Comebacks highlight NFL schedule
CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- On an afternoon filled with impressive comebacks, the defending Super Bowl champions won a game that had a familiar ring to it.
Last year's Super Bowl runner-up, meanwhile, kept its season alive by rallying in the fourth quarter Sunday, New Orleans moved into a share of the lead in its division with a late surge and Atlanta came from 17 points behind in the fourth quarter to create something the NFL had not seen in five years -- a tie game.
In addition, the Green Bay Packers found themselves in position to clinch their division before December arrives and the San Francisco 49ers may not be far behind.
New England and St. Louis combined to provide a very unexpected result last January when the Patriots claimed their first Super Bowl crown, but both teams have had problems since.
The Patriots put together an outstanding effort last week against Buffalo just to reach the breakeven mark while St. Louis lost its first five games of the season and has been battling uphill ever since.
Both put together comeback victories Sunday -- New England storming back to down Chicago, 33-30, and St. Louis overcomeing San Diego, 28-24.
New England's march to the Super Bowl last season featured a controversial overrule of what appeared to be a fumble by quarterback Tom Brady in the divisional round against Oakland.
Sunday's comeback also featured an instant-replay reversal of what was at first ruled to be an interception thrown by Brady.
Given that reprieve, Brady hit David Patten with a 20-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining. That score came 27 seconds after Chicago defensive end Bryan Robinson seemed to have picked off a Brady pass. It was eventually ruled, however, that Robinson did not have control of the ball.
New England's win helped create a wild scramble in the AFC East. Miami lost to the New York Jets Sunday night, leaving the Patriots, Dolphins and idle Buffalo Bills tied for the division lead at 5-4. The Jets are one game back.
In St. Louis, Isaac Bruce celebrated his 30th birthday with two dazzling touchdown catches in the fourth quarter to rally the Rams past the Chargers.
The Rams' Marc Bulger, starting for perhaps the final time before the return of injured quarterback Kurt Warner, completed 36 of 48 passes for 453 yards and four touchdowns. Warner's career high in a single game has been 441 yards.
Trying to become the first team to start 0-5 and still make the playoffs, the Rams (4-5) won their fourth straight under Bulger. The loss was the second in a row for the Chargers (6-3), who squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.
New Orleans also came from behind late -- Aaron Brooks capping a 91-yard drive with a seven-yard pass to rookie Donte' Stallworth with 31 seconds remaining for a 34-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Stallworth's catch put New Orleans in front and rookie defensive end Charles Grant sealed the win by returning quarterback Rodney Peete's fumble 34 yards for a touchdown on the game's final play.
Atlanta and Pittsburgh played the 330th regular-season overtime game since the NFL instituted an extra period to break ties in 1974. But for the 13th time in those 330 games, the tie was not broken.
The Falcons overcame a 34-17 deficit in the fourth quarter to force a 34-34 deadlock and that is the way it ended despite a breathtaking final play.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox, who threw four touchdown passes in the game, heaved a pass from his own 49 yard line that was caught in a crowd by a leaping Plaxico Burress.
Burress fell to the ground with his feet in the end zone. But the ball was at the one-yard line, leaving the Falcons and Steelers as the first teams to walk off the field without providing a winner since Washington and traveled 50 yards into the New York Giants played a 7-7 contest on Nov. 23, 1997.
Elsewhere around the league:
-- Brett Favre passed for 295 of his 351 yards in the first half as the Green Bay Packers built a huge lead and extended their winning streak to seven games with a 40-14 rout of the Detroit Lions. Favre, who suffered a strained knee ligament in his left knee three weeks ago, delivered his 35th career 300-yard game. Green Bay opened a five-game lead in the NFC North with seven games to play.
-- San Francisco blanked the league's highest scoring offensive over the final two periods and downed the Kansas City Chiefs, 17-13. The 49ers opened a three-game lead in the NFC West.
Other NFL results: Indianapolis 35, Philadelphia 13; New York Jets 13, Miami 10; Baltimore 37, Cincinnati 28; Tennessee 17, Houston 10; New York Giants 27, Minnesota 20; Seattle 27, Arizona 6; Jacksonville 26, Washington 7.
Hornets rally for overtime win
NEW YORK, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Baron Davis started a streak of 10 straight New Orleans points that ended overtime Sunday and gave the Hornets a 97-91 victory over the New York Knicks.
Davis hit a long three-pointer from above the key to cut the Hornets' overnight deficit to 91-90. After Allan Houston missed a three-pointer at the other end, Stacey Augmon made a layup that put the Hornets ahead to stay.
Davis scored five of his 24 points in overtime while Augmon had six of his 11 in the extra session. Augmon's dunk made it 96-91 with 35 seconds left.
Houston led the Knicks with 27 points but hit just 11 of 30 from the field. He also was forced into action at point guard after Howard Eisley fouled out in the fourth quarter. Starter Charlie Ward sat out with a bruised leg.
Other NBA results: Los Angeles Clippers 120, Orlando 117; Sacramento 105, Atlanta 97.
