2015 NFL Week 6 Tuesday Afternoon QB

Demarus Dye| BKD TV Insiders

Here is a recap of Week 6 of the 2015 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.

Bye: Cowboys, Raiders, Rams, Buccaneers

Falcons 21, Saints 31

Falcons Saints Football

New Orleans Saints linebacker Michael Mauti (56) blocks a punt by Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Bosher during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in New Orleans. The Saints won 31-21. (Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The memory of Steve Gleason’s blocked punt against Atlanta in 2006, and the emotional, spine-tingling, ear-splitting, drink-spilling pandemonium that accompanied it, has always been a special and personal one for current Saints linebacker Michael Mauti.

Mauti was a New Orleans-area high school football player and part of the crowd that jammed the Superdome for its reopening after Hurricane Katrina, and he’d celebrated the Saints’ victory over the rival Falcons that night.

A decade later, with Gleason watching from the sideline, Mauti blocked a punt against — of all teams — Atlanta, then scooped it up and scored to help the recently reeling Saints rebound with a stunning 31-21 upset of the previously unbeaten Falcons on Thursday night.

“I was a fan of Steve Gleason. He’s a special-teams guy, and my dad played special teams,” Mauti, said, referring to his father, Rich, who also played for the Saints. “To do this is a dream come true. I’m going to meet (Gleason) as soon as a I can. He’s one of my heroes.”

Gleason, now paralyzed by ALS, but world-renowned for the way he lives with his condition and his efforts to improve the lives of those similarly afflicted, was watching from his motorized, computer-equipped wheel chair. He reacted to Mauti’s big play with this Twitter post: “Hey, Falcons. #NeverPunt.”

“The cool thing was that Steve was here to see that,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was Gleason’s teammate and remains his good friend. “It brought back some good memories. Obviously we got to add to that tonight as well.”

Mark Ingram scored on a pair of short runs for the Saints, and Watson added a fourth-down touchdown catch.

The Falcons (5-1) were left to wonder why their punt protection broke down against New Orleans (2-4) when such plays seemed routine in their five previous games.

Some things we learned from the Saints’ surprising triumph over rival Atlanta:

BETTER BREES: There have been questions about the extent to which a Week 2 throwing shoulder injury to Brees was affecting his performance. His efficiency against the Falcons — 30 of 39 for 312 yards, one TD and no interceptions — should quiet such talk going forward, particularly with the Saints having about 10 days until their next game at Indianapolis. Brees summed up the performance of the Saints’ offense as “validation,” adding, “For it all to come together like that, it just gives us a glimpse of what we can be.”

MR. JONES: Receiver Julio Jones continues to play through a nagging hamstring injury, and also continues to look a bit diminished relative to the torrid start he had before the injury. Falcons QB Matt Ryan threw to Jones 10 times, but four of those passes fell incomplete. He finished with a respectable six catches for 93 yards, but did not have a touchdown or any truly pivotal plays.

RUSHING RYAN: The Saints have struggled to mount a pass rush much of this season, but with a multiple-score lead and the crowd behind them in the second half, New Orleans went after Ryan with abandon and sacked him five times. Defensive end Cameron Jordan had three sacks, including a strip and fumble recovery.

FREEMAN’S FORM: Second-year running back Devonta Freeman once again turned in a solid performance. He gained 100 yards on the ground, highlighted by his 25-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. He also finished with a team-high eight catches for 56 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown. His performance was overshadowed by teammates’ mistakes, including a lost fumble by fellow running back Tevin Coleman on the New Orleans 9, then another on a bad snap by James Stone at the New Orleans 17.

BIG BEN: Tight end Ben Watson, now more active in the passing game since Jimmy Graham was traded away, gained a career-high 127 yards receiving while tying a career-high with 10 catches. The 12th-year veteran also had a touchdown catch on a fourth-and-goal play late in the third quarter. “Either his number was called or he was just getting open,” Brees said of Watson. “He was getting some opportunities and, man, he made the most of it.”

Bengals 34, Bills 21

Tyler Eifert

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) catches the ball for a touchdown over Buffalo Bills strong safety Bacarri Rambo (30) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — With A.J. Green attracting much of the Buffalo Bills’ attention, Bengals receiver Marvin Jones made a suggestion to quarterback Andy Dalton to open the third quarter.

“I told Andy to just throw it because I’m go to run and get it,” Jones said, referring to his 42-yard, over-the-shoulder catch that eventually set up his 10-yard touchdown on the Bengals opening drive of the second half.

“If you’re going to take away one person, we’ve got six, seven other people that can do the job. And it went my way.”

The Bengals (6-0) and their multi-threat offense continued to roll in a 34-21 win on Sunday in which they matched the team’s best start to a season in franchise history.

With Green covered, Dalton turned his attention elsewhere in throwing touchdown passes to Jones, Tyler Eifert and Jeremy Hill.

Giovani Bernard also scored on a 17-yard run in a game the Bengals blew open by scoring 17 points on their first three drives of the second half.

Dalton went 22 of 33 for 243 yards, and Jones took advantage of one-on-one coverage with a team-leading and career-best nine catches and 95 yards.

The Bengals, who enter their bye week before traveling to play at Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, were also 6-0 to start the 1975 and ’88 seasons.

Bills coach Rex Ryan found out the hard way how difficult it is defending the Bengals.

The Bills (3-3) were in no position to keep up because of a banged-up offense and tiring defense in losing their third consecutive home game.

