Titans find saviour in O'Donnell

Since their relocation to Nashville two seasons ago, the Tennessee Titans have made the most of the advantage afforded them by their purpose-built home, the Adelphia Stadium. The Titans have never lost there but the stronghold was almost breached by the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Since their relocation to Nashville two seasons ago, the Tennessee Titans have made the most of the advantage afforded them by their purpose-built home, the Adelphia Stadium. The Titans have never lost there but the stronghold was almost breached by the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

The visitors were leading 14-7 in the dying minutes, and the Titans were also without their quarterback, Steve McNair, who was on his way to hospital for X-rays on a bruised chest. However, his replacement, Neil O'Donnell, made the most of home comforts by throwing a touchdown to the receiver Yancey Thigpen with less than a minute remaining to send the affair into overtime. The Chiefs were then confounded when Al Del Greco converted a 36-yard field goal to give Tennessee a hard-earned triumph.

Two Super Bowl contenders, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts, will probably still be wondering what went wrong after allowing sizeable leads to evaporate.

All seemed well for the Colts, leading 21-0 at home to the Oakland Raiders, with the quarterback Peyton Manning in control. Perhaps complacency set in, but the Raiders awoke from their torpor, the quarterback Rich Gannon enjoying a productive afternoon as the Californians rallied for a 38-31 victory. Manning, who completed 33 of his 48 attempts for 367 yards, was intercepted in the end zone by the Raiders' Tory James in the final minute to confirm Oakland's win.

Similarly, Jacksonville looked to have few problems in building up a 23-7 half-time lead in Baltimore. The receiver Jimmy Smith took 15 catches for 290 yards and three touchdowns only to finish on the losing side.

Led by their quarterback Tony Banks, the Ravens fought their way back into the contest. Even so, the Jaguars seemed to have held firm when Smith's third touchdown restored their lead with less than two minutes remaining. Banks however, was not finished, and a 29-yard touchdown to Shannon Sharpe with 48 seconds left gave Baltimore a thrilling 39-36 victory.

No such luck for Green Bay's inspirational quarterback Brett Favre, who gave his all in a losing effort in Buffalo. Playing with a strained thumb and tendinitis in his elbow, Favre completed his first 14 passes and finished with a pair of touchdowns, but that was not enough against the Bills, who prevailed 28-17.

The wounds were all self-inflicted for Washington's Brad Johnson, who gave up four interceptions as the Redskins, the pre-season Super Bowl favourites, toiled in Detroit. The home side also struggled, failing to score a touchdown, but Jason Hanson's five field goals ensured a 15-10 upset.

Tampa Bay served notice of their championship aspirations with a convincing 41-0 rout of Chicago, while the St Louis Rams held out for a 37-34 win in Seattle. The defending champions were surprised by the tenacity of their hosts, and when Jon Kitna levelled the scores with a touchdown to Darrell Jackson with two minutes left, an upset was on the cards. However, Kitna's counterpart, Kurt Warner, held his nerve, throwing a 50-yard pass to Torry Holt, thereby setting up Jeff Wilkins to convert a game-winning 27-yard field goal with only seconds remaining.

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