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NFL Week 2 Roundup

Swarming Steelers ready to huddle up

Defense saves day after QB situation gets worse

MICHAEL VICK Electrifying start MICHAEL VICK
Electrifying start
Associated Press / September 20, 2010

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Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin isn’t sure who’s going to play quarterback next for his Steelers. The way his defense is playing, it might not matter.

Antonio Brown scored on an 89-yard kickoff return to open the game, and the Pittsburgh Steelers forced seven turnovers in defeating the Tennessee Titans, 19-11, yesterday in Nashville.

The Steelers won’t get Ben Roethlisberger back from suspension for two more games. Left tackle Max Starks is injured, Byron Leftwich was cut to add depth on the defensive line, and starting quarterback Dennis Dixon hurt his left knee early and didn’t return. Tomlin said Dixon will undergo tests.

Asked who will start next Sunday at Tampa Bay, Tomlin said, “I know it won’t be me. I’m not good enough.’’

Charlie Batch replaced Dixon, and Pittsburgh (2-0) was outgained, 238-127, on offense. But the Steelers swarmed the Titans (1-1) to come up with four sacks and force the most turnovers by Tennessee since 2000. Jeff Reed kicked four field goals off those turnovers.

The Titans pulled quarterback Vince Young after his third turnover. Kerry Collins was intercepted to end his first series and had a fumble himself, but nearly rallied the Titans anyway.

“We’ve been playing pretty good,’’ Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said. “There are some mistakes we’ve got to learn from. They were in the game still even with all the turnovers they had, so we still have to get better.’’

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he was looking for a spark and promised Young will start against the Giants next week. The Steelers intercepted Young twice, sacked him twice, and caused him to fumble once.

“That defense has created some very difficult opportunities for a number of quarterbacks in this league year after year after year, even the most veteran quarterbacks,’’ Fisher said.

Polamalu helped eat up the clock by leaping over the line and tackling Collins for a loss on first and goal. Collins tossed a 2-yard TD pass to Nate Washington two plays later, and he found Kenny Britt for the 2-point conversion to pull within 19-11 with 58 seconds left.

After Colin Allred recovered the onside kick for the Titans, Bryant McFadden broke up Collins’s pass to Washington in the end zone with 13 seconds left. Following two straight false starts, Collins tossed a short pass to Chris Johnson, who was tackled by Lawrence Timmons to end the game.

Pittsburgh snapped Johnson’s 100-yard rushing streak at 12 straight. The 2009 rushing champ had a chance to move a game away from Barry Sanders’s league record of 14, but he finished with just 16 carries for 34 yards. He had an 85-yard TD run wiped away by a holding penalty.

Eagles 35, Lions 32
In his first start at quarterback since 2006, Michael Vick put on an electrifying performance for Philadelphia, passing for 284 yards and two TDs, and showing off the moves that made him a Pro Bowler in the past.

Vick was 21 of 34 — connecting with nine teammates — and ran for 37 yards while escaping tacklers with speed and panache. His second TD pass, to Jeremy Maclin for 9 yards, put the Eagles (1-1) ahead just before halftime, and LeSean McCoy ran for two of his three TDs in the second half.

With Shaun Hill filling in for injured quarterback Matthew Stafford, the host Lions (0-2) fought back and pulled within 3 points with 1:50 left. But after recovering an onside kick, they turned the ball over on downs without gaining a yard. Hill was 25 of 45 for 335 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.

Texans 30, Redskins 27
Neil Rackers kicked a 35-yard field goal with 3:24 left in overtime, and Matt Schaub passed for a Texans-record 497 yards in leading Houston (2-0) to a comeback victory in Landover, Md.

Schaub moved the Texans 41 yards in seven plays on the winning drive, with Joel Dreessen making a leaping 28-yard grab to get to the Redskins’ 18 and set up Rackers’s kick. Schaub completed 38 of 52 passes with three TDs and one interception as Houston overcame a 27-10 deficit late in the third quarter.

Both quarterbacks threw for more than 400 yards, the first time that’s happened in an NFL game since 1994. The Redskins’ Donovan McNabb was 28 of 38 for 426 yards with one TD.

On Washington’s first possession of overtime, Graham Gano made a 52-yard field goal, but it didn’t count because Texans coach Gary Kubiak called a timeout just before the snap. Gano’s second try was wide right.

