Bears Rush Past the Saints, 20-17
The Chicago Bears showed off the depth of their running attack and strengthened their credentials as a serious playoff contender.
The New Orleans Saints knocked starter Thomas Jones from the game in the first half, only to watch Adrian Peterson and Cedric Benson combine for 137 yards and a touchdown in 20 carries in the Bears’ 20-17 victory Sunday at Baton Rouge, La.
“We get off the plane running the ball,” Bear Coach Lovie Smith said. “Cedric Benson, Thomas Jones, Adrian Peterson all did a good job.... What can I say about the offensive line I haven’t said?”
Robbie Gould made the winning field goal with six seconds to go from 28 yards. Kyle Orton set up the clincher with a 22-yard, third-down completion on a sideline route to Muhsin Muhammad at the 10-yard line. That allowed Chicago (5-3) to run the clock down to 10 seconds before lining up for the winning kick.
Saint owner Tom Benson stayed away from Baton Rouge as promised after complaining that security was inadequate to protect him from angry fans. A number of fans stayed away too. The crowd was announced at 32,637, dwarfed by LSU’s 93,000-seat Tiger Stadium. The no-shows were probably glad they didn’t come as the Saints (2-7) lost their fifth in a row despite playing well in stints.
Chicago, meanwhile, won its fourth in a row for the first time since 2001-02, the last time the Bears were playoff-bound.
Pittsburgh 20, Green Bay 10 -- Troy Polamalu returned Brett Favre’s fumble 77 yards for a touchdown, and Tyrone Carter’s interception set up the Steeler offense’s only touchdown at Green Bay, Wis.
The Steelers (6-2) became the first team since the 1989-90 San Francisco 49ers and the fourth team overall to win 11 consecutive road games. And they did it without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (knee) and running back Jerome Bettis (thigh).
Duce Staley, who replaced Bettis and had his first carries since the AFC championship game in January, ran for 76 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries.
The Packers fell to 1-7 at the halfway point for the first time since 1986.
New York Giants 24, San Francisco 6 -- Eli Manning passed for 251 yards and a touchdown, Brandon Jacobs rushed for two short fourth-quarter scores and the Giant defense yielded only 138 total yards at San Francisco.
Plaxico Burress had five catches for 79 yards in the third consecutive victory for the Giants (6-2), who maintained their lead in the NFC East by stopping the 49er offense, which hasn’t scored a touchdown in its last 13 quarters at home.
Joe Nedney kicked two field goals for the 49ers (2-6), who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Seattle 33, Arizona 19 -- Shaun Alexander gained 173 yards in 23 carries at Tempe, Ariz., including touchdown runs of 88 and 14 yards, and the Seahawks (6-2) won their fourth in a row.
The 88-yard run, on the first play of the second half, tied the franchise record Alexander set against Oakland on Nov. 11, 2001.
Neil Rackers kicked field goals of 23, 31, 50 and 44 for the Cardinals (2-6) and is 26 for 26 this season.
Kurt Warner, replacing Josh McCown as starting quarterback, completed 29 of 48 passes for 334 yards and a touchdown.
Minnesota 27, Detroit 14 -- Brad Johnson passed for 136 yards and two touchdowns in relief of injured Daunte Culpepper, and Michael Bennett rushed 18 times for 106 yards for the Vikings at Minneapolis.
Minnesota (3-5) beat the Lions for the eighth time in a row.
Joey Harrington finished 28 for 48 for 263 yards with two interceptions, plus a costly fumble in the first half for the Lions (3-5).
Cleveland 20, Tennessee 14 -- Reuben Droughns, arrested earlier in the week on a drunk-driving charge, rushed for 116 yards and caught a crucial third-down pass for 51 yards at Cleveland.
After his arrest, Droughns expressed deep regret for his mistake and letting down Cleveland’s fans, who by the fourth quarter were chanting “Reu-ben, Reu-ben” with the Browns comfortably ahead.
Dennis Northcutt caught a 58-yard touchdown pass, and Phil Dawson kicked two field goals as the Browns (3-5) held off a late rally by the Titans (2-7) to end a three-game losing streak.
Cincinnati 21, Baltimore 9 -- Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes, Rudi Johnson ran for 97 yards and a score, and the Bengals kept the Ravens out of the end zone at Baltimore.
Cincinnati (7-2) was nursing a 14-6 lead before Palmer capped a 91-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Chris Henry with 6:05 to go.
That was enough of a cushion to dispatch the Ravens (2-6), whose points came on three field goals by Matt Stover.