|The shame of it for Martin Gramatica was had he made his 43-yard field goal attempt, the Saints might've won. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)|
Breaks go Broncos' way again
Saints storm from behind only to see Gramatica misfire late
No gutsy 2-point call this week. Just a gut-wrenching close call.
Martin Gramatica's 43-yard field goal try with 1:55 remaining was wide right, and the Denver Broncos escaped with a 34-32 home win over the New Orleans Saints yesterday, improving to 3-0 for the first time in five years.
The Saints (1-2) never led, but they made a game of it after falling behind, 21-3, early in the second quarter. Drew Brees completed 39 of 48 passes for 421 yards and a touchdown and Reggie Bush piled up 178 all-purpose yards with two TDs.
Leading, 34-32, late in the fourth quarter, the Broncos were going in for a touchdown when tight end Tony Scheffler fumbled a reception at the 5-yard line as he was hit by New Orleans linebacker Scott Shanle.
Cornerback Jason David scooped it up, giving Brees the ball at his 25 with 5:33 remaining. The Saints' drive stalled at the 25, and Gramatica, who was 8 for 8 before missing in the first half, barely missed this one to the right.
The Broncos punted the ball back in the waning seconds but the Saints ran out of time.
Bush caught 11 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown and rushed 18 times for 73 yards and a TD. He also returned two punts for 30 yards.
Jay Cutler wasn't as sharp as he was in his first two games, but he still completed 21 of 34 passes for 264 yards and two TDs with one interception. Brandon Marshall led the Broncos with six receptions for 155 yards.
Buccaneers 27, Bears 24
Former Bears quarterback Brian Griese set up Matt Bryant's winning 21-yard field goal in overtime with a 38-yard pass to Antonio Bryant, and Tampa Bay rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit in Chicago.
The Buccaneers got a 35-yard field goal from Bryant with 3:11 left, and Griese orchestrated a 79-yard touchdown drive in the final 1:49, hitting Jerramy Stevens with a 1-yard pass in the closing seconds of regulation. Several key mistakes cost Chicago (1-2) in overtime.
After Tampa Bay (2-1) punted, Rashied Davis dropped a third-down pass at the Bucs' 35. Tampa Bay then took over at its 7 and had third and 9 at the 8 when Griese hit Stevens with a 2-yard pass.
An unnecessary roughness penalty on the play gave the Bucs a first down at the 24, and from the Bears' 44, Antonio Bryant beat Nathan Vasher for the long pass that set up the winning field goal.
Traded by the Bears in the offseason, Griese refused to take shots at his former team during the week. The veteran threw a franchise-record 67 passes, completing 38 for 407 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his second straight start.
Ravens 28, Browns 10
Host Baltimore turned two of Derek Anderson's interceptions into a pair of TDs during a 50-second span of the third quarter, and the rested Ravens (2-0) stayed unbeaten after a forced bye week because of Hurricane Ike.
Ed Reed returned one of the interceptions 32 yards for a score, and Le'Ron McClain scored his first two NFL touchdowns on a pair of 1-yard runs - both during a 21-point third quarter that turned a 3-point halftime deficit into a 28-10 lead.
Anderson had another trying day in an effort to generate some offense for Cleveland, going 14 of 37 for 125 yards, with three interceptions and four sacks. The Browns (0-3) have scored only two touchdowns in their three defeats. The last team to reach the playoffs after losing its first three games was the 1998 Buffalo Bills.
Eagles 15, Steelers 6
With its best player sidelined and star quarterback hurting, host Philadelphia defeated Pittsburgh with defense, recording nine sacks and three turnovers and forcing a safety.
The Eagles lost running back Brian Westbrook to an ankle injury in the second quarter, and he'll have an MRI today. One play earlier, Donovan McNabb was visibly shaken up after getting sacked.
He played the rest of the half and took a hard hit to the chest late in the second quarter. McNabb stayed in the locker room after the half, but returned during Philadelphia's second series in the third quarter.
Neither player was missed much with the Philly defense stifling the Steelers (2-1) so thoroughly. Willie Parker was held to 20 yards on 13 carries, and Ben Roethlisberger passed for just 131 yards before leaving with a hand injury late in the fourth quarter.
Redskins 24, Cardinals 17
Jason Campbell passed for two scores, including a 17-yarder to Santana Moss in the fourth quarter that kept host Washington (2-1) in control.
Campbell completed 23 of 30 passes for 193 yards. He has yet to throw an interception this season, and the Redskins' no-turnover day kept Kurt Warner and Arizona in poor field position throughout the game. Warner was held to 192 yards passing, with two TDs and an interception.
The Cardinals had been looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 1974.
Vikings 20, Panthers 10
Gus Frerotte stabilized Minnesota's passing attack by throwing for 204 yards and a TD, and the Vikings' swarming defense did the rest to send visiting Carolina to its first loss.
Antoine Winfield's sack of the Panthers' Jake Delhomme and subsequent 19-yard fumble return for a touchdown right before halftime tied the game at 10. Then Frerotte rebounded from a shaky first half by hitting on two long passes in the first series after the break - a 48-yarder to Bernard Berrian, and a 34-yard TD strike to Visanthe Shiancoe.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 77 yards on 17 carries for Minnesota (1-2) despite being limited by a hamstring injury.
49ers 31, Lions 13
Frank Gore rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown, and Mike Martz's new offense methodically chewed up his former team's defense in San Francisco's home rout of hapless Detroit, which is off to its fourth 0-3 start in eight years.
Isaac Bruce and Delanie Walker caught TD passes from J.T. O'Sullivan, and Allen Rossum scored from 1 yard on fourth down to all but clinch the win for the 49ers (2-1).
Martz has brought immediate respectability to the 49ers, who had the NFL's worst offense two of the past three seasons. San Francisco gained 370 total yards against the Lions.
Titans 31, Texans 12
At Nashville, LenDale White ran for two TDs, Kerry Collins threw for another, and Tennessee rolled over Houston to improve to 3-0 for only the third time in franchise history.
The Titans now have beaten the team that replaced them in Houston seven straight times and 11 of the 13 games in the series. The Texans (0-2) scored only 12 points despite getting inside the Tennessee 14 six times.
Seahawks 37, Rams 13
Julius Jones ran for 140 yards and a score and T.J. Duckett had his first two-TD rushing day in four years as host Seattle pounded malfunctioning St. Louis for its first win.
Jones had 96 yards by halftime as the Seahawks (1-2) built a 21-point lead. The Rams (0-3) lost for the 16th time in 19 games, and for the seventh consecutive time to Seattle. They have been outscored, 116-29, this season.
Falcons 38, Chiefs 14
Michael Turner ran for a career-best three TDs and Atlanta (2-1) scored the first 24 points at the Georgia Dome in sending Kansas City to its 12th straight loss.
Turner had scoring runs of 4, 1, and 2 yards while totaling 104 on the ground. The Falcons also had three interceptions off Chiefs quarterback Tyler Thigpen in his first career start.