|For the game, Giants QB Eli Manning was shaky again. But for the last quarter, he was the deciding factor. (M. Spencer Green/Associated Press)|
Eli Manning redeemed himself just in time, and the New York Giants dealt the Chicago Bears' playoff hopes another staggering blow.
Manning led two late touchdown drives and Reuben Droughns scored on a 2-yard run with 1:33 remaining to lift the Giants to a 21-16 victory over the Bears yesterday at Soldier Field.
Manning was awful for most of the game but delivered in the latter stages after throwing four interceptions the previous week in a drubbing by Minnesota.
The embattled quarterback threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer, which was initially ruled incomplete, with 6:54 left to cap a 75-yard drive and pull the Giants within 16-14.
After the Bears (5-7) punted, the Giants launched a 77-yard drive that ended with Droughns running around right end with 1:33 left. Manning hit David Tyree with a 24-yard pass and threw a 15-yarder to Plaxico Burress that put the ball on the 2.
The Bears got the ball with 1:28 remaining and marched from their 41 to the Giants' 28 before Rex Grossman threw three incompletions - the last one broken up by James Butler.
It was a brutal loss for the defending NFC champions, who looked ready to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
And it was a rough outing overall for Manning, despite those late heroics. He was 16 of 27 for 195 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble, dousing several scoring threats by the Giants (8-4) or putting Chicago in good position.
Trailing, 16-7, in the third quarter, the Giants drove to the 1, only to see Manning give it away again. He spun and avoided a sack by Alex Brown and lofted a pass to Burress in the left corner of the end zone that a leaping Charles Tillman intercepted.
Cardinals 27, Browns 21
Host Arizona turned three of Cleveland's four turnovers into touchdowns, Kurt Warner threw two scoring passes, and Neil Rackers kicked a pair of late field goals to help the Cardinals cool off Cleveland while improving their own playoff hopes.
Derek Anderson threw for 304 yards and two scores, but he was intercepted twice and fumbled the ball away once for the Browns (7-5), who lost for just the second time in seven games. Two turnovers came on Cleveland's first two possessions and led to touchdowns that put the Cardinals (6-6) ahead, 14-0.
Still, Cleveland drove to the Arizona 37 in the final seconds. On the last play, Anderson threw to the left side of the end zone for Kellen Winslow, who caught the pass but was ruled out of bounds. Cleveland challenged that he was forced out; however, the ruling was upheld.
Buccaneers 27, Saints 23
Capitalizing on a botched trick play by New Orleans, Luke McCown drove visiting Tampa Bay to the winning touchdown with 14 seconds left, giving the Bucs (8-4) a comfortable three-game lead over the Saints in the NFC South.
The Saints (5-7) appeared to seize control after a safety gave them a 23-20 lead with 3:44 to go and they had possession at midfield. But on second down, coach Sean Payton called for a reverse. Reggie Bush had trouble with the handoff, then his pitch was a little late and off target. Devery Henderson reached for it but couldn't bring it in, and the ball squirted away when he tried to dive on it. Jovan Haye recovered for Tampa Bay at the Saints' 37.
Tampa Bay was quickly faced with a fourth-and-1, but Earnest Graham gained a couple of yards to extend the drive, then caught a pass over the middle for a 21-yard gain with just over a minute to go, setting up McCown's 4-yard TD toss to a leaping Jerramy Stevens.
Seahawks 28, Eagles 24
Lofa Tatupu set up Seattle's first two touchdowns by intercepting A.J. Feeley twice in the first quarter, and he sealed the Seahawks' victory in Philadelphia with another pick in the final minute.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for two scores for Seattle (8-4), and Maurice Morris had a 45-yard touchdown run while splitting carries with Shaun Alexander, who had 65 yards rushing and one TD after missing three games with a sprained knee. Feeley was picked off four times for the Eagles (5-7).
Chargers 24, Chiefs 10
Visiting San Diego strengthened its grip on the AFC West lead, getting 177 yards rushing and two TDs from LaDainian Tomlinson and eight sacks and three interceptions by its defense against Kansas City.
Since losing to the Chiefs Sept. 30, the Chargers (7-5) have gone on a 6-2 spree. Kansas City (4-8) has lost six of eight and five in a row.
Jets 40, Dolphins 13
Playing at home as a 1 1/2-point favorite, Miami supposedly had its best chance for its first win. Instead, the woeful Dolphins suffered their worst margin of defeat this season as New York converted four of rookie quarterback John Beck's five turnovers into points.
Beck threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles, which the Jets (3-9) turned into a touchdown and three field goals. The Dolphins (0-12) took a brief 13-10 lead in the second quarter on Michael Lehan's 43-yard fumble return, but they didn't score again.
Titans 28, Texans 20
Vince Young helped host Tennessee break a three-game skid by throwing for 248 yards and two scores that rallied the Titans (7-5) past Houston.
The Texans (5-7) had a 10-7 halftime lead, even without starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who dislocated his left shoulder on a sack in the first quarter. But by the time backup Sage Rosenfels settled in, Young had taken over by directing two third-quarter touchdown drives.
Vikings 42, Lions 10
Adrian Peterson rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a knee injury, and surging Minnesota won its third in a row while sending visiting Detroit to its fourth consecutive loss.
Steadily improving quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was 18 of 24 for 204 yards and two touchdowns, and the Vikings (6-6) scored TDs on their first six possessions. It was another disheartening showing by the Lions (6-6), who rushed for just 23 yards on seven attempts, committed three personal foul penalties during shows of frustration, and were manhandled at the line of scrimmage.
Raiders 34, Broncos 20
Josh McCown threw three touchdown passes for host Oakland and Justin Fargas rushed for 146 yards and a score as the Raiders broke a five-game losing streak to Denver.
Oakland (4-8) scored 24 points off four turnovers by the Broncos (5-7) - two Jay Cutler interceptions and two lost fumbles by Travis Henry.
Panthers 31, 49ers 14
Vinny Testaverde threw two touchdown passes and Carolina (5-7) snapped a five-game losing streak by winning at home for the first time in more than a year.
Although Testaverde passed for just 153 yards and two interceptions, he guided the Panthers to a 17-0 halftime lead. Testaverde's first TD pass went for 5 yards to rookie Dante Rosario, and his 1-yarder to Jeff King made it 31-14 early in the fourth. Carolina also forced the 49ers (3-9) into six turnovers.
Rams 28, Falcons 16
The Rams' Gus Frerotte threw three touchdown passes in the first half, then sweated out two second-half interceptions that allowed Atlanta to rally but fall short in St. Louis.
Chris Redman threw two TD passes in the fourth quarter after replacing an ineffective Joey Harrington for the Falcons (3-9), who cut the gap to 21-16 midway through the fourth. But Oshiomogho Atogwe intercepted Redman and returned it to midfield with 1:31 left, and Steven Jackson scored on a 50-yard run two plays later to clinch it for St. Louis (3-9).