Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Worms turn to surprise NFL top guns

TOPSY-TURVY The Falcons beat the Giants, the Chargers downed the Vikings and other losing teams posted victories in a Sunday that turned the form book on its head


Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, left, fends off New York Giants safety Omar Stoutmire as he runs for a 45-yard first quarter touchdown after breaking away from Giants defenders on Sunday at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.


The NFL's bottom-feeders rose up in a surprising manner.

Atlanta, San Diego, Jacksonville, and Washington all have struggled this season. On Sunday, all were winners.

So were the New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Cincinnati, but they also were opposing teams with losing records. The Falcons, Chargers, Jaguars and Redskins came through with upsets.

"It's a great win, particularly when you've lost seven in a row," Falcons coach Dan Reeves said after finally getting his 200th career victory, 27-7 over the New York Giants.

"It's been so long, I don't know how anyone knew how to feel," said Steelers coach Bill Cowher, whose team beat Arizona 28-15 after it hadn't won since Sept. 21.

Falcons 27, Giants 7

At East Rutherford, New Jersey, Warrick Dunn ran for 178 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown.

Reeves, who coached the Giants before taking over in Atlanta in 1997, became the sixth NFL coach to reach 200 victories (200-171-2).

"I'm toward the end of my career," he said. "A lot of these guys are just starting. They need to win."

The Giants (4-5) turned the ball over four times, giving Atlanta (2-7) its first win since the season opener. Giants fans chanted "Fire Fassel" during the game. Coach Jim Fassel termed it a "trap game" early in the week.

Chargers 42, Vikings 28

At San Diego, Doug Flutie, still spry at 41, juked his way to two touchdowns and threw for two more in his first start in nearly two years for the Chargers (2-7).

The big performance from the pint-sized Flutie was complemented by two touchdown runs by LaDainian Tomlinson, including a 73-yarder, his longest career TD.

"I believe in magic, Flutie magic," Tomlinson said. "He played awesome. Doug Flutie, he's just amazing. He's unbelievable."

The 42 points were the most for the Chargers since 1993, a span of 153 games. Minnesota (6-3) lost its third straight.

Jaguars 28, Colts 23

At Jacksonville, Florida, Fred Taylor's 32-yard touchdown with 1:08 left won it. Taylor, who promised payback to Colts safety Mike Doss for his rough play in the first meeting between the teams this season, finished with a season-high 152 yards to help the Jaguars (2-7) defeat the Colts for the first time.

The Colts (7-2) fell into a first-place tie with Tennessee in the AFC South and failed in their quest to become the first team in NFL history to win three games in Florida -- at Miami, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville -- in the same season. They also played the final three quarters without receiver Marvin Harrison, who strained his hamstring.

Redskins 27, Seahawks 20

At Landover, Maryland, receiver Rod Gardner won the game for Washington (4-5) with a touchdown throw.

Gardner took a lateral and threw a 10-yard pass to a wide-open Trung Canidate with 1:57 to play against Seattle (6-3). The trick play wasn't the only audacious call coach Steve Spurrier made on the winning drive. The coach went for a fourth-and-inches at Washington's 25, and fullback Rock Cartwright barely made it after a huge hit by linebacker Anthony Simmons.

Laveranues Coles caught five passes for 125 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins (4-5), who broke a four-game losing streak. Washington's Bruce Smith had one sack to move within a half-sack of Reggie White's career record.

Steelers 28, Cardinals 15

At Pittsburgh, Tommy Maddox threw three touchdown passes, two to Hines Ward barely a minute apart in a 21-point third quarter, and the Steelers (3-6) ended a five-game losing streak.

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