Thursday, 10 November 2011

Thrilling finishes ? and a Miami win (AP)

Look at what Eli Manning did. And Patrick Peterson. Eddie Royal and Willis McGahee, too.

All within a matter of minutes Sunday.

All were parts of wild endings to late afternoon games, a few hours after the Miami Dolphins did perhaps the strangest thing of all: win for a change.

Sundays don't get much more entertaining than what the NFL produced with stunning finishes.

Manning guided the Giants 80 yards in the final moments, hitting Jake Ballard for a 1-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining to beat New England 24-20. It was eerily similar to the winning drive he led against the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.

"I'd rather be down by three with 1:30 (left) than up by four with 1:30 with Tom Brady, with their offense on the field," Manning said. "You like those situations where you have an opportunity to go win the game."

The Giants snapped New England's 20-game regular-season home winning streak and Brady's string of 31 regular-season home victories.

Peterson became the second player to run back a punt for an overtime touchdown, and his went 99 yards. He sped the length of the field to lift Arizona past St. Louis 19-13 in a game featuring the first 4-point quarter. The Rams got two safeties in the third, one by trapping quarterback John Skelton in the end zone, the other when Skelton was guilty of grounding in the end zone.

Royal and McGahee combined to lift Denver past Oakland 38-24. McGahee had a 60-yard touchdown run that tied the game, then added a 24-yarder to ice it in the closing minutes. Denver took the lead in between those big runs when Royal returned his first punt of the season 85 yards for a touchdown.

As for the Dolphins, they not only won for the first time in 2011, they routed the Chiefs in Kansas City, 31-3.

"This is all about the players," Miami coach Tony Sparano said. "These guys did a super job all week long of putting all the garbage behind them."

Miami's win left Indianapolis as the lone winless team, 0-9 after falling to Atlanta 31-7.

Also Sunday, it was Baltimore 23, Pittsburgh 20; Green Bay 45, San Diego 38; San Francisco 19, Washington 11; the New York Jets 27, Buffalo 11; New Orleans 24, Tampa Bay 16; Houston 30, Cleveland 12; Dallas 23, Seattle 13; and Cincinnati 24, Tennessee 17.

On Monday night, Chicago is at Philadelphia.

Off this weekend: Carolina, Jacksonville, Minnesota and Detroit.


Giants 24, Patriots 20

The Giants won the '08 Super Bowl 17-14 on Manning's 13-yard scoring pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining. This time, it looked like the Patriots would win with a comeback of their own when Tom Brady threw a 14-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski, making it 20-17 with 1:36 to go.

But the visiting Giants (6-2) had enough time to move 80 yards on eight plays ? helped by a 20-yard pass interference penalty against the Patriots (5-3) that put the ball at the 1 with 30 seconds to play. Three plays later, Manning found Ballard in the back left corner of the end zone.

"I knew we would win," Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said. "It definitely took me back to the Super Bowl."

Cardinals 19, Rams 13, OT

Peterson's pass interference penalty moments earlier seemed to set up the Rams (1-7) for a winning field goal. Arizona's Calais Campbell blocked Josh Brown's 42-yard attempt as regulation ended.

Then Peterson lifted host Arizona (2-6) as he evaded and bounced off tacklers on his punt runback after catching the ball at the 1.

"I was like 'This team needs a play,'" Peterson said. "I decided to catch the ball and just run for my life."

St. Louis is the only team to score exactly four points in a quarter, thanks to the two safeties against Skelton in the third period.

Broncos 38, Raiders 24

At Oakland, Calif., McGahee ran for 163 yards and Tim Tebow threw two touchdown passes.

Carson Palmer threw three interceptions in his first start for the Raiders, who are tied at 4-4 with Kansas City and San Diego atop the AFC West.

The Broncos (3-5) won for the second time in three games with Tebow as the starter. Tebow did much of his damage with his legs, rushing for a career-high 117 yards on 12 carries.

Dolphins 31, Chiefs 3

Matt Moore threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns, and Reggie Bush had 92 yards rushing for the visiting Dolphins (1-7). Two of Moore's TD throws went to tight end Anthony Fasano and another to Brandon Marshall, who finished with eight catches for 106 yards.

