Steelers end New England's record run at 21

Posted: Monday, November 01, 2004


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  A Minnesota Vikings fan holds a mock Halloween tombstone as she watches the final minutes of the Vikings 34-13 loss to the New York Giants.. AP Photo/Jim Mone

Pittsburgh Steelers' Ike Taylor (24) intercepts a pass by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady intended for Patriots' Bethel Johnson (81) in the second quarter of NFL action Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004 in Pittsburgh. Helping out on the coverage is Steelers' Chris Hope (28). It was Taylor's first NFL interception.

AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar

PITTSBURGH So much for the longest winning streaks in NFL history.

Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to four scores following uncharacteristic New England turnovers and Pittsburgh ended the Patriots' two long winning streaks with a remarkably easy 34-20 victory Sunday.

The Patriots had won 21 straight counting the playoffs and a league-record 18 in a row in the regular season, but were all but out of this one after Roethlisberger still unbeaten as an NFL starter threw two touchdown passes to Plaxico Burress in the first quarter.

Maybe all this winning was too much to ask of Boston-area teams. With running back Corey Dillon (knee) sitting out and Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law (foot) sidelined for all but a few plays, the Patriots' winning streaks ended only four days after the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

Tom Brady threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, and New England lost its first game since a 20-17 defeat to Washington on Sept. 28, 2003. Roethlisberger upped his personal winning streak to 18. He won his final 13 at Miami of Ohio last season following an opening-game loss, and now is only the second rookie quarterback since the 1970 merger to win his first NFL five starts.

Mike Kruczek won six straight for the injured Terry Bradshaw for the 1976 Steelers, never once throwing a touchdown pass. Roethlisberger already has nine in what is fast becoming the best season by an NFL rookie QB since Dan Marino threw 20 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in 11 games for the 1983 Dolphins.

Roethlisberger finished 18-of-24 for 196 yards and no interceptions.

Next up for Pittsburgh is unbeaten Philadelphia. The Steelers' 6-1 start is their best since their '78 team was 7-0. It may be of little consolation, but New England's 6-1 record also equals the best start in franchise history.

Eagles 15, Ravens 10

PHILADELPHIA Terrell Owens had an 11-yard TD catch and David Akers kicked three field goals helping Philadelphia reach 7-0 for the first time in franchise history.

Owens, who made a few enemies in Baltimore after he spurned the Ravens and forced a trade to the Eagles in March, had eight catches for 101 yards. After breaking several tackles to score in the fourth quarter, Owens, known for his innovative celebrations, imitated the dance Baltimore's Ray Lewis does when he's introduced before home games.

Baltimore (4-3) drove to Philadelphia's 48 in the final two minutes, but Boller's fourth-down pass was incomplete. Donovan McNabb completed 18 of 33 passes for 219 yards and a TD, and also scrambled for 36 yards, setting up two field goals with his runs. Akers kicked field goals of 20, 41 and 43.

Chiefs 45, Colts 35

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Trent Green threw for 389 yards and three scores, two to tight end Tony Gonzalez, and Priest Holmes finished with 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns to help the Chiefs break a seven-game losing streak to the Colts.

Peyton Manning passed for 472 yards and five touchdowns. But with his team trying frantically to come back from a 10-point deficit, Manning's pass was intercepted by Greg Wesley in the end zone and returned 65 yards to seal the win.

Before Sunday, Kansas City (3-4) hadn't beaten Indianapolis since 1985. Kansas City won back-to-back games for the first time this year, while Indianapolis (4-3) lost its second straight. The Chiefs finished with 590 yards, the Colts with 505.

Falcons 41, Broncos 28

DENVER Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes to Peerless Price and accounted for 367 yards of offense to help the Falcons set aside their 56-10 embarrassment at Kansas City last week.

Jake Plummer threw for a Denver record 499 yards a career high and the best mark in the league this year but also had three interceptions as the Broncos (5-3) added this upset to last week's 23-10 loss to Cincinnati.

After playing a terrible game last week, just like the rest of the Falcons (6-2), Vick finished with season highs of 115 yards rushing and 252 passing.

Atlanta gained 467 yards against a defense allowing less than 240 a game. The Falcons scored on six of their first nine possessions, a stat that would have been better if not for a missed field goal and a lost fumble in Denver territory.

