BRONCOS 34, SAINTS 14, Manning throws for 305 yards
DENVER — A dinged-up right thumb wasn’t enough to throw Peyton Manning off his game, and to no one’s surprise, neither was the New Orleans Saints’ defense.
Despite banging his throwing thumb on an opponent’s helmet in the second quarter Sunday night, Manning passed for 305 yards and three scores, led a pair of 90-plus-yard touchdown drives and easily outplayed Drew Brees to lead the Denver Broncos to a 34-14 victory over the Saints.
Manning surpassed the 300-yard mark for the fifth straight time to match his personal best and set a franchise record for Denver (4-3). He completed 22 of 30 throws for a passer rating of 138.9. Willis McGahee ran for 122 yards and a score for the Broncos, who won two in a row for the first time this season and took sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
The Broncos gained 530 yards — a season high — against the NFL’s worst defense, which came in allowing more yards (2,793) over the first six games of a season than any team since 1950.
New Orleans (2-5) was hoping to get a boost from the return of linebackers-turned-interim head coach Joe Vitt from his six-game suspension for the team’s bounty scandal. All he can do is stand on the sidelines, though, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma — another Saint implicated in the scandal — returned to the starting lineup, but he couldn’t plug the holes, either.
The Broncos’ defense, meanwhile, held Brees and the league’s top passing offense to 213 yards and two scores, the second marking the first points Denver has allowed in the fourth quarter since opening week.
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard did extensive damage, finishing with 13 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one interception, when Vitt chose to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Denver 47 early in the second quarter with the game tied at 7.
GIANTS 29, COWBOYS 24
ARLINGTON, Texas — Lawrence Tynes kicked two of his five field goals in the fourth quarter as Eli Manning and the New York Giants remained undefeated at Cowboys Stadium with a 29-24 win Sunday after blowing a 23-point lead. The Giants overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to win for the 20th time in Manning’s career. None were quite like this one. New York (6-2) led 23-0 just 2 minutes into the second quarter when defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown. That was the third interception thrown by Tony Romo, among six turnovers by Dallas (3-4). The NFC East-leading Giants didn’t score again until Tynes kicked a 43-yard field goal with 10:20 left for a 26-24 lead. He added a 37-yarder after Stevie Brown recovered a fumble. Dallas celebrated what seemed to be a 37-yard touchdown catch by Dez Bryant with 10 seconds left. But the play was reviewed, showing that Bryant’s hand touched out of bounds first.
BROWNS 7, CHARGERS 6
CLEVELAND — On a day of relentless rain, one big drop doomed the Chargers. Rookie Trent Richardson rushed for 122 yards and scored a touchdown in the Browns’ soggy, wind-whipped win. Richardson, pulled last week at Indianapolis when he was ineffective because of a rib injury, carried 24 times as the Browns (2-6) won their second straight game at home — and first for new owner Jimmy Haslam. Richardson scored on a 26-yard run in the first quarter and the Browns were able to hang on despite not generating much offense in blustery, rainy conditions.
The Chargers (3-4) dropped their third straight. San Diego had a final chance, but quarterback Philip Rivers’ pass was batted away by Browns cornerback Buster Skrine with 1:24 left.
Rivers finished 18 of 34 for 154 yards
San Diego wide receiver Robert Meachem let a certain touchdown pass from Philip Rivers slip through his hands in the third quarter and the Chargers lost their third straight game, 7-6 on Sunday to the Cleveland Browns, who gashed the NFL’s second-best rushing defense for 133 yards on the ground.
Trent Richardson ran for 122 yards and broke several San Diego tackles on a 26-yard TD run in the first quarter as the Browns (2-6) did just enough to slide past the Chargers (3-4), who managed only two field goals by Nick Novak and struggled for three hours in raw, blustery conditions that hardly felt like home.
“It’s one of those games you get this time of the year on this side of the country,” said Rivers. “But that’s not an excuse.”
The Chargers are running out of reasons for the losing.
