PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 14: Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off of the field with help from the training staff after injuring himself during the game against the New England Patriots on November 14 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
2 Total Updates since November 15, 2010
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Gronkowski, a rookie, finished with five catches for 72 yards in the biggest performance of his young career. He entered the game with 14 catches for 148 yards and three scores through his first eight contests.
Brady completed 30-of-43 passes and ran for a score as the Patriots (7-2) kept pace with the New York Jets for the AFC East lead. The Jets pulled out an overtime win at Cleveland on Sunday, thanks to a last-minute touchdown, to improve to 7-2.
"That was an emotional win for us," Brady said. "It's always fun to come in here and play well. We know what kind of team they have, what they're all about. I thought we showed what we're all about, too."
Ben Roethlisberger passed for a season-high 387 yards and three touchdowns on 30-of-49 completions. But he also had his one interception returned for a touchdown, as the Steelers (6-3) lost for a second time in three games.
The Steelers hadn't allowed 39 points since their 41-27 loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game at the end of the 2004 season.
"You've got to give them credit. I don't think they did anything to confuse us or anything like that. I think they just flat-out beat us," Roethlisberger said. "Truth be told, I think we got a good old-fashioned butt whooping, and you never like it when it's at home."
Pittsburgh had to play much of the game without Hines Ward, who suffered a concussion late in the first quarter. He remained in uniform on the sideline and kept loose on a training bike, but did not enter as he was being evaluated.
New England held a 10-3 lead at the break, and took control with two scores in the third quarter.
On the period's opening possession, the Patriots moved 78 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a 2nd-and-goal from the nine. Brady faked a handoff and sent a pass to the right flat for Gronkowski, who ran free into the end zone.
Jeff Reed pushed a 26-yard field goal to the right with under four minutes left in the quarter, and New England took advantage of the opportunity to widen its lead. The Patriots didn't face a third down on the 80-yard drive, which Brady ended with a three-yard plunge up the middle.
He planted the ball on the goal line as he dove forward, and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu tried to push him away. But it was definitely a touchdown, and Brady spiked the ball emphatically after getting back to his feet.
The extra point was wide right, though, leaving the Patriots' lead at 23-3.
Roethlisberger countered with a six-yard TD pass to Emmanuel Sanders, and the Steelers defense forced a punt. But on the second play of the ensuing Pittsburgh drive, James Sanders intercepted Roethlisberger and ran 32 yards into the end zone. A failed two-point conversion kept it a 29-10 game with 8:32 remaining.
The high-scoring fourth continued, as the Steelers started near midfield thanks to a long kick return by Emmanuel Sanders. The five-play drive ended on Roethlisberger's 15-yard pass to Mike Wallace, and Mewelde Moore's two-point conversion run got the Steelers within 29-18.
There was a little under seven minutes left at that point, but the Patriots put an enormous dent in Pittsburgh's comeback hopes with another touchdown. Brady's 25-yard strike to Gronkowski had New England ahead by 18 with 4:23 on the clock.
Roethlisberger threw a 33-yard touchdown to Wallace with about three minutes left, and Moore ran for another two-point conversion after the Steelers got a second chance, thanks to a Patriots penalty.
But Shayne Graham kicked a 36-yarder just inside the two-minute warning to secure the outcome.
The Patriots scored on their first touch, marching down the field on a series of mostly first-down plays. The Steelers forced New England into a 3rd-and-9 at the Pittsburgh 19, but Brady found Gronkowski over the middle for a touchdown, making it 7-0 a little more than five minutes into the game.
Pittsburgh went backward on its ensuing drive -- an offensive holding penalty and two sacks put the Steelers in a 4th-and-37 -- allowing the Patriots to get the ball at their own 42.
New England advanced to the red zone before a chop block penalty set the Patriots back, and they settled for a 31-yard field goal by Graham.
On the second-to-last play of the quarter, Ward was hit after attempting to catch a short pass over the middle and his head appeared to tilt awkwardly to the side. He lay on the field for a moment before leaving the field under his own power.
The Steelers got on the board in the second period at the end of a long drive. They held the ball for more than five minutes and had several chances for a touchdown.
But on 2nd-and-7 from the New England eight-yard line, Wallace couldn't hang on to Roethlisberger's pass in the end zone. A defensive offside penalty on the next play gave the Steelers a 3rd-and-3 from the four, but Roethlisberger's throw to Antwaan Randle El was incomplete, and Reed kicked a 22-yarder with 5:08 left.
