Prater’s kick caps brilliant Manning-Romo duel
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas — Peyton Manning spent all afternoon putting the Broncos in the end zone during a wild shootout with Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys.
The last time he got the ball, Manning kept Denver out of the end zone — and that was the best way to win the game.
The four-time MVP kept up his record pace for touchdown passes, Matt Prater kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired after an interception by Romo spoiled the first 500-yard game in Dallas history, and the Broncos stayed unbeaten with a 51-48 victory Sunday.
“It was pretty amazing that it came down to the defense making a big play at the end,” Denver coach John Fox said. “Thank God our offense kept us in the game all day long.”
In the waning seconds of one of the highest-scoring thrillers in NFL history, Manning ensured that his kicker — not Romo — had the last chance to score.
And with that, the Broncos ran their total to 230 points this season — the most by an NFL team through the first five games.
The Broncos (5-0) had moved the ball to the Dallas 2 after Danny Trevathan’s diving interception at the 24 in the final 2 minutes.
Needing a first down but not a touchdown so they could run out the clock, Manning and Knowshon Moreno shouted at each other in the backfield just before the snap.
“He basically was asking me, ‘How am I supposed to do that? How can I get a half a yard but not get a yard and a half?’” said Manning, who threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns to give him a record-setting 20 in the first five games.
“I just said, ‘You can’t! You can’t score! You can’t do it!’”
Moreno managed to pull off the first down without scoring, and Manning took three snaps to drain the clock to 2 seconds for Prater, who also had a 50-yarder among his three field goals.
It was quite a debate over a measly yard in a game with 1,039 yards of total offense combined in the fourth-highest highest scoring game in NFL history and tied for the second-highest in regulation since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, according to STATS.
Romo was 25 of 36 for 506 yards and five touchdowns, breaking Don Meredith’s franchise record of 460 yards. He is the fifth quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 500 yards and five touchdowns in a game.
Romo’s 79-yard pass to Dez Bryant set up a 4-yard scoring toss to Cole Beasley for a 48-41 lead.
Manning, who threw for 414 yards and moved past Dan Marino for second on the career passing list with 61,371 yards, answered by leading a nine-play, 73-yard drive to Moreno’s tying 1-yard score with 2:44 remaining.
Romo’s interception came two plays later, when Trevathan dived in front of tight end Gavin Escobar.
“I was baiting him,” said Trevathan, who scared his teammates with a knee injury in practice last week that turned out not to be serious.
“Romo threw it and I felt like, man, hopefully I don’t drop the ball when I get in the end zone this time. I fell to the ground and said, ‘Forget it!’”
The Cowboys (2-3) were on the verge of getting blown out early in the second half when they finally stopped Manning and forced a field goal. They later ended his streak of 227 passes without an interception when Morris Claiborne picked him off late in the third quarter.
Dallas, which scored its most points ever in a loss, converted the turnover into a 41-38 lead on Romo’s 10-yard pass to Jason Witten, but the Broncos pulled even with a drive to Prater’s 50-yarder.
The biggest momentum swing came on Romo’s 82-yard touchdown to rookie Terrance Williams that cut Denver’s lead to 35-27 in the third quarter.
“So you leave this game and obviously you are crushed and disappointed,” said Witten, who had 121 yards receiving and a touchdown. “Offensively, this needs to be the standard by which we play.”
The Cowboys jumped ahead 14-0 in the first quarter, but Dallas defenders just couldn’t stay with Denver’s receivers. Then Manning fooled them and the 92,758 watching his first game at the $1.2 billion home of the Cowboys with a bootleg for an easy 1-yard score and a 28-17 lead late in the first half.
Denver lined up for what looked like a run on third down from the 1. But Manning had faked the handoff, and the roar from thousands of orange-clad Denver fans grew as they realized he was jogging toward the left corner of the end zone for his first touchdown rushing since 2008.
“The key is you want to do it about every five years or so,” Manning said. “If you do it every game, they’re going to be playing it right. Naked bootlegs only work, the ones I’ve done, is when you don’ tell anybody.”
COLTS 34, SEAHAWKS 28
INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes and Donald Brown scored the go-ahead TD with 8:55 to go.
The Seahawks (4-1) lost their first regular-season game since last Nov. 25.
Delano Howell scored on a 61-yard return of a blocked field goal for Indy (4-1).
Luck led his ninth career fourth-quarter comeback by going 16 of 29 for 229 yards, beating Russell Wilson in their first matchup.
Indy trailed 12-0 early, went ahead after Howell’s return, then rallied again to take the lead for good on Brown’s TD. The Colts sealed it with a 2-point conversion pass and a late field goal.
Wilson finished 15 of 31 for 210 yards with two TDs, one interception and ran 13 times for 102 yards.
49ERS 34, TEXANS 3
SAN FRANCISCO — Tramaine Brock intercepted Matt Schaub’s first pass of the night and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown, Schaub threw three interceptions in all before the embattled quarterback got replaced in the fourth, and San Francisco pounded Houston.