And now they’re flying to London for a game against Jacksonville next week not knowing who’ll be healthy enough to play.

Receiver Sammy Watkins hurt his left ankle while making a 22-yard touchdown catch, and was spotted walking with a cane in the locker room. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams was carted off the field with a left knee injury. And starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s status remains uncertain after being sidelined with a sprained left knee.

General manager Doug Whaley said the injuries coupled with traveling overseas makes it even more complex for him in scrambling to add players. The first concern is making sure any new additions have a passport. At least running back LeSean McCoy, who scored on a 4-yard run, returned after missing two games with a pulled left hamstring. Receiver Percy Harvin, however, didn’t play because of a hip injury, and receiver Marquise Goodwin didn’t return after hurting his ribs.

As for the Bills offense, it sputtered. After Manuel scored on a 2-yard run to cap an 80-yard game-opening drive, Buffalo combined for 0 yards offense and no first downs on its next four possessions.

Manuel finished 28 of 42 for 263 yards with a touchdown and interception in his first start in a little more than a year.

NOTES: Dalton won the 22nd road game of his four-plus-year career. Of NFL quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era, Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan rank first in winning 23 road games in their first five seasons. … McCoy’s 90 yards rushing were one short of matching the total Bills running backs combined in their previous two games. … The Bills were held without a sack for the first time this season and second time in their previous 35 games.

Broncos 26, Browns 23 OT

Emmanuel Sanders, Andre Caldwell

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) and Andre Caldwell (12) celebrate after Sanders scored during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Again far from perfect, Peyton Manning still kept Denver’s record pristine.

Manning shook off three interceptions, including one early in overtime, and drove Denver’s offense in range for Brandon McManus to kick a 34-yard field goal with 4:56 left, giving the unbeaten Broncos a 26-23 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Manning took the Broncos from their 12 to the Cleveland 16 before McManus kicked his game-winner to make Denver 6-0 for the seventh time in franchise history.

Denver’s win would not have been possible without the Broncos’ top-ranked defense, which came up huge in overtime and has carried the team — and the 39-year-old Manning — during the club’s unblemished start.

After Manning’s third pick, Denver recorded a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and then had two consecutive sacks of Josh McCown to push the Browns (2-4) out of field-goal range.

But Denver’s defense bailed him out, and given another chance in overtime, Manning took over. He completed 4 of 4 passes for 39 yards on the last drive. Manning finished 26 of 48 for 290 yards and the one TD, a 75-yarder to Emmanuel Sanders.

The score came just seconds after the Browns had taken their only lead on Karlos Dansby’s 35-yard interception return for a TD.

It was yet another heartbreaker for Cleveland, which had one of the NFL’s best teams on the ropes late in regulation before McCown threw a critical interception.

McCown, who passed for a franchise-record 457 yards last week, went 20 of 39 for 213 yards with two touchdowns to tight end Gary Barnidge. But his second pick with 44 seconds left in regulation cost the Browns as they were driving for a potential game-winning field goal.

On second down at the Denver 46, McCown rolled from pressure before forcing a throw across the field that was picked off by Denver’s David Bruton Jr.

Denver cornerback Aqib Talib had a 63-yard interception return for a TD and McManus kicked four field goals as the Broncos won their 11th straight against the Browns.

This one didn’t have much artistic beauty as the Broncos had some dropped passes, penalties and let the Browns hang around.

But Manning, as he has done so many times during his illustrious career, found a way to lead his team to the win. His struggles have prompted talk about his career reaching an end, but Denver, relying on its swarming, turnover-inducing defense, is winning without Manning playing well.

The overtime came after a frenetic fourth quarter during which Cleveland took the lead on Dansby’s interception — off a pass bobbled by Denver’s Ronnie Hillman — only to have Manning take it back 14 seconds later with his strike to Sanders.

Denver’s dominating defense, missing injured linebacker DeMarcus Ware, came up with another big play in the first half as Talib’s return gave the Broncos a 10-0 lead.

On the second play of the second quarter, McCown threw a pass toward the right sideline, where Talib was waiting. He made the interception, and after briefly holding the ball out in an early celebration, tucked it away and outran Travis Benjamin to the end zone.

It was Denver’s fourth defensive TD this season and the eighth of Talib’s career.

Hillman rushed for 111 yards on 20 carries. Demaryius Thomas had 10 catches for 111 yards, but let two clutch throws by Manning slip through his hands.

NOTES: Denver is 4-0 in road games. … Already missing Ware (back), the Broncos also lost LBs Shane Ray (knee) and Corey Nelson (knee). Ray’s injury appears to be the most serious. He left the stadium on crutches and his knee immobilized. … Sanders hurt his left shoulder while making a catch late in regulation. … Barnidge is the first Browns TE to catch a TD pass in four straight games since Ozzie Newsome in 1981.

Texans 31, Jaguars 20

Davon House, DeAndre Hopkins

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) makes a catch for a 26-yard touchdown in front of Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Davon House (31) during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Poised in the pocket, and precise with every throw. He even bounced back from a vicious hit.

Brian Hoyer was so good Sunday he impressed coach Bill O’Brien, something that hasn’t been easy for either of Houston’s quarterbacks this season.

Hoyer threw three touchdown passes on third down, two to rising star DeAndre Hopkins, and the Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-20.

Hoyer regained the starting job last week against Indianapolis and looked every bit deserving of O’Brien’s decision against Jacksonville (1-5), which lost its fourth in a row and raised more questions about coach Gus Bradley’s job security. The Texans (2-4) started emptying the stadium midway through the fourth quarter after Andre Hal returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 lead. It was the sixth pick-six thrown by Blake Bortles in 19 career starts.

