Ravens 20 Steelers 17
BALTIMORE — 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 Baltimore Ravens a 20-17 victory Sunday night.
Dixon started because Ben Roethlisberger was sidelined with a concussion and backup Charlie Batch had 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 a three-game run in 2006.
“We will not go gently,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We won’t go in a shell. We’re going to go into attack mode, because that’s what’s required.”
Kruger picked off the pass and returned it 26 yards to the Pittsburgh 28, and six plays later Cundiff delivered the game-winner in Baltimore’s first overtime win since November 2005 (against the Steelers).
“To be a part of that victory is huge for me,” said Kruger, who was playing in only his fourth game. “It was a designed blitz. I was the dropper. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Pittsburgh’s past two defeats have come in overtime. Dixon went 12 for 26 for 145 yards, and Rashard Mendenhall gained 95 yards on 24 carries.
“Please don’t talk to me about moral victories and things of that nature,” Tomlin said. “That would be disrespectful to those guys in the room. We didn’t get the job done; we came up short. We accept responsibility for that.”
Joe Flacco completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown to keep Baltimore in the thick of the playoff hunt.
“You have to be ready to play 60 minutes. Today we played more than that,” Flacco said. “It feels good. It’s what we needed. Against these guys, it’s even bigger.”
The game was a rematch of last season’s AFC championship, when the Steelers completed a three-game sweep of the Ravens with a 24-13 victory.
Colts 35 Texans 27
At Indianapolis, Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns and the Colts rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to clinch the AFC South.
It was their 20th straight regular-season victory. Indianapolis (11-0) is one win shy of the New England Patriots’ NFL-record 21-game run from 2006-08. The Colts can tie the record if they beat Tennessee at home next weekend.
The Colts improved to 15-1 against Houston (5-6).
Manning threw two first-half interceptions, but had a pair of second-half TD passes, including a 4-yarder to Dallas Clark that gave the Colts a 21-20 lead with about nine minutes left.
Clint Session stretched the lead to 28-20 when he returned an interception by Matt Schaub 26 yards for a touchdown seconds later.
Schaub fumbled on Houston’s next possession and Chad Simpson’s touchdown run put the game out of reach.
The loss makes Houston’s chances of earning its first playoff berth more dim after losing three straight.
The Texans scored on their first four possessions, then fell apart.
Titans 20 Cardinals 17
At Nashville, Tenn., Vince Young hit a leaping Kenny Britt for a 10-yard touchdown as time expired, and the Titans rallied for their fifth straight victory.
Chargers 43 Chiefs 14
At San Diego, The Chargers turned four turnovers into touchdowns, including a 40-yard fumble return for a score by safety Paul Oliver, and ran their winning streak to six games.
Vikings 36 Bears 10
At Minneapolis, Brett Favre passed for a season-high 392 yards and three touchdowns, and the Vikings intercepted Jay Cutler twice.
Favre went 32 for 48 without a turnover and was 10 yards off his career best, throwing touchdowns to Visanthe Shiancoe, Chester Taylor and Percy Harvin, the unflappable rookie who had his best game yet.
49ers 20 Jaguars 3
At San Francisco, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw short touchdown passes to Frank Gore and Vernon Davis in the kind of mistake-free day San Francisco coach Mike Singletary has sought for weeks.
Bengals 16 Browns 7
At Cincinnati, Newcomer Larry Johnson rushed for 107 yards in Cincinnati’s conservative approach, and the Bengals completed their first division sweep.
The Bengals (8-3) went 6-0 in the division with a retooled run-first offence and a stout defence that has carried them into first place. They rushed for 210 yards, with Johnson — signed less than two weeks ago as insurance — subbing for Cedric Benson, out for the second straight week with an injured hip.
Eagles 27 Redskins 24
At Philadelphia, David Akers kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:48 remaining and the Eagles rallied. A week ago, Donovan McNabb led the Eagles (7-4) to a late touchdown in a 24-20 win at Chicago. It was the first time Philadelphia came from behind in the final quarter and won since a 33-25 victory at Washington on Nov. 11, 2007.
Falcons 20 Buccaneers 17
At Atlanta, Chris Redman threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White with 23 seconds remaining, and the Falcons pulled out a victory after losing offensive stars Matt Ryan and Michael Turner to injuries.
Bills 31 Dolphins 14
At Orchard Park, N.Y., A 56-yard field goal by Rian Lindell and a 51-yard touchdown catch by Terrell Owens in the final minutes propelled the Bills, who scored 24 points in the fourth quarter. The win was the first for interim coach Perry Fewell, who replaced the fired Dick Jauron two games ago.
Jets 17 Panthers 6
At East Rutherford, N.J., Darrelle Revis got the Jets’ defence in the end zone for the first time this season. Revis returned one of the Jets’ four interceptions 67 yards for a touchdown and New York overcame an injury scare to quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Seahawks 27 Rams 17
At St. Louis, Justin Forsett set career highs with 130 yards and two touchdowns and the go-ahead score came on the Seahawks’ third defensive touchdown of the season.