American Football: Chiefs fight back in Green Bay to keep perfect record intact

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The Independent Online

The Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs maintained their perfect starts to the season, although both were stretched to the limit before prevailing in overtime. Carolina edged out the previously unbeaten Indianapolis Colts, while the Chiefs recovered from a 17-point deficit to pull off an unlikely triumph against the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers rarely lose at home, and looked set to inflict a first defeat of the season on the Chiefs after their inspirational quarterback, Brett Favre, guided his team to a 31-14 lead in the fourth quarter. However, the running back, Priest Holmes, scored on a two-yard run, then Jerome Woods intercepted an errant Favre pass, returning it 79 yards for a touchdown.

In overtime, Kansas City's Morten Andersen had a game-winning 48-yard field goal attempt blocked, but on the next play, Green Bay's Ahman Green fumbled, giving the Chiefs another chance. The quarterback Trent Green, overcoming a slow start, threw a 51-yard touchdown to Eddie Kennison as the visiting side won 40-34.

"This doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know," said their coach, Dick Vermeil. "There's a special profile about this team. At no time on our sideline did anyone think we'd lost this football game."

The Chiefs have become the first team to win their opening six games since the St Louis Rams in 1999. The Rams went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and by coincidence, their coach was Dick Vermeil.

Like the Chiefs, the unfashionable Carolina Panthers keep finding ways to win. Their 23-20 overtime win over Indianapolis may have been their best result of the season because it was achieved without the inspirational running-back, Stephen Davis, who left the game injured with 21 minutes remaining.

At that point, the Panthers had rallied from a 13-3 deficit to lead 20-13, but with seconds remaining, the Colts drew level when Peyton Manning tossed a 25-yard touchdown to Reggie Wayne. DeShaun Foster, replacing the injured Davis, then seized his chance, rushing four times for 26 yards to set up John Kasay's 47-yard field goal and the Panthers fifth win of the season.

The Dallas Cowboys continued their rapid improvement under their new coach, Bill Parcells, but their 23-21 victory over Philadelphia was sparked by the fastest score in NFL history. The Eagles tried to fool their rivals by opening with an onside kick. But, the ball bounced to the Cowboys' Randall Williams, who raced in from 37 yards to put his side in front with only three seconds gone, the fastest timed score since the NFL began using in-stadium scoreboard clocks in 1970.

The champions, Tampa Bay, bounced back from last week's surprise home loss to the Colts by hammering the Washington Redskins 35-13. The quarterback, Brad Johnson, threw four touchdown passes, while Tampa's vaunted defence looked ominous, the defensive end, Simeon Rice, excelling with four sacks.

Miami and Tennessee continued to impress, with victories over Jacksonville and Houston respectively, while Denver needed a field goal from Jason Elam as time expired to see off Pittsburgh. San Francisco's head coach, Dennis Erickson, returned to Seattle for the first time since his firing in 1999, but his 49ers went down 20-19.

The Oakland Raiders are in free-fall. Last year's beaten Super Bowl finalists lost again, this time 13-7 in Cleveland, and the pressure continues to build on their head coach, Bill Callahan.

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