The Texans (2-4) started emptying the stadium midway through the fourth quarter after Andre Hal returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 lead. It was the sixth pick-six thrown by Blake Bortles in 19 career starts.

Hoyer completed 24 of 36 passes for 293 yards. Hopkins, shadowed by House all over the field, finished with 10 receptions for 148 yards. Foster was mostly held in check, running 18 times for 53 yards.

The only negative for Houston was injuries. Cornerback Kareem Jackson departed with a left ankle injury. And backup safety Lonnie Ballentine injured his left knee after making contact with Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson in the fourth quarter. Trainers rushed to put Ballentine’s leg in an air cast before carting him off the field.

Robinson was helped off, too. He limped to the locker room with a bruised left leg and was using a crutch after the game.

Robinson caught six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown before the injury.

Bortles completed 30 of 53 passes for 331 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The first pick came near the goal line at the end of the first half. Jacksonville could have tied the game at 10 heading into the locker room, but Hal stepped in front of Bortles’ low throw to Julius Thomas.

Bradley dropped to 8-30 in three seasons.

Thomas, Robinson and Allen Hurns had touchdown receptions for Jacksonville, which had little success running the ball without rookie T.J. Yeldon.

The Jaguars lost for the eighth time in 10 games against their AFC South rival.

“The crazy thing is we’re 1-5, but we’re not a 1-5 team,” Jaguars running back Denard Robinson said.

NOTES: Houston now heads to Miami next week with a chance to sweep three games against Sunshine State teams. The Texans’ first win came against Tampa Bay last month. … The Texans finished with three turnovers after having an NFL-low two in their first five games. … Jaguars DT Sen’Derrick Marks made his season debut, but wasn’t much of a factor. … Thomas finished with seven catches for 78 yards. … Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien surely will get fined for his late hit on Hoyer.

Chiefs 10, Vikings 16

Jarius Wright, Husain Abdullah

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) runs with his reception as he looks at Kansas City Chiefs free safety Husain Abdullah (39) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have shown plenty of potential since coach Mike Zimmer took over last year.

Signs of progress can come in ugly performances, too, like Sunday’s victory over the reeling Kansas City Chiefs.

Bailed out by a persistent defense, three field goals by Blair Walsh and another big game by rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings held on to beat the Chiefs 16-10.

Alex Smith’s 42-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson midway through the fourth quarter pulled the Chiefs within three points, but the Vikings (3-2) played well enough early to survive their ragged finish. They shut out the Chiefs for more than three quarters.

The Chiefs (1-5) netted 51 yards in the first half and were penalized for 50 yards, but they found a rhythm after the break with five receptions for 88 yards by tight end Travis Kelce.

Charcandrick West, one of the replacements for injured star Jamaal Charles, was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the 7-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. The Chiefs argued that West’s knee never touched the ground, but the play was not reviewable.

Then West lost the ball at the Minnesota 38, and Brian Robison recovered with 4:32 left. Diggs had 129 yards on seven catches on a day when Bridgewater passed for only 106 yards over the last three quarters and Adrian Peterson finished with only 60 yards on 26 carries against a Chiefs front seven that went all out to stop him.

Bridgewater passed for 143 yards in the first quarter, but a smooth first drive hit a pothole on Ron Parker’s end zone interception, the first by the Chiefs in four weeks.

The Vikings appeared to have a safety three snaps later when left guard Ben Grubbs was called for holding. But referee Jerome Boger announced the infraction took place “in the field of play,” despite replays that revealed Grubbs halfway into the end zone when Smith’s third-down throw was released.

The Vikings declined the penalty to force a punt, and the yellow flags kept flying, most critically against the Chiefs. Cornerback Steven Nelson was called for roughing the passer on a third-and-6 incompletion midway through the second quarter, extending a drive that ended with Bridgewater’s short touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph that put the Vikings up 10-0.

Bridgewater finished 17 for 31, with several overthrows beyond the two that were picked off, but he found Diggs for 30 yards on third-and-15 on the drive in the fourth quarter for their final field goal. Shortly after Marcus Peters intercepted Bridgewater at the Kansas City 23, the Chiefs faced an all-out blitz on third-and-10. Smith turned to Wilson for a short screen pass that became a score and cut the lead to 13-10 with 8:46 left.

The Vikings’ defense did just enough to keep them in front from there.

NOTES: The Chiefs lost DE Mike DeVito and WR Jeremy Maclin to concussions. … In two games, Diggs has 216 yards on 13 catches. … This was the first win for the Vikings after their bye week since 2009. … The Chiefs were flagged 11 times, with eight penalties accepted for 95 yards.

Dolphins 38, Titans 10

Reshad Jones, Justin Hunter, Andy Gallik

Miami Dolphins strong safety Reshad Jones (20) leaps into the end zone after returning a pass interception 30 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. Defending for the Titans are Justin Hunter (15) and Andy Gallik (69). (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Dan Campbell wanted Miami to have fun again and play physical football. Well, Reshad Jones and the Dolphins nearly ran out of ways to celebrate.

Cameron Wake got his first four sacks this season and also forced two fumbles — all in the first half — and the Dolphins beat the Tennessee Titans 38-10 on Sunday in Campbell’s debut as interim coach.

