- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 23, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Aaron Rodgers had some competition from fearless rookie Christian Ponder. The defending champion Packers still kept their cool.

Rodgers kept Green Bay unbeaten with three touchdowns and 335 yards passing, holding off the plucky Ponder in the rookie’s first start to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 33-27 on Sunday.

Rodgers completed his first 13 passes and finished 24-for-30, another near-unstoppable afternoon for him. Ponder was picked off twice in the third quarter by Charles Woodson, who almost grabbed a couple more interceptions, but he kept the Vikings in it the whole game after a 71-yard completion on his first play.

Adrian Peterson rushed 24 times for 175 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, but James Starks put the game away with two big gains for first downs before the 2-minute warning and finished with 75 yards on 13 carries.

Jets 27, Chargers 21

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Plaxico Burress caught three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score that was set up by an interception by Darrelle Revis, as New York stormed back in the second half and held on to win. Leading 21-17, the Chargers appeared to be driving for a possible game-sealing score when Philip Rivers threw toward Vincent Jackson. The ball tipped off the receiver’s hands and right to Revis, who returned the interception 64 yards to the Chargers 19.

After a few runs by Shonn Greene and a defensive holding call - the Chargers’ 11th penalty in the game - Mark Sanchez found Burress on a slant for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Jets their first lead midway through the fourth quarter. It was the second time in his career Burress caught three touchdowns, and first since 2007 while with the Giants.

Falcons 23, Lions 16

DETROIT — Matt Ryan ran and threw for touchdowns to give Atlanta a double-digit lead in the first half, and the Falcons ran out the clock with a first down to win consecutive games for the first time this year.

On Detroit’s final drive, a pass-interference penalty against Atlanta was overturned because instant replay showed defensive tackle Corey Peters had tipped the ball. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford appeared to injure his right ankle on the play.

He then threw incomplete on fourth down from the Atlanta 41 and limped off the field, but said he was going to try to play again if Detroit’s defense got the ball back.

Instead, the Falcons (4-3) ran out the clock with a first down.

The Lions have lost two straight after their perfect start.

Bears 24, Buccaneers 18

WEMBLEY, England — Matt Forte ran for 145 yards and a touchdown and Chicago held on in the fifth annual NFL regular-season game at Wembley Stadium. Jay Cutler threw for 226 yards and a touchdown and the Bears intercepted Josh Freeman four times to win their second game in a row. The Buccaneers lost for the second time in three years in London.

Steelers 32, Cardinals 20

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ben Roethlisberger threw 95 yards to Mike Wallace for the longest pass play in Steelers history and Pittsburgh went on to hand Arizona its fifth consecutive loss. Roethlisberger, 25 of 38 for 340 yards, also had TD passes of 12 yards to Heath Miller and 4 yards to Emmanuel Sanders in the first game between the teams since Pittsburgh’s 27-23 thriller over the Cardinals in the 2009 Super Bowl.

Cowboys 34, Rams 7

ARLINGTON, Texas — DeMarco Murray ran for a franchise-record 253 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown that’s the second-longest in club history, to lead Dallas over ailing St. Louis. In the start of a football-baseball doubleheader between teams from Dallas-Fort Worth and St. Louis, the Cowboys emphatically ended their stretch of 11 straight games decided by four points or less.

Chiefs 28, Raiders 0

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kendrick Lewis and Brandon Flowers returned interceptions for touchdowns and Kansas City took advantage of rusty quarterback play from Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer to beat Oakland. Boller became the first Raiders quarterback in 13 years to throw three interceptions in the first half, including Lewis’ 59-yard score on the first drive of the game for Oakland. Palmer relieved in the second half and threw three more interceptions.

Texans 41, Titans 7

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Arian Foster ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and added 119 more receiving with a 78-yard TD as Houston took back the AFC South lead. The Texans snapped a two-game skid as Matt Schaub threw for 296 yards and two TDs, and Houston won for the second time in three years in the home of the team it replaced in Houston. Titans fans booed Chris Johnson as he was stopped early and often, finishing with 18 yards on 10 carries.

Browns 6, Seahawks 3

CLEVELAND — Phil Dawson converted two field goals of more than 50 yards and had two others blocked, but gave Cleveland a dull win. The Browns didn’t reach the end zone, but Dawson bailed them out with kicks of 52 and 53 yards, his first career game with two makes of more than 50. The Seahawks managed 137 yards of offense, and had the ball for only 17:04.

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