Packers 34, Bills 7
Aaron Rodgers threw for a pair of TDs and ran for another, and Green Bay’s defense had its way with sluggish Buffalo in a blowout at Lambeau Field.

Linebacker Clay Matthews had three sacks — giving him six on the year — and the Packers (2-0) held the Bills (0-2) to just 186 total yards, which was 20 more than they had last week against Miami. Buffalo visits the Patriots next Sunday.

Playing without star running back Ryan Grant, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1, Green Bay relied more on Rodgers. He didn’t throw his first TD pass until the third quarter, a 7-yarder to Donald Driver for a 20-7 lead, but completed 19 of 29 passes for 255 yards. Fullback John Kuhn was the Packers’ leading rusher with 36 yards on nine carries.

Bengals 15, Ravens 10
Mike Nugent had a career-high five field goals, making all the difference for host Cincinnati in a game dominated by the defenses.

The Bengals (1-1) won their club-record eighth straight game against division foes, and two big plays preceded Nugent’s decisive kicks. Cincinnati trailed, 10-9, when Bernard Scott returned a kickoff 60 yards to set up Nugent’s go-ahead field goal from 38 yards. Linebacker Brandon Johnson then intercepted Joe Flacco’s tipped pass and returned it to the Ravens’ 11, setting up Nugent’s 25-yarder with 2:48 remaining.

Flacco was picked off four times and finished 17 of 39 for 154 yards for Baltimore (1-1).

Falcons 41, Cardinals 7
After Atlanta’s top two running backs went out with injuries, Jason Snelling stepped in and stepped up, rushing for 129 yards and scoring three TDs to thrust the Falcons past visiting Arizona.

Matt Ryan matched his career high with three TD passes, but it was Snelling who really came through after Michael Turner (groin) and Jerious Norwood (knee) were hurt. Snelling carried 24 times, scoring twice on the ground. He also had a 19-yard score among his five receptions (for 57 yards).

The Cardinals (1-1) had won seven of their last nine road games, but were totally outmatched in this one other than Tim Hightower’s 80-yard TD run in the second quarter. The Falcons had a 444-267 edge in total yards.

Chargers 38, Jaguars 13
As good as Philip Rivers was, the San Diego defense was even better, forcing Jacksonville into a franchise record-tying six turnovers that the host Chargers turned into 17 points.

Rivers passed for 334 yards and three scores, and was 22 of 29. He threw TD passes of 9 and 4 yards to tight end Antonio Gates in the first half, then hit Malcom Floyd on a 54-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Antoine Cason recorded two of the four interceptions thrown by David Garrard, and also forced a fumble. Jacksonville (1-1) got its only TD with 37 seconds to play, on a 3-yard pass from Garrard to Mike Sims-Walker.

Broncos 31, Seahawks 14
Denver won its 11th straight home opener as Kyle Orton threw for 307 yards and two scores. One TD pass went to rookie Demaryius Thomas, who caught eight passes for 97 yards after missing last week’s game with a foot injury.

The Broncos (1-1) led, 17-0, after a dominating first half that included a trio of takeaways. Cassius Vaughn recovered a fumbled punt and Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins intercepted passes from Matt Hasselbeck inside the Denver 10-yard line. Hasselbeck was picked off three times in all for Seattle (1-1).

Chiefs 16, Browns 14
Brandon Flowers returned a first-half interception for a TD, Ryan Succop booted three field goals, and visiting Kansas City clinched its first 2-0 start in five years by converting a fourth-down gamble in the final two minutes.

On fourth and inches at the Cleveland 36, Chiefs coach Todd Haley went for it instead of punting and pinning the Browns (0-2) deep. Thomas Jones leaped over the pile and picked up the game-clinching first down by the nose of the football.

Buccaneers 20, Panthers 7
A year after starting 0-7, Tampa Bay is 2-0 thanks to Josh Freeman, who passed for two scores.

Host Carolina (0-2) looked highly inept in the matchup of the league’s two youngest teams, and benched quarterback Matt Moore in the fourth quarter for rookie Jimmy Clausen.

Raiders 16, Rams 14
Bruce Gradkowski replaced an ineffective Jason Campbell after halftime and led host Oakland (1-1) to three scoring drives in its home opener. Sam Bradford threw two TD passes to Mark Clayton, but St. Louis (0-2) lost for the 27th time in 28 games.

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