Steelers turn back the Patriots; Rams upset the Saints for first win
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger completed 36 of 50 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 25-17 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Antonio Brown and Mewelde Moore each caught a touchdown pass for the Steelers (6-2), who have won four straight to surge to the top of the AFC.
Pittsburgh made its move in the first half, controlling the ball for more than two-thirds of the time to take a 17-10 lead. Roethlisberger used a short passing attack to do the damage, throwing for 231 yards before the break.
A pair of field goals by Shaun Suisham pushed the edge to 23-10 with 11:30 left in the game.
New England lost nearly a minute on its final scoring drive when Rob Gronkowski appeared to cross the goal line on a reception. The officials ruled he was stopped short and the Patriots needed three more plays for Tom Brady to hit Aaron Hernandez in the end zone to make it 23-17.
The ensuing onside kick failed, and the Steelers were able to take the clock down to 28 seconds before punting it away.
Brady had one last chance with 19 seconds left but had the ball stripped, which led to a safety.
Brady finished 24 of 35 for 198 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots (5-2) fell into a first-place tie with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.
Rams 31, Saints 21
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams used a big game from Steven Jackson and an impressive defensive effort to beat Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints to earn their first victory this season.
Before Sunday, the Rams (1-6) had scored only 56 points all season - six fewer than the Saints (5-3) scored in last week’s win against Indianapolis - but they used great field position to build a big 24-0 lead.
Rookie Robert Quinn’s blocked punt set up one first-half touchdown, and Josh Gordy’s interception of a Brees pass set up another. The defense added a touchdown in the fourth quarter on Darian Stewart’s 27-yard interception return.
Jackson had a season-high 159 rushing yards - his first 100-yard game of the season - and two touchdowns. He has rushed for 559 yards and six touchdowns in his past five starts against the Saints.
The Rams’ maligned defense, which ranked 31st in the NFL with an average of 28.5 points allowed entering the game, kept the Saints off the board until Jonathan Vilma recovered an A.J. Feeley fumble in the end zone late in the third quarter, and didn’t allow Brees and the high-powered offense to reach the end zone until the fourth quarter.
The Saints managed only 283 total yards, a season low.
Brees extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass to 35 with an 8-yard strike to Lance Moore with six seconds left. He also extended his NFL-record streak of games with at least 20 completions to 28.
Feeley started a second consecutive game in place of Sam Bradford, who has a high ankle sprain.
Lions 45, Broncos 10
DENVER -- Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes, and Detroit scored twice on defense and sacked Tim Tebow six times in the rout of Denver.
Calvin Johnson had six catches for 125 yards - all in the middle two quarters - and a 56-yard touchdown in the third quarter as Detroit (6-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-0 on the road.
The Broncos (2-5) didn’t get inside the Lions 20 until early in the fourth quarter, when Chris Houston returned a Tebow interception 100 yards for a touchdown to make it 45-3.
Cliff Avril had two sacks, including one in the third quarter when he also recovered the fumble and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Detroit has at least one sack in 27 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
Stafford finished 21 of 30 for 267 yards before he was replaced by Shaun Hill midway through the fourth quarter.
There was no miracle finish this time for Tebow, who was 4 of 13 for 37 yards in the first half and finished xx of xx for xxx yards with a touchdown. Tebow threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:44 of regulation last week in Denver’s 18-15 overtime victory at Miami.
The Broncos haven’t won two straight games since 2009.
Tony Scheffler’s 1-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter gave Detroit a 17-3 lead. Scheffler, playing his first game in Denver since being traded by the Broncos prior to the 2010 season, set up his score with a juggling 28-yard catch at the 2.
Titus Young caught a 41-yard touchdown standing in the end zone without a defender within 20 yards to give the Lions a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.
49ers 20, Browns 10
SAN FRANCISCO -- Frank Gore ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and San Francisco defeated offensively Cleveland Browns for its fifth consecutive victory.
David Akers kicked two field goals and Michael Crabtree caught his first touchdown of the season for the 49ers, who have won five straight for the first time since 2001. Led by Coach of the Year candidate Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco is 6-1 for the first time in 13 years.
