Stand-in Miller puts Bears back on track

Nothing can ever be taken for granted in the National Football League, and so it proved on Sunday, when the Chicago Bears, winners of only one previous contest and without their injured first-choice quarterback, entertained the fancied Indianapolis Colts.

Nothing can ever be taken for granted in the National Football League, and so it proved on Sunday, when the Chicago Bears, winners of only one previous contest and without their injured first-choice quarterback, entertained the fancied Indianapolis Colts.

Common sense and current form suggested a routine Colts victory, but Jim Miller, Chicago's replacement quarterback, thought otherwise. He im-pressed throughout, his touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson helping his side to a 20-0 half-time advantage.

When Walt Harris returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown early in the second half, the upset was confirmed, and although Indianapolis mounted a late rally, the Bears had done enough to cling on to a 27-24 triumph.

"We weren't ready to play emotionally," said the Colts' pragmatic coach, Jim Mora. "We didn't play with any sense or urgency. We didn't play physical or tough. In the first half, they just kicked our tail."

Another upset saw the Washington Redskins, pre-season Super Bowl favourites, fall to lowly Arizona. The key play came early; the Redskin running back Stephen Davis fumbling at the goal line, with the ball recovered by Arizona's Aeneas Williams, who returned it 103 yards for a touchdown. The effort was the second longest return of a fumble in league history, and was sufficient to inspire the Cardinals to a 16-15 win.

After failing to score a touchdown in their last five games, the Baltimore Ravens turned to their back-up quarterback, Trent Dilfer, for inspiration. Dilfer duly obliged, throwing three second quarter touchdowns, including two to the tight end Shannon Sharpe, as the Ravens returned to winning ways, 27-7 at the expense of the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Tennessee Titans have never lost at the Adelphia Coliseum stadium in Nashville but came within seconds of losing that record to the rugged Pittsburgh Steelers. The visitors, who have not conceded a touchdown in five games, were clinging to a 7-6 advantage, only to be confounded by Al Del Greco's 29-yard field goal with four seconds remaining.

The Titans, winners of eight of their nine games to date, looked poised for a return to the Super Bowl, but this was a less than impressive effort. "As long as we're getting the wins, we can't complain about how we win or how many points we win by," said their receiver Derrick Mason.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers maintained their marked improvement with a comfortable 27-14 verdict in Atlanta. The quarterback Shaun King threw three touchdowns, while their defence literally knocked out Atlanta's passer Chris Chandler, who was forced from the game with concussion.

The same fate befell the Detroit quarterback Charlie Batch, hit hard and often by Miami defenders in a 23-8 loss, while New England's passer, Drew Bledsoe, was forced from the field with a broken hand in his side's 16-13 overtime loss against the Buffalo Bills.

The Kansas City quarterback Elvis Grbac threw for a career high 500 yards against the Oakland Raiders but his efforts were in vain as the Raiders scored at will against their bitter rivals. Grbac's counterpart, Rich Gannon, threw four touchdown passes as Oakland accumulated 49 points and continued to catch the eye.

Equally dominant were the New York Giants, who prevailed 24-3 in Cleveland thanks to three touchdown passes for their quarterback Kerry Collins. Unfancied at the start of the season, the Giants have quietly won seven of nine games.

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