New England was penalized 10 times for 113 yards...The Patriots totaled 453 yards...BenJarvus Green-Ellis led New England with 87 yards on 18 carries...Wallace finished with eight catches for 136 yards...Wes Welker recorded team highs of eight receptions and 89 yards for the Patriots.
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Peyton Manning threw for 185 yards, and the Indianapolis defense produced five turnovers in a 23-17 decision over Cincinnati at Lucas Oil Field.
Manning completed 20-of-36 throws without a touchdown or an interception, seven of which went to tight end Jacob Tamme for 73 yards for the Colts (6-3), who bounced back from a loss at Philadelphia last week to win for a fourth time in their last five games.
"Certainly we would have liked to have played better," Manning said about a banged-up offensive unit that struggled at times throughout the game. "There wasn't a whole lot of flow or rhythm to it, especially in the second half. We just have to keep working and find a way to score some more points and keep our defense out of those pressure situations. They came up big all day and we have to try to do our part no matter who is in there."
Adam Vinatieri kicked three field goals in the victory for Indianapolis, which turned three of its forced turnovers into 17 points.
Carson Palmer connected on 31-of-42 throws for 287 yards and two scores but was intercepted three times for the Bengals (2-7), who have dropped six in a row since winning back-to-back games September 19-26.
Aaron Francisco intercepted Palmer with just under six minutes to play with the Colts leading 23-10. However, the hosts were forced to punt after picking up one first down, giving the Bengals a chance to fashion a comeback.
Palmer found Gresham from 19 yards out for a touchdown that finished off an eight-play, 70-yard drive to pull Cincinnati to within 23-17 with 2:35 to play.
The Bengals recovered the ensuing onside kick and benefitted from a 15-yard penalty to Pierre Garcon for removing his helmet. Garcon appeared to have recovered the kick, but lost it on the way to the ground.
Starting from the Colts' 40, Palmer hit Gresham on the first play, but the rookie tight end coughed up the ball at the 34, where it was recovered by Indianapolis' Mike Newton.
Indy was forced to punt with 53 seconds left, and the Bengals started their final drive at their own 21 -- with no timeouts -- seven seconds later.
"It changes your game plan," Palmer said when falling behind the Colts early in the game. "The advantage is in their hands when you have Freeney and Mathis on the edge. If you have to throw the ball a lot than you are playing into one of their strengths. We did a good job against them all day until the very last couple of plays when they just teed off on us. The offensive line couldn't have done a better job against their front five."
Vinatieri's 28-yard field goal capped off a 14-play, 82-yard drive to give the Colts a 3-0 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
On the Bengals' second play of the ensuing possession, Kelvin Hayden picked off Palmer and raced untouched 31 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that pushed the hosts' advantage to 10-0 just 57 seconds later.
Cedric Benson's fumble on the visitors' next play from scrimmage was recovered by Antonio Johnson at the Bengals 25 to give the Colts a short field with which to work. Indianapolis cashed in seven plays later.
Javarris James carried on the final three plays, the last of which resulted in a three-yard TD run that boosted the lead to 17-0 just 41 seconds into the second quarter.
Cincinnati finally got on the board just over five minutes into the period on Mike Nugent's 27-yard boot that polished off an eight-play, 55-yard march.
On the Bengals' next possession, Ochocinco made a leaping grab in the end zone for a 34-yard score but it was wiped out when he was ruled to have lined up illegally before the snap.
However, the Bengals were able to overcome the mistake and move to the Colts' five before Palmer rolled to his left and found Ochocinco, who kept both feet in bounds while making the catch and falling out of the end zone, to cut the deficit to seven 1:06 before the intermission.
The Colts used a 17-yard completion to Brandon James and a pass interference call on linebacker Brandon Johnson to move to the Bengals' 25 before a Carlos Dunlap sack resulted in a four-yard loss. Vinatieri then came on to connect on a 47-yard field goal that split the uprights to end the first half with Indianapolis leading, 20-10.
Cincinnati advanced into Colts territory on each of its three third-quarter drives, though it couldn't get inside the 40, and was forced to punt all three times. Meanwhile, the hosts didn't advance past their 40, and all three of their drives in period resulted in punts.