A big reason for the fast start is Gore, who has recorded four straight 100-yard games for the first time in his career and passed Roger Craig for the second on the franchise’s all-time rushing list.
The 49ers were in control for most of the game, but Cleveland (3-4) cut the lead to 17-10 with 6:17 left on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Josh Cribbs. It was the Browns’ first offensive touchdown since the fourth quarter of a Week 6 win over Oakland.
San Francisco, however, chewed up just over four minutes on the ensuing drive, which ended with a 26-yard field goal from Akers.
The 49ers’ defense set the tone early as Ahmad Brooks sacked McCoy on the second play from scrimmage and Isaac Sopoaga recovered at the Browns’ 20. Five plays later, Gore scored from the 4.
Akers added a 29-yard field goal and Alex Smith’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree gave the 49ers a 17-0 lead with 1:31 left in the half.
Bengals 34, Seahawks 12
SEATTLE -- Rookie Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes as Cincinnati recorded its second four-game winning streak in three years with the road win.
Dalton found fellow rookie A.J. Green for a 43-yard touchdown and Jerome Simpson on a 14-yard scoring strike to give Cincinnati (5-2) a 17-3 lead at the half. With the triumph, Marvin Lewis (65-71-1) moved past Sam Wyche (64-68) to become the team’s winningest coach.
With the Bengals nursing a 20-12 lead late in the fourth quarter, Brandon Tate returned a punt for a 56-yard touchdown and Reggie Nelson sealed the win by intercepting Tarvaris Jackson and racing 75 yards for a score.
Adam “Pacman” Jones set up Cincinnati’s first touchdown with a 63-yard punt return, but he also injured his right hamstring on the play. Three plays later, Dalton found Simpson over the middle to give the Bengals a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Playing in place of the suspended Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott rushed 22 times for 76 yards while making his first career start in two years.
Although Charlie Whitehurst started, Jackson entered the game two offensive series later and completed 21 of 40 passes for 323 yards.
Indicative of its troubles, Seattle (2-5) was driving late in the first half, but fell victim to poor clock management. Marshawn Lynch converted a 4th-and-2 with 14 seconds left, but the Seahawks couldn’t run another play from the 1-yard line as time ran out.
Bills 23, Redskins 0
TORONTO -- Scott Chandler caught a pair of touchdown passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Buffalo notched its first win in Canada with the shutout of Washington.
Fred Jackson rushed for 120 yards on 26 carries and caught three passes for 74 yards as the Bills improved to 1-3 in their annual trip north of the border.
Fitzpatrick finished 21 of 27 for 262 yards and the Buffalo defense, which entered the game with four sacks, had nine Sunday.
Buffalo (5-2) opened the scoring midway through the first quarter capping an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to Chandler. The Bills made it 13-0 at the half on a pair of field goals (37, 44 yards) by Rian Lindell.
Chandler hauled in 15-yard scoring pass from Fitzpatrick late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 20-0 and give Buffalo at least 20 points in every game this season.
John Beck got the start again for Washington (3-4), which lost its third straight game and rushed 12 times for 26 yards. Beck was 20 of 33 for 208 yards with two interceptions.
Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who was questionable with a hamstring injury, started his 170th straight game.
Washington running back Ryan Torain started in place of Tim Hightower, who was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week because of a torn knee ligament. Torain had 14 yards on eight carries.
Giants 20, Dolphins 17
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz with less than six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, lifting the NFC East-leading New York Giants to the win at home.
After an incomplete pass to Mario Manningham on second and 12, Manning threw the ball over the middle to Cruz, who broke a tackle and scampered into the end zone with 5:58 remaining.
It was the second TD pass of the game for Manning, who also connected with Manningham for a 7-yard score in the waning seconds of the first half. Manning was 31 of 45 for 349 yards.
Corey Webster’s interception with less than two minutes to go sealed the win for the Giants (5-2), who have won five of their last six contests.
The Dolphins (0-7), who have lost 10 in a row dating to last season, opened the scoring on Steve Slaton’s 1-yard run with 4:10 left in the first quarter. They took a 14-3 lead 5 1/2 minutes into the second on a 1-yard TD rush by quarterback Matt Moore, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 138 yards.
