Patriots extend winning streak
FOXBORO, Mass., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The Miami Dolphins ended a streak Sunday while the New England Patriots and Adam Vinateri kept one going.
The Carolina Panthers, meanwhile, find themselves in the very unexpected position of being one of two unbeaten teams left in the NFC with the almost as surprising New Orleans Saints being the other.
New England, which has not lost a game since last Nov. 18, won its 12th straight Sunday. Vinateri, who kicked the winning field goal on the last play of the Super Bowl, has provided the deciding points in 25 percent of the games during the streak.
He did it again Sunday with a 35-yarder 4:40 into overtime to give the Patriots a 41-38 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
New England squandered a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter before pulling out the victory.
"The way I look at it, you never know what kick or what extra point is going to make the difference in the outcome of the game," Vinatieri said. "So in that sense I make sure I go out there with the same mind-set every single time, whether there is no time left or it's the first quarter."
New England is on course for a division showdown with Miami in two weeks and the Dolphins also remained unbeaten with a 30-3 decision over the New York Jets. New York had beaten Miami eight straight times before Ricky Williams helped end the jinx with a 151-yard rushing game.
"All that really matters is that it's a third win and a division win," Wannstedt said. "Jinx is something for you guys to talk about and for the fans."
A running back the Dolphins cast aside, Lamar Smith, cast aside by the Miami Dolphins, rushed for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Carolina in its 21-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Carolina year safety Deon Grant had three interceptions, only one fewer catches than Minnesota star receiver Randy Moss.
The Panthers are off to their first 3-0 start in six years and it comes after they lost their final 15 games last season.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is off to its first 0-3 start in 35 years.
Joining the Panthers at 3-0 is New Orleans, which finally handed the Chicago Bears a close loss, 29-23.
Chicago had won 12 straight games decided by seven points or less, but safety Sammy Knight intercepted Bears quarterback Jim Miller just shy of the end zone in the final seconds to preserve the Saints' win.
Other NFL results: Cleveland 31, Tennessee 28 in overtime; Indianapolis 23, Houston 3; Philadelphia 44, Dallas 13; Denver 28, Buffalo 23; San Diego 23, Arizona 15; Green Bay 37, Detroit 31; San Francisco 20, Washington 10; New York Giants 9, Seattle 6; Atlanta 30, Cincinnati 3.
Woods holds on for rich victory
THOMASTOWN, Ireland, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Two of the best golfers in the world played among the best rounds of their lives Sunday and they still were not good enough to beat Tiger Woods.
With birdies dropping all over Mount Juliet Estate, Woods did just enough Sunday, shooting a 6-under-par 66 for a one-stroke victory at the American Express Championship and the $1 million top prize.
Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia, both among the top five in the World Golf Rankings, posted course-record 10-under 62s. But Woods had an eagle, five birdies and his only bogey of the tournament en route to his fifth title of the season.
"Today is the best I've hit it the entire week," said Woods, who recorded a tournament-record total of 25-under 263 for a one-shot win over Goosen.
"You knew somebody was going to make a run, somebody was going to shoot a low number," Woods added. "I didn't figure it had to be that low. You go out and shoot 66 to win by one."
Woods built a five-stroke lead after 54 holes and held on for his fifth individual World Golf Championships title.
Goosen sliced into a five-shot deficit with an eagle, nine birdies and a bogey during his best round in a PGA Tour event. He was a runner-up to Woods for the second time this season, finishing at 24-under 264.
Americans rally to win Solheim Cup
EDINA, Minn., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Rosie Jones anchored an American comeback Sunday by rallying from an early deficit in the final match of the day and securing a 15 1/2-12 1/2 victory for the United States over Europe in the Solheim Cup.
Trailing by two points going into the Sunday's 12 singles matches and facing the possibility of losing the Cup on home soil for the first time, the stars of the LPGA Tour won seven matches and halved three others.
In a scenario similar to that of the 1991 Ryder Cup, in which America's Mark Calcavecchia lost a 4-up lead with four to play and almost cost the United States a victory in that competition, Michele Redman lost a 5-up advantage with five to play and wound up with only a halved match against Suzann Petterson.
It appeared possible that lost half point might be enough to cost the Americans the Solheim Cup. But Jones came from behind to win her match and Beth Daniel, playing in the next-to-last match, also staged a comeback to earn a halve against previously unbeaten Carin Koch.
The United States thus regained the Cup after losing it to Europe two years ago in Scotland.
Captain Patty Sheehan sent the 42-year-old Jones out last Sunday in hopes that if the Cup was on the line, her experience would pay off. Jones found herself 2-down to France's Karine Icher after six holes and was still trailing by one hole after 11. But Jones won four straight holes and came away with a 3 & 2 victory that clinched the Cup.
