INDIANAPOLIS — Pittsburgh’s defense and Ben Roethlisberger’s late-game mastery did it again.
James Harrison’s late sack of Curtis Painter and Troy Polamalu’s 16-yard fumble return for a touchdown finally gave the Steelers a second-half lead. Roethlisberger set up Shaun Suisham for a 38-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give Pittsburgh a 23-20 victory at Indianapolis on Sunday night.
It looked nothing like the Steelers’ trademark pattern until the closing minutes.
Roethlisberger turned over the ball three times during an 11-minute span in the first half, Pittsburgh (2-1) rushed for only 67 yards and the vaunted Steelers defense produced only one sack — the one Polamalu scored on.
But Roethlisberger took the Steelers on a 60-yard scoring march that ended with Suisham’s kick.
Roethlisberger was 25 of 37 for 364 yards with one touchdown. Mike Wallace caught five passes for 144 yards and an 81-yard score, the longest of his career.
But the feisty Colts (0-3) rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit, took a 13-10 halftime lead and didn’t fall behind again until Polamalu scored with 5:13 left in the game.
Joseph Addai ran 17 times for 86 yards and scored on a 6-yard run that tied it at 20 with 2:09 to go.
Indy’s defense just couldn’t hold it.
Giants 29, Eagles 16
PHILADELPHIA — With Michael Vick knocked out of another game, Eli Manning and the New York Giants wouldn’t let the Philadelphia Eagles finish off their comeback.
Manning threw four touchdown passes, including two to Victor Cruz, and the Giants beat the Eagles.
Vick started despite suffering a concussion in last week’s 35-31 loss at Atlanta. He left with a broken right hand in the fourth quarter after helping the Eagles overcome a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to take a 16-14 lead.
It’s uncertain how long Vick will be out.
Without their Pro Bowl quarterback, the Eagles (1-2) hardly look like the “Dream Team” that entered the season with Super Bowl or bust expectations.
The Giants (2-1) have won two in a row and snapped a six-game losing streak against their division rivals.
Bills 34, Patriots 31
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Rian Lindell hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired, and Buffalo snapped a 15-game losing streak against New England and lifted its record to 3-0.
Buffalo won in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 21-0 second-quarter deficit. It’s the second straight week the Bills rallied; they overcame a 21-3 deficit in a 38-35 win over Oakland last week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick went 27 of 40 for 369 yards with two TDs as Buffalo beat its AFC East rival for the first time since the 2003 opener.
Tom Brady went 30-of-45 for 386 yards and four scores for New England (2-1). Despite setting a league record for most yards passing over a three-game stretch, Brady matched a career high with four interceptions.
Titans 17, Broncos 14
NASHVILLE — Matt Hasselbeck threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Graham with 4:24 left to complete Tennessee’s rally.
After the Titans (2-1) lost Kenny Britt, Hasselbeck turned to others, including Graham, whose first catch of the season came against his former team. Hasselbeck threw for 311 yards and two TDs. Scott graduate Nate Washington hauled in eight catches for 92 yards with a score.
Kyle Orton was intercepted twice and sacked once. Denver is 1-2.
Packers 27, Bears 17
CHICAGO — Aaron Rodgers threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns to Jermichael Finley, and Green Bay shut down Jay Cutler.
The stakes weren’t as high as the previous meeting, when the Packers left Soldier Field celebrating the NFC title on the way to the championship. Even so, they gave the Bears (1-2) more headaches.
Rodgers led the charge, completing 28-of-38 passes. He threw his first interception of the season, when Brian Urlacher picked him off with the Packers (3-0) leading 27-17 in the fourth quarter. Central Catholic and Ohio State grad Dane Sanzenbacher scored on a touchdown reception as well.
49ers 13, Bengals 8
CINCINNATI — Kendall Hunter ran seven yards for the game’s only touchdown with 3:59 to go, rallying San Francisco.
Hunter’s run completed the only noteworthy drive by the 49ers (2-1), who didn’t cross midfield until midway through the third quarter.
Cincinnati (1-2) managed only a pair of field goals by Mike Nugent during rookie quarterback Andy Dalton’s first dismal performance. He threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, the first of his career.
There were only 43,363 fans at 65,500-seat Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals’ smallest crowd for a home opener since they played at Riverfront Stadium in 1981.
Buccaneers 16, Falcons 13
TAMPA — Josh Freeman scored the first rushing touchdown of his career and Tampa Bay’s defense forced three turnovers, and sacked Matt Ryan four times.
The normally unflappable Freeman did a little bird dance in celebration of his quarterback sneak that snapped a 3-3 tie in the second quarter, and the Bucs (2-1) went on to end a five-game losing streak in the series between NFC South rivals. Tampa Bay’s defense forced two first-half fumbles with sacks. Ronde Barber intercepted a pass to stop an Atlanta threat just before halftime, and the Falcons (1-2) were stopped on downs inside the Bucs 10 early in the fourth quarter.
Saints 40, Texans 33
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees passed for 370 yards and three touchdowns, and twice led New Orleans back from fourth-quarter deficits.
Mark Ingram’s first career touchdown on a 13-yard run gave the Saints (2-1) the lead for good with under three minutes left. Brees was intercepted twice, but redeemed himself with all of his TD passes in the second half, including a 27-yarder to tight end Jimmy Graham and a 16-yarder to Lance Moore.
Matt Schaub passed for 373 yards and three TDs of his own.
Panthers 16, Jaguars 10
CHARLOTTE — Cam Newton didn’t pass for a ton of yards, he simply found Greg Olsen over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown with 4:20 left to lift Carolina (1-2).
Newton, the No. 1 overall draft pick, also found Olsen for the ensuing 2-point conversion that helped Carolina rally from a 10-5 halftime deficit. The win also marked the first for coach Ron Rivera with the Panthers.
Newton settled for 158 yards this time in a matchup against Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert (139 yards and a TD). Jacksonville is 1-2.
Raiders 34, Jets 24
OAKLAND — Darren McFadden ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and Oakland bullied the two-time defending AFC runners-up on the ground.
Denarius Moore scored on a 23-yard reverse and Michael Bush added a one-yard TD run 42 seconds later as the Raiders (2-1) took control in a dizzying span beginning late in the third quarter to hand the Jets (2-1) their first loss.
Mark Sanchez was bloodied on one of Oakland’s four second-half sacks and needed a visor to protect a cut on his face.
Chargers 20, Chiefs 17
SAN DIEGO — Eric Weddle intercepted Matt Cassel at midfield with 55 seconds left to preserve San Diego’s victory over winless Kansas City.
The Chiefs (0-3) got the ball back at its 33 with 1:26 left after Philip Rivers was stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the Chiefs 34. Out of timeouts and hoping for a huge upset, Cassel threw for 24 yards to Leonard Pope. On the next play, Cassel threw the ball right to the blitzing Weddle.
Ravens 37, Rams 7
ST. LOUIS — Rookie Torrey Smith’s first three career catches went for touchdowns totaling 133 yards in the first quarter, sparking a franchise record-setting day on offense by Baltimore.
The Ravens (2-1) 406-yard first half that fueled a 27-point cushion, and the game total of 553 yards, were both bests for the franchise that moved from Cleveland in 1996. They also sacked Sam Bradford five times.
Seahawks 13, Cardinals 10
SEATTLE — Tarvaris Jackson scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, bulling through two Arizona defenders at the goal line, and Seattle (1-2) picked up its first win.
Jackson’s day had a little bit of everything, from fans booing, to later chants for his backup Charlie Whitehurst. They were all cheering after he ran through Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes to give the Seahawks the lead.