• 50°

Rams division title first since ’89

The Associated Press

The St.

Monday, December 06, 1999

The St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals ended long streaks of futility.

Kurt Warner passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns as the Rams beat Carolina 34-21 Sunday to win their first NFC West title since 1985 and clinch their first playoff berth since 1989.

”I came here thinking we could get it done,” said Dick Vermeil, hired by the Rams in 1997 after a 14-year coaching hiatus.

The Lions snapped an 18-game losing streak against Washington with a 33-17 victory at the Silverdome.

Desmond Howard, signed by the Lions on Saturday after being waived by Green Bay, scored on a 68-yard punt return. Howard was needed because Terry Fair, who broke a knuckle in a household accident, was unable to play.

”That’s amazing,” said Detroit defensive tackle Luther Elliss, who returned a fumble 11 yards for a touchdown. ”The guy gets off the plane, comes in here and does what he does.”

Jeff Blake tied his career high with four TD passes as the Bengals ended an 11-game home losing streak with a 44-30 win over San Francisco.

The Bengals have won two in a row for the first time since 1997.

”We’re not acting like we won the Super Bowl, but we’re happy we won,” said second-year linebacker Takeo Spikes. ”Two wins in a row means a lot to me because it’s never been done since I’ve been here.”

Colts 37, Dolphins 34

At Miami, Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 53-yard field goal as time ran out to give Indianapolis the inside track for the AFC East title.

Dan Marino, facing an uncertain future following a neck injury and a horrible game against Dallas on Thanksgiving, threw three TD passes for Miami. But Peyton Manning hit Marvin Harrison with completions of 16 and 18 yards in the final 30 seconds to set up the Colts’ winning field goal.

The Colts (10-2) hold a two-game lead over Miami and Buffalo in the AFC East. The Dolphins (8-4), who have lost three of their last four, will probably have to scramble for a wild-card berth.

Rams 34, Panthers 21

At Charlotte, N.C., the Rams improved to 10-2 for the first time since 1978 and Carolina (5-7) missed a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time in two years.

Bengals 44, 49ers 30

Cincinnati (3-10) snapped a nine-game losing streak to the 49ers (3-8), who lost their eighth in a row and clinched their first losing season since 1982.

Lions 33, Redskins 17

Washington castoff Gus Frerotte passed for 280 yards and one touchdown against his old team as the Lions (8-4) beat the Redskins (7-5) for the first time since 1965.

Packers 35, Bears 19

Rookie De’Mond Parker ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and Keith McKenzie returned a fumble on a botched punt 45 yards for another score as Green Bay won its third straight at cold, rainy Soldier Field.

Parker gained 113 yards on 19 carries to help the Packers (7-5) overcome the absence of leading receiver and rusher Dorsey Levens, out with cracked ribs. The Bears fell to 5-8.

Falcons 35, Saints 12

At Atlanta, Chris Chandler threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Falcons snapped a three-game losing streak by routing even-more-hapless New Orleans.

The Falcons (3-9), averaging just 14.1 points, posted their highest point total of the season and 10th straight victory over the Saints (2-10). New Orleans extended the NFL’s longest active road losing streak to 12 games.

Giants 41, Jets 28

At East Rutherford, N.J., Kerry Collins threw three TD passes to Amani Toomer and ran for another score as the New York Giants scored their most points in four years.

Rookie Joe Montgomery rushed for 111 yards in his first start for the Giants (6-6), who gained a season-high 490 yards to break a three-game losing streak and keep their playoff hopes alive. The Jets dropped to 4-8.

Ravens 41, Titans 14

At Baltimore, Tony Banks threw a career-high four TD passes and Priest Holmes ran for 100 yards as the Ravens (5-7) enjoyed a rare blowout.

Baltimore’s Rod Woodson tied Ken Houston’s NFL career record by scoring his ninth touchdown on an interception return. Tennessee (9-3) lost to a division foe for the first time in 14 games.

Cardinals 21, Eagles 17

Jake Plummer, starting for the first time since breaking a finger on Oct. 17, guided Arizona (6-6) to two touchdowns in the final 4:31.

Frank Sanders’ diving catch of Plummer’s 38-yard pass just inches from the goal line set up Plummer’s 1-yard sneak for the winning touchdown with 57 seconds left. The Cardinals won their fourth straight, while the visiting Eagles fell to 3-10.

Chargers 23, Browns 10

At San Diego, Kenny Bynum and rookie Jermaine Fazande each had short scoring runs, and John Carney kicked three field goals as the Chargers (5-7) snapped a six-game losing streak.

The Chargers won without their injured All-Pro defenders, linebacker Junior Seau and safety Rodney Harrison. The expansion Browns fell to 2-11.

Chiefs 16, Broncos 10

At Denver, Tamarick Vanover returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown with 4:53 left to lift Kansas City (7-5) over the Broncos (4-8).

The Chiefs, who drew within one game of AFC West-leading Seattle, won a game of field position that featured punters Daniel Pope and Tom Rouen.

Raiders 30, Seahawks 21

Rich Gannon, shaking off a broken wrist and a strained thigh, threw scoring passes of 14 and 5 yards to Tim Brown as Oakland won at home.

Seattle (8-4) was undermined by turnovers for the second straight week. Ricky Watters fumbled twice and Jon Kitna, who had five interceptions and a fumble in a loss to Tampa Bay last week, was picked off twice by the Raiders (6-6).

Patriots 13, Cowboys 6

At Foxboro, Mass., Terry Allen scored on a 3-yard run with 6:39 left and New England (7-5) held Dallas (6-6) without a touchdown to snap a three-game losing streak.

Adam Vinatieri kicked two field goals for the Patriots, who beat the Cowboys for the first time in eight tries. Dallas’ Emmitt Smith gained 75 yards to join Barry Sanders as the only players to rush for more than 1,000 yards in nine consecutive seasons.