Defenses Rise Up for Bears, Pats, Panthers


Monday, November 20th 2006, 6:29 am
By: News On 6


Three fat zeros, as in shutouts, highlighted a day of significant injuries and the fall of the NFL's final unbeaten team. The Bears, Panthers and Patriots all blanked opponents Sunday in a variety of fashions. Chicago and Carolina showed little on offense, but took advantage of takeaways. New England routed Green Bay to end a two-game slide.

And Indianapolis, the first team in league history with consecutive 9-0 records, fell at Dallas.

The Eagles saw their playoff hopes take a sharp turn for the worse when they lost star quarterback Donovan McNabb for the rest of the year with a torn knee ligament in a loss to Tennessee.

Chicago (9-1) ended two long Jets drives with interceptions of Chad Pennington in a 10-0 win. The Bears entered the game with a league-leading 27 takeaways.

``I was just reading his eyes,'' linebacker Brian Urlacher said of his end-zone pickoff. ``I don't think he saw me.''

In the Panthers' 15-0 victory over St. Louis, the Rams had nine punts, an interception, a fumble and a safety as they finished with 111 yards. Mike Rucker had two of the Panthers' seven sacks of Marc Bulger, one for a safety, as Carolina (6-4) moved into a tie with New Orleans atop the NFC South.

``We believed that we still have a shot at this thing,'' Rucker said. ``The last couple of weeks we've done our part by winning games.''

The Patriots (7-3) lost their last two, their first such streak since 2002. They righted things with ease against the Packers, forcing Brett Favre out of the game with a wrist injury and getting four TD passes from Tom Brady in a 35-0 win.

``It just felt like everything was going our way,'' Brady said.

Not much went the Colts' way as they fell far short of their 13-0 record of last season before losing. Marion Barber III ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 21-14 victory.

``If we keep playing like this, we have a chance to do something,'' Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said.

Elsewhere, it was Tennessee 31, Philadelphia 13; San Diego 35, Denver 27; Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 20; Kansas City 17, Oakland 13; Buffalo 24, Houston 21; Baltimore 24, Atlanta 10; Cincinnati 31, New Orleans 16; San Francisco 20, Seattle 14; Miami 24, Minnesota 20; Tampa Bay 20, Washington 17; and Arizona 17, Detroit 10.

On Monday night, Jacksonville hosts the New York Giants.

Bears 10, Jets 0

Mark Bradley turned a short completion into a 57-yard touchdown 10 seconds into the final quarter. Chicago notched its second shutout this season _ the Bears blanked the Packers at Green Bay on Sept. 10. The Bears, coming off a 38-20 victory over the New York Giants, also became the first road team since the 1999 Redskins to win two straight games at the Meadowlands.

Thomas Jones had 121 yards rushing on 23 carries against the Jets (5-5).

Panthers 15, Rams 0

The host Panthers handed St. Louis (4-6) a fifth straight loss. Jake Delhomme threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith. Rookie DeAngelo Williams took over for injured running back DeShaun Foster and rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries for the Panthers, who came into the game 28th in the league in rushing, but had a team-record 244 yards on the ground.

It was the first time since 1998 that the Rams, devastated by the loss of Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace in last week's game, didn't score.

Patriots 35, Packers 0

At Green Bay, New England had a 21-0 lead with under two minutes left in the first half when linebacker Tully Banta-Cain wrapped up Favre in the backfield and Tedy Bruschi jumped in to finish the sack. Bruschi's hit slammed Favre to the ground on his throwing arm, and the three-time MVP got up wincing.

Favre, who made his 251st consecutive start including playoff games, was replaced by second-year quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Favre struggled with his accuracy before the injury, going 5-for-15 for 73 yards and leading the Packers (4-6) to only two first downs in the first half.

Cowboys 21, Colts 14

The Colts had escaped close calls all season, but couldn't overcome four turnovers, their most in a regular-season game since Nov. 25, 2001.

For the Cowboys (6-4), it was easily their most impressive win in Parcells' four seasons. Dallas (6-4) has four of its six remaining games at home.

Titans 31, Eagles 13

At Philadelphia, McNabb went down on the second play of the second quarter and was carted off the field. He was rolling to his right near the Tennessee sideline after throwing an incomplete pass, grabbed his right knee and was immediately tended to by trainers.

McNabb will have surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and is expected to be sidelined from eight months to a year.

Travis Henry had a 70-yard touchdown run and Adam ``Pacman'' Jones returned a punt 90 yards for a score. Henry ran for 143 yards on 18 carries, and Tennessee (3-7) finished with 209 yards on the ground against the Eagles (5-5).

Chargers 35, Broncos 27

LaDainian Tomlinson scored four times and reached 100 touchdowns faster than any player in NFL history. Tomlinson, who has scored an NFL-record 19 touchdowns in his last six games, reached 100 TDs in his 89th game, four fewer than it took Hall of Famer Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith. He now has 102 TDs and also topped 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth straight season.

It was his first win in six trips to Invesco Field and vaulted the Chargers, who rallied from a 24-7 deficit, into first place in the AFC West at 8-2, a game ahead of Denver.

The Chargers became the first team in history to win back-to-back games after trailing by 17 or more points and also the first team to win four straight when allowing at least 24 points in each game.

Steelers 24, Browns 20

At Cleveland, Ben Roethlisberger shoveled a 4-yard touchdown pass to Willie Parker with 32 seconds left. Roethlisberger, intercepted three times in the first half, threw for 272 yards _ 224 in the fourth quarter _ to help the Steelers (4-6) avoid a defeat that would have made it almost impossible to get into the playoffs.

Roethlisberger had to shake off rookie Kamerion Wimbley before completing the TD pass, making him 18-for-29 in the final 15 minutes.

