CHICAGO – Nathan Vasher set sail on a blustery day at Soldier Field.

Vasher returned a missed field goal 108 yards Sunday, the longest play in NFL history, and the Chicago Bears beat the San Francisco 49ers 17-9 for their fifth straight victory.

When Joe Nedney’s 52-yard attempt went wide right in a stiff wind on the final play of the first half, Vasher caught the ball over his shoulder, hesitated momentarily on whether to come out of the end zone, sprinted to the 15, then reversed his field, picking up a convoy of blockers.

Getting blocks down the sideline from Lance Briggs and Chris Harris, Vasher weaved his way past and through the 49ers for a stunning touchdown and a 7-3 halftime lead.

The previous longest play was Baltimore’s Chris McAlister’s 107-yarder with a missed field goal in 2002.

The Bears (6-3) have their longest winning streak in a single season since 2001, when they won six in a row en route to a division title.

Vikings 24, Giants 21

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Minnesota Vikings simply could not move the ball, so they got creative – becoming the first team in NFL history to get touchdown returns on a punt, a kickoff and an interception.

Then quarterback Brad Johnson finally put together a drive, setting up Paul Edinger’s 48-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining in Minnesota’s improbable 24-21 win over the New York Giants.

Safety Darren Sharper had three interceptions for the Vikings, including one he returned for a 92-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. His third came in the end zone with 3:48 left in the game and the Giants trailing 21-13.But the Giants got the ball back one more time and drove 67 yards, tying the game with 1:21 left on a 3-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion run by Tiki Barber.

Bucs 36, Redskins 35

TAMPA, Fla. – Somehow, Mike Alstott found a way into the end zone on a gutsy 2-point conversion call by coach Jon Gruden.

Alstott’s run with 58 seconds remaining Sunday gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a stunning 36-35 victory over the Washington Redskins, who blocked a potential game-tying extra point, only to be penalized for being offside on the previous play.

Given new life, Gruden elected to try ending a two-game slide in dramatic fashion.

Everybody in the stadium knew who would get the ball, but the Redskins (5-4) could not stop the 248-pound fullback, who scored earlier on touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards.

Lions 29, Cardinals 21

DETROIT – Roy Williams went from much-maligned player to standout receiver.

Williams caught a career-high three touchdown passes from Joey Harrington to lead the Detroit Lions past the Arizona Cardinals 29-21.

Detroit (4-5) ended a two-game losing streak and Arizona (2-7) lost its third straight.

The Lions led 19-3 at halftime and by 15 with 8:35 left before Arizona came back.

The Cardinals pulled to 29-21 with 2:24 left on Kurt Warner’s 8-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald. After not recovering the onside kick, Arizona got the ball back at its 18 with 1:01 left. The Cardinals’ comeback hopes ended at their 39 with a deflected pass on fourth down.

Packers 33, Falcons 25

ATLANTA – The Green Bay Packers are sure glad Samkon Gado put his medical career on hold.

Making his first career start on his 23rd birthday, the Nigerian-born Gado scored three touchdowns and the Packers won for only the second time this season, upsetting the first-place Atlanta Falcons 33-25 .

Brett Favre threw for 252 yards and came up with a great escape on a drive that led to Ryan Longwell’s fourth field goal, a 51-yarder with 4:01 remaining that restored Green Bay’s nine-point lead.

Less than a minute later, rookie receiver Roddy White finished off the Falcons (6-3) with their sixth fumble of the day. Nick Barnett scooped up the ball and returned it to the Atlanta 2, where Gado powered into the end zone for his third TD.

Seahawks 31, Rams 16

SEATTLE – The NFC West race might have ended Sunday.

Seattle’s Shaun Alexander romped again, this time for 165 yards on a season-high 33 carries and three touchdowns, and the Seahawks beat the mistake-prone Rams 31-16 at Qwest Field.

The Seahawks (7-2) turned St. Louis’ botched fake field goal attempt in the second quarter into a 24-3 scoring run. They have a three-game division lead on second-place St. Louis, which had won two straight to resuscitate its season. Essentially, that is a four-game bulge with seven regular-season games remaining because Seattle has swept St. Louis after losing the previous four to the Rams (4-5).

Seattle has won five straight overall for the first time since 1999.


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