The Dolphins (2-3) had lost three in a row, costing coach Joe Philbin his job Oct. 5. But the rout was on after Jones made a twisting leap into the end zone while finishing off a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown that made it 24-3 early in the third quarter. With Campbell preaching a much different approach, the Dolphins finished with six sacks and intercepted Marcus Mariota twice. The rookie quarterback needed a knee brace and was replaced by Zach Mettenberger after the 2-minute warning.

Miami had been one of two teams in the NFL without a rushing touchdown. But Jarvis Landry ended the drought on the opening drive, and Lamar Miller ran for 113 yards and a TD.

The Titans (1-4) lost their fourth straight, and their home skid is up to eight dating to last season. Fans booed heavily before heading to the exits, and coach Ken Whisenhunt dropped to 3-18 since taking over last season.

Campbell made a couple of lineup changes, benching right guard Jamil Douglas for Billy Turner and started Kenny Stills over Greg Jennings.

Then the Dolphins opened with their first TD in the first quarter this season with an old play in the Statue of Liberty. Campbell won a replay review, challenging a Mariota incompletion ruled a fumble on review. The Dolphins outgained Tennessee 434-299.

In between, they pounded Mariota.

Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon was flagged twice for roughing the passer, the first coming when he hit the rookie low in the left leg. Mariota didn’t miss a snap, but he did put on a brace over his left knee between series. Whisenhunt criticized the hit.

“That should be taken out of the game,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s not the way you play football. I think it was done with the idea of trying to hurt our quarterback.”

Vernon defended himself, saying he knows it wasn’t intentional.

Whisenhunt benched rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi, not that veteran Jamon Meredith fared much better.

The Titans also lost center Brian Schwenke to a dislocated left ankle in the second quarter, an injury gruesome enough a teammate immediately waved to the sideline for help. Schwenke was carted straight to the locker room and replaced by rookie Andy Gallik.

Mariota hit Dexter McCluster for a TD to end the third quarter. The Titans held Miami to a three-and-out while trying to rally, but cornerback Brent Grimes intercepted Mariota near the goal line on the next play.

Miami had been outscored 37-3 in the first quarter. Those numbers changed when Tannehill faked a pass, and then handed off to Landry, who ran up the right side for a 22-yard TD to give Miami the lead for good.

NOTES: Wake finished the first half by sacking Mariota for the fourth time, becoming the first in the NFL with four sacks in a half since Chris Clemons had four for Seattle against Green Bay in Week 2 in 2012. … Back judge Greg Wilson, originally assigned to Patriots-Colts on Sunday night, worked this game. Wilson did not call Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright for batting the ball out of the end zone, and Seattle held on for a 13-10 victory over Detroit on Oct. 5. … Miami has won four of the last six in the series.

 

Cardinals 13, Steelers 25

Martavis Bryant, Tony Jefferson

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) makes a touchdown catch past Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson (22) in the third quarter an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The wide receiver with the seemingly unlimited potential but serious baggage flipped in joy. The third-string quarterback who spent two-plus years having to defend his roster spot jumped into the arms of one of his offensive linemen.

For Martavis Bryant, it was relief. For Landry Jones, it was validation. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was a win as unlikely as it was emphatic.

Dominated for a half, the Steelers rallied for a 25-13 over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday led by two players who have spent portions of their young careers either buried in the doghouse or depth chart or both.

Jones threw a pair of touchdown passes to Bryant after relieving Michael Vick, the second a spectacular 88-yard catch-and-run that sealed it with 1:58 to play. Bryant, active for the first time this season after being suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and missing another with a knee injury, somersaulted across the goal line in joy while Jones was thrust into the air by guard David DeCastro.

So are the Cardinals (4-2), who overwhelmed the Steelers (4-2) in the first half but only had a seven-point lead to show for it. Once Jones replaced Vick, who completed just 3 of 8 passes for 6 yards before exiting in the third quarter with a right hamstring injury, Pittsburgh’s offense looked like the one Ben Roethlisberger guided before spraining his left knee in Week 3.

Jones found Bryant for an 8-yard touchdown that put the Steelers in front, the second of five straight second-half possessions in which Pittsburgh scored. Jones finished 8 of 12 for 168 yards and the two scores. Bryant caught six passes for 137 yards, Bell ran for 88 yards and rookie Chris Boswell kicked four field goals as Pittsburgh steadied itself the moment Jones entered the huddle.

Carson Palmer threw for 421 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. John Brown caught 10 balls for 196 yards but the Cardinals collapsed in the second half to ruin Arians’ homecoming.

The longtime Pittsburgh offensive coordinator was pushed out by the Steelers after the 2011 season, something he jokingly called a “refirement.” Nearly four years — and two NFL Coach of the Year Awards — later, Arians returned to Heinz Field with one of the best teams in football.

For a half, the Cardinals certainly looked like it.

Arizona controlled the opening 30 minutes, outgaining the Steelers 279-59 and doing whatever it wanted. All that dominance, however, only translated into a 10-3 lead.

The Cardinals had a touchdown wiped out on an offensive pass interference penalty, saw a second-and-3 at the Pittsburgh 25 turn into a punt and allowed the Steelers to hang around far too long.

Jones and Pittsburgh’s opportunistic defense didn’t let it. When Boswell drilled a 28-yard field goal to put the Steelers up 18-13 with 7:19 to play the Cardinals responded by moving to the Pittsburgh 20. Steelers safety Mike Mitchell picked off Palmer in the end zone.

