Page 34 article text (OCR)
4C THE PALM BEACH POST MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1997 c Pro football Summaries, 8C Bucs close in on playoff spot NFL STANDINGS nnn UuEEuS there,' " said Bucs safety John Lynch, whose fourth-down tackle of Tyrone Wheatley at the Tampa 47 stopped New York's last threat after the Giants moved to 14-8 early in the fourth quarter. "That's the great thing about our team, our aspirations are a lot higher," Lynch added. "It seems every time we win lately, we wipe out some streak and as a team you take a little pride in that. But we want to do more than win nine games." The Giants (7-5-1) maintained a one-game lead in the NFC East over Washington and now Philadelphia (both 6-6-1) with three games left. "What's frustrating is that we really could have been in the driver's seat if we had won," Giants linebacker Corey Miller said after the The Associated Press EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ. Fifteen years of waiting for a winning season are over for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their first playoff berth in as many years might not be far behind. Fullback Mike Alstott scored two touchdowns and halfback Warrick Dunn ran for 120 yards and set up two scores as the Bucs (9-4) came north and beat the New York Giants 20-8 Sunday. The Bucs, who held New York to 202 yards, can clinch a playoff berth by winning one of their final three games. They last had a winning season in 1982, 5-4 in a strike year. Their last full winning year was 1981 (9-7). "We're not thinking, 'We're set' or 'We're team fell to 1-2-1 in its last four games. "The question is what are you going to do? Are tou going to be a pretender or a contender?" Alstott scored on a 1-yard pass in the second quarter that was set up by a 53-yard pass from Trent Dilfer (12-of-22 for 152 yards) to Dunn. Alstott also had a 9-yard TD run. New York quarterback Danny Kanell (14 of 31 for 117 yards and two interceptions) was booed frequently by a crowd that left well before the game ended. The Giants offense has scored three touchdowns in the last four games. r. ' B Extra point: The game-time temperature was 44 degrees. The Bucs are 0-17 when the temperature is 42 or less. i fall . Jets , 1g!f;, into .i tie AMERICAN CONFERENCE EAST W L T Pet. Pts. Opp. Div. AFC New England 8 5 0 .615 308 233 6-1 7-2 Miami 8 5 0 .615 294 242 4-2 8-2 N.Y.Jets 8 5 0 .615 293 252 2-5 6-5 Buffalo 6 7 0 .462 217 296 5-3 5-6 Indianapolis 1 12 0 .077 222 348 0-6 0-10 CENTRAL W L T Pet. Pts. Opp. Div. AFC Pittsburgh 9 4 0 .692 307 246 6-1 7-2 Jacksonville 9 4 0 .692 334 269 6-2 7-2 Tennessee 7 6 0 .538 284 242 1-4 3-6 Baltimore 4 8 1 .346 260 286 2-4 2-7 Cincinnati 4 9 0 .308 267 353 1-5 3-7 WEST W L T Pet. Pts. Opp. Div. AFC y-Denver 11 2 0 .846 393 215 5-2 8-2 Kansas City 10 3 0 .769 291 212 5-1 7-3 Seattle 6 7 0 .462 281 301 3-4 5-5 Oakland 4 9 0 .308 294 347 2-4 2-7 San Diego 4 9 0 .308 253 344 1-5 3-7 NATIONAL CONFERENCE EAST W L T Pet. Pts. Opp. Div. NFC N.Y. Giants 7 5 1 .577 226 227 4-0-1 6-2-1 Philadelphia 6 6 1 .500 247 286 3-3 4-5 Washington 6 6 1 .500 244 199 2-2-1 5-3-1 Dallas 6 7 0 .462 260 240 3-4 4-6 Arizona 3 10 0 .231 216 288 2-5 2-7 CENTRAL W L T Pet. Pts. Opp. Div. NFC Green Bay 9 3 0 .750 316 234 5-1 7-2 Tampa Bay 9 4 0 .692 262 200 2-4 6-4 Minnesota 8 4 0 .667 274 262 3-3 6-3 Detroit 7 6 0 .538 322 250 5-2 6-5 Chicago 2 11 0 .154 215 377 1-6 1-9 WEST W L T Pet. Pts. Opp. Div. NFC x-San Francisco 11 2 0 .846 304 193 8-0 10-1 Carolina 6 7 0 .462 214 240 4-3 4-5 Atlanta 5 8 0 .385 260 312 4-4 4-6 New Orleans 5 8 0 .385 170 258 1-6 3-7 St. Louis 3 10 0 .231 225 301 1-5 3-6 New York's loss to Bills creates a three-way tie in the AFC East. r w 5 r-f """"" J The Associated Press vvV- r S j&Z( x-Clinched division title. y-clinched playoff berth. ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Despite their vast improvement this season, the New York Jets still couldn't beat the Buffalo Bills. 1 - The Bills scored a first-quarter touchdown for the first time in 17 games, and Todd Collins hit Lonnie Johnson with a 62-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter in a 20-10 victory against the Jets on Sunday. '' The Bills (6-7) broke a three-game losing streak and beat the Jets (8-5) for the sixth straight time. A New York victory would have guaranteed the Jets their first winning season since 1988. . . The Jets, who started the day in sole possession of first place in the AFC East, are tied for first with Miami, a 34-16 winner against Oakland, and New England. The Patriots beat Indianapolis 20-17. Johnson, who had dropped three passes earlier in the game, caught the ball at the 40, ran over safety Victor Green and beat linebacker Dwayne Gordon to the end zone with 12:47 remaining. "If it's me