The Browns (3-7) spent all week talking about getting revenge for their 41-0 loss to Pittsburgh last Christmas Eve, and for most of the day it looked like they would. But Cleveland's defense couldn't stop Roethlisberger when it mattered most, and the Browns dropped their sixth straight game to their bitter rivals, who have won 12 of the last 13 between the teams.

Chiefs 17, Raiders 13

Trent Green, in his first action since suffering a severe concussion 10 weeks ago, directed an 80-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes and sluggish Kansas City (6-4) won its seventh straight vs. Oakland (2-8).

The visiting Raiders led 13-10 lead when the Chiefs took the ball on their 20 with 4:53 to play. Hitting 3-of-5 for 50 yards, including passes of 10 and 16 yards to Samie Parker, Green set up a game-saving and possible season-saving 1-yard TD run by Larry Johnson with 1:32 to play.

Johnson, on his 27th birthday, rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Oakland's NFL-worst offense suffered two key injuries, losing starting running back Lamont Jordan to a knee injury in the first quarter and left tackle Robert Gallery to a dislocated elbow in the third.

Bills 24, Texans 21

At Houston, J.P. Losman hit a diving Peerless Price in the back of the end zone for the winning touchdown with 9 seconds left.The 15-yard touchdown was reviewed, but upheld by officials as Price dragged both feet inbounds.

Lee Evans caught six passes for 205 yards and two TDs in the first quarter. Evans' performance was a Buffalo record for a period and just shy of the NFL record for yards receiving in a quarter of 210. He finished with 11 catches for 265 yards for the Bills (4-6).

David Carr tied the NFL record for consecutive completions with 22 in the loss. Dunta Robinson gave the Texans (3-7) the lead on a 9-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the third quarter.

Ravens 24, Falcons 10

At Baltimore, B.J. Sams returned six kicks for 212 yards, Jamal Lewis scored three touchdowns and the Ravens wore down the Falcons in the second half.

It was the fourth straight victory for the Ravens (8-2), who rallied behind Sams, whose long runbacks set up two third-quarter touchdowns.

The Ravens then clinched it with an 87-yard drive that lasted more than eight minutes and ended when Lewis scored with 3:02 left. Lewis ran for 91 yards on 22 carries. The three touchdowns _ on runs of 2, 16 and 5 yards _ matched his career high.

Michael Vick ran for 54 yards on six carries, but was sacked five times for 45 yards in losses and completed only 11 of 27 passes for 127 yards. It was the third straight loss for the Falcons (5-5).

Bengals 31, Saints 16

At New Orleans, the Carson Palmer-to-Chad Johnson connection was clicking again, for touchdowns of 41, 60 and 4 yards as the Bengals snapped a three-game losing streak.

The pair combined for 260 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 49-41 loss to San Diego. This week, they got some help from the defense, which thwarted four Saints drives with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Palmer was 14-of-22 for 275 yards, including Johnson's six catches for 190 yards. Rudi Johnson ran for 111 yards for the Bengals (5-5).

Drew Brees threw for 510 yards for the Saints (6-4), but was picked off three times, once for a 52-yard TD.

49ers 20, Seahawks 14

At San Francisco, Frank Gore rushed for a franchise-record 212 yards, and the maligned defense stopped the Seahawks three times in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the 49ers' third straight victory.

Alex Smith passed for 163 yards, threw a TD pass and rushed for another score for the 49ers (5-5), who snapped a six-game losing streak against their NFC West rival.

Arnaz Battle caught a TD pass and Smith rushed for a score in leading San Francisco to a 20-0 halftime lead. But the Niners' first three-game winning streak since 2002 wasn't secure until its defense _ which has given up just 30 points in its last 3 1/2 games _ stopped Seattle's final three drives.

Seneca Wallace passed for 239 yards and hit Deion Branch and Darrell Jackson for long second-half touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions. And the NFC West-leading Seahawks (6-4) got little boost from having Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck back in uniform.

Dolphins 24, Vikings 20

At Miami, Renaldo Hill and Jason Taylor returned turnovers for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota, ranked first in the NFL in run defense, lost despite setting a team record by limiting the Dolphins to minus-3 yards rushing in 14 carries. Running back Ronnie Brown netted 2 yards in 12 attempts.

Hill returned a fumble 48 yards for Miami's go-ahead score, and Taylor scored on a 51-yard interception return with 3:25 left to tie George Martin's NFL record for linemen with his seventh career touchdown.

The Dolphins (4-6), who had the NFL's worst record less than a month ago, won their third consecutive game. The Vikings (4-6) lost their fourth in a row.

Buccaneers 20, Redskins 17

At Tampa, Carnell Williams stole the spotlight from former Auburn teammate Jason Campbell, rushing for 122 yards as Tampa Bay (3-7) ended a three-game losing streak.

Rookie Bruce Gradkowski, making his seventh start, threw touchdown passes of 2 yards to Anthony Becht and 34 yards to Joey Galloway. The Buccaneers led by 10 points with less than four minutes remaining, but Campbell, in his first pro appearance, and the Redskins (3-7) drove 80 yards for a touchdown.

Cardinals 17, Lions 10

Matt Leinart finally is a winner in the NFL. The Arizona rookie threw for 233 yards and a touchdown and ran 9 yards for a score to help the Cardinals snap an eight-game losing streak.

In his first victory in six NFL starts, Leinart completed 19 of 29 passes with no interceptions. In the second and third quarters, Leinart was 14-of-15 for 202 yards.

Edgerrin James gained 96 yards in 22 carries, his best day since coming to the Cardinals (2-8) this season.

The Lions (2-8) lost running back Kevin Jones to an ankle injury late in the first quarter.