|Terrell Owens more than doubled his season high with 213 yards receiving, including a 75-yard TD catch. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)|
Cowboys starting to catch up
Breakout game by Owens shows Dallas is ready for a playoff push
Terrell Owens is a force again. Perhaps the Dallas Cowboys are, too.
Bottled up all season, and his frustration starting to show, Owens broke out with seven catches for 213 yards yesterday to help the Cowboys beat the San Francisco 49ers, 35-22, in Irving, Texas, and continue what's looking like the start of a playoff push.
Owens's total was the second-best of his career, behind the 283 yards he had in the 2000 game in which he caught an NFL-record 20 passes (back when he played for the 49ers) and tied for the fourth-best in Cowboys history.
It was the most in the NFL since Philadelphia's Kevin Curtis had 221 in September 2007 and the most by a Dallas player since Tony Hill had 213 against Philadelphia in 1979.
"You can see, he's still got it," quarterback Tony Romo said. "He's a fantastic player."
"They unleashed me today," Owens said, smiling. He had gone 13 games without cracking 100 yards, hadn't topped 89 all season.
The better news for the Cowboys (7-4) was having consecutive victories for the first time since starting 3-0. With sputtering Seattle coming to Texas Stadium Thursday, Dallas could go steaming into December in prime position for a wild-card berth.
The Cowboys also should feel good about the way the defense played when the game was close and about Romo having another efficient performance in his second game dealing with a splint covering the broken pinkie on his throwing hand. Romo was 23 of 39 for 341 yards and three touchdowns, including a 75-yarder to Owens for Dallas's first score.
The 49ers (3-8) were coming off their first win under interim coach Mike Singletary and had a great chance to break the game open early, facing first and goal from the 4 on consecutive drives in the first quarter.
But the Dallas defense limited them to only a pair of field goals. San Francisco's next drive inside the 20 also resulted in a field goal, then a drive that started on the Cowboys' 17 lasted only one snap, an interception in the end zone. Dallas's lead swelled to 32-9 before the 49ers got into the end zone.
Bears 27, Rams 3
Matt Forte scored on two long runs and Rams quarterback Marc Bulger lasted only five plays before sustaining a concussion against a Chicago defense that had three of a season-best five sacks by the break in St. Louis.
The Bears (6-5) rebounded from a 37-3 blowout loss at Green Bay last week to keep a share of first place in the balanced NFC North. Chicago led, 24-3, at the break behind Forte, who had a career-best 132 yards on 20 carries and his third 100-yard rushing game as a rookie. Forte lost his first fumble of the year early in the second quarter, but he made up for it with a 13-yard scoring run to cap the Bears' effortless opening drive and a 47-yarder in the second quarter.
The Rams (2-9) have lost five straight and have been outscored, 123-13, in the first half the last four games.
Bills 54, Chiefs 31
Trent Edwards threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as Buffalo pounced on five turnovers by host Kansas City and came within 4 points of matching its 42-year-old record for most points in a game.
Rian Lindell kicked four field goals and Leodis McKelvin returned an interception 64 yards for a score for the Bills (6-5). Edwards was 24 of 32 for 273 yards. He entered the game with only one career rushing touchdown, but he scored on runs of 5 and 15 yards.
Kansas City (1-10) set a franchise record for points allowed, topping the 51 Seattle scored in 1983. Twenty of Buffalo's points came off turnovers. The Chiefs lost three fumbles and Tyler Thigpen threw two interceptions.
Raiders 31, Broncos 10
Former Bronco Ashley Lelie caught a touchdown pass and set up another score with a spectacular 51-yard reception, helping to lead Oakland to a surprising win at Denver.
Rookie Darren McFadden had two short touchdown runs as the Raiders (3-8) snapped a four-game losing streak. Lelie's long catch set up McFadden's first score, which broke a 10-10 tie in the third quarter and snapped a 15-quarter touchdown drought for Oakland's offense.
The Broncos (6-5) stumbled through the first half but appeared to right themselves when they took the second-half kickoff and covered 85 yards in 13 plays for the tying score, a 6-yard run by rookie Peyton Hillis. But JaMarcus Russell and Lelie hooked up for the 51-yard gain on the first play of the next drive and it was all downhill for Denver from there.
Redskins 20, Seahawks 17
Despite missing most of practice last week because of his sprained knee, Clinton Portis carried 29 times for 143 yards and Washington (7-4) escaped Seattle with its first win since Oct. 26.
Portis was questionable to play, but he kept pounding away, even after injuring a muscle near his hip late in the first half. Midway through the fourth quarter, Portis ripped off runs of 9, 11, and 20 yards, leading the Redskins into Seattle territory for a clinching score, but Ladell Betts fumbled.
Matt Hasselbeck tried to rally Seattle, but he flicked a horribly underthrown pass that Shawn Springs intercepted near midfield with 1:20 left, sealing the Seahawks' first 2-9 start since 1992.
Ravens 36, Eagles 7
After Donovan McNabb was benched following an awful first half, Ed Reed picked off Philadelphia's backup quarterback, Kevin Kolb, and returned the interception an NFL-record 108 yards to clinch a home win for Baltimore.
Matt Stover kicked a field goal to launch a 24-point fourth quarter for the Ravens (7-4) that included a 53-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Mark Clayton, Reed's interception return, and a 1-yard touchdown run by Le'Ron McClain.
McNabb was 8 of 18 for 59 yards with two interceptions and a fumble in the first half for a 13.2 rating. One week earlier, he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in a tie with Cincinnati. Kolb also failed to get the Eagles (5-5-1) moving, going 10 of 23 for 73 yards and two interceptions.
Buccaneers 38, Lions 20
After spotting the winless Lions a 17-0 lead, Jeff Garcia rallied visiting Tampa Bay to five consecutive touchdowns as the Buccaneers won their third in a row.
Warrick Dunn ran for a touchdown and Garcia connected with Ike Hilliard and Jerramy Stevens for scores in the second quarter to put Tampa Bay (8-3) ahead, 21-17. Clifton Smith returned a punt 70 yards early in the third quarter to give the Bucs an 11-point cushion, and Ronde Barber tacked on a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Vikings 30, Jaguars 12
Minnesota turned two Jaguar fumbles into a 14-0 lead just 1:41 into the game, then relied on Adrian Peterson and a swarming defense to send Jacksonville to its fifth loss in six home games this season.
Peterson, who was benched to start the game because he was late for a team meeting Saturday, ran for 80 yards and sealed the victory with a 16-yard touchdown run with 6:55 to play. The Vikings (6-5) got plenty of help from the Jaguars (4-7), who committed five turnovers, were sacked four times, missed two field goals, and were flagged for eight penalties.
Texans 16, Browns 6
Houston (4-7) finally won a road game this season in its sixth try, getting 275 yards passing and a touchdown from Sage Rosenfels in a victory over the bumbling Browns.
Rosenfels went 24 of 32 and hooked up with Kevin Walter on a 17-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. However, Rosenfels nearly let the Browns (4-7) back in it with a pair of interceptions in the second half. But Cleveland went nowhere behind first Brady Quinn, then Derek Anderson, who combined to complete just 13 of 32 passes for 145 yards and three interceptions.