NFL roundup: News from across the league
Minnesota 17, Pittsburgh 10
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brad Johnson and rookie Tarvaris Jackson each threw for a touchdown and the Minnesota Vikings got production from starters and backups alike in beating Pittsburgh 17-10 Saturday night in the Steelers’ first home game since their Super Bowl championship.
Ben Roethlisberger, a surprise starter because of his right thumb injury, threw for a touchdown on the Steelers’ opening drive before the offense basically shut down for the rest of the game. The Steelers’ execution was spotty, with mistakes, incorrect pass routes and turnovers. They had a fumble and an interception in their final two possessions of the first half.
So far, the Steelers are playing much like they were a year ago, when their starters didn’t score a touchdown on offense in the preseason before going on to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 26 years. So much for the importance of exhibition play; Roethlisberger had thrown only one other preseason TD pass in three years before doing so Saturday.
Roethlisberger played one series for the second game in a row. He got the offense into the end zone so quickly, throwing a 16-yard scoring pass to Cedrick Wilson with less than 5 minutes gone, he was pulled after only six plays.
Panthers 17, Jaguars 10
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Backup quarterback David Garrard mostly struggled with — and against — the starters, fumbling three times, throwing an interception and getting sacked once in Jacksonville’s loss. He threw another interception in the third quarter against Carolina’s backups.
It was hardly the outing Garrard wanted when he was given a chance to showcase his skills with the first-team offense. It also solidified his spot behind starter Byron Leftwich, essentially ending a mild quarterback controversy that began last season when Garrard went 4-1 in place of an injured Leftwich.
Leftwich started the game and played two series for the Jaguars. He was 4-for-4 for 52 yards and was sacked twice. Garrard fared much worse in relief.
He fumbled his second snap of the game and was intercepted three plays later. Garrard fumbled another snap on Jacksonville’s next possession but completed three passes to put the Jaguars in position for Seth Marler’s 50-yard field goal that tied the score at 3.
Carolina made it 10-3 after Nick Goings scored from a yard out with 26 seconds to play in the first half.
Dolphins 13, Buccaneers 10
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Daunte Culpepper played into the second quarter, completing 7 of 9 passes for 86 yards and leading a nine-minute touchdown drive after producing little offense on Miami’s first three possessions.
The eighth-year pro played one series in Miami’s preseason opener against Jacksonville, completing one pass for 2 yards. This appearance lasted 23 plays, 14 of them on the 70-yard march that Sammy Morris finished with a 2-yard TD run. Just as encouraging for the Dolphins was Culpepper’s ability to weather the first true contact he absorbed since tearing three ligaments in his right knee while playing for Minnesota last season.
Chris Simms started at quarterback for Tampa Bay and led a field goal drive, followed by two three-and-outs. He completed 2 of 7 passes for 27 yards and was sacked twice, once by Dan Wilkinson, the much-traveled defensive tackle who signed with Miami last Monday.
Joey Harrington, another of the Dolphins’ newcomers, followed Culpepper and was 8-of-15 for 81 yards. He led a pair of field goal drives before being replaced by Cleo Lemon at the start of the fourth quarter.
Packers 38, Falcons 10
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Brett Favre led the Packers on their first two touchdown drives of the preseason in the first half, leading Green Bay over Atlanta.
Favre was 16-of-22 for 134 yards, throwing two touchdown passes to cap long drives and leading the Packers to a field goal after an interception by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.
Vick looked sharp on a seven-play, 80-yard drive on the first, throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dwayne Blakley to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead.
Favre then drove the Packers to the 3, where they had a first-and-goal. He threw a short pass that skipped off the hands of tight end David Martin and was caught by Bubba Franks to tie it at 7.
Vick was intercepted by Packers rookie Tyrone Culver on the Falcons’ second series, and left the game after completing 5 of 7 passes for 59 yards. Favre threw his second touchdown pass to running back Najeh Davenport with 2:42 remaining in the half. Packers cornerback Jason Horton then intercepted Schaub’s pass just before halftime, running it back 44 yards for a touchdown that gave the Packers a 24-10 halftime lead.
Matt Schaub was 5-of-9 for 61 yards and an interception before he was lifted for rookie D.J. Shockley to start the second half.
