Super Bowl teams not looking so Super so far
By: By The Associated Press, Superior Telegram
Super Bowl hangover, anyone?
The Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, and the team they beat, the Indianapolis Colts, both are 3-2 five weeks into the season. Neither is playing close to its championship form of a year ago, and are probably more lucky than good to be over .500.
Peyton Manning missed out on a 300-yard game, did not throw a touchdown pass and seemed out of sync, but the Colts got a late touchdown run from Mike Hart for a 19-9 win Sunday against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.
Drew Brees threw three interceptions against Arizona and the Cardinals capitalized for a 30-20 victory with undrafted rookie Max Hall making his first start at quarterback.
New Orleans trails Atlanta (4-1) in the NFC South, with Tampa Bay at 3-1, while Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Houston and Tennessee are tied in the AFC South.
"Certainly there are things we can work on and improve on, but that is kind of the game we expected coming in," Manning said of the Colts' tough outing against the Chiefs, who came into the game as the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team.
Manning led the Colts to field goals by Adam Vinatieri of 20, 24, 47 and 42 yards before Hart, replacing the injured Joseph Addai, scored from 11 yards out with 4:02 left. Ryan Succop had field goals of 45, 35, and 43 yards for the Chiefs.
Kansas City's loss marks the first time since 1970 that the NFL has no 4-0 teams.
Saints coach Sean Payton says his team's continued failure to produce in the red zone, as well as turnovers, poor kick coverage and penalties are taking a toll.
"If we are going to expect different results we have to play better than today," he said after the Saints managed one TD and two field goals on four trips inside the red zone. Also, John Carney missed a 29-yard field goal attempt that would have given his team a 16-13 lead in the third quarter.
Hall completed 17 of 27 passes for 168 yards, but had some luck and a lot of help from his defense. Hall fumbled twice, but both times teammates recovered, with one ending in a 2-yard TD run by tackle Levi Brown.
"I need to fix my mistakes," said Hall, "but I think those guys trust me and I think when they look at me they know we have a chance to win."
Also, Kerry Rhodes returned Ladell Betts' fumble 27 yards for a score and, with 10 seconds to play, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned an interception 28 yards for the clinching TD.
Brees came into the game with just two interceptions and a league-best 74 percent completion rate. He threw for 279 yards and two TDs, but the three picks did not help.
"This was not up to our standard of the way we want to play," Payton said.
The Minnesota Vikings are at the New York Jets on Monday night.
Titans 34, Cowboys 27
ARLINGTON, Texas — Chris Johnson scored a pair of 1-yard TDs in the fourth quarter to lift Tennessee over mistake-prone Dallas, a team that had high hopes of becoming the first host team to play in the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys (1-3) fell behind 17-3 with penalties and errors on defense. Dallas managed to tie it at 17 and 20, then a tipped pass that was intercepted set up Johnson's first touchdown of the final period.
Tony Romo tied it again at 27 on a touchdown throw to Jason Witten, then offensive lineman Marc Colombo was penalized 15 yards for celebrating. Dallas kicked off from farther back and Tennessee's Marc Mariani returned it to the 11. A penalty on the tackle moved the ball to the 5, setting up Johnson's next TD.
The Titans (3-2) won their 11th straight against an NFC team, the NFL's longest active non-conference win streak.
Eagles 27, 49ers 24
SAN FRANCISCO — Kevin Kolb passed for 253 yards while capably filling in for injured Michael Vick, and Quintin Mikell returned Alex Smith's fumble 52 yards for a TD early in the fourth quarter.
LeSean McCoy rushed for a score and Trevard Lindley made a last-minute interception for the Eagles (3-2), who forced five turnovers and survived San Francisco's late rally and left the 49ers (0-5) with their worst start in 31 years.
Smith passed for 309 yards, but also committed three turnovers. He received thunderous boos from the Candlestick Park crowd and an apparent tongue-lashing from coach Mike Singletary before leading two fourth-quarter TD drives.
Ravens 31, Broncos 17
BALTIMORE — The Ravens (4-1) moved a half-game ahead of the idle Steelers atop the AFC North after Ray Rice ran for 133 yards and two TDs and the best pass defense prevailed over the best passing offense.
Although Kyle Orton threw for 314 yards — his fourth straight game with 300-plus yards — and had two TD passes to Brandon Lloyd, the Broncos (2-3) fell behind 17-0 with 9:21 left in the second quarter and were hurt by a lost fumble and 10 penalties for 90 yards.
