Best of NFL: Bears pull away; Steelers go 0-3

Best of NFL: Bears pull away; Steelers go 0-3
September 22, 2013, 11:45 pm
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Ben Roethlisberger's fourth-quarter fumble was recovered by Julius Peppers and returned for a 42-yard touchdown in the Bears' win over the Steelers Sunday night. (USA Today Images)

The Eagles are still in second place in the NFC East. The Cowboys were the only winners Sunday (see NFC East wrap). Here are the highlights from the rest of the NFL:

Bears pull away late, as Steelers stay winless
PITTSBURGH -- Chicago's defense forced five turnovers and scored twice, and the Bears beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 40-23 on Sunday night to remain unbeaten.

Major Wright returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, and Julius Peppers picked up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and raced 42 yards for a score in the fourth quarter as the Bears (3-0) held off a late rally.

Roethlisberger completed 26 of 41 passes for 406 yards, and threw two touchdowns to Antonio Brown, but the Steelers fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1986 thanks to an avalanche of mistakes.

Jay Cutler passed for 159 yards and threw a 17-yard touchdown strike to Earl Bennett with just under 6 minutes remaining to give the Bears breathing room after the Steelers trimmed a 21-point deficit to four (see full recap).

Luck, Colts upset Harbaugh, 49ers
SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew Luck threw for 164 yards and ran for a 6-yard touchdown while facing college coach Jim Harbaugh for the first time, and the Indianapolis Colts defeated the San Francisco 49ers 27-7 win Sunday.

Trent Richardson scored a 1-yard touchdown on his first carry in his Colts debut after being acquired on Wednesday from the Browns. He was drafted two spots behind top pick Luck at No. 3 last year.

Ahmad Bradshaw added a 1-yard TD run in the final minutes, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals before missing a 51-yarder early in the fourth.

It was Colin Kaepernick's first home loss at Candlestick Park as a starter.

There were few bright spots for Kaepernick as San Francisco struggled to establish a passing game with tight end Vernon Davis sidelined by a hamstring injury (see full recap).

Dolphins advance to 3-0 in win over injured Falcons
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Tannehill lobbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Dion Sims with 38 seconds left Sunday, and the unbeaten Miami Dolphins rallied past the Atlanta Falcons 27-23.

The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta's Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal attempt with 4:46 left. Jimmy Wilson intercepted Matt Ryan to seal the victory.

Miami quickly fell behind 10-0 and trailed much of the game, but improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. The Falcons fell to 1-2.

Tannehill led the comeback and finished 24 for 35 for 236 yards and two scores. He overcame five sacks and two turnovers (see full recap).

Bengals edge Packers in wild finish
CINCINNATI -- Terence Newman returned a fumble 58 yards for a touchdown with 3:47 left, rallying the Cincinnati Bengals to a 34-30 victory over the Green Bay Packers in a game that came down to who made the final flub.

Each team had four turnovers, leading to wild momentum swings. The last one came on a goofy play.

The Packers (1-2) went on fourth-and-1 from the Cincinnati 30. Rookie Johnathan Franklin fumbled at the line and safety Reggie Nelson picked it up and started running.

Aaron Rodgers stripped the ball from Nelson, but Newman scooped it up and went the final 58 yards.

Cincinnati (2-1) clinched it by batting down Rodgers' fourth-down pass at its 20-yard line with 1:21 left (see full recap).

Browns stun Vikings with late TD
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jordan Cameron caught three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead grab in the back of the end zone with 51 seconds left, and the Cleveland Browns kept the Minnesota Vikings winless with a 31-27 victory Sunday.

Third-stringer Brian Hoyer threw for three scores for the Browns (1-2), the latest team to torch Minnesota's depleted secondary. He overcame three interceptions to pass for 321 yards, going 30 for 54. Josh Gordon had 10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his season debut, and Cameron had six receptions for 66 yards (see full recap).

Ravens hand Texans first loss
BALTIMORE  -- Daryl Smith scored on a 37-yard interception return, Tandon Doss took a punt 82 yards for a touchdown and the Baltimore Ravens smothered the Houston Texans' offense in a 30-9 victory Sunday.

The Ravens (2-1) won despite playing without running back Ray Rice for the first time since 2008. On the inactive list with a strained left hip flexor, Rice was replaced by Bernard Pierce, who ran for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Houston (2-1) led 6-3 before Smith picked off Matt Schaub's pass and took it into the end zone with 2:39 left in the first half. Less than two minutes later, Doss eluded several tacklers during his first career punt return for a touchdown (see full recap).

Brady, Patriots improve to 3-0
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Kenbrell Thompkins, finally getting in sync with his rookie receivers and leading the New England Patriots to a 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Thompkins, an undrafted free agent, scored on plays of 16 and 5 yards, while Aaron Dobson, a second-round draft pick, finished with seven catches for 52 yards for the Patriots (3-0).

The Patriots led 17-3 at halftime as the Buccaneers (0-3) wasted several opportunities (see full recap).