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Glory days of the NFC East seem like distant memory

Remember when the NFC East was a powerhouse with the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys pounding each other in intense competition? Back in the ’90s there was a stretch of six years when NFC East teams won the Super Bowl five times.

This season, it’s become the NFC Least. Three of the four teams in the division were losers Sunday – Washington was the exception – as the record against outside competition fell to only 2-10 this season. Washington averted an 0-4 start but not the Giants who are having their worst beginning since 1987.

Dallas (2-2) still leads the division despite a 30-21 loss at San Diego. The Eagles and Giants lost by 32 and 25-point margins, however.

Elsewhere in Week Four of the NFL season, one unbeaten fell by the wayside when the Detroit Lions downed the Chicago Bears, 40-32, to create a tie at the top of the NFC North, each at 3-1.

A look at Sunday’s games.

Game of the day

Seahawks 23, Texans 20

The scoop: Steven Hauschka kicked a 45-yard field goal to win it after Houston failed to score on two possessions in overtime. The Seahawks rallied from a 20-3 deficit to go 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. Seattle tied it on a 58-yard interception return by Richard Sherman with 2:40 left.

Why the Seahawks won: On the winning drive, Doug Baldwin caught a 7-yard pass and Kareem Jackson was penalized for unnecessary roughness for dumping him to the ground. That put Seattle in field goal range and Hauschka’s kick came four plays later.

These guys are hot

Broncos 52, Eagles 20

The scoop: Denver scored the most points in the franchise’s 54-year history as Peyton Manning threw for four touchdowns, two each to Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, Manning completed 28 of 34 for 327 yards, playing just three quarters. His 16 TD passes are the most in the first month of a season, besting the previous mark of 14 by Don Meredith in 1966 and tied by Kurt Warner in 1999. Manning also joined Milt Plum in 1960 as the only quarterbacks to throw that many touchdown passes without an interception.

Why the Broncos won: It was only 21-13 at halftime, but Denver scored on its first four possessions in the second half.

Browns 17, Bengals 6

The scoop: Brian Hoyer threw two touchdown passes in his first start at home to lead the Browns. Hoyer finished 25 of 38 for 269 yards. He threw a 2-yard TD pass in the first half to Jordan Cameron, who had 10 catches for 91 yards. Hoyer’s 1-yard TD pass to Chris Ogbonnaya with 4:54 left gave the Browns an 11-point lead. The Bengals’ Andy Dalton was intercepted by Buster Skrine with 3:43 left, ending any chance of a comeback.

Why the Browns won: Their offense produced touchdown drives of 95 and 91 yards.

Colts 37, Jaguars 3

The scoop: Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, Trent Richardson ran for a score and Indianapolis became the latest team to beat Jacksonville by double digits. Indianapolis led 20-3 at halftime – Jacksonville (0-4) has been outscored 75-8 in the first half this season.

Why the Colts won: They moved the ball for at least one first down in all but one of their 11 possessions while the Jaguars went three-and-out five times in a row in the middle of the game.

Chiefs 31, Giants 7

The scoop: Alex Smith threw three touchdown passes, Dexter McCluster returned a punt 89 yards as Kansas City stayed unbeaten and New York went to 0-4 for the first time since 1987. Under Andy Reid, the Chiefs already have doubled their victory total of 2012. Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz on a 69-yard play for New York’s only score. Kansas City sacked Manning three times.

Why the Chiefs won: The Giants converted 1 of 14 third downs while the Kansas City was 9 for 16.

Lions 40, Bears 32

The scoop: Detroit scored 17 points in the second quarter including a 37-yard run by Reggie Bush, who accounted for 173 yards of offense. The Lions scored 24 straight points, including three TDs in a span of 3 minutes, 26 seconds, after Matt Forte’s 53-yard TD run gave the Bears 10-6 lead early in the second quarter. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, was intercepted three times and lost a fumble.

Why the Lions won: They scored on six straight series in the first half with 10 of the 30 points coming after turnovers.

They also played

Chargers 30, Cowboys 21

The scoop: San Diego, which has blown fourth-quarter leads in its two losses, scored the final 20 points to beat Dallas. Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns, including a 56-yarder to Antonio Gates. Chargers running back Danny Woodhead had two TDs receiving in a game for the first time in his six-year career.

Why the Chargers won: They were holding onto a nine-point lead in the final moments when ex-Bill Crezdon Butler caused a goal-line fumble by Terrance Williams, and San Diegpo’s Richard Marshall recovered for a touchback.

Titans 38, Jets 13

The scoop: The Titans turned four Geno Smith turnovers into 28 points in the victory. The New York Jets knocked Jake Locker out of the game with a hip injured seriously enough to send Tennessee’s quarterback to the hospital. Locker threw a career-high three touchdowns before being carted off the field. Ryan Fitzpatrick, signed in March to back up Locker, started slowly coming off the bench, but he connected with Nate Washington on a 77-yard TD.

Why the Titans won: They put Geno under intense pressure all game, sacking him five times and causing two interceptions and two lost fumbles.

Redskins 24, Raiders 14

The scoop: Robert Griffin III threw a go-ahead touchdown pass late in the third quarter and David Amerson returned an interception for another score to help Washington overcome an early 14-point deficit. Oakland scored in the first quarter on a blocked punt and a pass from Matt Flynn.

Why the Redskins won: Flynn was sacked seven times, losing a fumble that set up Roy Helu Jr.’s 14-yard run that gave Washington a 24-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Vikings 34, Steelers 27

The scoop: The Steelers fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1968. Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel, starting in place of injured Christian Ponder, finished 16 of 25 for 248 yards and two touchdowns to Greg Jennings, one a 70-yard play. Adrian Peterson ran for two scores, one a 60-yarder. Playing at Wembley Stadium in London, Roethlisberger was 36 for 51 for 383 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Why the Vikings won: Everson Griffen stripped Ben Roethlisberger on the Vikings’ 6-yard line with 19 seconds left. Kevin Williams recovered to preserve Minnesota’s first victory of the season.

Dog of the day

Cardinals 13, Buccaneers 10

The scoop: Carson Palmer threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald, then Jay Feely kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining as Arizona came back from a 10-0 deficit to score all its points in the fourth quarter against the winless Bucs. Patrick Peterson had two interceptions, one setting up Arizona’s first TD in six quarters, the other to ruin any chance of rookie Mike Glennon pulling off a comeback in his first NFL start. Fitzgerald beat cornerback Darrelle Revis for his 80th career TD reception.

Why the Cardinals won: The Bucs had seven second-half possessions that produced three turnovers, four punts and no points while Arizona scored on drives of only 26,13 and 29 yards.

News wire services contributed to this report.


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