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NFL Roundup

Bears too slick for rusty Colts

Manning can't his find groove as Indy opens in new stadium

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Associated Press / September 8, 2008
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Chicago rediscovered its winning formula last night: play tough defense, control the ball, and make no major mistakes.

No, it wasn't enough to win a Super Bowl 19 months ago against Indianapolis, but it was the perfect scenario to ruin the Colts' regular-season opening of the new Lucas Oil Stadium, 29-13.

Chicago's win ended Indy's remarkable streak of 21 consecutive victories in September and October, the league's longest run since the Green Bay Packers won 23 pre-November games from 1928-32. It's also the first time since 2004 the Colts won't start at least 7-0.

How did the Bears do it? With an old style and a new look.

Matt Forte, the first Chicago rookie to start at running back since Walter Payton in 1975, ran for 123 yards - 50 on a first-quarter touchdown run in which he broke one tackle and then outran Bob Sanders, last season's defensive player of the year, to the end zone.

Kyle Orton, who wrested the starting job from Rex Grossman, was 13 of 21 for 150 yards and had no turnovers.

Meanwhile, two-time league MVP Peyton Manning wasn't himself in his first game action since having surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee in mid-July.

Chicago's defense limited the Colts to 53 yards rushing, which forced Manning to win it with his arm. Problem was, Manning was just 30 of 49 for 257 yards with one TD and instead of scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, the Colts settled for field goals by Adam Vinatieri on their first two trips inside the Chicago 20.

Manning converted with a 6-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne, making it 15-13 with 9:18 left in the third quarter.

That's when the Bears took control.

Charles Tillman slapped the ball away from Marvin Harrison at the Colts' 21, Lance Briggs scooped up the fumble on a bounce and rumbled into the end zone. And Jason McKie scored on a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter to close it out.

Bills 34, Seahawks 10
Roscoe Parrish scored on a 63-yard punt return, and punter Brian Moorman completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to defensive end Ryan Denney on a fake field goal, sparking host Buffalo to a stunning and dominating win over Seattle.

Another special teams play, kicker Rian Lindell's recovery of a fumbled kickoff, set up Trent Edwards's 30-yard touchdown pass to Robert Royal. Marshawn Lynch scored on a 21-yard run and the Bills' defense did the rest, limiting the Seahawks to 252 total yards.

Edwards, the second-year player opening his first season as starter, had a solid day, finishing 19 of 30 for 215 yards, while Lynch had 76 yards rushing.

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was 17 of 41 for 190 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception, looking very rusty after getting limited playing time in the preseason because of a back injury.

Holmgren could only look on with a grimace on the sideline as the Seahawks unraveled in the third quarter. They gave up two touchdowns in a 20-second span when Denney and Royal scored. Moorman became the first NFL punter to throw a touchdown pass since Pittsburgh's Josh Miller did it against Baltimore on Dec. 28, 2003.

Titans 17, Jaguars 10
Tennessee sacked David Garrard seven times, recovered his fumble, and Cortland Finnegan intercepted him twice in beating visiting Jacksonville in a matchup of the AFC's two wild cards in 2007.

The Jaguars came in without top backup Richard Collier on the offensive line after he was shot earlier this week, and had three more linemen get hurt. That helped the Titans limit Jacksonville to 189 total yards, and just 33 yards on the ground by what was the NFL's second-best rushing team in 2007.

Tennessee quarterback Vince Young had a rough day; he was intercepted twice and threw for 110 yards. His second pick came a play after Finnegan's second interception. Fans booed heavily as he was slow to head back onto the field late in the fourth quarter. Young sprained his left knee a couple of plays later and had a pair of crutches at his locker after the game.

The Titans will run tests on Young's knee, but Fisher said he didn't think the injury was serious.

Steelers 38, Texans 17
Willie Parker ran for 138 yards and a career-best three touchdowns and Ben Roethlisberger was nearly perfect as host Pittsburgh manhandled Houston.

