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Dialed-in playmakers go long distance; Big-yardage TDs send Cowboys, Steelers to wins

Coast to coast. All the way.

Long-distance scoring plays seem to be in vogue this season in the National Football League.

Sunday's Week Seven games saw rookie DeMarco Murray run for 91 yards for a touchdown, the second longest in Dallas Cowboys history, and Mike Wallace on the receiving end of a 95-yard pass play, longest in Pittsburgh Steelers history. Wallace's score came on the second longest scrimmage play in team history.

By unofficial count, there have been 14 scoring plays of 90 yards or more in the NFL, and the season hasn't reached the halfway point.

Wes Welker's 99-yarder for New England against Miami tops the long-reception list. Last Monday, Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets returned a pass 100 yards against Miami. Eric Decker of Denver has a 91-yard punt return.

There have been six kickoff returns of 98 yards or longer.

The only changes in the standings as a result of the day's action were in the AFC South and NFC South. Houston moved into first place, ahead of Tennessee in the AFC South, as a result of its 41-7 rout of the Texans. New Orleans moved ahead into the lead in the NFC South with its 62-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night

In the NFC West, idle San Francisco (5-1) was helped when all three of the other teams in the division lost Sunday.

Wins by the Steelers, Jets, Falcons, Chiefs and Cowboys and losses by the Chargers, Raiders and Redskins tightened division races.

>Top dog

Jets 27, Chargers 21

The scoop: New York revived its pound-and-ground running game, but all three of its touchdowns came on passes from Mark Sanchez to Plaxico Burress. The Jets rallied from a 21-10 halftime deficit and wore down the Bolts by rushing 31 times for 162 yards (5.2 average).

Why the Jets won: They shut out the Chargers in the second half and picked off two Philip Rivers passes in the fourth quarter.

Quote: "The San Diego Chargers beat the San Diego Chargers. Nothing to do with the New York Jets. It's embarrassing." -- Chargers tight end Randy McMichael



Packers 33, Vikings 27

The scoop: Aaron Rodgers (146.5 passer rating) threw for three touchdowns as Green Bay built a 33-17 lead then hung on. James Starks (Niagara Falls) helped the Packers run out the clock by carrying for some key first downs. He finished with 75 yards in 13 carries (5.8 average). In his first NFL start, Christian Ponder passed for two Minnesota touchdowns and Adrian Peterson carried 24 times for 175 yards and a touchdown.

Why the Packers won: They outscored the Vikings, 20-0, in the third quarter, scoring on a pair of Rodgers passes, then taking advantage of two interceptions thrown by Ponder for field goals.

Quote: "There's not a lot of panic in this team. We've been down a couple times at halftime. Just a lot of focus." -- Rodgers.


Steelers 32, Cardinals 20

The scoop: Ben Roethlisberger passed for three touchdowns, including the franchise record 95-yarder to Wallace, as the Steelers led all the way. Roethlisberger completed 26 of 39 for 361 yards with no interceptions while Pittsburgh managed only 91 yards on the ground. Arizona got as close as 17-14 in the third period after a 73-yard pass play from Kevin Kolb to LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Why the Steelers won: After seeing the Cardinals close to within three in the third quarter they put it away with an 80-yard drive for a touchdown, a safety and two Sean Suisham field goals to build the lead back to 18 points.


Bears 24, Buccaneers 18

The scoop: The Bears held off Tampa Bay in the second half after building a 14-2 lead on a 32-yard run by Matt Forte and a 25-yard pass from Jay Cutler to Roy Williams. A 12-yard run by Marion Barber made it 21-5 in the third quarter and proved to be the difference.

Josh Freeman threw for two fourth-quarter touchdowns but was intercepted by D.J. Moore on Tampa Bay's final possession. Mike Williams (Riverside) and six receptions for 75 yards for the Bucs. Forte has 1,089 combined yards (rushing and receiving) and is the first player since Priest Holmes and Tiki Barber in 2004 to go over 1,000 after seven games.

Why the Bears won: They outgained the Bucs, 177-30, on the ground and intercepted four Freeman passes.

Quote: "[Forte is] the best player in the NFL right now. The guy's a complete football player -- production every week." -- Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.


>Easy picking

Saints 62, Colts 7

The scoop: Drew Brees threw three of his five TD passes in the first quarter for New Orleans, which led 34-7 at the half.

Why the Saints won: Brees was almost perfect, 31 of 35 for 325 yards.


Cowboys 34, Rams 7

The scoop: Murray ran for a Cowboys franchise record 253 yards on 25 carries, beating the mark of 237 by Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith. Murray, a third-stringer who got playing time because starter Felix Jones was out with injury, was getting his first extended action. Brandon Lloyd caught six passes for 74 yards in his St. Louis debut. He was acquired from Denver earlier this week.

Why the Cowboys won: They piled up 295 yards rushing.

Quote: "I never thought in a million years that I'd ever have a day like this. This is what I've been working hard for since my Pop Warner days." -- Murray.


Texans 41, Titans 7

The scoop: Matt Schaub (147.7 passer rating) threw for 296 yards, Arian Foster ran 25 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 119 more, including a 78-yard touchdown play. Ben Tate also ran for 104 yards for Houston. Tennessee fans booed running back Chris Johnson, who finished with just 18 yards on 10 carries.

Why the Texans won: Their offense dominated with successive scoring drives of 78, 87, 94, 37 and 92 while building a 27-0 lead.

Quote: "I'm just starting to get back to my football shape." -- Foster, who missed the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury.


Chiefs 28, Raiders 0

The scoop: Kendrick Lewis (59 yards) and Brandon Flowers (58 yards) returned interceptions for touchdowns in the Kansas City victory. Kyle Boller started at quarterback for the Raiders and was intercepted three times. Newcomer Carson Palmer (8 of 21 for 116 yards) was intercepted three times. Each had a pick returned for a score. It was the Chiefs' first six-interception game since 1984 against Seattle.

Why the Chiefs won: The Raiders quarterbacks looked and played like they were rusty. Also, Raiders running back Darren McFadden left the game early with a foot injury.


>Dog of the day

Browns 6, Seahawks 3

The scoop: Phil Dawson's second field goal of the game from 53 yards with 11:18 left won this lackluster contest for the Browns.

Why the Browns won: They limited the Seahawks to 137 yards total offense. Seattle's first eight possessions resulted in six punts and two turnovers.

Quote: "We're probably not going to brag about it in 15 years, but we'll take the win." -- Dawson of the Browns.

Compiled from Associated Press and News wire services