PITTSBURGH – Carson Palmer wasn’t about to lose this one. Not against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team he says he hates – the team he spent eight exhausting months rehabilitating his mangled knee mostly for the chance to face.

Alternating between brilliant and awful, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback threw two touchdown passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh less than a minute apart midway through the fourth quarter following Steelers turnovers and the unbeaten Bengals rallied for a 28-20 victory Sunday over the Super Bowl champions.

Only three games into the season, the Bengals (3-0) own a two-game lead in the AFC North over the Steelers (1-2), who couldn’t withstand a second mediocre game in seven days by their own rehabilitating quarterback.

Ben Roethlisberger, recovering from an offseason motorcycle accident and appendicitis attack, was an ineffective 18-of-39 for 209 yards. Palmer had three fumbles and two interceptions, yet withstood them with four touchdown passes. He went 18-of-26 for 193 yards.

Packers 31, Lions 24

DETROIT – Brett Favre joined elite company with the 400th touchdown pass of his career, then added two more scores to lead Green Bay to its first win.

With his first TD pass of the game – a 75-yarder to rookie Greg Jennings – Favre joined Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to reach 400 touchdown passes. Marino has 420.

The Lions (0-3) remained winless under new coach Rod Marinelli. Mike McCarthy earned his first victory as coach of the Packers (1-2).

Favre reached the milestone in his 228th game, one more than Marino needed to throw No. 400. He finished 25-of-36 for 340 yards with three TDs with no interceptions. Jennings caught three passes for 101 yards and a TD. Kitna was 25-of-40 for 342 yards with two TDs and an interception that was returned for a score.

Bears 19, Vikings 16

MINNEAPOLIS – Chicago and its defense are still in charge of the NFC North.

After a rough afternoon against a suddenly stingy Minnesota defense, Rex Grossman threw a 24-yard touchdown to Rashied Davis right after the 2-minute warning and the Bears (3-0) remained unbeaten.

Antoine Winfield returned one of Grossman’s two interceptions for a fourth-quarter touchdown, and Ryan Longwell’s third field goal with 7:27 remaining gave Minnesota (2-1) a 16-12 edge. But Grossman came through with his first career fourth-quarter scoring pass after Chester Taylor lost a fumble with 3 minutes left, and Adewale Ogunleye recovered at the Vikings’ 37.

Grossman completed 23 of 41 passes for 278 yards.

Eagles 38, 49ers 24

SAN FRANCISCO – Mike Patterson finished his stunning 98-yard fumble return at a walk, easing his 292 pounds into the end zone. After an outstanding effort in San Francisco, the Eagles deserved a little rest – especially the big guy.

Brian Westbrook rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, also catching a scoring pass from Donovan McNabb for the Eagles (2-1).

McNabb passed for 296 yards and Reggie Brown caught five passes for 106 yards for as the Eagles shook off last week’s embarrassing collapse against the Giants.

Patterson seized an unlikely moment when Frank Gore fumbled while trying to stretch over a goal-line pile of players in the third quarter. Patterson scooped the ball out of the pile and lumbered away, getting to midfield before most of the Niners realized it. He eventually walked over the line for the longest scoring fumble return in Eagles history, surpassing a 32-year-old record.

Alex Smith passed for 293 yards and Michael Robinson scored two TDs for the 49ers (1-2).

Dolphins 13, Titans 10

MIAMI – Sacks, poor passes and blocking breakdowns kept the score close, and two winless teams looked the part – until the Dolphins’ offense showed a little life midway through the fourth quarter.

A 50-yard drive set up a 39-yard field goal by Olindo Mare with 3:39 left to help sputtering Miami beat the hapless Tennessee Titans 13-10 on Sunday.

The Dolphins improved to 1-2 – not bad considering they’ve scored only four touchdowns this season. Tennessee is 0-3 for the sixth time since the franchise was founded in 1960.

Miami won even though Daunte Culpepper was limited to 168 yards passing and was sacked five time, giving him 15 this season. Ronnie Brown rushed for 90 yards, including a 27-yard gain to set up Mare’s go-ahead kick. For the first time in the Titans’ three games, rookie quarterback Vince Young didn’t play. Kerry Collins passed for 269 yards and his first touchdown this season, but also overthrew open receivers several times.

Jets 28, Bills 20

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Quarterback Chad Pennington and an opportunistic defense made up for the Jets’ lack of a running game.

Pennington capped three drives of 58 yards or more with touchdowns, and linebacker Victor Hobson’s 32-yard fumble return for a score clinched the Jets’ victory.

