Romo's five picks doom Cowboys vs. Bears


Romo's five picks doom Cowboys vs. Bears

From Comcast SportsNet

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Charles Tillman had the ball thrown right into his hands. All the Chicago Bears cornerback had to do was grab it and run 25 yards untouched down the sideline for a touchdown.

Lance Briggs had to go three times farther and sidestep a few Dallas Cowboys on his way to the end zone.

The interception returns by Tillman and Briggs, who are among the five 30-something starters on Chicago's defense, came in a 34-18 win over the Cowboys on Monday night when Tony Romo matched his career high with five picks.

"I think Lance's was better. He juked a couple of people. His was longer, so by far I think he had the play of the game," Tillman said. "Mine was simple and boring. His was exciting."

Briggs' interception came in a wild two-play exchange of turnovers midway through the third quarter, and put the Bears up 24-7.

The first fumble of the season for Chicago (3-1) came when Jay Cutler was sacked by DeMarcus Ware to set Dallas up at the Bears 27. It was the third forced fumble already for Ware, the Pro Bowl linebacker who turned 30 during training camp.

On the very next play, Romo was trying to escape pressure when he was hit from behind by Henry Melton. The ball popped forward into the air to Briggs.

"Just outstanding play by our defense," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "It seemed like everybody had a say in it. How about Lance Briggs? You guys didn't know he could run that fast."

Despite his fumble, Cutler was nearly flawless after halftime, completing 11 of 12 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He was 18 of 24 overall for 275 yards. A 34-yard TD pass to Devin Hester started the half and there was later a 31-yarder to Brandon Marshall, who had seven catches for 138 yards.

The Cowboys (2-2) are a .500 team again, alternating wins and losses this season. Since the start of the 1997 season, Dallas is 122-122 in regular-season games with one playoff victory.

"This has to be a wakeup call for us. I don't say that nonchalantly. It has to be," said Jason Witten, the Cowboys' 10th-year tight end. "You can't bounce back and forth like this and try to compete come December-time. You can't do it. We have been in that situation before. You cannot do it. And we know that, and we'll get better."

Making things worse for the Cowboys, they now head into their bye week. And their next game is Oct. 14 at Baltimore, starting a stretch of playing four of five on the road.

"These next two weeks are going to be very long," running back DeMarco Murray said. "They're going to seem like forever."

Dallas owner Jerry Jones, however, called it a "timely bye" and a chance to reassess things for his team that opened the season by winning at the New York Giants. The defending Super Bowl champions are the next team to visit Cowboys Stadium, on Oct. 28.

"I know it's the same makeup of the team. Same personnel," Jones said. "We've seen this team play well and we can play a lot better. ... We have a lot of work to do."

Chicago scored first on Robbie Gould's 43-yard field goal with just over 4 minutes left in the first half. Three plays later, Romo threw a ball right at Tillman when intended receiver Dez Bryant kept running down the field instead of cutting toward the sideline.

"We were just seeing how the corner played," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. ""Tony saw it one way. Dez saw it another way."

Romo finished 31 of 43 for 307 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown to Miles Austin just before halftime.

Chicago opened the second half with a 73-yard drive capped with the TD by Hester, who sprinted by rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne and had to make a lunging catch at the goal line -- a play upheld after a replay review.

That was one of three plays reviewed by referee Walt Anderson and his crew. The regular refs were back to work a week after that disputed Monday night ending in which Seattle won at home against Green Bay.

Romo was picked off again when his short pass deflected off receiver Kevin Ogletree and was caught by Major Wright. The Bears ran only two plays before the teams traded turnovers on consecutive snaps with Briggs' first interception return for a score since 2005.

"We have a ton of athletes, a great mixture of old and young, a great core," Briggs said. "All of the talk coming into training camp about the offense. The defense, we've got a lot of pride. We want to be consistent. We want to get turnovers. We want to get after the passer. We want to shut down the run."

The Bears did all of that against the Cowboys, who had only 41 yards rushing.

Murray had 131 yards rushing in the Cowboys' season-opening victory at the Giants. He has only 106 in the last three games, including 24 on 11 carries Monday night with an 11-yard run.

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Maryland handles Michigan State 28-17

Maryland handles Michigan State 28-17

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Perry Hills threw a pair of touchdown passes in his return to the lineup and Maryland kept Michigan State winless in the Big Ten with 28-17 victory Saturday night.