Reggie Bush gained 103 yards on 15 carries for Miami, which had its highest points total since scoring 24 in a season-opening loss to New England on Sept. 12.
Vikings 24, Panthers 21
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ryan Longwell atoned for an earlier miss with a 31-yard field goal with 2:47 left, and Olindo Mare missed from the same distance with a chance to tie it as Minnesota held on for a win at Bank of America Stadium.
In a matchup of rookie quarterbacks, Minnesota’s Christian Ponder held his own with top overall pick Cam Newton. In his second start, Ponder passed for 236 yards and a touchdown and did not throw an interception.
Ponder got a big assist from Adrian Peterson, who led the Vikings in rushing (86 yards) and receiving (76 yards) and scored on a 9-yard run and a 19-yard reception.
Newton again put up big passing numbers, throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns, but he also lost two fumbles, both of which set up Vikings touchdowns. Minnesota’s first two touchdown drives started at the Carolina 16 and the Carolina 39 after Newton fumbles.
Newton’s biggest pass came on fourth-and-14 with less than two minutes left, when he hit Brandon LaFell for a 44-yard gain to the Minnesota 21. That got the Panthers into position for a potential tying field goal, but Mare’s kick sailed wide left.
Ravens 30, Cardinals 27
BALTIMORE -- Billy Cundiff kicked a 25-yard field goal with no time left to complete a 21-point comeback for Baltimore.
Joe Flacco completed a career-high 31 passes on a career-high 51 attempts and finished with 336 yards passing for the Ravens (5-2), who kept pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
Ray Rice had three short touchdown runs for the Ravens, who dealt Arizona (1-6) its sixth consecutive loss.
Baltimore got the ball back at the Arizona 44-yard line after forcing a punt with 52 seconds left. Instead of playing it conservatively to get into field goal range, Flacco stayed in the shotgun and completed two passes, the second a 36-yard connection with Torrey Smith that brought the Ravens to the Arizona 5-yard line.
Cundiff kicked the game-winner two plays later.
The Cardinals opened up a 24-6 lead at the half, getting an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown from rookie Patrick Peterson and scores from Beanie Wells and Early Doucet on three straight possessions in the second quarter.
Texans 24, Jaguars 14
HOUSTON -- Matt Schaub threw a touchdown pass and ran for another as Houston held visiting Jacksonville to 160 yards of offense.
Tight end Joel Dreessen caught a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter to break a 7-7 tie and Arian Foster added a 4-yard score in the fourth for the Texans (5-3), who remained a half-game ahead of the Titans in the AFC South.
Foster had a combined 234 yards in Houston’s 41-7 victory at Tennessee last week, but only 124 on Sunday - 112 on the ground - for his fifth straight game with 100 yards or more from scrimmage.
Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew, who entered the game second in the NFL with 677 yards rushing, was held to 63 and a touchdown as the Jaguars (2-6) fell to 2-7 in their last nine games at Houston.
Titans 27, Colts 10
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nate Washington ran for a touchdown and caught another as Tennessee snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory over winless Indianapolis.
Jason McCourty scored off a blocked punt and Rob Bironas kicked a pair of 50-plus-yard field goals for Tennessee (4-3), which bounced back from last week’s 41-7 loss to Houston.
The Titans ended a five-game losing streak to the hapless Colts (0-8), who were coming off an embarrassing 62-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Tennessee got by without much help from struggling tailback Chris Johnson, who couldn’t get untracked against the league’s 31th-ranked rushing defense.
Johnson, who signed a four-year, $53 million deal after a prolonged holdout, managed just 34 yards on 14 carries. He mustered just one yard on his first five carries and then ceded a chunk of playing time to backup Javon Ringer (14 carries, 60 yards).
Johnson has as many rushing touchdowns as Washington, who ran in from 3 yards out with 22 seconds left in the first half. Washington went in motion, took a quick lateral from Matt Hasselbeck and raced around the right side.
Indianapolis appeared to have a pulse early in the fourth quarter when Donald Brown’s 4-yard touchdown run made it 20-10. But Washington’s 14-yard touchdown catch after Barrett Ruud’s interception sealed the win.
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