Jets 27, Redskins 14
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Derrick Blaylock made a promising bid to win the New York Jets’ starting running back job, while Chad Pennington probably remains the favorite at quarterback — even though he didn’t play.
Brad Smith ran 61 yards for a touchdown on a double reverse, and Leon Washington returned a kickoff 87 yards for a score. Reggie Newhouse added a fourth-quarter touchdown catch as the Jets showed some all-around improvement after last week’s 16-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
Blaylock got the start against the Redskins and punished what is supposed one of the league’s best run defenses for 46 yards on 10 carries — including four consecutive carries for 27 yards to start New York’s opening drive. Washington, playing the part of the second quarter and all of the third, ran for 17 yards on six carries. Cedric Houston ran for 53 yards on 14 carries in the fourth, when the stands were half-empty and the starters long gone.
Patrick Ramsey, traded by the Redskins in the offseason, got the start in his return to his old home stadium because Pennington was away due to a family illness. Ramsey went 6-for-9 for 33 yards, was sacked twice and didn’t have a completion for longer than 9 yards. He was on the field for one score, but it was the one-play drive that consisted of Smith’s long TD run.
The Redskins generated only three first downs in three drives with starting quarterback Mark Brunell. Brunell finished 3-for-6 for 83 yards.
Texans 27, Rams 20
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Mario Williams looked less like a mistake-prone rookie and more like the No. 1 pick of the draft in his second preseason game.
Williams drew the Rams into a pair of penalties, batted down a pass to force a punt and tackled running back Tony Fisher for a 3-yard loss.
Vernand Morency, who did not play in the preseason opener due to a hip injury and coach Gary Kubiak’s decision to look at other backs, had touchdown runs of 4 and 43 yards. Phillip Buchanon also had a big game for the Texans, with punt returns of 32 and 33 yards and a fumble recovery on the first play of the second half that gave Houston the ball at the St. Louis 17, leading to Kris Brown field goal for a 13-3 lead.
A pass interference call in the end zone on Buchanon, however, led to a 1-yard run by Fred Russell late in the third quarter that cut the Texans’ lead to 20-17. The Texans also got a 44-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels to Derrick Lewis in the fourth quarter.
The Rams scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, a 4-yard touchdown pass from Gus Frerotte to Shaun McDonald and a 1-yard run by Fred Russell.
Patriots 30, Cardinals 3
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Matt Leinart looked like a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the start of his NFL career. It didn’t last.
Five days after reporting to the Cardinals’ training camp, the 2004 Heisman winner entered Arizona’s exhibition game with 1:09 left in the first half. He promptly drove the Cardinals 54 yards to set up Neil Rackers’ field goal, scrambling for 29 yards on two runs and completing 3 of 6 passes for 20 yards on the drive.
That was against a New England defense made up mostly of regulars. In the third quarter, he was just 1-for-5 — a 25-yard completion to tight end Eric Edwards — and was sacked twice by New England backups. He finished the game 4-of-11 for 49 yards.
Tom Brady played most of the first half and completed 15 of 20 passes for 149 yards as the Patriots marched up and down the field but usually stalled before reaching the end zone.
Rookie Stephen Gostkowski, competing to become the replacement for Adam Vinatieri, kicked three field goals for the Patriots.
Broncos 35, Titans 10
DENVER (AP) — Mike Bell scored ran 10 times for 73 yards and scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, just days after the undrafted running back from the University of Arizona leapfrogged Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne as the Broncos’ top tailback.
He also had some explaining to do, as wide receiver Rod Smith chastised him for going out of bounds at the end of a 34-yard run instead of burying his helmet into safety Lamont Thompson.
Sandwiched in between Bell’s 1-yard dive and 1-yard dart into the end zone was a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down from Jake Plummer to tight end Nate Jackson after the Broncos got the ball at midfield on safety Nick Ferguson’s interception of Billy Volek’s pass.
Plummer kept the Titans off-balance with a bevy of rollouts, and completed 7 of 9 passes for 97 yards before giving way to backup Jay Cutler, the Broncos’ top draft pick, who led Denver on touchdown drives on his first two possessions.
Denver didn’t punt until the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter and led 35-3 before Vince Young, the No. 3 pick in the draft, led the Titans on a late scoring drive.
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