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PICKOFF INSPIRES REDSKINS TO FIRST WIN

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Washington Redskins were headed for 0-6. They were losing by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The offense was doing nothing. The fans were leaving.

Then LaVar Arrington intercepted a pass.

Arrington, who missed most of the first half after being knocked woozy, picked off rookie Chris Weinke's overthrown screen and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown, inspiring the Redskins to a 17-14 overtime victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

"I feel terrible physically," said Arrington, crouching with his arms folded at his locker. "Emotionally and mentally, I'm on top of the world."

Arrington's first career touchdown, with 10:10 to play, got the crowd and his teammates excited. On the Redskins' next offensive play, Tony Banks hit rookie Rod Gardner for an 85-yard touchdown to tie the game. The Panthers, plagued by false starts, could barely run a play for two series.

Brett Conway, who missed a short attempt late in regulation, kicked a 23-yard field goal 1:52 into overtime to complete embattled coach Marty Schottenheimer's first win with the Redskins (1-5). Stories abounded last week that Schottenheimer was already a lame duck, but now he has his first taste of success.

"A lesser group of men would not have persevered at 14-0," Schottenheimer said. "They would have booked it, and this group won't do that. I didn't think it would take this long, but it did. We are growing."

The Panthers (1-5) have lost five straight and were beaten on the last play of the game for the second consecutive week.

The Panthers also lost running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka, who broke his foot in the fourth quarter after rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown. He is to have surgery today and probably is out for the season.

Canidate keeps Rams rolling

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Trung Canidate quadrupled his rushing yardage for the season Sunday. The St. Louis Rams' confidence in him increased immeasurably.

Canidate scored twice and accounted for 232 yards in his first start replacing the injured Marshall Faulk, helping the Rams remain the NFL's only unbeaten team with a 34-14 victory over the New York Jets.

St. Louis is only the second NFL team to start three straight seasons with at least six victories. The 1929-31 Green Bay Packers had the only other such streak.

Canidate's breakthrough game ensured the Rams' latest 6-0 start.

"We felt pretty good about him based on what we see of him in practice, and when he was finally put in a position to contribute, we were elated with how it turned out," coach Mike Martz said.

Canidate had just 14 carries for 47 yards this season after an injury-plagued rookie year in which he ran the ball just three times. He was filling in for Faulk, last season's Most Valuable Player who bruised his right knee a week ago and was inactive Sunday after saying he might be able to play against the Jets (3-3).

Canidate rushed for 195 yards on 23 carries and added three receptions for 37 yards.

Ravens bow to Browns

CLEVELAND -- The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have slipped into mediocrity, and tight end Shannon Sharpe called their immediate future "a crossroads" after a 24-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"Where do we want to go from here?" Sharpe said after the Ravens dropped to fourth place in the AFC Central and saw quarterback Elvis Grbac knocked out of the game for the second straight week. "Do we want to go up? Or do we want to feel sorry for ourselves (after losing running back Jamal Lewis to a season-ending knee injury early in training camp) and things not happening like they did last year?"

The Browns (4-2) snapped a four-game losing streak against Baltimore, beating the Ravens (3-3) for the first time since Art Modell moved the franchise out of Cleveland after the 1995 season.

"It's a milestone because where we came from and where they have come from and how badly we were beaten by them in the beginning," said Browns owner Al Lerner, referring to 41-9 and 44-7 losses in the past two years.

Grbac left the game with 5 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter with a rib contusion. The Green Bay Packers put him out last week with a mild concussion.

"I've never had this before," said Grbac, who was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. "We'll see in the next couple of days. It's kinda hard to breathe and move around."

Packers melt in Metrodome

MINNEAPOLIS -- No matter how good they are, the Green Bay Packers just can't seem to play well in the Metrodome.

Brett Favre threw for only 169 yards against Minnesota's poor pass defense a week after shredding one of the NFL's top defensive units, while counterpart Daunte Culpepper threw for one score and ran for another in the Vikings' 35-13 victory.

It was the Packers' worst regular-season loss in eight years.

"We'll find out if we're as good as we think we are," Favre said. "If we play like today, we'll be home for the playoffs."

Minnesota (3-3), which entered the game ranked 29th in the league against the pass, won for the eighth time in its last 10 home games against Green Bay (4-2).

Favre completed 21 of 35 passes with two touchdowns and an interception. Most of the yards, though, came in the fourth quarter with Green Bay far behind. It was strikingly different from his performance last week in a 31-23 victory over visiting Baltimore, when Favre went 27 of 34 for 337 yards with three TDs.

Chandler chews up Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- Chris Chandler remembers when playing New Orleans usually meant an easy win for Atlanta. Sunday, the Falcons quarterback flashed back a few years against the Saints' vaunted defense.

Chandler threw touchdown passes of 57 and 39 yards to lead the Falcons to a 20-13 victory, their first over the Saints since 1999.

The Saints (3-2), who had the NFL's fourth-ranked defense under coach Jim Haslett coming into the game, had allowed only 265.5 total yards and just 86.5 yards rushing. Sunday, they gave up 297 yards, including 124 yards on the ground.

Before last year's sweep by New Orleans, the Falcons had beaten the Saints 10 straight games, twice a year dating to 1995.

"We were able to do this to them four or five years ago," Chandler said. "But Jim Haslett's come in and turned them around."

Maurice Smith gained 83 yards on 22 carries for Atlanta (3-3).

Around the league

Anthony Thomas ran for a team rookie-record 188 yards and a touchdown as the Bears blanked the Bengals, 24-0. The Bears (4-1) won their fourth straight game, their longest winning streak since 1995. The crowd of 63,408 in Cincinnati left early as the Bengals (3-3) were shut out at home for the first time in three years. . . . Jerome Bettis threw a 32-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option and ran for 143 yards and a TD as the Steelers took care of the Buccaneers, 17-10. The Steelers (4-1) won their fourth in a row. Their top-ranked defense sacked Brad Johnson of the Bucs (2-3) 10 times. . . . Joe Nedney kicked four field goals, including one from 46 yards with five seconds left, as the Titans (2-3) hung on for a 27-24 victory over the Lions (0-5). . . . Arizona's Michael Pittman rushed for 95 yards on 26 carries and caught four passes for 42 yards in the Cardinals' 24-16 win over the Chiefs. Corey Chavous intercepted Trent Green's pass in the end zone with one second to play for Arizona (2-3) after Kansas City (1-5) had driven 97 yards from its own 1.

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