versus the safety, I put my money on myself," said Johnson, a former Florida State standout. "Every dog has his day. I might be called a dog, but I had my day." J Thurman Thomas gained 104 yards on' 18 carries and moved into ninth place on the career rushing list with 11,325 yards. It was Thomas' first 100-yard game since Oct. 27, 1996. when he had 119 against New England. Results THURSDAY Detroit 55, Chicago 20 SUNDAY Miami 34, Oakland 16 Philadelphia 44, Cincinnati 42 New Orleans 16, Carolina 13 St. Louis 23, Washington 20 Tennessee 27, Dallas 14 Jacksonville 29, Baltimore 27 New England 20, Indianapolis 17 Buffalo 20, NY. Jets 10 Kansas City 44, San Francisco 9 Pittsburgh 26, Arizona 20 (OT) Denver 38, San Diego 28 LATEST LINE Green Bay by 3 Atlanta 24, Seattle 17 Tampa Bay 20, N.Y. Giants 8 TONIGHT Green Bay at Minnesota, 9 p.m. Schedule I've been around here long enough to THURSDAY Tennessee at Cincinnati, 8 p.m. SUNDAY Detroit at Miami, 8 p.m. Denver at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. New England at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. Oakland at Kansas City, 1 p.m. Seattle at Baltimore, 1 p.m. Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets, 4 p.m. Washington at Arizona, 4 p.m. DEC. 8: Carolina at Dallas, 9 p.m. Buffalo at Chicago, 1 p.m. Green Bay at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. St. Louis at New Orleans, 1 p.m. Atlanta at San Diego, 4 p.m. Minnesota at San Francisco, 4 p.m. know that even though our season might be over, a lot of players still play with a lot of pride," Thomas said. "There's no quit in the Buffalo Bills." '. Buffalo scored a first-quarter touchdown for the first time since Nov. 24, 1996, Ion Collins' 28-yard pass to Andre Reed 3:49 into the game. Steve Christie kicked field goals of 49 and 34 yards for the Bills. J Extra point: Buffalo swept the Jets for the third straight year, giving it six straight wins against its AFC East rival. f ! THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Bills DE Phil Hansen (90) forces a fumble as he sacks Jets QB Neil O'Donnell in the second quarter. The play set up a 49-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the half. Top Rushers Bledsoe, Patriots hold off Colts 20-17 pyfra nnint madp it 13-10 with 4:54 lpft in hp n The Associated Press FOXBORO, Mass. Drew Bledsoe threw two touchdown passes Sunday after going two games without one, and the New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 20-17. Jim Harbaugh's second scoring pass, an 11-yarder to Sean Dawkins with 1:08 left, cut the lead to three, but the Patriots recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. The Patriots (8-5), who have six wins against teams with losing records, moved into a three-way tie for the AFC East lead with the New York Jets, who lost to Buffalo, and the Dolphins, who beat Oakland. New England has no soft spots in its remaining games at Jacksonville, at home against Pittsburgh and at Miami. "We're now 8-5 and we have yet to play our best football," Bledsoe said. "Whether or not we start doing that this week, I don't know. But we need to." Bledsoe, who had eight scoring passes in his first two games but only 13 in his next 10, threw a 3-yarder to Sam Gash and an 18-yarder to Troy Brown. Adam Vinatieri added field goals of 32 and 48 yards for New England. Harbaugh's 18-yard scoring pass to Aaron Bailey on third-and-goal and Cary Blanchard's third quarter. The Colts trailed 13-3 at half time managing only a 24-yard field goal, by Blanchard. Tailback Dave Meggett returned a punt 47 yards to the Indianapolis 28-yard line with 32 seconds left in the third quarter. ; Curtis Martin then ran 10 yards and, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Bledsoe hit Brown in the end zone for a 20-10 lead. v B Extra point: Bledsoe went over the 3,000 mark in yards passing for the fourth straight season, NAME TEAM CAR YDS TP Terrell Davis Broncos 26 1 78 1 Jerome Bettis Steelers 36 142 3 Warrick Dunn ' Buccaneers 24 120 0 Corey Dillon Bengals 19 114 0 Top Passers NAME TEAM COM ATT YDS TP Boomer Esiason Bengals 27 47 378 4 Mark Brunell Jaguars 25 40 317 1 Bobby Hoying Eagles 26 42 313 4 Jim Harbaugh Colts 22 41 310 2 Top Receivers NAME TEAM REC YDS TP Rob Moore Cardinals 8 188 0 Amp Lee Rams 6 128 1 Tim Brown Raiders 8 125 1 Irving Fryar Eagles 7 122 0 SeanDawkins Colts 7 120 1 Saints upset Panthers 16-13; Falcons triumph 1 Elway, Broncos drop Chargers, i sew up AFC's first playoff spot' Tonight's Matchup Dome has spelled doom for Packers The Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS The Green Bay Packers are the Super Bowl champions and are 33-8 since their 1 995 loss at the Metrodome, but they have been unable to crack their road jinx against the Vikings Green Bay is 0-5 in