Chargers 42, Raiders 14

SAN DIEGO Drew Brees threw a career-high five touchdown passes and set the team single-game record for pass efficiency in leading the surprising Chargers (5-3). Brees completed his first eight passes and was 22-of-25 overall 88 percent for 281 yards. He had no interceptions for the fifth time in six games.

The previous team record was 81.8 percent by Rick Neuheisel, the replacement quarterback during the 1987 strike. Brees completed 80 percent of his passes, 16 of 20, against Tennessee on Oct. 3 to tie Hall of Famer Dan Fouts for second on the team's all-time list.

The Raiders (2-6) lost their fifth straight. Kerry Collins was intercepted twice and went 24-of-39 for 263 yards.

Seahawks 23, Panthers 17

SEATTLE Shaun Alexander gained 195 yards on 32 carries and Matt Hasselbeck recovered from a dismal performance last weekend, throwing for 201 yards to help the Seahawks (4-3) break a three-game losing streak.

The Panthers (1-6) lost their fifth straight.

Josh Brown kicked three field goals in the second half, connecting from 27, 45 and 22 yards to give the Seahawks a comfortable cushion. His final kick put Seattle up 23-10 with 5:42 remaining.

Carolina was driving for a possible late score, but any chance of a rally was dimmed when Jake Delhomme threw an interception straight to Seattle's Marcus Trufant, who returned it 57 yards.

Giants 34, Vikings 13


A Minnesota Vikings fan holds a mock Halloween tombstone as she watches the final minutes of the Vikings 34-13 loss to the New York Giants..

AP Photo/Jim Mone

MINNEAPOLIS Tiki Barber ran 24 times for 101 yards and two short touchdowns to give the Giants their third straight win over the Vikings.

New York (5-2) finally solved its red zone struggles by scoring all five times it reached the Minnesota 20, including four TDs.

Randy Moss was in street clothes after halftime, going without a catch for the second straight game while a strained right hamstring kept him from running at full speed. Daunte Culpepper finished 24-for-42 for 231 yards, one late touchdown and two interceptions. Rookie Mewelde Moore, who had 610 total yards in the last three games, was held to 29 yards on eight carries for the Vikings (5-2).

Packers 28, Redskins 14

LANDOVER, Md. Brett Favre and the Packers won their third straight game to pull back to .500 after a 1-4 start.

The Redskins (2-5), trailing 20-14, thought they scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 43-yard reception by Clinton Portis with 2:35 to play. But the celebrations died quickly when the play was called back for an illegal motion penalty on receiver James Thrash.

On the next play, Al Harris intercepted Mark Brunell's pass and Ahman Green scored on an 11-yard run four plays later to seal the victory. Favre grimaced at times as he grabbed the throwing hand he sprained last week. But he persevered to complete 20 of 33 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown for Green Bay (4-4), extending his streak to 33 games with at least one TD pass in his 199th consecutive regular-season game.

Texans 20, Jaguars 6

HOUSTON Demarcus Faggins returned Byron Leftwich's errant pass 43 yards for a score with 42 seconds left, sending the Texans to a victory.

David Carr went 26-of-34 for 276 yards and a touchdown, the Texans held Jacksonville (5-3) to 39 yards rushing and the Jaguars did almost nothing on offense until the fourth quarter in the latest edition of this burgeoning AFC South rivalry.

The Texans (4-3) have won four of their last five. Houston is above .500 for the first time in franchise history this late in a season.

Leftwich finished 25-of-40 for 227 yards with two interceptions, but got almost no help from the ground game after Fred Taylor left in the third quarter with a hip pointer.

Cowboys 31, Lions 21

IRVING, Texas Vinny Testaverde stunned everyone with a 7-yard run on fourth-and-3 to set up a tying touchdown, then scrambled 3 yards for the go-ahead score to help the Cowboys (3-4) end a three-game losing streak.

With Keyshawn Johnson the only receiver in the lineup who'd ever caught a pass, the Cowboys ran 41 times 11 more than in any game this season for 127 yards. Eddie George had season-bests of 31 carries and 99 yards.

