Lightning strikes New England

Posted: Monday, October 03, 2005


  San Diego Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson (21) carries the ball in the fourth quarter as New England Patriots' Richard Seymour (93) defends, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2005, in Foxborough, Mass. The Chargers won, 41-17. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

San Diego Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson (21) carries the ball in the fourth quarter as New England Patriots' Richard Seymour (93) defends, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2005, in Foxborough, Mass. The Chargers won, 41-17.

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — This was finally the week the New England Patriots couldn't plug the holes left by injuries — not against Drew Brees and San Diego's explosive offense.

The Chargers handed the Patriots their first loss at Gillette Stadium in 22 games on Sunday, beating them 41-17 as Brees threw for two touchdowns, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for two more and Antonio Gates had six catches for 108 yards.

It was the first loss in Foxborough for the Patriots since Dec. 22, 2002, when they were beaten by the New York Jets. That was the only season in the last four they failed to win the Super Bowl.

The last time the Patriots started a season 2-2 was 2003; they went on to win the title that year anyway.

Though the game was tied at 17 at the half, Brees took advantage of a secondary that already was already without two of its top three cornerbacks and now is without safety Rodney Harrison, lost for the year with a knee injury. Harrison's absence was clearly felt on one play in the third quarter when backup running back Michael Turner ran right through Harrison's replacement, Guss Scott, on the way to an 18-yard pickup.

That drive ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell that gave San Diego (2-2) a 31-17 lead. Brees also had an 11-yard touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell in the second quarter.

Tomlinson finished with 134 yards on 25 carries, and overall San Diego rushed for 183 yards against a defense that also is without last year's starting inside linebackers, Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson.

Cardinals 31, 49ers 14

MEXICO CITY — The biggest regular-season crowd in league history turned up wearing vibrant colors and singing raucous cheers at Azteca Stadium. Mexico's 103,467 fans created a thrilling atmosphere at the league's first regular-season game outside the United States.

Josh McCown passed for a career-high 385 yards and two touchdowns against the Niners' pathetic pass defense, and Neil Rackers kicked a career-best six field goals through the 7,700-foot air.

The sloppy play and one-sided result in a game between two of the NFL's worst teams seemed secondary to the goodwill and international exposure of a foreign venture the league hopes to turn into an annual affair. The cavernous arena was packed to the rafters with a crowd that exceeded the league's most optimistic projections two days ago, proving the sport's avid following in Mexico is second to none outside the United States.

The Cardinals (1-3) agreed to give up a home game to make history, and the NFC West rivals played in front of 68,398 more fans than they drew for last season's meeting at Sun Devil Stadium. The crowd topped the previous NFL record for a regular-season game, when 102,368 fans saw the Los Angeles Rams play the 49ers at the L.A. Coliseum on Nov. 10, 1957.

Derek Smith and Derrick Johnson scored on fumble recoveries for San Francisco (1-3) in the first quarter, with Smith scoring on the game's first play and Johnson returning his 78 yards.

Saints 19, Bills 7

SAN ANTONIO — The Alamodome certainly felt like home for the New Orleans Saints.

Aaron Brooks ran for a touchdown, John Carney kicked four field goals and the defense kept Buffalo's floundering offense bottled up after the first quarter. New Orleans snapped a two-game losing streak in its temporary home after Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints from the Superdome.

Donte' Stallworth grabbed eight receptions for 129 yards and Deuce McAllister rushed for 130 yards for the Saints (2-2). J.P. Losman continued to struggle for Buffalo (1-3), going 7-of-15 for 75 yards with an interception and three sacks before he was replaced by Kelly Holcomb at the start of the fourth quarter.

Bengals 16, Texans 10

CINCINNATI — The Bengals are 4-0 for the first time since 1988 — the last time they went to the Super Bowl — as T.J. Houshmandzadeh paced a bogged-down offense with 105 yards on eight catches.

Shayne Graham's 27-yard field goal with 5:04 left broke a 10-10 tie, and David Carr's fumble with 3:14 sent the Texans to their first 0-3 start in four seasons as an expansion team.

Graham made another field goal from 46 yards with 1:10 left, and Carr was sacked on what was supposed to be a desperation throw from midfield as time ran out. Carr was 17-of-26 for 174 yards with seven sacks.

Colts 31, Titans 10

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Peyton Manning threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Marvin Harrison that tied the NFL record for most TDs between a quarterback and receiver.

Harrison caught nine passes for 109 yards, and Edgerrin James also ran for 90 yards in helping the Colts improve to 4-0 with their highest point total this season.

Manning tied Ron Jaworski with his 116th consecutive start, which ranks second among quarterbacks behind Green Bay's Brett Favre. He and Harrison tied Steve Young and Jerry Rice for most touchdowns between a quarterback and receiver with 85 career TDs on a 24-yard pass with 13:09 left in the game.

Steve McNair was 28-of-37 for 220 yards for the Titans (1-3).