The victory keeps Pittsburgh within two games of unbeaten Cincinnati in the AFC North. There’s a chance Roethlisberger could return next week against Kansas City (1-5), but Jones’ performance against one of the league’s top defenses means the Steelers will have options if Roethlisberger isn’t quite ready.

NOTES: Pittsburgh LT Kelvin Beachum tore the ACL in his left knee in the second quarter and is done for the season. … Arizona lost tight end Darren Fells with a shoulder injury. … Fitzgerald finished with eight catches for 93 yards on the same field where he starred collegiately at Pittsburgh. … The Cardinals were penalized nine times for 111 yards. … Arizona hosts Baltimore on Oct. 26.

Bears 34, Lions 37 OT

Calvin Johnson, Harold Jones-Quartey

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a 57-yard pass defended by Chicago Bears defensive back Harold Jones-Quartey (29) during the overtime period of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions were in big trouble before Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson rekindled their connection.

It was just like old times

Stafford threw one of four touchdown passes to Johnson and found the star receiver for a 57-yard play that set up Matt Prater’s 27-yard field goal with 2:29 left in overtime, helping the Lions beat the Chicago Bears 37-34 on Sunday for their first win of the season.

The Lions (1-5) leaned on Stafford’s arm and Johnson’s ability to get their first win since Dec. 21 at Chicago. They were the NFL’s only team without a victory this season.

It helped that Stafford bounced back from being benched for the first time in his career. Johnson took advantage of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who called the game from the coaches’ box for the first time this year, opting for more deep passes.

Stafford finished 27 of 42 for a season-high 405 yards and an interception. Johnson had six receptions for 166 yards — doubling his season high — and scored for the first time since Week 2. It was his 45th career game with at least 100 yards receiving, breaking a fourth-place tie with Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

The Bears (2-4) had won consecutive games on go-ahead scores in final minute of regulation for first time since 1962, and had chances for another comeback win. They wasted a handful of opportunities inside the Detroit 20, settling for field goals and throwing an interception.

Chicago’s Robbie Gould kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. The tying score was set up by Darius Slay getting called for interference after Cutler’s 25- and 24-yard passes to Alshon Jeffery.

Stafford threw a go-ahead, 6-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Johnson in the end zone with 21 seconds left in the fourth following a penalty. Pernell McPhee was called for roughing the passer, hitting Stafford low when he threw an incomplete pass on third-and-12 from the Bears 12.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell decided on a 32-yard field goal with 2:46 left in regulation instead of going for it on fourth-and-4 from the Bears 13. The drive was extended with a fake punt when Isa Abdul-Quddus took a direct snap and ran for 30 yards to easily convert a fourth-and-2 from the Detroit 32.

Caldwell put faith in his defense and it delivered, holding Chicago to a three-and-out possession and getting the ball back at the Detroit 34 with 2:23 and no timeouts left.

Stafford helped Detroit drive for the go-ahead score to Johnson, but its defense could not close it out in regulation.

The Lions turned the ball over for a second time in the second half on punt returns, and Cutler took advantage with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jeffery. Stafford made an ill-advised and errant pass from his 18 that was picked off by linebacker Jonathan Anderson to set up Matt Forte’s 2-yard TD midway through the fourth quarter. Forte then caught a 2-point conversion to put Chicago up 31-24.

Cutler finished 26 of 41 for a season-high 353 yards with a TD and an interception. He had three of his top targets — Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Martellus Bennett — in the lineup after each of them was listed as questionable because of injuries. Jeffery, who had been out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury, caught eight passes for 147 yards and a score.

Detroit had a key review go its way.

Golden Tate caught a short pass over the middle from Stafford as he crossed the goal line in the final minute of the first half, Chicago’s Kyle Fuller pried the ball loose and the Bears intercepted it. The play was changed to a TD after a replay review.

NOTES: Lions DE Jason Jones (neck), RB Zach Zenner (chest) and Bears DT Jeremiah Ratiff (neck) left the game with injuries.

Redskins 20, Jets 34

Brandon Marshall

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall looks to avoid a tackle by Washington Redskins strong safety Trenton Robinson during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Gary Hershorn)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Even as the losses continue and the interceptions mount, Kirk Cousins remains the quarterback of the Washington Redskins.

For now, anyway.

Jay Gruden gave Cousins a vote of confidence following a 34-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. When asked if Cousins was the starter for the rest of the season, Gruden said: “Yeah, that’s the intent.”

Gruden needs more production from his entire team, including Cousins. The Redskins had no running game to speak off, generating only 34 yards. And once again, Washington suffered a third-quarter meltdown, giving up 17 points in the frame as the Jets rallied from a 13-10 halftime deficit. The Redskins have been outscored 46-3 in the third quarter this season. Cousins was 25 of 43 for 196 yards with a touchdown to Pierre Garcon and two interceptions. He has two interceptions each in four games this season — all losses. Cousins has no INTs in Washington’s two wins.

The Jets, on the other hand, cleaned up their early mistakes.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score. Chris Ivory ran for 146 yards and a TD on 20 carries for the Jets, who improved to 4-1 for the first time since the 2010 team opened 5-1. Brandon Marshall had seven catches for 111 yards, and Eric Decker also caught a TD pass.

The Jets, coming off a bye week, trailed at halftime with the Redskins (2-4) scoring their points off three turnovers by Bashaud Breeland, who had an interception and two fumble recoveries.

But New York opened the second half with 24 straight points to take control against a Washington team without several starters, including wide receiver DeSean Jackson, left tackle Trent Williams and cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver.