Matt Cassel was 20 of 39 for 253 yards for Kansas City (4-4), which came into the game with a four-game winning streak.

Falcons 31, Colts 7

Rookie Julio Jones caught touchdown passes of 50 and 80 yards. The Falcons (5-3) won their third straight and earned their first road victory in a series that dates to 1966. Jones caught three passes from Matt Ryan for 131 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career.

The Colts have lost five straight home games for the first time since 2001. Indianapolis gave up 14 points off two turnovers, failed to score on offense and did not produce a first down during a span of nearly 30 minutes.

Packers 45, Chargers 38

Aaron Rodgers threw touchdown passes to four receivers, Green Bay returned two Philip Rivers interceptions for scores and withstood a wild finish.

The visiting Packers improved to 8-0 behind Rodgers, who completed 21 of 26 passes for 247 yards. He has an NFL-high 24 TD passes.

Green Bay led by 21 points before Rivers threw two TD passes to Vincent Jackson in the span of 1:07 midway through the fourth quarter.

Charlie Peprah and Tramon Williams had the interception TDs.

Ravens 23, Steelers 20

Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds to go, lifting Baltimore past host Pittsburgh.

Five plays after letting a sure touchdown toss tip off his hands, Smith capped Baltimore's game-winning 92-yard drive by beating William Gay down the right sideline as the Ravens (6-2) snapped Pittsburgh's four-game winning streak.

Flacco finished with 300 yards passing and Baltimore swept the season series from the rival Steelers (6-3) for the first time since 2006.

The Steelers appeared to be in control after rallying from a 10-point deficit to take a 20-16 lead with less than 5 minutes to go when Ben Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for a 25-yard score.

49ers 19, Redskins 11

Frank Gore ran for 107 yards, and the NFL's stingiest scoring defense forced three turnovers as San Francisco ran its winning streak to six games, 4-0 on the road. The 49ers improved to 7-1 and have their longest winning streak since 1997. David Akers kicked four field goals.

The Redskins (3-5) lost their fourth straight. They ended a drought of seven quarters without a touchdown when they scored with 1:10 to play.

Jets 27, Bills 11

The Jets' sturdy defense forced three turnovers and Mark Sanchez threw a touchdown to Santonio Holmes. New York, Buffalo and New England are tied atop the AFC East at 5-3.

The Jets (5-3) won their third straight and first on the road.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions before adding a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 3:14 left in Buffalo's first home loss.

Saints 27, Buccaneers 16

Drew Brees passed for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and New Orleans running backs combined for 195 yards rushing. Brees is the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 3,000 yards through the first nine games of a season.

Despite losing cornerback Tracy Porter to a neck injury early in the game, New Orleans (6-3) held visiting Tampa Bay (4-4) without a touchdown until Josh Freeman hit Kellen Winslow with 5:33 left.

Texans 30, Browns 12

Arian Foster rushed for 124 yards, Ben Tate ran for 115 as host Houston set a franchise record with 261 yards on the ground.

The Texans (6-3), playing without injured receiver Andre Johnson for the fifth straight game, had a pair of 100-yard rushers for the second time in three weeks and moved three games over .500 for the first time.

The Browns (3-5) totaled 172 yards, the third straight opponent Houston has held under 200.

Cowboys 23, Seahawks 13

Tony Romo shook off an inefficient first half to throw for a pair of touchdowns.

Tied at 6 coming out for the second half, Dallas (4-4) pulled away behind Romo's touchdown passes of 33 yards to Jason Witten and 6 yards to Laurent Robinson.

The host Cowboys held Seattle (2-6) without a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.

Bengals 24, Titans 17

Rookie Andy Dalton threw for three touchdowns and 217 yards, and Cincinnati rallied from a 10-point deficit for its fifth straight victory.

The Bengals (6-2) last won five in a row in 1988 when they won the AFC championship and went to their second Super Bowl. They also improved to 4-1 on the road.

Tennessee (4-4) lost two of three in a three-game homestand. Chris Johnson had 110 yards from scrimmage, but the Titans blew a 17-7 halftime lead when the offense shut down in the second half.


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