Sports

NFL Roundup: Dallas wins another one the hard way

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys keep finding ways to win -- weird, wacky, harder-than-they-have-to-be ways.

Despite dominating Minnesota for most of the game, Dallas did all it could to let the Vikings stay close, even in the lead. Then, when Dallas was about to fall behind again late in the third quarter, Chris Canty blocked a potential field goal and Pat Watkins returned it 68 yards for the touchdown that sent the Cowboys to a 24-14 victory Sunday.

"If there's any kind of doubt about what kind of heart or character they have, we saw it again," Dallas coach Wade Phillips said. "For some reason, we've been behind every game. We seem to keep our poise."

Coming off a lopsided loss at home to New England and going into their bye, the Cowboys were willing to take any victory. That's pretty much what they got.

While this wasn't as head-slapping as their last win, a Monday nighter in Buffalo in which they only led after time expired, it was pretty sloppy for a team that's now an NFC-best 6-1.

After scoring a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time this season, Dallas had a chance to break open the game in the second.

Instead, Marion Barber ran backward after gaining a first down, leading to a punt; Tony Romo and Patrick Crayton lost fumbles (both returned for touchdowns, although the first was called back because of a penalty); and rookie Nick Folk shanked a field goal for the first time.

The result: Minnesota led 14-7 at halftime despite trailing 250-76 in yards, 43-18 in plays and 16-5 in first downs. Plus, Romo was hobbling because of a leg injury sustained chasing the return of Crayton's fumble.

Yet, the Vikings couldn't capitalize. Strangely, Minnesota coach Brad Childress opted not to try swarming Romo and not to feature rookie Adrian Peterson, even though he went into the game as the NFL's leading rusher, was coming off a 224-yard performance and was playing in his home state for the first time.

BRONCOS 31, STEELERS 28, at Denver -- Denver took the city's minds off the Colorado Rockies for a few hours, beating Pittsburgh on Jason Elam's 49-yard field goal as time expired.

Rookie Tim Crowder had a 50-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and Jay Cutler threw three scoring passes as the Broncos, coming off their worst home loss in 41 years, looked nothing like the troubled team that lost playmakers on both sides of the ball and whose season was threatening to unravel before the leaves finished falling.

Suddenly able to get to the passer despite Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey (thigh) missing a game for just the third time in his career, the Broncos forced three turnovers and sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times.

REDSKINS 21, CARDINALS 19, at Landover, Md. -- In a game marred by bad penalties and boneheaded mistakes, the Redskins had the only thing resembling a normal scoring drive. But they finished the day with only 160 total yards and survived a 55-yard field goal attempt by Neil Rackers that was barely wide left with two seconds remaining.

Rackers' attempt was set up when the Cardinals recovered an onside kick following a touchdown and a failed 2-point conversion.

LIONS 23, BUCCANEERS 16, at Detroit -- The Lions scored touchdowns after Jeff Garcia's two fumbles, including Calvin Johnson's 32-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, to beat their former teammate.

Detroit pulled within a game of idle Green Bay in the NFC North, and Tampa Bay lost a chance to move past idle Carolina in the NFC South.

Garcia finished 37 for 45 for a season-high 316 yards and two touchdowns and kept his streak alive without an interception, dating to last season when he was playing for Philadelphia.

SAINTS 22, FALCONS 16, at New Orleans -- Reggie Bush's power running with a short pass gave New Orleans a 4-yard touchdown to win it. Bush spun free and overpowered three Falcons and dived across the goal line on a crucial third-and-goal screen pass.

Bush threw the ball into the second deck of the Louisiana Superdome after the score. While fans chanted his name in celebration, Bush took a handoff on a 2-point conversion, raced to the sideline and dived past the pylon.

BILLS 19, RAVENS 14, at Orchard Park, N.Y. -- Rookie quarterback Trent Edwards went 11 for 21 for 153 yards and engineered five scoring drives for Buffalo. Rian Lindell hit four field goals, including a 41-yarder, and Marshawn Lynch scored on a 1-yard plunge.

Willis McGahee made his mark, overcoming a slow start and booing crowd, by scoring on a 46-yard run in his first game back since the Bills traded him to Baltimore in March. But it wasn't enough for a popgun Ravens attack that featured three rookie offensive linemen and was minus starting quarterback Steve McNair and tight end Todd Heap.

SEAHAWKS 33, RAMS 6, at Seattle -- Nate Burleson returned the second-half kickoff 91 yards for a game-changing touchdown and the sputtering Seahawks pulled away from winless St. Louis, sending the Rams to their worst start in their 70 years in the NFL.

Pro Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger, playing for the first time in three weeks with sore ribs, was sacked seven times, four by Darryl Tapp. Bulger fumbled three times, lost two and finished 21 for 40 for 225 yards with three interceptions.

BENGALS 38, JETS 31, at Cincinnati -- Kenny Watson ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the best performance of his career, and the Bengals turned the Jets' second-half meltdown into their first victory in five games.

Chad Pennington put the Jets ahead with touchdown passes of 57 and 36 yards to Laveranues Coles, but the Jets were done in in the second half by two costly pass interference penalties, a shanked punt, a personal foul for punching a downed runner, a botched snap and Johnathan Joseph's 42-yard interception return for a touchdown that made it 38-23 with 37 seconds left.

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