The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, linked in a quest for perfection through 10 games, were joined Sunday in defeat.
Both tumbled to division foes one week before their Monday night meeting in San Francisco. The Los Angeles Rams stunned the 49ers 28-17 in San Francisco, and the Eagles whipped the Giants 31-13 at Philadelphia.If the 49ers and Giants won, they would have been the first 11-0 teams to face off in NFL history.
They had plenty of company Sunday, when the elite got beat. All five of the division leaders who played, lost. Minnesota clubbed NFC Central-leading Chicago, 41-13; Kansas City shaded the Los Angeles Raiders 27-24 to draw even in the AFC West; and Indianapolis smashed Cincinnati 34-20, costing the Bengals their lead in the AFC Central.
Rams 28, 49ers 17
At San Francisco, Cleveland Gary scored three touchdowns to help the Rams prevent the two-time defending Super Bowl champion 49ers from what would have been an NFL record 19th straight victory.
"When you give the ball up a lot, that's the kind of thing you can't do against a team like the Rams," 49ers quarterback Joe Montana said after throwing three interceptions. "No matter what their record."
The Rams, 4-7, forced four first-half turnovers to race to a 21-7 halftime lead, and then survived a 10-point San Francisco third quarter. Montana threw a 23-yard TD pass to Harry Sydney on a screen pass and Mike Cofer added a 42-yard field goal but Gary capped a 90-play drive that took 10:37 with a 1-yard run to put the Rams safely in front.
Buford McGee ran for a TD and threw a 22-yard halfback option pass to Gary for another to help the Rams to their halftime lead. The 49ers would have clinched their fifth straight division title with a triumph.
"It feels great to beat the best," Rams quarterback Jim Everett said. "We've been through some hard times this year, but this is exactly what it's all about. I think we match up well against them."
Eagles 31, Giants 13
At Philadelphia, Randall Cunningham passed for two TDs and ran for a third to lift the Eagles, 7-4, to their fifth straight victory.
"I would have preferred to remain in dreamland," said Giants quarterback Phil Simms, who threw two interceptions to match his total through the first 10 games.
"Sure, it's disappointing. We would have liked to go undefeated. I don't think we didn't have any spirit out there. We just plain got beat. It was pretty simple."
Cunningham, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 229 yards and ran for 66 more, threw to Fred Barnett for a 49-yard TD and to Calvin Williams for a 6-yard score and snuck into the end zone from the 1.
"No question, it's a special win for us," Philadelphia Coach Buddy Ryan said. "It's the kind of game you dream about. We played an excellent game."
The Giants could have clinched the NFC East title with a victory over the second-place Eagles, 7-4, who have topped New York in five of their last six meetings and handed the Giants their last regular-season loss.
Vikings 41, Bears 13
At Minneapolis, Rich Gannon threw three TD passes, Herschel Walker scored twice and the Vikings sacked Jim Harbaugh seven times to lift the Vikings, 5-6, to their fourth straight. The Bears, 9-2, had a six-game winning streak snapped.
Minnesota linebacker Mike Merriweather led the defensive charge. He returned one of two fumble recoveries 33 yards for a TD, made eight solo tackles and four assists, registered 1.5 sacks and forced two fumbles.
"Once the truck hit me I didn't bother to get up," Chicago Coach Mike Ditka said. "I just layed there and watched."
"It wasn't a truck," Harbaugh said. "It was something bigger."
Chiefs 27, Raiders 24
At Los Angeles, Steve DeBerg threw three TD passes, two to running back Bill Jones in the second half, to give the Chiefs their first season sweep over the Raiders since 1981. The Chiefs and Raiders are tied at 7-4.
DeBerg hit Jones for two 11-yard scores and found Emile Harry for a 19-yard TD to counter a three-touchdown performance by Raiders running back Marcus Allen.
"We're really disappointed; we're a better team than we showed today," said Allen, who finished with 76 yards on 15 carries. "This is my ninth season. The Raiders have never done anything easily."
Colts 34, Bengals 20
At Cincinnati, Eric Dickerson finally broke loose, gaining 143 yards on 22 carries for his first 100-yard game of the season. He also scored once and had gains of 43, 32, 17 and 14 yards.
The Colts improved to 5-6. The Bengals, who received two TD passes by Boomer Esiason, dropped to 6-5 and into a tie with Pittsburgh in the AFC Central.
Steelers 24, Jets 7
At East Rutherford, N.J., the Steelers broke open a close game with fourth-quarter TDs by Merril Hoge and Louis Lipps for a victory over the New York Jets.
The Steelers outscored New York 17-0 in the second half to drop the Jets to 4-8 with their third straight loss. Hoge's 1-yard TD run 94 seconds into the fourth quarter was set up by Larry Griffin's 36-yard interception return and gave the Steelers a 17-7 lead. Lipps added a 3-yard TD catch from Bubby Brister with 7:24 left.
Dolphins 30, Browns 13
At Cleveland, Dan Marino threw for 245 yards and two TDs to pass the 30,000-yard barrier to lift the Dolphins. Marino completed 16 of 29 passes, was not intercepted, and finished the game with 30,099 career yards. By cracking 30,000 yards in 114 games, Marino reached the mark quicker than any quarterback in history.
Packers 20, Buccaneers 10
At Milwaukee, Anthony Dilweg, filling in for injured Don Majkowski, threw two touchdown passes to lead the Packers to their third straight victory. Green Bay, 6-5, moved over .500 for the first time since the first week of the season. The Buccaneers, 4-8, lost their sixth straight.
Saints 10, Falcons 7
At New Orleans, Eric Martin caught a 6-yard TD pass with 2:10 left to lift the Saints. The Falcons had gone ahead 7-3 on their previous drive when Chris Miller found a streaking George Thomas down the sideline for a 51-yard touchdown.
Cardinals 34, Patriots 14
At Phoenix, rookie Anthony Thompson rushed for 136 yards and a TD in his first start and quarterback Timm Rosenbach scored the first two rushing TDs of his career to lift the Cardinals, 3-9. Tommy Hodson threw two TD passes in his first NFL start for the Patriots, 1-10.
Seahawks 13, Chargers 10
At San Diego, Norm Johnson kicked a 40-yard field goal with 11:59 left in overtime two plays after Seattle recovered a fumble. Billy Joe Tolliver completed a pass to Arthur Cox, who fumbled - his second of the game - and Rufus Porter recovered at the Charger 23, setting up Johnson. Seattle raised its record to 5-6 while San Diego dropped to 5-7.