Colts beat Dolphins despite valiant effort by Marino

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The Independent Online

Dan Marino proved he is not washed up, while Peyton Manning proved once again he's the NFL's best young quarterback.

Dan Marino proved he is not washed up, while Peyton Manning proved once again he's the NFL's best young quarterback.

Marino, facing an uncertain future following a neck injury and a horrible game against Dallas on Thanksgiving, threw three touchdown passes and rallied Miami from a 14-point, second-half deficit against Indianapolis on Sunday.

But Manning hit Marvin Harrison with completions of 16 and 18 yards in the final 30 seconds to set up Mike Vanderjagt's 53-yard field goal as time ran out, which gave the Colts a 37-34 victory and the inside track for the AFC East title.

"This was a huge test for us, the biggest test of the season," coach Jim Mora said after Indianapolis' eighth straight win.

Marino, 38, rebounded from his five-interception game against the Cowboys with a strong showing at the RCA Dome. He completed 24 of 38 passes for 313 yards in his first game since the Dallas debacle, but became angry in his postgame news conference when asked about watching the winning field goal.

"These questions are ridiculous," he said. "I'll tell you how tough it is. You work your butt off all week and then you lose a game like that by three points. ... That's how tough it is. But you wouldn't know, would you?"

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

"The way the AFC is, we're fighting just to make the playoffs," coach Jimmy Johnson said.

Manning threw two second-half interceptions, but still finished 23-for-29 for 260 yards and one touchdown. He leaped in the air following Vanderjagt's winning field goal.

"That's the highest I've ever jumped," Manning said.

In other NFL games, it was Green Bay 35, Chicago 19; Atlanta 35, New Orleans 12; New York Giants 41, New York Jets 28; St. Louis 34, Carolina 21; Cincinnati 44, San Francisco 30; Baltimore 41, Tennessee 14; and Detroit 33, Washington 17.

In late games, it was Philadelphia at Arizona, Cleveland at San Diego, Kansas City at Denver, Seattle at Oakland, and Dallas at New England.

The Monday night matchup is Minnesota at Tampa Bay.

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Rams 34, Panthers 21

At Charlotte, North Carolina, Kurt Warner passed for 351 yards and three TDs as the St. Louis Rams won their NFC West title since 1985.

The Rams improved to 10-2 for the first time since 1978 and are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 1989. Carolina (5-7) missed a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time in two years.

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Packers 35, Bears 19

At Chicago, 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.

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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 per game, 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.

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Giants 41, Jets 28

At East Rutherford, New Jersey, 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.

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Bengals 44, 49ers 30

At Cincinnati, Jeff Blake tied his career high with four TD passes as the Bengals ended a streak of 11 straight home losses and got back-to-back wins for the first time since 1997.

The Bengals (3-10) also 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.

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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.

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Lions 33, Redskins 17

At Pontiac, Michigan, Desmond Howard scored on a 68-yard punt return and Washington castoff Gus Frerotte passed for 280 yards and one touchdown against his old club as Detroit snapped an 18-game losing streak against the Redskins.

The Lions (8-4) beat the Redskins (7-5) for the first time since 1965 at Tiger Stadium.

Howard was waived by Green Bay earlier in the week and signed Saturday by the Lions. He was needed because Terry Fair had a household accident and broke a knuckle.

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