NFL Roundup: Brees great in Britain
WEMBLEY, England ó A trans-Atlantic trip was just what Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints needed to get their season back on track.
Brees went 30-for-41 for 339 yards and three touchdown passes against his former team, leading the Saints to a 37-32 win over San Diego on Sunday at Wembley Stadium, putting New Orleans back at .500 and dropping the Chargers to 3-5.
The Saints (4-4) held off a late comeback by the Chargers, who came from 37-20 down early in the fourth quarter and were driving for the tying touchdown. But linebacker Jonathan Vilma picked off a pass by Philip Rivers with just over a minute to go. Brees took a safety in the final seconds to complete the scoring.
After last year’s rain-soaked, error-filled 13-10 win by the New York Giants over the Miami Dolphins in London, the NFL was hoping for a high-scoring, offensive show in its return to the English capital. And that’s just what the 83,226 fans at England’s showcase venue got.
Brees, who came into the game leading the NFL with 2,224 yards passing, exploited the Chargers’ vulnerable pass defense. But Philip Rivers, his former backup in San Diego, came up with big numbers too, completing 25 of 40 attempts for 343 yards and three touchdowns to bring his season total to 19 TDs. But while Brees went without an interception, Rivers’ one pick on the final drive proved crucial.
Giants 21, Steelers 14
PITTSBURGH ó The New York Giants did little with the exceptional field position the Steelers gave them. Finally, when it seemed Pittsburgh had too much depth and defense for the Super Bowl champs, the Steelers were tripped up by ó of all things ó a bad punt snap.
Eli Manning threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss with 3:11 remaining for the Giants’ only touchdown after they tied it several minutes before on a bizarre safety. Linebacker James Harrison’s high snap on the punt gave New York two points, and the Giants held off Pittsburgh for a 21-14 victory in a matchup of division leaders.
The resilient Steelers (5-2) playing with backups all over the field, tried to make up for Ben Roethlisberger’s four interceptions by turning two big-play scores into a lead they preserved with a goal-line stand midway through the fourth quarter.
But the Giants (6-1) tied it with 6:48 remaining on the safety.
Browns 23, Jaguars 17
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ó The Browns had just enough offense, even without Kellen Winslow. Jamal Lewis ran for 81 yards and a touchdown and Derek Anderson completed three huge passes.
It was Cleveland’s second victory in as many games without Winslow, the outspoken Pro Bowl tight end who missed the game after criticizing the team following his staph infection. The Browns (3-4) played their best game of the season two weeks ago while Winslow was in the hospital and beat the Giants.
Seahawks 34, 49ers 13
SAN FRANCISCO ó Compared to new coach Mike Singletary’s feuding, fumbling, quarterback-switching 49ers, even the struggling Seahawks looked sharp.
Fullback Leonard Weaver made two lengthy touchdown catches, Josh Wilson returned an interception 75 yards for a score and the Seahawks ruined Singletary’s tumultuous debut.
Seneca Wallace passed for 222 yards in his third career victory as a starter, including short passes turned into scores of 43 and 62 yards by his fleet-footed fullback.
Texans 35, Bengals 6
HOUSTON ó In his first meeting against his former team, Kevin Walter scored two touchdowns. He scored one touchdown in three seasons with Cincinnati, but set a career high by getting his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the year against Cincinnati (0-8).
Walter had help from a bevy of strong Houston performances led by Matt Schaub’s three touchdown passes and Andre Johnson’s fourth straight 100-yard game.
The win gave Houston (3-4) three consecutive victories in a single season for the first time in franchise history.
Dolphins 25, Bills 16
MIAMI ó Ted Ginn had a breakout game with seven catches for a career-high 175 yards, and the Dolphins overcame a nine-point third-quarter deficit. With Ginn’s first 100-yard game, he made by far his biggest impact since Miami’s much-mocked decision to take him with the ninth pick of last year’s draft.
Ginn set up Miami’s first two scores with receptions of 46 and 64 yards. Those completions were part of an efficient day for Chad Pennington, who went 22-for-30 for 314 yards with no interceptions.
Cowboys 13, Buccaneers 9
IRVING, Texas ó Brad Johnson made up for several missed chances at touchdowns by throwing one to newcomer Roy Williams at the end of a drive sustained by four defensive penalties. The maligned Dallas defense made it hold up.
The Cowboys (5-3) gained only 173 yards, but with coach Wade Phillips taking a “more active” role in his defense, they put the clamps on Jeff Garcia and the Bucs (5-3). Tampa Bay got two first-quarter field goals and another in the third quarter, but that was it.
The Buccaneers were driving for a possible winning touchdown until a fourth-down pass to Jerramy Stevens fell incomplete under heavy pressure with 13 seconds left. As Dallas players bounced around in celebration, Tampa Bay tackle Jeremy Trueblood threw his helmet in frustration.
Patriots 23, Rams 16
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ó The Patriots got by the Rams on a fingertip touchdown catch by Kevin Faulk. The Patriots’ best pass-catching running back hung onto Matt Cassel’s 15-yard pass on the left edge of the end zone with 3:19 remaining.
A juggling interception by Deltha O’Neal with 1:08 left ended the Rams’ last threat.
Faulk had shouldered a bigger running load than usual with Laurence Maroney sidelined for the season and the top two backups, Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan, out with injuries. But Faulk did what he does best, catching the ball, just in time as the Patriots (5-2) won their second straight game.
Eagles 27, Falcons 14PHILADELPHIAó Brian Westbrook returned to his All-Pro form and rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns as part of a dynamic all-around effort. Westbrook missed two of the last three games with broken ribs and had been bothered by an ankle injury. Perhaps rejuvenated by the bye week, Westbrook rushed for nearly as many yards as he had all season (194).
Westbrook scored on a 16-yard run early in the third quarter that gave the Eagles (4-3) 17 points in an 8 1/4-minute span.
Jets 28, Chiefs 24
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ó After struggling all game, Brett Favre connected with Laveranues Coles for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute left. The heavily favored Jets overcame three interceptions by Favre and an upset-minded Chiefs team using its third-string quarterback.
Leon Washington returned Steve Weatherford’s punt 37 yards ó and even dragged the punter on his back for a few of those yards ó to put the Jets (4-3) in terrific field position at the Chiefs 46. Favre floated a pass to Coles, who fought off Dimitri Patterson to make a one-handed catch in the front of the end zone.
Ravens 29, Raiders 10BALTIMORE óBaltimore limited the Oakland Raiders to 35 yards while building a 19-point halftime lead, and the Ravens got a safety and four sacks. The win was particularly sweet for Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, whose twin brother Rob is defensive coordinator for the Raiders (2-5).
Troy Smith completed a third-quarter pass to QB Joe Flacco in the third quarter.