Pennington, coming off consecutive 300-yard passing outings, finished 19-of-29 for 183 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown completion to Chris Baker. Willis McGahee ran for a career-high 150 yards for the Bills.

Redskins 31, Texans 15

HOUSTON – Mark Brunell kept connecting, pass after completed pass. By the time he was through, he set an NFL record – and gave Washington (1-2) its first win.

Brunell completed his first 22 throws and Clinton Portis scored two touchdowns in his first start of the season.

The 36-year-old Brunell broke the NFL record for most consecutive passes completed in a game when he found Santana Moss on 6-yard pass late in the third quarter for his 22nd straight hookup. The previous record was held by Oakland’s Rich Gannon, who completed 21 straight against Denver on Nov. 11 2002.

Brunell entered the game with a completion rate of 57 percent, sparking calls for his benching. He finished 24-of-27 for 261 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans are 0-3.

Colts 21, Jaguars 14

INDIANAPOLIS – Jacksonville thought it could contain Indianapolis’ high-scoring offense by playing keepaway. Good idea, but it didn’t matter much to Peyton Manning.

Jacksonville held Manning to one touchdown pass, but Indianapolis found other ways to score – on Terrence Wilkins’ punt return and a rare rushing TD by the Colts quarterback – to maintain their dominance in the AFC South.

The three-time defending division champs won their second straight home game over a division foe. Indy (3-0) has won 10 straight division games and beat the Jags for the fourth time in five tries. Jacksonville is 2-1.

Panthers 26, Bucs 24

TAMPA, Fla. – Keyshawn Johnson scored two touchdowns and Jake Delhomme led a last-minute drive that produced John Kasay’s fourth long field goal of the day with 2 seconds remaining for Carolina (1-2).

Kasay kicked field goals of 51, 50 and 49 yards before booting a 46-yarder to win the game after Delhomme marched Carolina into scoring range with help from a 14-yard pass interference penalty and a 19-yard completion to Johnson.

Johnson finished with seven receptions for 97 yards. Steve Smith returned after missing Carolina’s first two games with a sore hamstring and had seven catches for 112 yards.

Rams 16, Cardinals 14

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Kurt Warner, who threw three interceptions, fumbled a snap at the Rams 18 with 1:46 to play and Will Witherspoon recovered to allow St. Louis to hold on against Arizona.

The Cardinals’ Antonio Smith recovered Rams quarterback Marc Bulger’s fumble at the St. Louis 30 with 1:58 to play and Edgerrin James carried three times to the 18. But Warner dropped Alex Stepanovich’s snap and Witherspoon jumped on the ball for St. Louis (2-1).

It was a fitting end for a game that featured six turnovers, four by the Cardinals (1-2).

Bulger was 21-of-31 for 309 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions, and Warner was 19-of-28 for 256 yards and one score. Torry Holt caught eight passes for 120 yards, including a 9-yarder for St. Louis’ lone touchdown.

Seahawks 42, Giants 30

SEATTLE – The Giants wanted to take Seattle’s roaring, allegedly enhanced crowd out of the game early. Plunging into the deepest first-half hole in their 82-year history probably wasn’t what New York had in mind.

Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw five touchdown passes – four in the first half. Meanwhile, Eli Manning had three interceptions, the Giants were way behind early and never caught up.

The rout was so quick, so decisive, it rendered the incessant roaring of a Qwest Field-record crowd of 68,161 moot – but not mute. The fans were mostly mocking the stunned visitors by the end of the third quarter, after the Seahawks completed a 17-play drive that ended with Darrell Jackson’s second touchdown catch for a 42-3 lead.

The Seahawks won their 12th consecutive regular-season home game to become 3-0 for the third time in four seasons. Deion Branch, recently acquired from the Patriots, caught two passes for 23 yards and ran a reverse 8 yards in his first game for Seattle, which led 42-3 after three quarters.

Ravens 15, Browns 14

CLEVELAND – Matt Stover kicked the Ravens to their first 3-0 start since the franchise moved to Baltimore when he connected on a 52-yard field goal with 20 seconds left.

Stover’s 12th career game-winning kick came after Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister intercepted a pass by Cleveland’s Charlie Frye in the end zone with 3:21 remaining as the Browns (0-3) were driving.

Baltimore’s Steve McNair then went 6-of-9 for 52 yards to set up the 38-year-old Stover, who spent five years in Cleveland but left in 1995 when owner Art Modell moved his franchise to Maryland.

As the kick by Stover, the only former Browns player still on Baltimore’s roster, sailed through the uprights, Baltimore’s bench erupted in celebration.


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