Islanders surprise Stars
UNIONDALE, N.Y., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Jason Blake scored the game-winning goal 7:43 into the third period and Chris Osgood made 38 saves Sunday as the New York Islanders edged the Dallas Stars, 3-2, to post consecutive wins for the first time this season.
Blake put the Islanders ahead after rookie Eric Manlow gained the puck when Dallas' Mike Modano had trouble handling it in his own zone. Stars goaltender Marty Turco stopped Manlow's slap shot from the left faceoff circle, but Blake was at the right side of the net to sweep the rebound in for his second goal of the season.
Shawn Bates tallied while shorthanded in the first period and Manlow got his first NHL goal in the second for the Islanders, who won despite getting outshot, 40-25.
The win could be costly for New York, which lost center Dave Scatchard early in the second period after he took a shot to the left foot and needed help off the ice. He did not return.
Jere Lehtinen scored twice for Dallas, which had its three-game unbeaten streak (2
1) come to an end. The Stars failed to earn a point for only the second time in their last 10 games (5-2-2-1).
Other NHL results: Anaheim 1, Minnesota 0; Nashville 4, Colorado 3.
Kenseth wins, Stewart keeps points lead
AVONDALE, Ariz., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Matt Kenseth dominated during the final laps of Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway to score his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup win of the season.
Kenseth's Ford finished 1.344 seconds ahead of Rusty Wallace, who was attempting to break a 60-race winless streak. Four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon was third, followed by Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In addition to his fifth win of the season, it was Kenseth's 19th top-10 finish. It also was the third consecutive victory at Phoenix for Roush Racing. Jeff Burton won here in 2000 and 2001.
Points leader Tony Stewart finished eighth after running as high as second. His car developed a handling problem midway through the race, but he still is firmly in control of his bid for the Winston Cup title.
Stewart leaves Phoenix with an 89-point lead over Martin. He needs to finish 22nd or better next week at the season-ending event in Miami to clinch the championship.
Serena wins, Venus injured
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Venus Williams retired with a leg injury Sunday just five games deep into her WTA Championship semifinal against Kim Clijsters, after which Serena Williams rallied for a thrilling victory over Jennifer Capriati.
The top-seeded Serena Williams came back for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory that put her in the title match against Clijsters.
Venus Williams, the second seed, sustained the leg injury during Friday's 7-5, 6-4 quarterfinal victory over Monica Seles and came out for Sunday's match with her calf heavily tapped.
After losing the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals to her younger sister, Venus was hoping to win here and tie Serena for the WTA Tour lead in titles with eight.
An all-Williams final would have been ideal for the tournament, which has been plagued by poor attendance. Yet the small crowd at Staples Center was treated to a thrilling match between top-seeded Serena Williams and No. 3 Capriati.
Hurricanes unanimous No. 1
MIAMI, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Miami was the the unanimous No. 1 team and Oklahoma slipped four spots to No. 6 in the latest college football coaches poll, which was released Sunday.
Miami (9-0) had been losing first-place votes over the last few weeks with 14 going to Oklahoma (8-1) last week. But with Oklahoma's 30-26 defeat to Texas A&M on Saturday, the Hurricanes garnered all 61 first-place nods and a total of 1,525 points in the nationwide poll.
After a series of sluggish performances, defending champion Miami rolled to a 26-3 victory over Tennessee to extend its school-record winning streak to 31 games.
Ohio State (11-0), the only other undefeated Division 1-A team edged Purdue, 10-6, on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins on a fourth-down play with 1:36 remaining and moved up to No. 2.
Texas (9-1), Washington State (9-1) and Iowa (10-1) completed the top five.
Georgia (9-1) also jumped one place to No. 7, and was followed by Southern California (7-2), Notre Dame (9-1), Michigan (8-2) and Kansas State (8-2).
Louisiana State (7-2), which got a "Hail Mary" touchdown pass as time expired to record a 33-30 win over Kentucky on Saturday, climbed two rungs to 12th, but Virginia Tech (8-2) fell six spots to No. 13 after losing for the second straight week.
Florida was ranked No. 14, followed by Florida State (7-3), Penn State (7-3), Colorado State (8-2), Colorado (7-3) and Maryland (8-2). North Carolina (9-2) completed the top 20 after falling seven spots.
Montgomerie, Langer share title
SOTOGRANDE, Spain, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Ryder Cup teammates Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie shared the season-ending Volvo Masters title Sunday when their playoff was called because of darkness at the Valderrama Golf Club.
The two European stars were tied at 3-under-par 281 after Langer fired a 4-under 67 and Montgomerie recorded a 70 in the fourth round.
However, when darkness fell after two holes of a sudden-death playoff, both players agreed to accept the offer of European Tour executive director Ken Schofield to share the title of the season's closing tournament.
Langer claimed his 42nd career European Tour title while Montgomerie earned his 27th.
The last time there was a tie on the circuit, Langer played six extra holes with Seve Ballesteros at the 1986 Lancome Trophy in Paris before darkness fell. The German is the only player in European Tour history with two ties on his resume.
Bradley Dredge, the third-round leader, finished third after carding a 72. He could have forced a three-way playoff with a birdie at the 18th hole, but closed with a bogey. Dredge wound up at 1-under 283.