Juli Inkster, Laura Diaz, Emilie Klein, Kelly Robbins, Meg Mallon and Pat Hurst also came up with American victories Sunday. Wendy Ward earned a halve against Sweden's Annika Sorenstam, the best female player in the world; and Daniel won the final hole to tie Koch. Until Sunday's singles match, Koch had been 7-0 in Solheim Cup play.
France ousts United States in Davis Cup
PARIS, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Andy Roddick started Sunday's reverse singles match with a double fault and things went downhill from there as the United States was eliminated from the Davis Cup semifinals by defending champion France.
Roddick and Blake put the United States on the brink of elimination in a 2-0 hole Friday with losses in the singles.
Marat Safin clinched Russia's third trip to the Davis Cup final with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 6-3 triumph over Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian of Argentina at Moscow's Luzhniki Sports Palace.
A's boost division lead to three games
OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Jermaine Dye homered twice and drove in three runs Sunday as the Oakland Athletics held on for their fifth consecutive victory, a 7-5 decision over the Texas Rangers.
Oakland entered Friday's series opener with a one-game lead over second-place Anaheim in the American League West. The A's extended that lead to three games with their first sweep of the Rangers since the final week of the 2000 season.
Dye hit the second of back-to-back homers with Scott Hatteberg in the third inning and added a two-run shot in the fifth. It was his eighth career multi-homer game and first since joining Oakland late last season.
Billy Koch made his seventh appearance in eight days and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 43rd save. It was the 81st appearance of the season for Koch, who tied the franchise record set by John Wyatt in 1964.
The righthander also matched the major league mark for most appearances by a pitcher with more than 40 saves. Rod Beck set the record in 1998, when he had 51 saves for the San Francisco Giants.
Anaheim had a chance to clinch at least a wild card berth, but fell to the Seattle Mariners, 3-2.
Other American League results: New York 4, Detroit 3; Toronto 12, Tampa Bay 6; Boston 13, Baltimore 2; Cleveland 6, Kansas City 5; Chicago 8, Minnesota 2.
Dodgers stay two back in wild card chase
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Los Angeles Dodgers came from behind Sunday to defeat the San Diego Padres, 4-3, and stay within two games of the lead in the National League wild card race.
Pinch-hitter Mike Kinkade's single off Kevin Walker in the top of the ninth inning scored Mark Grudzielanek with the go-ahead run.
The Padres had a chance to take the lead in the eight, getting Cesar Crespo to second base with one out. But Paul Quantrill (5-4) escaped when Ron Gant lined out to left field and Crespo was doubled off.
Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 51st save.
With San Francisco winning at Milwaukee, Los Angeles needed a win to avoid falling three games behind the Giants with just six to play.
Other National League results: Atlanta 4, Florida 1; Montreal 5, New York 1; Philadelphia 4, Cincinnati 3; Pittsburgh 5, Chicago 4; St. Louis 7, Houston 3; Colorado 11, Arizona 7; San Francisco 3, Milwaukee 1.
Jimmie Johnson wins NASCAR race
DOVER, Del., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Rookie Jimmie Johnson took the lead just past the halfway mark Sunday and held on to win the NASCAR Winston Cup MBNA All-American Heroes 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway.
Johnson, who won the MBNA Platinum 400 here on June 2, became the eighth driver to sweep both races on the "Monster Mile" in the same year.
The 27-year-old Johnson joined the elite fraternity of Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (1996), Rusty Wallace (1994), Dale Earnhardt (1989), Bill Elliott (1988), Bobby Allison (1983) and David Pearson (1973) in completing a Dover double.
It also was Johnson's third victory this year as he battles for the Winston Cup championship and Rookie of the Year honors.
Mark Martin finished second in a Ford after starting 32nd and was followed by Dale Jarrett, Matt Kenseth and Stewart. Martin owns a 35-point lead over Johnson in the Winston Cup standings with eight races remaining.
Fire makes MLS playoffs
NAPERVILLE, Ill., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The Chicago Fire secured the final MLS playoff berth with a 2-1 triumph over the Columbus Crew Sunday as Peter Nowak and Ante Razov scored second-half goals.
The Fire's win knocked the slumping MetroStars out of the playoffs and set up a first-round meeting with the Eastern Conference champion New England Revolution.
After an evenly played first half, Chicago struck first in the 72nd minute. Dema Kovalenko slipped a diagonal pass to Nowak on the left side of the penalty area. Noweak got behind defender Chris Leitch and flashed a quick shot across the goalmouth and inside the far post.
Eight minutes later, midfielder Hristo Stoitchkov set up an insurance goal, running under a pass from DaMarcus Beasley. Stoitchkov delivered a delicate one-touch pass into space for Razov, who buried a blistering half-volley past goalkeeper Jon Busch.
The MLS quarterfinals begin Wednesday night when Columbus visits San Jose, Kansas City goes to Los Angeles and Colorado plays in Dallas. The opening game of the Chicago-New England quarterfinal series will be Thursday night in Foxboro, Mass.