|In just his second game with the Bengals, Kansas City castoff Larry Johnson bailed out an ailing backfield by running for 107 yards on 22 carries. (John Sommers Ii/Reuters)|
Ravens put champs on ropes
Without Roethlisberger, Steelers take step back in playoff pursuit
Third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon was doing a fine job for the Pittsburgh Steelers in his first NFL start - until he was forced to work overtime.
An interception by rookie Paul Kruger set up a 29-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff with 6:42 left in the extra session, giving the Ravens a 20-17 victory last night in Baltimore.
Dixon started because Ben Roethlisberger was sidelined with a concussion and backup Charlie Batch has a broken left wrist. Dixon had thrown only one pass in two seasons before getting the nod against the Ravens.
For much of the game, Dixon did his best impersonation of Roethlisberger. He threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, and even added a personal touch, running for a 24-yard touchdown to put Pittsburgh up, 17-14, in the fourth quarter.
But in overtime, Dixon’s lone turnover provided the Ravens (6-5) a much-needed win and sent the Steelers (6-5) to their third straight defeat - their longest skid since 2006.
Kruger picked off the pass and returned it 26 yards to the Pittsburgh 28, and six plays later Cundiff delivered the winner in Baltimore’s first overtime win since November 2005, also against the Steelers.
Joe Flacco completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown to keep Baltimore in the thick of the playoff hunt.
The game was a rematch of last season’s AFC title game, when eventual champion Pittsburgh completed a three-game sweep of the Ravens with a 24-13 victory.
With Roethlisberger looking on from the sideline as the third quarterback, Dixon (12 of 26, 145 yards) ran around the right end for a touchdown on third and 5 to give the Steelers their first lead, 17-14, with 6:24 left.
But the Ravens came back. Facing fourth and 5 from his 46, Flacco completed a 44-yard pass to Ray Rice to set up a 24-yard field goal by Cundiff with 1:51 to go.
Cundiff came up short on a 56-yard try on the final play of regulation.
The Bengals (8-3) were determined to run against the Browns (1-10), who have given up a lot of yards on the ground. Cedric Benson missed his second straight game with a sprained hip, and rookie backup Bernard Scott was slowed by a minor knee injury for part of the game. That left Johnson, who was released by Kansas City after a suspension. He carried 22 times and averaged 4.9 yards per attempt.
The Bengals rushed for 210 yards overall, throwing the ball only 24 times and running it 45. Carson Palmer passed for only 110 yards and a touchdown.
The Browns reached double-digit losses for the eighth time in their 11 years as an expansion team. Cleveland managed only 169 yards overall, the fewest allowed by the Bengals in 26 years.
Thomas Jones added a 3-yard TD run as the Jets (5-6) won for just the second time in eight games. It was their first home victory since Week 3 against Tennessee.
Sanchez finished 13 of 17 for 154 yards and an interception. With the Jets leading, 14-3, Sanchez scrambled to the right sideline on first down from New York’s 46 and was tackled out of bounds by Richard Marshall after an 8-yard gain. He stayed down for a few moments as the trainers checked out his left knee.
Helped to the sideline, Sanchez put very little weight on the leg. He was replaced by Kellen Clemens, but came back on the next offensive series. After the game, Sanchez said he was fine.
On his first throw after returning, Sanchez was intercepted by Chris Gamble. It appeared Carolina (4-7) had cashed in on the turnover when Steve Smith came down with a 10-yard catch in the end zone, but the Jets challenged the call and it was reversed. The Panthers settled for a 28-yard field goal by John Kasay to make it 14-6 with 11:45 left.
Revis and Kerry Rhodes had two interceptions apiece. It was Jake Delhomme’s second four-interception game of the season.
Trying to set an early tone, and perhaps underestimating the Redskins (3-8), the Eagles opened with an onside kick that backfired. Four plays later, Jason Campbell scored on a 1-yard run.
Washington went ahead, 21-16, on its first possession of the second half, driving 80 yards on nine plays. Campbell hit Fred Davis for 29 yards on third and 10, then completed a 35-yard pass to Devin Thomas on third and 7 before connecting with Davis on a 10-yard TD pass on another third-and-7 play.
Trailing, 24-16, in the fourth quarter, Donovan McNabb drove the Eagles 90 yards for a TD, connecting with Jason Avant for gains of 46 and 20 yards. Leonard Weaver’s 12-yard run took Philly to the 1 and set up Eldra Buckley’s first career TD run. LeSean McCoy ran in the tying 2-point conversion.
After forcing a punt, the Eagles moved 66 yards to set up the winning kick. McNabb hit rookie Jeremy Maclin for a 35-yard gain on the drive. Akers made all four of his field goal attempts, extending his streak to 16.
Young won his ninth straight start by driving the Titans 99 yards in the final 2:37. He converted three times on fourth down on the drive, twice to Britt. He threw for a career-high 387 yards on 27-of-43 passing.
With Kurt Warner inactive with a sore neck, Matt Leinart made his first start in more than two years and nearly preserved the Cardinals’ three-game win streak. Leinart threw for 220 yards and LaRod Stephens-Howling returned a kickoff 99 yards for a TD. Tim Hightower’s 6-yard scoring run gave Arizona (7-4) a 17-13 lead with 12:20 remaining.
Ryan, the second-year quarterback, hurt his big right toe on Atlanta’s first series. Turner reinjured his right ankle during the third quarter, a high sprain that had kept the running back out of the previous game and limited him in practice. The Falcons (6-5) also lost starting offensive linemen Harvey Dahl and Sam Baker to unspecified injuries.
Connor Barth missed a 51-yard field goal for the Bucs (1-10) with 2:30 left, giving Atlanta a final chance with no timeouts. Redman, making just his second appearance in two years, calmly directed a 59-yard drive that gave the Falcons a win that kept alive their playoff hopes.
Oliver’s play was the Chargers’ second TD in a span of 20 seconds and put the Chiefs (3-8) in a 28-7 hole late in the second quarter. Matt Cassel dropped back and cocked his arm to throw, but the ball slipped out of his hand. Oliver grabbed it out of the air, bobbled it, gained control, and ran it in.
The Jaguars outgained the 49ers, 357-284, but had little to show for it. Josh Scobee kicked a 32-yard field goal for the Jaguars, but also missed twice. San Francisco’s defense came up with two fumble recoveries off second-half sacks.
Seattle rushed for 170 yards, one week after mustering only 4 yards at Minnesota.