Roethlisberger missed on only one of 14 passing attempts before being lifted after three quarters. Both of his TD passes went to Hines Ward, who had six receptions for 76 yards. Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley's interception led to Roethlisberger's 13-yard scoring pass to Ward for a 21-0 lead with nine minutes remaining in the second quarter.

For the Texans, the first game of a season full of hope - the 2002 expansion franchise went 8-8 for the first time last year and won three of its final four - quickly fell apart after coach Gary Kubiak went for it on fourth and 1 from the Steelers' 48 on the game's opening drive.

Quarterback Matt Schaub leaned into the line and appeared to have gained the needed yard despite colliding with 350-pound nose tackle Casey Hampton, and referee Terry McAulay signaled a first down. But the ball was inches short when measured, and the ruling was upheld upon replay after Houston challenged.

The Steelers, getting the ball at midfield after the failed gamble, needed eight plays to score on Parker's 7-yard run. Pittsburgh's next possession ended with a 13-yard TD run by Parker.

Eagles 38, Rams 3
Proving he's back to full health, Donovan McNabb threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns, including a 90-yard scoring strike to Hank Baskett that set the tone for Philadelphia's pummeling of visiting St. Louis.

McNabb, who hasn't played an injury-free season since 2004, finished 21 of 33. DeSean Jackson, the first Eagles rookie wide receiver to start a season opener in 18 years, had six catches for 106 yards and returned a punt 60 yards to set up a field goal.

Right from the start, McNabb picked apart the Rams' secondary with crisp passes and pinpoint accuracy. He did it all except scramble. Kevin Kolb came in with 8:55 left, allowing McNabb to enjoy the rest of the game as a spectator.

Brian Westbrook added 91 yards rushing and two TDs as Philadelphia rolled up 522 total yards. The Eagles' defense was just as dominant, holding the Rams to 166 yards of offense.

Cardinals 23, 49ers 13
Kurt Warner passed for 197 yards and led three monotonously effective drives in the second half to pace Arizona to a road win over San Francisco that avenged two defeats to its NFC West rival last season.

Anquan Boldin had all of his eight catches for 82 yards in the second half of the Cardinals' third straight opener against the 49ers. Arizona grinded out 12 first downs while holding onto the ball for nearly 23 minutes in the second half.

J.T. O'Sullivan passed for 195 yards in his first NFL start for the 49ers, whose long-woeful offense looked competent under new coordinator Mike Martz - if it could only get its hands on the ball. Frank Gore rushed for 96 yards and San Francisco's only touchdown on an early 41-yard scamper, but the Niners' offense barely got on the field in the second half.

Neil Rackers's third field goal, from 30 yards with 1:57 left, capped an 18-play drive that covered 62 yards in 10:08.

Saints 24, Buccaneers 20
Drew Brees passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns, giving New Orleans fans already jubilant about their team's quick return from Hurricane Gustav a triumph to celebrate as well.

Tampa Bay had a shot to win the back-and-forth contest until Scott Fujita intercepted Jeff Garcia's fourth-down pass just inside the Saints' 20 in the final minute.

Brees's scoring passes went for 39 yards to David Patten, 84 to Devery Henderson, and 42 to Reggie Bush, with Bush's score putting the Saints in the lead for good in the fourth quarter.

Ravens 17, Bengals 10
Baltimore rookie quarterback Joe Flacco outplayed Cincinnati counterpart Carson Palmer and the Ravens' defense held the visiting Bengals to 154 total yards and eight first downs to make John Harbaugh a winner in his NFL coaching debut.

The Ravens forced only two turnovers, but one was a Palmer interception that ended the Bengals' deepest drive. Palmer finished 10 of 25 for 99 yards.

Flacco went 15 of 29 for 129 yards and no interceptions, and ran for a 38-yard TD to put Baltimore ahead, 17-3, in the third quarter.

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