After blowing second-half leads in consecutive losses to New Orleans and Denver, San Diego spent its bye week regrouping before preparing for the Browns, a young team that has been competitive but unable to close out wins. The Chargers figured Cleveland would be the place to turn things around.
Instead, they’re still headed in the wrong direction.
It started poorly for San Diego’s offense, which got stopped on a fourth-and-1 at the Cleveland 30-yard line to end its first drive. The Browns then scored the first time they had the ball with Richardson running roughshod through San Diego’s secondary for what became the game’s only touchdown.
With the howling winds off Lake Erie making every pass, punt and kick an adventure, points were at a premium. And the Browns ended up with one more than the Chargers.
“Well, the conditions didn’t help,” said Rivers, who finished 18 of 34 for 154 yards but hasn’t led the Chargers to a touchdown in six quarters. “It wasn’t like there was going to be a lot of points out there.”
The Chargers, though, looked as if they might get the one big play they desperately needed on their second possession of the third quarter. On third-and-9, Meachem slipped behind Cleveland’s defensive backs and was wide open at about the 25-yard line as he awaited Rivers’ throw. But when the ball arrived, Meachem failed to catch what would have been a certain 51-yard TD pass.
“I took my eyes off of it,” Meachem said. “I thought about scoring first before I caught the ball. Big play in the game. Big-time player make big-time plays, and that’s a play you have to make in a game like this. It could have been the momentum changer. You never know.”
FALCONS 30, EAGLES 17
PHILADELPHIA — Matt Ryan threw touchdown passes on Atlanta’s first three possessions against Philadelphia and new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and the Falcons remained the NFL’s only unbeaten team with a 30-17 victory over the Eagles on Sunday. The Falcons improved to 7-0 for the first time in franchise history while the Eagles (3-4) lost after a bye for the first time in 14 games under coach Andy Reid since 1999. Ryan finished 22 of 29 for 262 yards and three TDs for his first win against his hometown team in three tries. Michael Vick didn’t turn the ball over for once, but he played so-so and failed to beat his former team in his second start against the Falcons since returning to the NFL in 2009. The Falcons scored on their first six possessions before punting for the first time with 5:35 left.
STEELERS 27, REDSKINS 12
PITTSBURGH — The Steelers turned Robert Griffin III into just another rookie quarterback, swarming Washington’s precocious star in a dominant win. Griffin completed just 16 of 34 passes for 177 yards and a score while managing 8 yards rushing.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had no such issues, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns as the Steelers (4-3) won consecutive games for the first time this season.
Jonathan Dwyer added 107 yards rushing in his second NFL start. Pittsburgh jumped on Washington (3-5) early, scoring on its first four possessions and never letting Griffin get loose.
Heath Miller caught four passes for 46 yards and his sixth touchdown of the season for the Steelers.
PATRIOTS 45, RAMS 7
LONDON — Tom Brady led touchdown drives on the first five possessions and New England cruised at Wembley Stadium.
The Rams looked ready to put up a fight when Sam Bradford hit Chris Givens with a 50-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. But Brady cut through the St. Louis defense at will to give New England a 28-7 lead by halftime, then hit Brandon Lloyd for a 9-yard score to start the third quarter.
New England surpassed 350 yards of total offense for the 17th straight game, breaking an NFL record set by the Rams in 1999-2000.
COLTS 19, TITANS 13 OT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Andrew Luck threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Vick Ballard at 4:49 of overtime.
The Colts (4-3) have beaten Tennessee in seven of eight overall and seven of the past 10 in Nashville.
The Colts did it with Luck leading a pair of 80-yard touchdown drives. The top pick overall in April’s draft set up Delone Carter’s 1-yard TD run that tied it up at 13 with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter.
In overtime, Ballard capped the drive, taking a screen pass and going up the left side where he jumped toward the goal line for the TD.
The Titans fell to 3-5.
