|Plaxico Burress's big second half for the Giants included this go-ahead TD catch in the fourth quarter. (MAURICE BALCE CENETA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
Giants stand their ground
Stopping Redskins on doorstep proves NY is no longer doormat
After 10 quarters of going-nowhere football, the New York Giants finally rediscovered the secret to winning in the NFL: Play defense, take control of third down, make sure Plaxico Burress catches the ball, and make a harrowing goal line stand at the end of the game.
A Giants defense that had allowed 80 points in its first two games allowed only 81 yards after halftime, and stopped the Washington Redskins on four plays from the 1-yard line in the final minute to preserve a 24-17 victory yesterday in Landover, Md.
New York scored the game's final 21 points and rallied from a two-touchdown deficit.
Burress, who had three drops and no catches in the first half, had five receptions for 86 yards in the second. The ankle injury that caused him to miss two practices last week didn't seem to affect him on the winning score - a 33-yard catch-and-run in which he received the ball in the left flat and put a move on Carlos Rogers before outrunning Sean Taylor to the end zone with 5:32 remaining.
The Redskins drove for a chance to tie in the final minutes. A 27-yard punt return by Antwaan Randle El put the ball at New York's 35 with 2:19 to play. Jason Campbell kept the drive alive with a 15-yard pass to Santana Moss on fourth and 8, and a 20-yard strike to Randle El put the ball at the 1.
But the Redskins couldn't finish the job. Campbell spiked the ball on first down, even though there seemed to be plenty of time to set up and run a play. Mike Sellers dropped a pass in the flat on second down, but he probably wouldn't have scored anyway. Then Ladell Betts was stopped on running plays on third and fourth downs.
The Giants (1-2) appeared to still be in free fall when they trailed, 17-3, at halftime, but they recovered in part by converting seven third-down chances in a row. The Redskins (2-1) were looking to start 3-0 for the second time in three years.
Reuben Droughns scored on a pair of 1-yard runs - New York's first rushing TDs of the season - and Mathias Kiwanuka had a pair of sacks - doubling the defense's output for the year. Eli Manning completed 21 of 36 passes for 232 yards with one TD and two interceptions. Derrick Ward ran for 94 yards on 26 carries and had six catches for 26 yards.
Eagles erupt early and often
Eagles 56, Lions 21 - In its highest-scoring game in 54 years, Philadelphia scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and had a franchise-record 42 points in the first half, with Donovan McNabb and Kevin Curtis fueling the home blowout.
McNabb threw for 381 yards and four touchdown passes, connecting on 18 consecutive passes at one point, before yielding to rookie Kevin Kolb. Kevin Curtis had 221 yards receiving and three scores, racking up 205 first-half yards on nine catches. The Eagles (1-2) also got a big day from Brian Westbrook, who had 110 yards rushing, 111 more receiving, and scored three TDs before leaving in the third quarter with injured ribs.
Jon Kitna threw for 446 yards and two TDs and Roy Williams had nine catches for 204 yards and a 91-yard TD for Detroit, which came in looking for its first 3-0 start in 27 years, but instead played like the hapless bunch that hasn't had a winning record since 2000.
Jets huddle around Pennington
Jets 31, Dolphins 28 - Showing no ill effects from the ankle injury that sidelined him last week, Chad Pennington threw two TD passes and ran for another as host New York held off winless Miami.
Leon Washington returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score, and Thomas Jones had his first big game for the Jets (1-2) by rushing for 110 yards on 25 carries. Pennington finished 15 of 22 for 124 yards, and also had his first rushing TD since 2004.
Advantage goes to Indy
Colts 30, Texans 24 - At Houston, Joseph Addai ran for two TDs and Adam Vinatieri added three field goals to keep Indianapolis undefeated and turn back the injury-ravaged and mistake-prone Texans.
Houston (2-1) got within 30-24 when Vonta Leach caught a 1-yard TD pass from Matt Schaub with 2:49 remaining in the game. The Texans got the ball back with 19 seconds left, but Schaub was sacked and time ran out.
Time is on Jacksonville's side
Jaguars 23, Broncos 14 - Fred Taylor rushed for 84 yards as Jacksonville (2-1) controlled the clock for nearly 39 minutes in shutting down the league's top tailback and most prolific offense in Denver.
The Broncos (2-1), who piled up 911 yards in their first two games, managed just 265, including 35 by Travis Henry on 11 carries. Denver had no choice but to go to the air in the fourth quarter, and Sammy Knight sealed the win with his first interception for the Jaguars in the closing minutes.
Warner's relief effort not enough
Ravens 26, Cardinals 23 - Kyle Boller moved host Baltimore into position for Matt Stover's 46-yard field goal as time expired, and the Ravens squeezed out a victory over Arizona after backup quarterback Kurt Warner helped rally the Cardinals from a 23-6 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
The Ravens (2-1) wilted in the final 15 minutes for the second straight game. Although the Jets never pulled even one week earlier, Warner pulled the Cardinals (1-2) even at 23 with 1:50 left. Warner, replacing an ineffective Matt Leinart, went 15 of 20 for 258 yards and two TDs.
Pittsburgh perfectly satisfied
Steelers 37, 49ers 16 - Host Pittsburgh (3-0) played nearly error-free for the third week in a row, with Allen Rossum returning a kickoff 98 yards for a TD and Willie Parker running for 133 yards in a defense-driven romp over San Francisco (2-1).
St. Louis stopped from get-go
Buccaneers 24, Rams 3 - Seldom-used running back Earnest Graham scored on runs of 8 and 28 yards in the fourth quarter for host Tampa Bay (2-1), while St. Louis remained winless despite finally getting Steven Jackson involved in the offense with 115 yards on 30 carries. The Bucs also limited Marc Bulger to 116 yards passing, intercepting him three times.
Foster's footwork key to victory
Panthers 27, Falcons 20 - Visiting Carolina (2-1) overcame an apparent elbow injury to quarterback Jake Delhomme and a 361-yard, two-TD performance by Atlanta's Joey Harrington behind 122 yards rushing and two TDs from DeShaun Foster.
Blocked FG bails out Oakland
Raiders 26, Browns 24 - LaMont Jordan ran for 121 yards and a go-ahead TD late in the third quarter after Daunte Culpepper relieved an injured Josh McCown and revived host Oakland (1-2), and the Raiders held off Cleveland (1-2) when Tommy Kelly blocked Phil Dawson's last-second 40-yard field goal try.
Late score gives K.C. first win
Chiefs 13, Vikings 10 - In danger of just its second 0-3 start in 27 years, host Kansas City overtook Minnesota (1-2) on Damon Huard's fourth-quarter TD pass to Dwayne Bowe.