Testaverde also came through with his arm when needed, throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 1:54 left to seal the victory. He finished 19-of-24 for 235 yards, offsetting three interceptions with three touchdowns, two by Johnson.

Joey Harrington was 19-of-32 for 255 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Detroit (4-3).

Titans 27, Bengals 20

NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Titans rested Steve McNair and his aching chest, and backup Billy Volek responded by throwing for two touchdowns and 210 yards for their first victory at home this season.

Gary Anderson kicked two field goals, and Chris Brown also ran for a touchdown and for 147 yards, his fifth 100-yard performance this season. The Titans snapped a two-game skid with their ninth victory in 10 games against their old AFC Central foe Cincinnati (2-5).

Tennessee (3-5) sacked Carson Palmer four times, hit him repeatedly, batted down four passes behind the line and forced him into an interception and a fumble. Palmer finished 20-of-36 for 247 yards, while Rudi Johnson had just 57 yards on 17 carries.

Bills 38, Cardinals 14

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Willis McGahee provided the spark the Bills needed offensively, running for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

In two starts this season, McGahee has two 100-yard games and has led the Bills (2-5) to both of their victories.

The Cardinals (2-5) continued to struggle away from home after a big 25-17 win over Seattle in Arizona last week. The loss was Arizona's 17th straight on the road, the worst current streak in the NFL, dating back to a win at Carolina on Oct. 6, 2002.

Bears 23, 49ers 13

CHICAGO Nathan Vasher's stumbling interception and 71-yard return iced a wobbly victory for the Chicago Bears on Sunday night as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-13.

When officials ruled after video replay that Vasher was not touched down by contact his knee hit the ground because he was bobbling the ball, the rookie's touchdown return with 3:52 left stood, and the Bears had ended a four-game losing streak.

On a night when two young quarterbacks struggled to get a grasp on their offenses, the Bears (2-5) prevailed behind Vasher's interception of Ken Dorsey's throw and three field goals by Paul Edinger.

Edinger, who like 49ers kicker Todd Peterson had a field goal hit the crossbar and go over, made a 27-yarder a minute into the final quarter to give Chicago a 16-13 lead.

Chicago rookie Craig Krenzel made his first NFL start and Dorsey got the nod for the third time this season when 49ers starter Tim Rattay was a no-go because of an injury to his right forearm.

Krenzel and Dorsey had squared off in the national title game following the 2002 season when Krenzel led Ohio State past Dorsey and Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

Krenzel wasted little time making an impression. On the second play from scrimmage, he lofted a perfect pass to fellow rookie Bernard Berrian, who beat Shawantae Spencer and broke his tackle to complete a 49-yard TD pass just 2 minutes into the game.

But the euphoria didn't last long. After he'd driven the Bears to the 49ers 9 with passes of 30 yards to Anthony Thomas and 16 to Bobby Wade, Krenzel fumbled on a hit by Brandon Moore and Dwaine Carpenter scooped it up. Carpenter raced 80 yards for a tying TD with 5:26 left in the first period.

On the next series, Ronnie Heard intercepted Krenzel's overthrown pass, leading to Todd Peterson's 48-yard field goal.

Dorsey was harassed by a strong Bears pass rush and hurt by lack of a running game the 49ers managed just 12 yards on the ground in the first half and just 62 for the game.

Dorsey hit 16-of-36 for 122 yards, while Krenzel was 13-of-25 for 168.

The Bears tied it in the second quarter when Edinger made a 52-yarder as the ball hit the top of the crossbar and bounced through, a kick set up by Thomas' 28-yard run.

Not to be outdone, Peterson put the 49ers up in the second quarter with a 51-yarder. It also hit the crossbar and bounded over, a rare occurrence, even on Halloween night. After Jerry Azumah took the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the San Francisco 23, the Bears got a 45-yarder from Edinger.

After the Bears took the lead in the fourth quarter, a video replay overruled a catch by Lloyd that would have given the 49ers a first down. Peterson missed a 50-yarder for a tie.

Niners defensive end Brandon Whiting limped off with 10 seconds left in the half with a left knee sprain.

The Bears lost leading rusher Thomas Jones, had had a 1-yard carry on the first scrimmage play and then left with a sprained foot, giving Thomas a chance to play.

Thomas finished with 98 yards on 25 carries.

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