Colin Kaepernick threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis and Frank Gore ran for 81 yards and a score in his second straight impressive prime-time game.
The 49ers (3-2) are right back in the NFC West race with Seattle after the Seahawks (4-1) lost at Indianapolis. Each team has beaten the Texans (2-3) and lost to the Colts, and Seattle still must visit San Francisco on Dec. 8.
Anthony Dixon added a 2-yard touchdown run for the NFC champions, while Brock had a second interception and nearly a third.
SAINTS 26, BEARS 18
CHICAGO — Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes to Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham tied an NFL record with another 100-yard game and the New Orleans Saints remained unbeaten.
Brees was 29 of 35 for 288 yards in his first victory in four career games at Soldier Field. Garrett Hartley matched a career high with four field goals as New Orleans (5-0) picked up its first win in Chicago since a 31-10 victory on Oct. 8, 2000.
Graham continued his torrid start for the Saints (5-0), catching 10 balls for 135 yards in his fourth consecutive 100-yard game — matching an NFL record for a tight end. Tony Gonzalez was the first to accomplish the streak in 2000, and Graham matched it in 2011.
Jay Cutler threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns for Chicago (3-2), which has lost two in a row.
BENGALS 13, PATRIOTS 6
CINCINNATI — BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran 1 yard in the fourth quarter for the game’s only touchdown, and the Cincinnati Bengals ended Tom Brady’s long streak of touchdown passes in defeating the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.
The Bengals (3-2) sacked Brady four times and kept New England (4-1) out of the end zone on a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Adam “Pacman” Jones picked off Brady’s desperation pass inside the 5-yard line with 16 seconds left to clinch it.
Brady had thrown a touchdown pass in 52 straight games, second-longest in NFL history behind Drew Brees. The Patriots were held out of the end zone for the first time since a 16-9 loss to the Jets on Sept. 20, 2009.
CHIEFS 26, TITANS 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jamaal Charles scored a 1-yard touchdown with 6:23 left, and the Chiefs rallied to keep up their perfect start.
The Chiefs (5-0) are off to their best start since 2003, when they won their first nine games. This win came despite blowing a 13-0 halftime lead in this early AFC showdown between these surprising teams bouncing back after losing seasons.
The Titans (3-2) couldn’t have been more out of synch in the first half with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting for Jake Locker, sidelined with his sprained right hip. He missed his first five passes and went three-and-out on his first five series before guiding Tennessee to 17 straight points in the second half.
Charles put the Chiefs ahead to stay, and they intercepted Fitzpatrick twice in the final 6:14. Ryan Succop kicked four field goals, including a 48-yarder.
RAVENS 26, DOLPHINS 23
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Justin Tucker kicked a 44-yard field goal to put the Baltimore Ravens ahead with 1:42 left, and they withstood a frantic comeback bid.
Ryan Tannehill completed a 46-yard pass to Brandon Gibson on fourth down to keep Miami’s hopes alive, but Caleb Sturgis then missed a 57-yard field goal attempt wide left with 33 seconds to go.
The Ravens (3-2) bounced back from a loss last week at Buffalo and won on the road for the first time this season. The Dolphins (3-2) lost their second game in a row.
PACKERS 22, LIONS 9
GREEN BAY, Wis. — James Jones caught a long touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers defense contained the undermanned Lions.
Mason Crosby kicked five field goals. The Packers’ offense struggled to get into the end zone until Rodgers found Jones on an 83-yard completion down the left sideline for a 16-3 lead late in the third quarter.
It provided enough of a cushion for a defense that had the luxury of facing the Lions minus star receiver Calvin Johnson, out with a knee injury. Penalties also bogged down Detroit.
The Packers extended their winning streak in Wisconsin over the Lions to 23.
EAGLES 36, GIANTS 21
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Nick Foles threw for two touchdowns and led four scoring drives after taking over for an injured Michael Vick late in the second quarter, and Philadelphia kept the Giants winless.
Foles threw fourth-quarter touchdown passes of 25 yards to Brent Celek and 5 yards to DeSean Jackson as the Eagles (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak by forcing three interceptions by Eli Manning in the fourth quarter.
Vick left the game with a hamstring injury late in the second quarter.
LeSean McCoy added a 1-yard touchdown run and Alex Henery kicked five field goals for the Eagles, who gained 439 yards in total offense.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona sacked Cam Newton seven times, once for a safety, and intercepted him on three occasions to overcome a sluggish offensive performance.
Daryl Washington, back after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, had two sacks and an interception for Arizona (3-2).
RAMS 34, JAGUARS 20
ST. LOUIS — Sam Bradford threw three touchdown passes and Matt Giordano’s 82-yard interception return was one of several big plays from the St. Louis defense against winless Jacksonville.
Austin Pettis’ 31-yard TD catch with 5:45 to go was his second of the day and put the Rams (2-3) up by two scores. St. Louis, which had trailed by double digits in every game, established control with a 17-point second quarter after Jacksonville (0-5) had a pair of early leads.
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