the Metrodome under Mike Holmgren. They'll get another chance Monday night in the most meaningful late-season matchup between the teams since the Packers won 23-7 at old Met Stadium on their way to the 1972 NFC Central title. The Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. One week after a frustrated New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka publicly questioned whether he should continue to rebuild the team, the Saints scored 13 points off Carolina turnovers in a 16-13 victory on Sunday. Doug Brien kicked three field goals, including a 45-yarder with five seconds left, as New Orleans (5-8) won for the third time in four games and ended its skid of 15 consecutive losses to NFC West opponents. Ray Zellars rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown to help the Saints dent the playoff hopes of Carolina (6-7), which went to the NFC title game last year. New Orleans, which came in with a NFL-worst 43 turnovers, lost the ball twice, but it only cost the Saints three points. Instead, New Orleans exploited Kerry Collins, who came in with a league-worst 16 interceptions. Collins was picked off two Billy Joe Hobert, the Saints' fourth starting quarterback this season, was adequate in his debut, throwing for 190 yards on 14-of-30 passing. The winning points were set up by Ken Walter's punt that traveled just 15 yards on a gray, rainy afternoon. It went out of bounds on the New Orleans 37-yard line with 1:10 remaining. B Falcons 24, Seahawks 17: Atlanta rookie Byron Han-spard ran back a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown as Atlanta beat host Seattle for its third straight win. The Falcons (5-8) handed the Seahawks (6-7) their third consecutive defeat and virtually eliminated them from the playoffs despite being held to no first downs in the second half. Chris Chandler passed for 204 yards (15-for-23) and a touchdown, but only for 15 yards in the second half. Warren Moon of the Seahawks passed for 240 yards (24-for-38) and two touchdowns with one interception. The Seahawks' chances of catching up ended when Lenny McGill picked off a pass intended for James McKnight at the Atlanta 29 with 1:27 left. ZT I Green Bay (9-3) can all but eliminate the Vikings from the NFC Central race if they break l their dome hex one week after ending their 0-for- Holmgren slump against Dallas, f ' "You've got to have some confidence after i " f that, knowing that you can play with anyone," I y safety Eugene Robinson said of the 45-1 7 win I -i-4 j against the Cowboys. "And the whole Dallas The Associated Press SAN DIEGO The Denver Broncos are going back to the playoffs, and, they hope, will be back here on Jan. 25 for the Super Bowl. John Elway threw three touchdown passes and San Diego native Terrell Davis ran for 178 yards and one touchdown as the Broncos became the first AFC team to clinch a playoff spot. They did it with a methodical 38-28 win over the Chargers on Sunday night, tying a season high for points. Davis regained the NFL rushing lead from Detroit's Barry Sanders, with 1,647 yards, and needs to average 118 yards in his final three games to become the third NFL player to reach 2,000. At 11-2, the Broncos share the NFL's best record with San Francisco, which lost 44-9 at Kansas City. The Broncos are one game ahead of the Chiefs in the AFC West. The Chargers (4-9) have lost five straight for the first time since going 0-5 to open the" 1991 season, Dan Henning' last as head coach. Rookie coach Kevin Gilbride is assured of a losing record, something predef. cessor Bobby Ross didn't have in five seasons. v Elway completed 20 of 33 passes for 240 yards. His TD passes of 4 yards to Ed McCaffrey and 5 yards to Rod Smith on consecutive drives gave thi Broncos a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. '. fl Extra point: San Diego's1 Eric Metcalf set an NFL record with his ninth career punt return for a touchdown, an 83-yarder, and Tony Martin scored the Chargers' first offensive TD in 10 quarters. f mystique, now you can throw it out the window. A ; 'In Psychol6'ca"y' yu can throw it out the window. V yij ' "But tne same tninS is coming up with ni. . urn 4 t mm Minnocnta Wo havon't iAnn nn in Minnocnta anrt IT!,! II l(.tJVlU , IIUVII WII MS III IIIIMIIVtWLU MIIU Robinson so now get that same type of feeling, we want to throw it out the window. OK, let's throw it off our back." While the Vikings won't boast about their dome dominance, they do believe it gives them an edge. "It gives you confidence," said Vikings running back Leroy Hoard. "It's the same thing that Dallas had against Green Bay." more times before leaving late in the second quarter with a concussion. Steve Beuerlein replaced Collins and rallied the Panthers from a 10-point deficit to a 13-13 tie, but it wasn't enough.