San Francisco 49ers hand Philadelphia Eagles their first loss

The 49ers rallied and knocked off the previously undefeated Eagles, 26-21, with the running game and defense

Just imagine, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks — both with a week off — relaxing on their couches Sunday and watching the NFC West-rival San Francisco 49ers circling the drain.

Well, not so fast.

The 49ers, in peril of their first three-game losing streak under Coach Jim Harbaugh, rallied and knocked off the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, 26-21, with a familiar formula: running game and defense.

Frank Gore ran for 119 yards — his first 100-yard game of the season — and turned a cross-field pass from Colin Kaepernick into a 55-yard touchdown. And San Francisco's defense kept Philadelphia's offense from crossing the 50-yard line for the first 56 minutes of the game.

What's more, the 49ers came alive in the second half for the first time all season. The team that had been outscored, 52-3, in the second halves of the first three games, pitched a 13-0 shutout of the Eagles and top-rated quarterback Nick Foles after halftime.

The Eagles' scoring came on two special-teams touchdowns and a pick-six.

In a showdown between Harbaugh and Philadelphia's Chip Kelly — a flashback to their coaching days at Stanford and Oregon, respectively — Eagles fans were left gritting their teeth over a particularly painful series near the end.

With Philadelphia trailing by five with 2 minutes 50 seconds remaining, the Eagles had a first-and-goal at the six-yard line.

Foles had an incomplete pass. On second down, LeSean McCoy ran to the one-yard line. Then, instead of trying to pound in with a run, the Eagles went back to the air and two more incompletions.

Although Philadelphia would get the ball back after a quick three-and-out by San Francisco, the Eagles went nowhere, and their fate was sealed with a fourth-down interception of Foles.

Uncomfortable cruising altitude

The flight time from London to Oakland is about 11 hours. That's a lot of time for the winless Oakland Raiders to ponder their coaching situation, coming off a 38-14 loss to one-win Miami.

The heat is on Raiders Coach Dennis Allen after his team's 10th consecutive loss dating to last season. Oakland rolled the dice this off-season with a huge influx of fading stars, and so far it isn't paying off.

The Associated Press reportedly tweeted late Sunday that Allen had been fired and that an announcement could come as soon as Tuesday. That tweet was quickly deleted.

Allen is 8-28 in two-plus seasons, and his Raiders are 0-4 for the first time since 2006. He told reporters Sunday that he's not worried about losing his job. Then again, what's he going to say?

Aaron it out

The Packers' Aaron Rodgers made a bit of history Sunday in throwing for 302 yards. He reached 25,000 yards in fewer attempts (3,065) than any other quarterback, eclipsing the record held by Kurt Warner (3,076).

Rodgers completed 22 of 28 passes Sunday with four touchdowns, no passes intercepted, and a 151.2 passer rating, securing the 700th regular-season victory in Green Bay history. Only Chicago has reached that milestone, with 732 wins.

Indy .500

After starting 0-2, Indianapolis pulled back to even with consecutive victories over AFC South opponents — OK, doormats — Jacksonville and Tennessee. But the games were a couple of masterpieces for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who threw for a combined 763 yards and eight touchdowns during that eight-day stretch.

Luck and Seattle's Russell Wilson are shaping up to be the two signature next-generation quarterbacks, what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were to the last decade-plus.

The Colts have collected an NFL-best nine consecutive division victories and have a chance to get halfway to a sweep with a game at Houston in two weeks.

Colts safety Mike Adams, who doubles as a special-teamer, called it "absolutely fun" to watch Luck from the sideline.

"Every time third down comes and they say, 'Punt team!' I just sit right down because we're going to get that first down," Adams said. "I know [No.] 12 is going to make it happen. He makes everything look so much easier."


Luck isn't the only sizzling quarterback through the first quarter of the season, with San Diego's Philip Rivers stringing together three consecutive games with a passer rating north of 120.0. He registered a 130.0 in Sunday's 33-14 rout of Jacksonville, throwing for 377 yards with three touchdowns and no passes intercepted.

