Denver and Kansas City are the last two teams with perfect NFL records after the Broncos beat Jacksonville 35-19 – hardly the margin projected by most – and the Chiefs defeated Oakland 24-7. New Orleans, the NFC’s only spotless team, were handed their first loss by Tom Brady’s sensational last-minute drive, falling at New England 30-27 Sunday.
The Saints were primed to also move to 6-0 until Brady reminded everyone, particularly the thousands of fans who already had left Gillette Stadium, why he is so special. His 17-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins with 5 seconds left capped a 70-yard drive in which the Patriots marched downfield with no timeouts after getting the ball with 1:08 to go.
It was the 37th game in which Brady led the Patriots to victory from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.
“That was great situational football and a great win against a really good team,” Brady said. “We’re 5-1 and we’re just grinding.”
The visiting Saints (5-1) had taken a 24-23 lead with 3:29 remaining on Drew Brees’ 34-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, but the Patriots survived an interception by Keenan Lewis on their first snap after Garrett Hartley’s 39-yard field goal made it 27-23.
Brady started the winning drive with completions of 23 yards to Julian Edelman, 15 to Austin Collie and 6 to Aaron Dobson. But he threw two incompletions before connecting with Collie for a 9-yard gain on fourth down and a first down at the 17.
Then came the winning throw into the left corner of the end zone.
“I think the thing is there’s a lot of character and mental toughness and that really showed,” Brady said. “We were down but not out.”
Broncos 35, Jaguars 19
At Denver, Peyton Manning finished 28 for 42 for 295 yards. It was a two-point game late in the third quarter before Knowshon Moreno scored his last touchdown, an 8-yard run.
Otherwise, it was a real test against the 0-6 Jags.
“Sometimes, you score a lot of points and people take it for granted,” Manning said. “Even people in your own building can take it for granted. It’s not easy to win football games. I learned a long time ago, don’t take winning for granted.”
Justin Blackmon had 14 catches for 190 yards for Jacksonville.
Chiefs 24, Raiders 7
At Kansas City, the Chiefs moved to 6-0 for the second time in franchise history as Jamaal Charles ran for two touchdowns and Tamba Hali had 3 1/2 of KC’s 10 sacks.
“We’re a very humble group and us not having as much success in years prior is helping us out,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We aren’t going to take this for granted. We’re loving it. But Tuesday we’ll come right back.”
The Raiders had won six in a row in Arrowhead Stadium.
Packers 19, Ravens 17
At Baltimore, the Packers (3-2) lost receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones to leg injuries, but survived as Aaron Rodgers threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson and Mason Crosby kicked four field goals.
Eddie Lacy rushed for 120 yards to fuel the Packers’ first road win of the season.
The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens (3-3) had won 13 straight at home against NFC foes. But even without injured linebacker Clay Matthews, the Packers limited Baltimore to 47 yards rushing and had five sacks, including three by AJ Hawk.
Bengals 27, Bills 24 OT
Mike Nugent’s 43-yard field goal with 6:44 left in overtime won it after he missed a 34-yarder in regulation.
Brandon Tate’s 29-yard punt return to the Bills 33 set up the decisive score. Andy Dalton went 26 of 40 for 337 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception as the Bengals (4-2) got their first road win of the season.
The Bills (2-4) were led by quarterback Thad Lewis, starting in place of injured rookie EJ Manuel. Lewis went 19 of 32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns after being promoted off the practice squad last week. Both touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter, including a 40-yarder to Marquise Goodwin with 1:08 remaining.
Seahawks 20, Titans 13
At Seattle, Marshawn Lynch ran for two touchdowns and had 155 all-purpose yards, and Richard Sherman came up with his third interception of the season.
Seattle (5-1) won its 11th straight at home despite a long list of mistakes that allowed the Titans (3-3) to hang around into the fourth. There was a careless turnover, missed defensive assignments and a comical muffed field goal attempt that led to the Titans’ only touchdown on the final play of the first half.
49ers 32, Cardinals 20
At San Francisco, Vernon Davis caught touchdown passes of 61 and 35 yards and finished with a career-best 180 yards receiving, leading San Francisco to its third straight victory.
Colin Kaepernick threw for 252 yards and Frank Gore ran for 101 yards on 25 carries. Kendall Hunter ran for a 6-yard touchdown that sealed it for the 49ers (4-2). Rookie safety Eric Reid made his team-leading third interception and also recovered a fumble as San Francisco forced four turnovers for the second straight game.
Arizona (3-3) lost defensive end Calais Campbell to an apparent right leg injury late in the game.
Cowboy 31, Redskins 16
Dwayne Harris returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and set up another score with a 90-yard kickoff return as the Cowboys handed Robert Griffin III his first loss in his home state.
The Cowboys (3-3) gave owner Jerry Jones a win on his 71st birthday against the archrival Redskins (1-4).
Tony Romo had just 170 yards passing a week after getting 506 in a 51-48 loss to Denver.
Dallas lost running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end DeMarcus Ware with injuries: Murray left in the second quarter with a sprained left knee, and Ware had a right quadriceps injury.
Rams 38, Texans 13
At Houston, the Texans’ woes continued as they dropped their fourth straight. Sam Bradford threw three touchdown passes, St Louis added a score on defence and one on special teams to move to 3-3.
Alec Ogletree took an interception by TJ Yates 98 yards for a touchdown. Yates was in after Matt Schaub sustained an apparent right ankle injury.
Schaub didn’t have a turnover after throwing six interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns in the past three games.
But several other Texans had key gaffes as pre-season Super Bowl hopeful Houston (2-4) lost their fourth straight game.
Panthers 35, Vikings 10
At Minneapolis, Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score.
Adrian Peterson finished with 62 yards on 10 carries and 21 yards on three receptions as the Vikings (1-4) trailed the whole game. The NFL MVP learned Friday that a 2 year old son of his died in South Dakota of injuries from alleged abuse.
“Anything bad, I try to take good from it,” he said. “That’s the way I approach life in all situations. I never thought about not playing.”
Matt Cassel threw two interceptions, both to Mike Mitchell, and the Panthers (2-3) responded each time with a touchdown.
Eagles 31, Buccaneers 20
At Tampa, Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth. Starting for the injured Michael Vick, Foles finished a long first-quarter scoring drive with a 4-yard run and threw TD passes of 12 and 36 yards to DeSean Jackson, and 47 yards to Riley Cooper.
Foles was 1-5 as a rookie a year ago, with that victory also coming at Tampa Bay (0-5).
LeSean McCoy rushed for 116 yards and had 55 yards on two receptions for Philadelphia (3-3).
Steelers 19, Jets 6
Pittsburgh (1-4) got their first victory, coming back from the bye to earn the 600th in franchise history, including the post-season, the fourth team to reach the milestone.
That the visiting Steelers did it against the Jets (3-3) is no surprise: Pittsburgh are 17-4 v New York in the regular season.
Geno Smith was intercepted twice by a Steelers defence that entered the game as the only team in the league without a takeaway.
Lions 31, Browns 17
At Cleveland, Matthew Stafford threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, rallying Detroit.
The Lions (4-2) outscored the Browns 24-0 in the second half, sealing their win when Stafford hooked up with tight end Joseph Fauria with 2:01 left. Fauria caught three TD passes for the Lions.
The Browns (3-3) had their chances at a comeback end when quarterback Brandon Weeden’s baffling shovel pass with 4:36 left was intercepted by linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Lions running back Reggie Bush finished with 135 total yards, 121 in the second half.