The Redskins downgraded Jackson to out Saturday; he hasn’t played since the season opener because of a left hamstring injury. Tight end Jordan Reed, center Kory Lichtensteiger and backup running back Matt Jones were also out.

With so many injuries, even Robert Griffin III was active — as the Redskins’ third-string quarterback — for the first time this season.

Nick Folk tied it at 13 with a 39-yard field goal early in the second half. Two plays later, the Jets got the ball back when Darrelle Revis made an easy interception of Cousins’ pass for Ryan Grant.

With the ball at the Redskins 18, the Jets wasted no time as Fitzpatrick took off up the middle, got a big block from tight end Kellen Davis near the goal line and got into the end zone for a 20-13 lead.

Marshall made it 26-13 with a terrific fingertips catch just off his shoe tops, getting inside of Breeland on a low throw. He then scooted down the sideline for a 35-yard TD — as Breeland sat on the field with his head in his hands in disbelief.

New York got the ball back when Marcus Gilchrist picked off Cousins’ deep pass for Jamison Crowder. Decker caught a 2-yard pass to put the Jets comfortably in front, 34-13 early in the fourth quarter.

The Redskins crept closer when Jeron Johnson blocked Ryan Quigley’s punt and Rashad Ross recovered in the end zone with just under four minutes left. But Davis recovered the onside kick.

“The second half, we laid an egg,” Gruden said. “A big egg.”

NOTES: Redskins S Trenton Robinson sprained an ankle and a thumb. … Washington dropped to 4-1 on the road against the Jets. … Dustin Hopkins kicked a career-best 54-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Panthers 27, Seahawks 23

Greg Olsen

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, right, catches a pass for a touchdown ahead of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, left, in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — Cam Newton sang and danced in celebration. And when he stopped, he gave Greg Olsen a hard time for twice being brought down at the 1-yard line before finally getting in the end zone when it mattered most.

This one meant a little more for the Carolina Panthers, winning on the home field of the two-time NFC champs.

Newton capped Carolina’s fourth-quarter rally with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Olsen with 32 seconds left, and the Panthers improved to 5-0, rallying for a stunning 27-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Down 23-14, Carolina went 80 yards on each of its final two possessions for touchdowns that left the Panthers jubilant and the Seahawks stinging about a second straight fourth-quarter collapse.

Carolina winning its first four games was impressive. But this victory adds the validity.

Newton was 12 of 15 for 169 yards in the fourth quarter and threw for 269 yards overall. His first 80-yard drive in the final quarter resulted in Jonathan Stewart’s second 1-yard touchdown run with 3:55 left to cut Seattle’s lead to 23-20. But Graham Gano pulled the extra point wide left.

After Carolina’s defense forced Seattle to punt, Newton led a final 80-yard scoring drive that left Seattle stunned for the second straight week.

Carolina took possession at its 20 with 2:20 remaining and two quick passes got the ball to its 46 at the two-minute warning. Newton hit Ed Dickson to the Seattle 40, but Bruce Irvin sacked Newton back near midfield, forcing them to use their final timeout with 1:20 remaining.

Newton rebounded to hit Devin Funchess for 16 yards and Jerricho Cotchery caught a contested 7-yard pass. After spiking the ball and moving quickly to the line, Newton saw confusion in Seattle’s secondary, hitting Olsen wide open for the winning score with All-Pros Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman looking at each other in confusion.

The reason Olsen was so wide open was mixed signals in Seattle’s secondary. Sherman got one call from the sideline while Thomas and others got a different call. The result was Olsen running uncovered.

An early wake-up call certain didn’t help Carolina’s cause. A fire alarm was pulled in the Panthers’ hotel around 5:40 a.m. PDT on Sunday morning, causing the players and staff to briefly evacuate some 7 ½ hours before kickoff.

Instead of becoming a story line, it became a footnote. Stewart rushed for 78 yards and Carolina’s defense did its part in keeping everyone not named Jimmy Graham under control.

Russell Wilson threw for 239 yards and found Graham eight times for 140 yards, but the Seahawks lost at home for just the second time in the past two seasons.

Seattle looked fine through three quarters with Wilson and Graham connecting and the defense holding Newton under control — aside from one long touchdown drive in the first half. Seattle took a 17-7 lead when Wilson hit Ricardo Lockette for a 40-yard TD on a double pass.

But the fourth-quarter problems festered again. Seattle is being outscored 61-27 in the fourth quarter and overtime, and 40-3 the past three games. NOTES: Carolina is 5-0 for the second time in franchise history. The previous year was 2003 when the Panthers went 11-5 and reached the Super Bowl. … Marshawn Lynch returned after missing the previous 2 ½ games because of a hamstring injury, but finished with 54 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. … Carolina LB Luke Kuechly had 14 tackles in his return after missing three games with a concussion. … Seattle LB Bobby Wagner (pectoral) did not play in hopes he’ll be able to go Thursday against San Francisco, Carroll said.

Ravens 20, 49ers 25

Maxx Williams, Kenneth Acker

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker (20) runs with an interception in front of Baltimore Ravens tight end Maxx Williams (87) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith know a little bit about Baltimore’s defense and how the Ravens take their chances going 1-on-1 outside.

They also know their share about Shareece Wright, a San Francisco teammate less than two weeks ago.

Boldin and Smith took it to the team they helped win the Super Bowl nearly three years ago, while Wright’s embarrassing outing helped out his former 49ers on a day Baltimore missed chances in every phase in a 25-20 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.