Orton completed 23 of 38 passes, but had little help from his running game, which generated 39 yards on 13 rushes. The Ravens' Joe Flacco, meanwhile, was 14 of 25 for 196 yards and ran for a score.
Lions 44, Rams 6
DETROIT — The Lions (1-4) got into the win column to end a 10-game slide as Stefan Logan tied a team mark with a 105-yard kickoff return. Shaun Hill threw for 227 yards and connected with Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson for touchdowns in Detroit's most-lopsided victory since beating expansion Jacksonville 44-0 in 1995.
The visiting Rams (2-3) lost leading receiver Mark Clayton to an injured knee in the first quarter and limited rookie Sam Bradford's passing options — he was 23 of 45 for 215 yards with two interceptions.<
Buccaneers 24, Bengals 21
CINCINNATI — Josh Freeman threw a tying TD pass with 1:26 to go, then moved Tampa Bay in range for Connor Barth's 31-yard game-winning field goal with 1 second left after Carson Palmer threw his third interception of the game.
The win sent the Bucs (3-1) into hip-bumping celebrations on the field. Tampa Bay's two previous wins came against struggling teams.
This time, they knocked off the defending AFC North champs, who are suddenly in deep trouble.
The Bengals (2-3) were in position to close it out before Palmer essentially decided it with a pair of interceptions, finishing off a dreadful game. Palmer was 21 of 36 for 209 yards, including an interception that Cody Grimm returned 11 yards for a first-half TD.<
Falcons 20, Browns 10
CLEVELAND — Defensive end Kroy Biermann's spectacular diving interception and return for a touchdown with 4:01 left lifted the Falcons.
With Jake Delhomme facing third-and-7 at the 47, Biermann leaped to deflect the pass and then made a headfirst catch. Knowing he had not been touched, Biermann then scrambled to his feet and rumbled 31 yards for the clinching score.
Matt Ryan threw a 45-yard TD pass to Roddy White as the Falcons (4-1) won their fourth straight. Michael Turner rushed for 140 yards.
The Browns (1-4) lost starter Seneca Wallace just before half with an ankle injury. Wallace made his fourth straight start for Delhomme, who had been out since Week 1 with a severely sprained ankle.<
Raiders 35, Chargers 27
OAKLAND, Callif. — Oakland snapped a 13-game losing streak against San Diego with some big plays down the stretch.
Michael Bush ran 3 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 3:39 remaining and Tyvon Branch returned a fumble by Philip Rivers 64 yards for a score.
It was Oakland's first win over San Diego (2-3) since September 2003, the second-longest active streak to Buffalo's 14-game losing streak to New England. The Raiders (2-3) blocked two punts, one for a touchdown and the other for a safety.<
Giants 34, Texans 10
HOUSTON — Eli Manning threw two of his three touchdown passes to Hakeem Nicks and the Giants held Houston to a franchise-low 24 yards rushing. Nicks finished with career highs of 12 catches and 130 yards. Manning was 27 of 42 for 297 yards, and threw his third TD pass to Steve Smith.
Osi Umenyiora sacked Matt Schaub twice and also forced a fumble for the Giants (3-2), who limited NFL rushing leader Arian Foster to 25 yards on 11 carries.
Linebacker Brian Cushing made four solo tackles in his season debut for Houston (3-2). Cushing was suspended the first four games for violating the NFL's policy on banned substances.<
Bears 23, Panthers 6
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matt Forte ran for 166 yards and two TDs, Julius Peppers had an acrobatic interception against his former team and Chicago (4-1) won despite four interceptions from backup Todd Collins.
Forte scored both his TDs in the first quarter, during which Peppers silenced a booing crowd in his first game back to Carolina with a diving interception to set up a field goal.
With Jay Cutler sidelined because of a concussion, Collins threw for just 32 yards before being benched for Caleb Hanie.
The Panthers had 147 total yards with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback.<
Jaguars 36, Bills 26
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — David Garrard shook off an interception and lost fumble with three TD passes — two to TE Marcedes Lewis — to rally Jacksonville (3-2).
Mike Sims-Walker's 7-yard touchdown put the Jaguars ahead for good, 27-20 late in the third quarter.
Lewis scored on 1- and 27-yard receptions to give him five TDs on the season, breaking the Jaguars' franchise record for scores by a tight end. Josh Scobee made all five field-goal attempts.
The Bills squandered 10-0 and 13-3 leads, and are 0-5 for the fifth time in club history, the first since 1985. Buffalo has allowed 30 points in four straight games.