NFL Roundup: Steelers earn title

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 15, 2008

Associated Press
BALTIMORE ó The Pittsburgh Steelers used a second straight fourth-quarter comeback to earn another AFC North title.
Santonio Holmes caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 43 seconds left, and the Steelers clinched their second consecutive division crown by beating the Baltimore Ravens 13-9 Sunday.
The Steelers (11-3) trailed 9-6 before moving 92 yards in 13 plays to take their only lead and score the game’s lone touchdown. Roethlisberger went 7-for-11 for 89 yards on the drive.
Last week, Pittsburgh used a 17-point fourth quarter to rally past Dallas 20-13. The Steelers have won five straight, and this was their first win in Baltimore since 2002. It also earned the Steelers a first-round bye.
Matt Stover kicked three field goals for the Ravens (9-5), who remain in the wild-card hunt despite being eliminated from the AFC North race.
The Steelers began their final drive at their 8 with 3:36 left. Two straight completions to Hines Ward moved the ball to the 34, and a third-and-10 completion to Nate Washington for 16 yards took Pittsburgh to midfield.
Washington caught a 24-yarder to the 14, and a 10-yard pass to Ward set up first-and-goal at the 4. After two incompletions, Roethlisberger scrambled left, then found Holmes over the middle for the winner.
Cowboys 20, Giants 8
IRVING, Texas ó DeMarcus Ware added three sacks to his NFL-leading total and Dallas took down Eli Manning eight times on the way to a crucial victory in a game where all eyes were otherwise on Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and Jason Witten.
With everyone watching to see how Romo would appease the two main rivals for his offensive affection, he pulled a fast one by tossing touchdowns to third receiver Patrick Crayton and seldom thrown-to fullback Deon Anderson.
Then, with 2:16 left and Dallas trying to manage the clock, rookie Tashard Choice broke off a victory-sealing 38-yard touchdown run.
Finally, the Cowboys could exhale. After a late loss in Pittsburgh and a week of locker-room turmoil, Dallas (9-5) was back in control of its wild-card chances.
Colts 31, Lions 21
INDIANAPOLIS ó The Lions, seemingly on their way to the first 0-16 season in NFL history, were victimized in the fourth quarter by Peyton Manning and the Colts.
The win was Indy’s seventh straight and assured the Colts of a seventh straight season with double-digit victories. More important, it also put Indy on the cusp of earning a seventh consecutive playoff bid.
Manning was 28-of-37 for 318 yards with one TD, throwing primarily to Dallas Clark. Clark set a franchise record for tight ends by catching 12 passes for 142 yards and one TD.
Texans 13, Titans 12
HOUSTON ó Andre Johnson atoned for one of the worst games of his career in Houston’s first meeting with Tennessee this season with a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown to lead the Texans to their fourth consecutive win.
Kris Brown kicked two field goals for Houston.
It was an uninspired showing for the Titans (12-2), who have already clinched the AFC South and a first-round playoff bye, but could have secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and a Pittsburgh loss later Sunday.
Vikings 35, Cardinals 14
GLENDALE, Ariz. ó Tarvaris Jackson got another shot at starting quarterback, and boy did he make the most of it. Playing in place of injured Gus Frerotte, Jackson threw for four touchdowns and the Vikings stayed alone atop the NFC North.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 165 yards on 28 carries, his franchise record ninth 100-yard game of the season for the Vikings (9-5), who won their fourth in a row. They can clinch the division title with another victory or loss by Chicago.
Bernard Berrian scored Minnesota’s first two touchdowns ó on an 82-yard punt return and 41-yard reception ó as the Vikings led 21-0 in the first quarter and 28-0 at the half.
Dolphins 14, 49ers 9
MIAMI ó Miami had possession for less than 22 minutes, but held the opposition without a touchdown for the third game in a row and helped its playoff chances.
The 49ers ran 79 plays to 42 for the Dolphins, but Miami tight ends scored the only touchdowns on first-half passes from Chad Pennington. He threw a 61-yarder to David Martin and a 19-yarder to rookie Joey Haynos, making the first reception of his career.
Jets 31, Bills 27
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J ó Abram Elam sacked J.P. Losman and Shaun Ellis picked up the fumble and rumbled 11 yards into the end zone with 1:54 left for the go-ahead score.
The Jets (9-5) will win the AFC East with victories in their finals two games, against Seattle and Miami.
Patriots 49, Raiders 26
OAKLAND, Calif.ó Randy Moss caught two of Matt Cassel’s career-high four touchdown passes in his first game against the Raiders since his trade to New England last season.
Cassel’s sterling performance just six days after the death of his father, Greg, kept the Patriots (9-5) in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East with Miami and the Jets. Cassel left the team briefly during the week to be with his family, but looked sharp Sunday.
Falcons 13, Buccaneers 10, OT
ATLANTA ó Michael Turner ran for 152 yards, John Abraham had three sacks and Jason Elam kicked a 34-yard field goal in overtime.
Atlanta twice turned it over near the Tampa Bay end zone and had a huge breakdown on special teams, allowing Tampa Bay to block a punt with less than 3 minutes left in regulation. That set up Matt Bryant’s tying field goal with 48 seconds left.
Bengals 20, Redskins 13
CINCINNATI ó The Redskins lost for the fifth time in six games, unable to keep up with one of the NFL’s lowliest teams. Ryan Fitzpatrick ran for a touchdown and threw for another.
The main intrigue was how the Redskins (7-7) would react to injuries that decimated their offensive line and grumbling by running back Clinton Portis that rippled through the locker room. They held a players-only meeting at midweek after Portis derisively called coach Jim Zorn a “genius” for benching him the previous week.
Chargers 22, Chiefs 21
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ó The NFL’s highest-rated passer would not be stopped. Philip Rivers rallied San Diego from a 21-3 third-quarter deficit, throwing two touchdown passes in the final 73 seconds.
The Chiefs (2-12), helped by a delay-of-game penalty against the Chargers, tried a 50-yard field goal on the final play, but Connor Barth’s kick was wide left.
Because Denver lost, the victory kept alive the slender playoff hopes of the Chargers (6-8), who came into the season as Super Bowl favorites after losing to New England in last year’s AFC title game.
Rivers, who came in with an NFL-best 102.0 passer rating, was 34-for-48 for 346 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Jaguars 20, Packers 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ó Green Bay’s slim playoff chances ended in fitting fashion ó with another fourth-quarter collapse.
David Garrard threw two touchdowns passes, Maurice Jones-Drew scored twice and the Jaguars snapped a four-game losing streak.
Seahawks 23, Rams 20
ST. LOUIS ó Olindo Mare’s 27-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Seahawks, who broke a six-game slide. Seattle (3-11) tied the game on T.J. Duckett’s 1-yard run with 2:47 to go.
The Rams (2-12) scored 17 points in the first half, more than in all but two entire games, while rolling up 243 yards.