Colin Kaepernick completed a 76-yard touchdown pass to Smith, Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and the Niners stopped a four-game losing streak.

Phil Dawson kicked four field goals, including a 53-yarder, in the first win since Week 1 for San Francisco (2-4). Boldin — a Super Bowl star for the Ravens against San Francisco following the 2012 season — had a late 51-yard catch that set up Quinton Patton’s 21-yard reception for the first touchdown of his career.

Flacco’s desperation pass to the end zone on the final play went incomplete to Steve Smith, and the quarterback wound up 33 of 53 for 343 yards. Smith dropped two balls in the end zone before catching one.

Not only did the Ravens fail to pounce on Jarryd Hayne’s fumbled punt return, kicker Justin Tucker shanked a 45-yard field goal off the right upright after he awkwardly slipped on the turf.

Kaepernick went 16 of 27 for 340 yards, and Boldin made five catches for 102 yards. Torrey Smith had three receptions for 96 yards.

The rematch of the Super Bowl three seasons ago featured a pair of last-place teams trying to turn around their seasons, and it showed in some sloppy play.

Steve Smith caught a 34-yard TD pass in the third, but the Ravens (1-5) are reeling through the worst start in franchise history. Tough weekend for the Harbaugh brothers after Baltimore coach John Harbaugh’s little brother Jim’s Michigan team lost Saturday to Michigan State on a botched punt.

The 49ers won for the first time since Sept. 14 against Minnesota.

Now San Francisco must prepare in a hurry for a short week with rival Seattle coming to town Thursday night. The Seahawks have won five of the last six meetings, including the playoffs.

Kaepernick is sensing a shift.

Baltimore’s previous four losses featured second-half collapses. This time, it all but began from the opening kickoff.

The Ravens appeared a step behind all day. Their problems came in pairs, too: Steve Smith’s two end-zone drops, two drops by the defense on would-be interceptions and Flacco’s two picks.

Wright, released by the 49ers on Oct. 10 without playing a game, then signed by the Ravens last week, was flagged for holding Boldin in the first quarter to set up Dawson’s second field goal. Torrey Smith burned the cornerback on his career-long TD, capping a 49-second, two-play drive that made it 13-3.

Wright yielded a 26-yard gain to Boldin on another drive that ended with a field goal by Dawson, and then fell down on Patton’s TD catch.

Early in the third with no intended receiver in sight, Flacco threw right to 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker, who returned the interception 45 yards.

Baltimore, making its second Bay Area trip in less than a month after a loss at Oakland on Sept. 20, had won four straight against San Francisco, including that 34-31 Super Bowl victory at the Superdome.

49ers left tackle Joe Staley acknowledged during the week the offense prematurely spoke in the huddle late of having a victory parade.

Kamar Aiken added a 2-yard touchdown catch for the Ravens, who had won six in a row against NFC teams and dropped to 19-10 vs. the NFC under Harbaugh.

NOTES: Ravens S Kendrick Lewis left with 9:41 remaining in the third because of a knee injury. … 49ers RB Carlos Hyde’s tender foot became sore.

Chargers 20, Packers 27

Chargers Packers Football

Green Bay Packers’ Damarious Randall (23) deflects a pass intended for San Diego Chargers’ Danny Woodhead on the final play of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won the game 27-20. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — In the end, a rookie stood up to Philip Rivers and kept the Green Bay Packers unbeaten.

Green Bay stopped San Diego on fourth-and-goal from the 3 with 15 seconds left thanks to first-round pick Damarious Randall, and overcame a career day by Rivers to hold off the Chargers 27-20 on Sunday.

Rivers set franchise marks with career highs of 43 completions, 65 attempts and 503 yards passing. He threw for two touchdowns for the Chargers (2-4). His 43 completions were the most in NFL history in a loss; he needed one more, at least.

Randall denied that as he lunged to poke away Rivers’ short pass to Danny Woodhead near the front right pylon in the final seconds. Rivers was on his back after being knocked down, arched his neck up, then laid back down in frustration and flailed his arms.

San Diego lost to Pittsburgh on the last play on Monday night.

The fans inside Lambeau Field erupted with a collective sigh of relief. Green Bay (6-0) survived its biggest scare of the year to stay unbeaten.

The Packers started strong and finished barely in front. Running back James Starks had touchdowns on a 65-yard run and a 5-yard pass in the first quarter.

The Packers went up for good after Aaron Rodgers found James Jones for an 8-yard pass in the corner of the end zone for a 24-17 lead with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. The defense bent and allowed Josh Lambo’s 32-yard field goal with 11:14 left.

Green Bay’s stout pass rush finally caught up to Rivers in the second half. Datone Jones sacked Rivers on third-and-7 from the Packers 40 to end one drive. Until then, a Chargers line missing three starters held up well, with Rivers orchestrating a quick-strike offense and finding all the holes in the secondary.

It was the most porous outing of the year for the Packers’ defense.

But the Packers came up with their most important stop at the end. Rivers was under pressure from linebacker Julius Peppers when he threw his final incompletion.

For the Packers, it was another relatively choppy outing for the offense.

Rodgers was 16 of 29 for 255 yards. At one point, Rodgers had as many completions as Keenan Allen had receptions midway through the fourth quarter.

But a hip injury kept Allen sidelined for much of the second half. He wound up with 14 receptions for 157 yards.

Starks finished with 112 yards rushing on 10 carries. He started for Eddie Lacy, who had 3 yards on four attempts. Lacy, who sprained his right ankle earlier this season, played with his right foot heavily taped.