Maryland (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) also extended the Spartans' losing streak to five games, the longest skid under 10-year coach Mark Dantonio.

Ty Johnson led Maryland's dominant running attack with 115 yards on nine carries, while Lorenzo Harrison finished with 105 yards on 17 carries. The Terrapins amassed 447 total yards .

Michigan State redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke got his second consecutive start and went 11 for 24 with 156 yards with an interception. He also ran for 79 yards on 10 carries. LJ Scott had a big day on the ground for the Spartans finishing with 128 yards and a touchdown.

The Spartans (2-5, 0-4) took their first lead, 17-14 on a 34-yard field goal by Michael Geiger with 1:35 left in the third quarter. Johnson continued to find a holes and a 44-yard run put Maryland into Michigan State territory. Two plays later, the Terrapins retook the lead on a 2-yard run by Kenneth Goins Jr.

Hills put the game away with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Levern Jacobs with 3:23 left in the game. Hills was 21 of 27 for 200 yards.

Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough was ejected with 4:39 left in the first quarter for targeting. That penalty helped Maryland extend a season-long 96-yard scoring drive, capped by Harrison's 8-yard run.


Michigan State: The Spartans face an uphill battle for a 10th straight bowl appearance with the toughest part of the their schedule still ahead. Michigan State must still play No. 3 Michigan next week and No. 2 Ohio State (Nov. 19).

Maryland: After a 4-0 start, the Terrapins gained some much-needed momentum to avoid missing a bowl game for the second consecutive season. However, Maryland plays three ranked opponents (Michigan, Ohio State and No. 8 Nebraska) over its final five games.


Michigan State hosts No. 3 Michigan (7-0, 4-0) next Saturday. The Spartans stunned Michigan 27-23 last season when safety Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up a flubbed punt and ran 38 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on the final play of the game.

Maryland travels to Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers (3-4, 1-3) beat the Terrapins 47-28 last season and lead the all-time series 3-1.

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Caps' failed second period power play proves key in loss to Rangers

Caps' failed second period power play proves key in loss to Rangers

On Saturday against the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals looked to be in complete control. At the end of the first period, the Caps held a 2-0 lead. The Rangers scored early in the second, but then Mika Zibanejad took a double-minor as he hit T.J. Oshie in the face with a high-stick. In a game in which the Caps had dominated, they had a chance to put the Rangers away.

Then things took a turn.

The Caps failed to score despite having four straight minutes of power play time. The Rangers took the momentum and rattled off two more goals to take a 3-2 lead in the second.

A game in which the Caps were in complete control of had suddenly gotten away from them.

"I think we scored first two goals and I think we felt like it's going to be over," Alex Ovechkin said. "Five-on-four, four minutes I think we have only one chance when [Matt Niskanen] shot a puck and after that we was so casual. We couldn't stay in their zone so obviously it's blame on us and can't paly like that."

RELATED: Ovechkin beats Staal on the deke and Lundqvist on the shot

To make matters worse, this was the second game in a row in which the team struggled in the middle frame.

On Thursday, the Caps took a 2-1 lead into the second period against the Florida Panthers, but were outshot 14-4 in that period and gave up the game-tying goal. Washington again struggled in the second period on Saturday. They gave up only five shots, but it yielded the Rangers three goals.

"They definitely scored on the opportunities they got," Lars Eller said. "They didn't give up."

"They came at us a little bit in the second, but wasn't a lot of shots, wasn't a lot of chances," Trotz said. "But all their chances went in. That's just the way it goes sometimes."

Against Florida, there was no single moment that seemed to turn the tide in the Panthers' favor. On Saturday, it was very clear just when the Rangers took over the game.

"They got a little momentum off that power play," Trotz said, "Our own power play they got a little momentum because you get those on your bench, you get a four minute, you want to get something out of it at least and you get right back in the driver's seat if you get one there. They dug in and sort of built a little momentum from that."

The good news is that it is still early in the season. The Caps are only 3-1-1 and will not play many teams that can turn five second-period shots into a complete turnaround.

But the Caps recognized slow starts as a problem from last season and they made a point of correcting it. In five games this season, Washington has scored first in each of their games. Now a similar focus may be needed in order to turn around what is becoming a growing concern in the second period: Weak play in the second period.

"Our first periods have been good, that's something we wanted to correct," Trotz said. "Now our second period, we're going to need to correct that."

MORE CAPITALS: Deflection gives Eller his first goal as a Cap