Progress for the St. Louis Rams at 2-2 is distress for the Indianapolis Colts, who surprisingly have the same mediocre record.
While the Rams were pretty happy after surpassing their win total from last season by beating the Seattle Seahawks 20-3 on Sunday, the Colts wondered how they're one of 12 teams sitting at .500 after four games.
"It's not what we want to be, it's not what we set out to be, but it's what we are," quarterback Peyton Manning said after a 31-28 loss at Jacksonville. "We have to find a way to dig ourselves out of a hole. We are in a hole."
Indianapolis was put there by Josh Scobee's 59-yard field goal on the final play — the eighth-longest in NFL history and the longest in franchise history. The Jaguars (2-2) rebounded from back-to-back, 25-point losses — the worst consecutive setbacks in team history — and handed the six-time defending AFC South champion Colts their second division loss.
"Being that it was against the Colts, that's huge for us," Scobee said.
Meanwhile, St. Louis won consecutive games for the first time in two seasons, snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Seahawks (2-2) and ended a 15-game drought against NFC West opponents. They're also tied for first in the division.
"I know we have a philosophy around here that we don't look back," running back Steven Jackson said. "But sometimes, you just can't help but think about some of the hardships that this organization has been through."
The Rams last won consecutive games in Weeks 5 and 6 of 2008 under interim head coach Jim Haslett. Before this surge, they had lost 27 of 28. Jackson played through a groin injury and passed Marshall Faulk for second on the franchise rushing list to complement rookie Sam Bradford, who was 23 for 41 for a season-best 289 yards and two touchdowns.
"It feels great," Bradford said. "To get ourselves to 2-2 and just be in the conversation for the division lead, I think that's big for this team."
Chicago and Pittsburgh were also knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, leaving the surprising Kansas City Chiefs — on a bye in Week 4 — as the NFL's only team without a loss.
The New York Giants knocked out the Bears' Jay Cutler with a concussion in a nine-sack first half, sent his replacement, Todd Collins, to the sideline late in the fourth quarter and limited previously unbeaten Chicago (3-1) to 110 total yards in a 17-3 victory.
Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown against a defense that had allowed 119 yards on the ground in its first three games and Lawrence Tynes kicked a 22-yard field goal as the Giants (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak.
New York limited the Bears to six first downs, did not allow a third-down conversion in 13 attempts and forced three turnovers in addition to 10 total sacks.
"You get pressured like that, it's tough to do anything," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
The Steelers were close to being 4-0 without Ben Roethlisberger. But Joe Flacco withstood a late go-ahead touchdown and goal-line stand to throw an 18-yard scoring pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds remaining, and the Ravens won 17-14 at Heinz Field.
A worst-case scenario for the Steelers (3-1), Roethlisberger's four-game suspension, nearly became a perfect one. Nearly.
"You go and win it on the last drive, there's no better way to win," Flacco said. "There's not too many better ways to win in Pittsburgh."
Even without Roethlisberger and his two injured backups, Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, they were within seconds of being 4-0 for the first time since 1979.
"We fought for perfection," cornerback Bryant McFadden said. "We tried to get as close to that as possible.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Donovan McNabb threw for 125 yards and one touchdown, leading Washington to a victory in his first game against his former team.
Michael Vick was forced out in the first quarter with chest and rib injuries in his first start in front of the hometown crowd. He will need an MRI on Sunday.
Washington had 169 yards rushing, including 55 by Clinton Portis before he left with a groin injury. Ryan Torain had 70 yards rushing and one TD. McNabb threw just 19 passes, completing eight and getting intercepted once.
The Redskins (2-2) snapped a two-game losing skid, improving to 2-0 in the NFC East. The Eagles (2-2) are winless at home.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Despite being sacked six times, Kyle Orton completed 35 of 50 passes for 341 yards and two TDs to overcome a measly 19 yards rushing as Denver improved to 2-2. His 6-yard TD pass to Correll Buckhalter with 1:33 left rallied the Broncos, who got four field goals from Matt Prater.
Marc Mariani returned a kickoff 98 yards for a third-quarter TD that put Tennessee (2-2) ahead 17-13 in the third quarter before Orton led the Broncos to a pair of field goals and a TD for the win. The Titans' Chris Johnson was held to 53 yards on 19 carries.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw three TD passes and Charles Woodson returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown, but the Packers (3-1) barely held on against the pesky Lions (0-4).
Staked to a 28-14 lead after Woodson's score early in the third quarter, the Lions' Jason Hanson kicked four field goals before Green Bay managed to control the ball for the final 6:32.
Shaun Hill, again subbing for injured Matthew Stafford, threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns to Calvin Johnson. The Lions committed 13 penalties.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — LaDainian Tomlinson cruised through Buffalo's defense for 133 yards and two TDs, and Dustin Keller caught two TD passes from Mark Sanchez.
With his best game in nearly two years, LT passed Tony Dorsett for seventh place on the NFL's career rushing list with 12,831 yards — and counting.
The Jets (3-1) have won three in a row, all against AFC East opponents; the hapless Bills (0-4) allowed 30 points for the third straight game.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A few days after rejoining the team at age 46, John Carney hit three field goals to help New Orleans (3-1) keep Carolina (0-4) winless.
Carney was signed after Garrett Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal in overtime of a 27-24 loss to Atlanta.
Drew Brees, wearing a knee brace in a game for the first time since high school, threw for 275 yards and a TD to Lance Moore, but the Panthers made it tough on the Super Bowl champions.
Carolina rookie Jimmy Clausen had his first NFL touchdown pass, a 55-yarder to Jonathan Stewart in the second quarter.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Arian Foster, benched for the first 23 minutes due to an undisclosed off the-field behavior issue, ran 74 yards for one touchdown and caught a 10-yard pass from Matt Schaub for another score in the second half to spark Houston (3-1).
Foster finished with 131 yards on 16 carries and added 56 yards receiving.
Troy Nolan's second interception iced the game after the Raiders (1-3) had cut the lead to seven.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Antonio Gates became the seventh tight end in NFL history with 500 catches, including touchdown receptions of 33 and 26 yards from Philip Rivers, to lead the Chargers.
It was a big day all around for San Diego (2-2). Rookie running back Ryan Mathews scored his first NFL touchdown on a 15-yard run late in the third quarter. Fullback Mike Tolbert ran 16 times for 100 yards — his first 100-yard game in three seasons — and one score.
San Diego had nine sacks and three takeaways to drop Arizona to 2-2. Linebacker Shaun Phillips had a career-high four sacks and also returned an interception for a TD late in the second quarter.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Peyton Hillis rumbled for 102 yards and a touchdown, Phil Dawson kicked three field goals and the Browns finally held a fourth-quarter lead, surviving a big day by Terrell Owens for their first win.
The Browns (1-3) had lost their first three games by a total of 12 points, failing to finish down the stretch.
But this time, they overcame a costly penalty, made a crucial sack of Carson Palmer in the closing minutes and withstood a 10-catch, 220-yard performance by Owens, who also moved into second place on the NFL's career list for yards receiving.
The Bengals (2-2) had their eight-game winning streak in the AFC North snapped.
ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Bryant kicked a 42-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to lift the Falcons over winless San Francisco.
The Falcons (3-1) got a big break to set up the winning points when receiver Roddy White forced the 49ers' Nate Clements to fumble away an interception and keep Atlanta's drive alive.
San Francisco (0-4) blew a 14-0 first-quarter lead due in part to a pair of interceptions by Alex Smith.