The Bengals' first possession into the final quarter ended when Indy's Tyjuan Hagler undercut an attempted pass to Greshman at the Cincinnati 45 and was ruled down by contact at the 10-yard line. The Colts had to settle for a 23- yard field goal by Vinatieri that made it 23-10 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Manning was also held without TD pass in a 19-9 Week 5 win over KC...Garcon made five catches for 37 yards while Reggie Wayne was limited to 34 yards on three grabs...Wayne now has 10,005 career receiving yards, all amassed from Manning, who is the only quarterback to throw for more than 10,000 yards to two different receivers. Marvin Harrison racked up 12,766 yards on throws from Manning during his career...Vinatieri has made 355 field goals during his career, moving past Eddie Murray into 11th place on the all-time list...He is also the 12th kicker to accumulate 1,600 kicking points...Donald Brown paced the Colts' ground attack with 50 yards on 12 totes...Javarris James ran for 26 yards on 10 carries...Hayden has nine career regular season interceptioins, three of which he has returned for touchdowns...He has brought back two picks for a score this season, the first Colts player to do so since Cato June did against Baltimore and San Francisco during the 2005 campaign...Cincinnati's Terrell Owens made four grabs for 64 yards and was held without a touchdown catch for the first time in six games...Benson carried 14 times for 24 yards and made five receptions for 27 in the loss...The Colts have won 16 of the 24 all-time meetings.
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Ryan finished 32-of-50 for 316 yards and three scores for Atlanta (7-2), which has won three in a row and holds the best record in the NFL heading into this weekend's action. The Falcons also lead idle New Orleans by one game for the NFC South lead.
"It's tough as a player to think big-picture," Ryan said. "You really have to focus on the small things, and it was a good win for us tonight. That's a good football team we played against. Nine games into it, we're in good position."
White, who was questionable with a knee ailment, caught 12 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Flacco completed 22-of-34 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception, as the Ravens (6-3) had a two-game win streak broken and fell out of the lead in the AFC North. They trail 6-2 Pittsburgh, which hosts New England on Sunday.
Atlanta led for most of the game, and about 3 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter took a 20-7 advantage on Ryan's four-yard pass to White.
But the Ravens rallied, scoring on their next touch. Flacco converted a 3rd- and-8 in Atlanta territory with a 13-yard pass to Ray Rice, and connected with Derrick Mason for a six-yard touchdown several plays later.
The score had the Ravens within a possession with 5:42 left, and Baltimore's defense held, forcing a punt.
The Ravens took over with 2:57 left at their own 28-yard line, but got to midfield on the second play of the drive, thanks to Flacco's 22-yard toss to Mason.
Then, with under two minutes to play, Flacco found Rice for a 24-yard gain to get the ball to the Atlanta 11. After a two-yard run by Rice, Flacco gunned a pass over the middle for Heap, who made a leaning grab. The catch was upheld after a review, giving Baltimore a 21-20 edge with just 65 seconds to play.
The Ravens looked as though they would hold on, forcing Atlanta into a 3rd- and-10 on its first series. But Ryan connected with Michael Jenkins along the left sideline for a 24-yard gain.
Jenkins made the catch with his fingertips and continued to hold onto the ball that way as he dragged his right toe inbounds. The call was reviewed and upheld, giving the Falcons a first down at their own 44.
Ryan then went to White for a 15-yard gain, and spiked the ball to halt the clock with 34 seconds left. Atlanta still had one timeout, and Ryan went back to White on a quick slant, but the receiver couldn't hang on.
Ryan's third-down pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez also fell incomplete, but Ravens linebacker Tavares Gooden was called for pass interference on the play.
That gave Atlanta a fresh set of downs at the Baltimore 33. Ryan then found White open along the left side, made the connection, and White ran unimpeded into the end zone. White appeared to push Josh Wilson to free himself, and Wilson vigorously protested, but no flag was thrown.
The Falcons' two-point try failed, but the defense held steady to secure the comeback win.
"We took the lead there with a minute left, and with our defense on the field we were feeling pretty confident," Flacco said. "But like I said, they did a great job."
After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta took the lead less than four minutes into the second. Ryan ended a 14-play, 91-yard drive with a 28-yard pass to running back Jason Snelling.
Later in the quarter, a punt-return fumble by Lardarius Webb gave the Falcons the ball at the Raven 43. Atlanta needed 12 plays to reach the 10, then settled for a 28-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 17 seconds remaining.
The Falcons led by 10 at the break, and took advantage of another turnover shortly into the third. Brent Grimes picked off Flacco to set Atlanta up at the Baltimore 39. The Falcons weren't able to do much, and Bryant booted a 51- yarder for a 13-0 margin.
Flacco got the Ravens on the board on the ensuing drive, which he capped with a five-yard pass to Anquan Boldin.
Flacco's interception was his first since Week 4 against Pittsburgh...Atlanta converted 12-of-20 third downs...Rice had a game-high 59 rushing yards...Boldin led Ravens receivers with five catches for 50 yards...John Abraham had both of Atlanta's sacks, while Terrell Suggs had both of Baltimore's.