl champion of the last seven years has been a passing team for which a ballcarrier provided a steady second threat.

The roll: Emmitt Smith in Dallas with Troy Aikman, Ricky Watters in San Francisco with Steve Young, Dorsey Levens in Green Bay with Brett Favre, Terrell Davis in Denver with John Elway.

* * * *

The Colts Had It Tougher

This year's conspicuous two-threat winners, the Colts and Rams, won in identical ways Sunday.

As Indianapolis held off New England, 20-15, Manning passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns when the Patriots were looking for James, who ran 20 times for 101 yards when the Patriots were looking for Manning.

As St. Louis turned back New Orleans, 30-14, the interactive threats were passer Warner with 346 yards and two touchdowns and runner Faulk with 154 and two TDs.