BEARS 23, PANTHERS 22
CHICAGO — Robbie Gould kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to rally the Bears. The Bears trailed 19-7 in the fourth quarter when the game turned in a big way. Chicago (6-1) took over on the Carolina 38 after Brad Nortman shanked a 6-yard punt, and Jay Cutler connected with Kellen Davis on a 12-yard scoring pass with just under seven minutes left. Then, on Carolina’s next play, Steve Smith slipped on a pass pattern and Tim Jennings returned his second interception of the game 25 yards for the go-ahead score. Cam Newton drove the Panthers to the Chicago 27, and Justin Medlock’s 45-yard field goal hit the right upright and went through to put Carolina (1-6) ahead 22-20 with 2:27 remaining. Medlock had five field goals. On the winning drive, Cutler moved the Bears 55 yards to the 23 to set up Gould’s kick. The Panthers lost their fifth straight game.
PACKERS 24, JAGUARS 15
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers went back to an old favorite, connecting with Donald Driver on a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers threw two touchdowns, passing Bart Starr for second place on Green Bay’s all-time list, and Dezman Moses gave the Packers their first touchdown on a blocked punt in almost 22 years. But Green Bay (5-3) had a surprisingly tough time with the NFL’s worst team, which lost its fourth straight. Playing without top receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, Green Bay’s offense struggled to find its groove all afternoon. Jacksonville (1-6), meanwhile, looked unfazed by the absence of Maurice Jones-Drew. Backup Rashad Jennings finished with 115 yards of offense, and Cecil Shorts had a career-best 116 yards on eight catches.
DOLPHINS 30, JETS 9
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Matt Moore stepped in for an injured Ryan Tannehill and Miami rolled to its third straight victory. Moore threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano, Olivier Vernon recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown and blocked a field goal, and the Dolphins smothered Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense Sunday. After a week of trash talking between both sides, the argument was won on the field by the Dolphins (4-3) — and it was no contest. They were helped by some hideous play by the Jets (3-5), who have lost two straight. Tannehill injured his left knee and quadriceps muscle on a sack on third down by Calvin Pace on the Dolphins’ second possession of the game. Moore finished 11 of 19 for 131 yards. Sanchez was 28 of 54 for 283 yards with a touchdown and interception.
RAIDERS 26, CHIEFS 16
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Oakland Raiders made themselves right at home at Arrowhead Stadium.
They’re making a habit of it, too.
Carson Palmer threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and the Raiders pounded the struggling Chiefs 26-16 on Sunday for their sixth straight on Kansas City’s home turf.
It was the Raiders’ first road win since beating the Chiefs last December.
Sebastian Janikowski was perfect on four field-goal attempts, and the Raiders (3-4) nearly became the third straight team to keep the Kansas City offense out of the end zone. The Chiefs got their lone touchdown on Dexter McCluster’s catch with 2:27 left in the game. Darren McFadden ran for 114 yards, and Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey had touchdown catches for Oakland, which has won two straight after losing four of its first five. The Chiefs (1-6) have lost four straight overall, their only win coming in overtime at New Orleans, and still have not led a game in regulation this season. Matt Cassel threw for 218 yards in place of Brady Quinn, who left in the first half with what the team called a “head injury.” Quinn had started his second straight game even though Cassel was cleared to play following his own concussion sustained three weeks ago against Baltimore.
Neither quarterback could get the Kansas City offense going. The Chiefs committed four turnovers to run their league-leading total to 25, and the Raiders turned them into 13 points. They allowed three sacks to a team that had seven coming in, and their fourth-quarter touchdown was the first by the offense since Sept. 30 against San Diego. Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs’ biggest offensive weapon, was a nonfactor. He carried only five times for 4 yards and caught three passes for 6 yards.
LIONS 28, SEAHAWKS 24
DETROIT — Matthew Stafford threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Titus Young with 20 seconds left. Zach Miller made a spectacular, 16-yard catch on a toss from Russell Wilson with 5:27 left to put the Seahawks ahead.
Seattle (4-4) couldn’t stop the Lions (3-4) on their last possession.
Stafford led a 16-play drive that started at Detroit 20 with 5:27 remaining. The possession began with a 15-yard pass to Calvin Johnson and was kept alive with third-down conversion passes to Johnson in Lions territory and to Joique Bell to set up the winning score from just outside the goal line.