American Football: Buffalo charge over the 49ers

ONLY ONE team in the history of the sport has ever managed to avoid defeat throughout an entire season, and the unique achievements of the 1972 Miami Dolphins is unlikely to be challenged in 1998.

Just five weeks into the 16-game campaign, and already only three of the NFL's 30 franchises boast an unbeaten record. Of those, only the Denver Broncos, stunning so far in the defence of their Super Bowl title, have looked capable of sustaining their assault.

The San Francisco 49ers had looked worthy contenders before Sunday night's trip to Buffalo, but they contrived to beat themselves, a catalogue of errors, penalties and turnovers leading to an unexpected 26-21 triumph for the previously winless Bills.

The free-scoring Californians were restricted to just 105 yards of offense in the first half, and they set an unwanted team record in drawing 22 penalties for 178 yards.

The Bills took full advantage, building a 23-0 lead on Antowain Smith's six-yard run, Rob Johnson's touchdown pass to Quinn Burley and three Steve Christie field goals.

The 49ers managed a late rally, the quarterback Steve Young throwing touchdown passes to Mark Edwards, Irv Smith and JJ Stokes, but the Bills held on for the surprise result of the season so far.

"I can barely believe it," Young said. "Three turnovers in the first half and all those penalties. That first half is almost like you want to go back and do it over."

The Miami Dolphins would probably like to do it over, after losing their unbeaten record in a far from inspiring contest against New York Jets. Defenses dominated, the normally productive Miami quarter- back, Dan Marino, restricted to 121 passing yards by an aggressive Jets defense. The New Yorkers owed their 20-9 win to the efforts of the running back Curtis Martin, who gained 108 yards on the ground, scoring what proved to be the crucial touchdown in the second half.

The bubble finally burst for the enigmatic New Orleans Saints, who had surprised everyone by winning their first three games.

However, there was no disgrace in defeat against the New England Patriots and the manner of the 30-27 defeat suggests that the Saints may continue to confound the form book. Despite trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Saints, inspired by their quarterback, Danny Wuerffel, managed to draw level in the closing stages.

The game looked destined for over-time until New England's Adam Vinatieri broke Saint's hearts by kicking a game-winning 27-yard field goal as time expired.

With unbeaten records tumbling, the Broncos restored normal service by pounding the hapless Philadelphia Eagles for 28 points in the first quarter alone. It was ugly stuff, and the Broncos could have won by a far wider margin than the 41-16 scoreline had they not relaxed in the second half. The Eagles have yet to win five outings, and there are calls for the resignation of their head coach, Ray Rhodes.

Those calls are echoed in the nation's capital where coach Norv Turner has presided over a disastrous start by his Washington Redskins who, like their neighbours in Philadelphia, are still in search of victory. The 31-10 home loss to rivals Dallas Cowboys, has fuelled demands for Turner's impeachment.

In the battle of the young prospects, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Peyton Manning, prevailed over his rivals, Ryan Leaf of the San Diego Chargers. The 17-12 scoreline gave the Colts their first win of the year but both rookies still look a long way short of the finished product.

Results and standings, Digest, page 27

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game