The schedule sets up beautifully for the Chargers in the next three weeks, with games against the New York Jets, at Oakland, and back home against Kansas City. Were one to count chickens — always a risky proposition in the competitively balanced NFL — the Chargers could be 6-1 heading into a game at Denver on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Aging gracefully

At 35, Steve Smith keeps putting a double move on Father Time.

The Baltimore receiver caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina, his team for the last 13 seasons.

And here's an upset: Smith barely said a peep.

"I didn't have anything good, bad or indifferent to say — I just played," said Smith, who scored on plays of 61 and 21 yards. "At the end of the day, honestly, they didn't deserve anything I had to say that would be derogatory, and I didn't need to. They didn't even deserve me to spin the ball on them. I just caught it and put it down and went about my business."

Well, he wasn't completely mum. Asked about the Panthers' secondary, Smith conceded he "ran around those boys like they were schoolyard kids."

There's no denying Smith has been Benjamin Buttonhook this season.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Smith has 429 yards receiving in his first four games, more than any other receiver in NFL history after debuting with a new club at age 35 or older. The next four on that list are Terrell Owens with Cincinnati, 374; Jerry Rice with Oakland, 236; Isaac Bruce with San Francisco, 226; and Owens with Buffalo, 158.

Uh oh, Geno

The quarterback in green opened his postgame news conference by apologizing for his blue language.

"Before we start this off," the Jets' Geno Smith said, "I want to apologize if any kids saw me saying any negative remarks walking off the field. I kind of let my temper get the best of me in that situation, and it's a part of my learning process.

"I've got to get better with that. I've got to let that stuff roll off my back. But today, I didn't do well with that."

Smith reportedly shouted an obscenity twice at a heckler while making his way off the field after a 24-17 loss at home to Detroit. The crowd chanted "We Want Vick!" — backup Michael Vick, that is — after Smith's two-turnover outing.

Rest that foot

Good offenses? Bad defenses? Maybe it was a little of both in Sunday's NFC North showdown between Green Bay and Chicago, a 38-17 victory by the Packers. For just the second time in NFL history — and the first time in the last 21 years — there were zero punts in a regular-season game.

Whereas the Packers were rolling on offense throughout, the Bears could have used some punts. However, Chicago's four possessions in the second half ended thus: interception, interception, turnover on downs, end of game.

The only other time the NFL had a punt-less game was in 1992, when Buffalo beat San Francisco, 34-31. There was one postseason game with no punts: an AFC divisional playoff game in 2004 between Kansas City and Indianapolis.

Beginner's pluck

Three rookie quarterbacks started Sunday, and one finished.

Jacksonville's Blake Bortles played the whole game at San Diego, and showed promise in a 33-14 defeat despite a pair of intercepted passes. He made some completions into tight windows and helped make things interesting in the first half before the Chargers pulled away in the second.

Oakland's Derek Carr left in the third quarter of the loss to Miami and told reporters after the game he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee and high-ankle sprain. If the latter is confirmed, that could keep him out for several weeks.

Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater made an outstanding debut against Atlanta, completing 19 of 30 passes for 317 yards and running for a touchdown as the Vikings rolled up 558 yards of offense in a 41-28 victory over Atlanta. He was carted off in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, but returned to the sideline shortly after and didn't appear to be badly hurt. He was diagnosed with a sprain and the X-rays were negative.

Mr. Do It All

Familiar with those World's Most Powerful Fan commercials? That was Houston's J.J. Watt on Sunday, as the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Texans defensive lineman had an 80-yard pick-six in a 23-17 victory over Buffalo.

That came two weeks after Watt had a one-yard touchdown catch against Oakland.

Turns out, Watt is the only player in NFL history with at least 35 sacks (38 1/2), an interception return for a touchdown and a receiving touchdown in his first four seasons.

Obscure stat, yes. But the point is, this guy causes big problems for the opposition. When he signed a six-year, $100-million contract this month, Watt said his goal was to be underpaid.

Said Texans owner Bob McNair on Sunday: "He's worth every cent."

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