Redskins 20, Seahawks 17, OT

LANDOVER, Md. — Rookie Nick Novak kicked a 39-yard field goal 5:31 into overtime to give the Redskins their first 3-0 start since 1991, the season they won their last Super Bowl.

The Seahawks (2-2) tied the game on Darrell Jackson's 6-yard catch with 1:23 remaining. They got the ball back on Kelly Herndon's interception on a pass deflected off the outstretched fingertips of Clinton Portis, the only turnover of the game. Three plays later, Josh Brown hit the upright from 47 yards.

Novak was playing because of an injury to John Hall. His first NFL attempt Sunday was blocked. He actually had to kick the winner twice because the Redskins were called for delay of game on the first try.

Broncos 20, Jaguars 7

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jake Plummer threw two touchdown passes to backup offensive lineman Dwayne Carswell, while Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell combined for 175 yards rushing.

The Broncos (3-1) won their third straight despite a short week that followed a Monday night victory against Kansas City and improved to 3-10 in Florida. They had been 0-2 in Jacksonville.

Denver played well without star cornerback Champ Bailey, whose streak of 99 consecutive starts ended when he was inactive with a hamstring injury. Fred Taylor carried eight times for 14 yards, and the Jaguars (2-2) finished with a franchise-low 12 yards rushing.

Buccaneers 17, Lions 13

TAMPA, Fla. — Joey Galloway scored on an 80-yard reception and Brian Griese threw for 302 yards as Tampa Bay got off to its first 4-0 start since 1997.

Rookie Carnell ''Cadillac'' Williams was slowed by a sore hamstring and held to 13 yards on 11 carries. He left the game late in the third quarter and did not return. He also has been slowed by a sprained foot.

Detroit (1-2) thought it would escape with a victory when Joey Harrington found Marcus Pollard in the right corner of the end zone, but the tight end's sliding catch was reversed by instant replay.

Harrington hit Mike Williams on the opposite side of the end zone on the next play, but the rookie came down out of bounds. The fourth-year quarterback had one more chance but overthrew Charles Rogers on the last play of the game.

Giants 44, Rams 24

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning threw for 296 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in the victory.

Manning was 19-for-35 and threw for two TDs to Plaxico Burress — who had a career-high 10 catches — and one each to Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey. Jay Feely added three field goals for New York (3-1), which entered the game having scored the most points in the NFL this season.

Eagles 37, Chiefs 31

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Playing with a bruised chest, a sore leg and an aching abdominal strain, Donovan McNabb rallied the Eagles from an 18-point deficit.

The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback hit 33 of 48 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles (3-1) scored 31 straight points. That run followed a 96-yard kickoff return by Dante Hall that put the Chiefs on top 24-6 with 4:27 left in the first half.

Terrell Owens fueled the comeback by consistently getting open, catching 11 passes for 171 yards and a TD. The Chiefs (2-2) closed within six points with 1:24 left on Trent Green's 15-yard TD pass to Hall, but the Eagles recovered the onside kick.

Raiders 19, Cowboys 13

OAKLAND, Calif. — LaMont Jordan ran for 126 yards and a score, Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals and Oakland's defense put together a late goal-line stand to lead the Raiders (1-3).

The game wasn't decided until the final 2 minutes. Trailing 19-13 after Janikowski's 43-yard field goal with 4:29 left, Dallas (2-2) drove inside the 5. But Tommy Kelly hit Julius Jones for a 2-yard loss on second down from the 3, and Bledsoe followed with two straight incompletions to give Oakland the ball with 1:45 to go. Bledsoe finished 11-for-26 for 212 yards.

Randy Moss, who had 10 touchdown receptions in five wins in his career against Dallas, had a long catch on Oakland's first drive but was more of a decoy.

Falcons 30, Vikings 10

ATLANTA — Michael Vick went down midway through the second quarter with a sprained right knee, watching the rest of the game from the sideline as backup Matt Schaub and the defense finished off the Falcons' rout.

Warrick Dunn rushed for 126 yards, including his 50th career touchdown on a 37-yard run, to lead a 274-yard performance on the ground. Vick ran for 58 yards and threw a touchdown pass before getting hurt. The Falcons' defense made things miserable for Daunte Culpepper, who was sacked nine times, intercepted twice and lost a fumble for the Vikings (1-3).

Coleman, Brady Smith and Demorrio Williams had two sacks apiece for the Falcons (3-1), who had their most sacks since a franchise-record 10 against New Orleans in 1997.

Ravens 13, Jets 3

BALTIMORE — Jamal Lewis scored on a 1-yard run, Matt Stover kicked two field goals, and the Ravens won their first game of the year.

The Ravens (1-2) held Curtis Martin to 30 yards on 13 carries, sacked third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger five times and limited the Jets (1-3) to eight first downs and 152 yards.

Playing in his second NFL game and first as a starter, Bollinger went 14-for-28 for 149 yards in place of injured quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler. Lewis ran for 81 yards on 29 carries.

and Anthony Wright was 15-for-21 for 144 yards.

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