Rams lose Titanic showdown

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The Independent Online

The Tennessee Titans proved the St Louis Rams are not invincible and the Cleveland Browns had their prayers answered with a last-second touchdown pass to seal the club's first victory in the eighth week of the NFL campaign.

The Tennessee Titans proved the St Louis Rams are not invincible and the Cleveland Browns had their prayers answered with a last-second touchdown pass to seal the club's first victory in the eighth week of the NFL campaign.

Indianapolis upset Dallas, and surprising Detroit also won to stay top of the NFC Central - thanks to the help of instant replay.

The Rams and their quarterback Kurt Warner had been playing at an unworldly level this season, but Tennessee brought them down to earth with a 24-21 victory in Nashville.

The Titans received a gritty performance from Steve McNair. The versatile quarterback, on the operating table just six weeks ago having back surgery, threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as Tennessee stormed out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

But the Rams battled back.

Warner, a revelation in his first season as an NFL starter after stints in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe, threw three TD passes in the second half, including a 15-yarder to Amp Lee with a little more than two minutes remaining.

The NFC West leaders then recovered an onside kick and had a chance to send the game to overtime in the closing moments but Jeff Wilkins' 38-yard field goal attempt sailed inches past the right post.

"We came back from being down 21-0 and held them to just three more points, so I thought the defence showed what they were made of," said Rams coach Dick Vermeil.

The Titans, who avoided a quarterback controversy by winning since back-up Neil O'Donnell had been solid in McNair's absence, are 6-1.

Jacksonville thrashed Cincinnati 41-10 to maintain a share of first place in the AFC Central with Tennessee.

There is relief in Cleveland thanks to a stunning, last-second 21-16 win for the Browns.

Tim Couch's 56-yard 'Hail Mary' pass to Kevin Johnson on the final play of the game erased a 16-14 deficit.

"It was a desperation Hail Mary and the coverage tipped it right into my hands," said Johnson. "Thank God I caught it."

Indianapolis gave their play-off hopes a shot in the arm with a 34-24 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning passed for 312 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown to favourite receiver Marvin Harrison, and rookie running back Edgerrin James rushed for 113 yards and a score and caught seven passes for 92 yards.

In the most controversial clash of the day, Detroit benefited from the use of instant replay to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-3.

Officials ruled that Bucs receiver Warrick Dunn had scored a touchdown after catching a 12-yard pass from Eric Zeier late in the third quarter, but after being penalized for taking too much time to kick the extra point, Detroit had the play reviewed.

The video replay official decided that Dunn had stepped out of bounds at the one. Tampa Bay full-back Mike Alstott eventually fumbled away possession.

Instead of trailing 17-10, the Bucs and their weary offence were still two touchdowns behind. They never recovered.

"I don't think it was administered correctly," said Bucs coach Tony Dungy. "You can't challenge a play after a penalty."

Officials claimed the Lions had a chance to challenge the call with video replay until the ball the offensive team snapped the ball on the next play.

In other games Buffalo got a late touchdown pass from Doug Flutie to beat Baltimore 13-10.

Atlanta won for the second time this season, beating Carolina 27-20. Washington reclaimed sole possession of first in the NFC East with a 48-22 win over the Chicago Bears.

The New York Giants survived in a thriller against Philadelphia, winning 23-17 in overtime.

Kansas City humiliated San Diego 34-0 and New England overpower Arizona 27-3.

Miami stayed top of the AFC East with a 16-9 triumph over Oakland and Minnesota beat Denver 23-20 as Gary Anderson kicked a 23-yard field goal with one second left.

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