Patriots 34, Colts 27

Dwight Lowery, LeGarrette Blount

New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) breaks away from Indianapolis Colts free safety Dwight Lowery (33) to score a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tom Brady got his revenge — with a little help from the Colts.

He exposed holes in the defense, allowed his teammates to do most of the heavy lifting and let Indianapolis take the air out of its own building with a bone-headed fake punt that turned the game.

Brady threw for 312 yards, three touchdowns and led the Patriots to two second-half scores in a 34-27 victory Sunday night in the “Deflategate” rematch.

It was a strange night.

In a series defined by wild games and crazy plays, Indy’s awful punt might have been the worst of the worst. With most of the offensive line set up near the right sideline, Indy snapped the ball to Colt Anderson, who was immediately tackled for a 1-yard loss that gave the Patriots the ball at the Colts 35.

Six plays later, Brady got free from the pass rush and hooked up with LeGarrette Blount for an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots a 34-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Indy (3-3) never recovered.

New England has won seven straight over its longtime rival and is 5-0 for the first time since its 16-0 season in 2007.

While Brady wasn’t perfect — he threw his first interception of the season — he was pretty darn good again. Brady finished 23 of 37 in the first meeting since January’s AFC title, which ultimately led to allegations of improperly inflated balls, months of investigation and eventually a four-game suspension that was nullified in court.

Had the suspension been upheld, Brady would have made his season debut in front of a hostile Indianapolis crowd.

Instead, Colts fans, who booed heartily when Brady first appeared at Lucas Oil Stadium, roared even louder when Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck returned after missing two games with an injured right shoulder. Luck was 30 of 50 for 312 yards with three touchdowns and most importantly, no turnovers.

New England players didn’t care about the crowd or the significance.

The game didn’t go the way anyone expected, though.

New England got away from its strong running game and kept the ball in Brady’s hands.

But the Colts were the more aggressive team. They scored a touchdown on the opening series by going for it on fourth-and-1. They tried a first-half onside kick. They continued to take shots down the field, and they refused to back down from the defending Super Bowl champs

The combination turned what many expected to be a blowout into one of this season’s most entertaining games — until the fake punt.

It was s the game everyone wanted to see in last season’s AFC championship game, a 38-point rout that spawned the “Deflategate” controversy.

Indy led 21-20 at halftime, but in the second half, Brady took control.

He threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to the wide-open Rob Gronkowski to make it 27-21 early in the third quarter, and followed Indy’s mistake with the scoring pass to Blount to seal it.

Giants 7, Eagles 27

Zach Ertz,Uani' Unga, Landon Collins

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) is tackled by New York Giants middle linebacker Uani’ Unga (47) and free safety Landon Collins (21) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In a sloppy, ugly game, the Philadelphia Eagles prevailed because they made fewer mistakes.

DeMarco Murray ran for 109 yards and a touchdown, Nolan Carroll returned one of Eli Manning’s two interceptions for a score and the Eagles beat the New York Giants 27-7 Monday night.

Sam Bradford threw for 280 yards and a 32-yard TD pass to Riley Cooper, but had three interceptions to keep New York in the game.

The Eagles (3-3) have won two straight to move from last place in the NFC East into a tie for first with the Giants (3-3). The teams meet again in Week 17.

Neither team looked sharp in front of a prime-time audience. They combined for seven turnovers and 21 penalties.

The Giants gave the Eagles first downs on a roughing-the-passer penalty and a running-into-the-kicker penalty to keep both of their TD drives going.

Wearing all-black uniforms for the third time in franchise history, the Eagles got off to another slow start.

Manning completed his first 10 passes, including a 13-yard TD pass to Odell Beckham Jr. for a 7-0 lead.

But things went downhill for Manning from there.

The Eagles took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter when Carroll jumped in front of a pass intended for Dwayne Harris and ran it back untouched for his first career TD.

After Nikita Whitlock ran into punter Donnie Jones to give Philadelphia a first down at its 28, Murray took over. He had two runs of 11 yards each and finished off the drive with a 12-yard TD run to give Philadelphia a 24-7 lead in the third quarter.

Murray had his best game since joining the Eagles after a record-breaking season in Dallas. The All-Pro led the NFL in rushing last year and broke Emmitt Smith’s single-season club record, but has struggled in Philadelphia. He entered the game with 130 yards this season.

The Eagles were 1-3 before a 39-17 win over the New Orleans Saints at home last week. They’ll travel to play unbeaten Carolina (5-0) next Sunday night.

The Giants had won three in a row. They’ll host Dallas (2-3) next week.

Bradford had a pair of third-quarter interceptions on poor throws, including one that Landon Collins picked in the end zone.

But Philadelphia’s defense bailed him out.

The Giants came out playing Chip Kelly’s style of football, running a no-huddle offense. They moved right down the field and Manning connected with Beckham across the middle for a score.

The Eagles went three-and-out on their first possession and the Giants were driving with a first down at Philadelphia’s 23 when DeMeco Ryans stole the ball from Larry Donnell for an interception.

A roughing-the-passer penalty on Damontre Moore helped the Eagles avoid another three-and-out and Bradford hit Cooper on a deep pass to tie it at 7-7.

The teams traded turnovers midway through the second quarter. Malcolm Jenkins forced Rashad Jennings to fumble and Ryans recovered at the Eagles 38. But Jayron Hosley intercepted Bradford’s deep pass and ran it back to the Giants 42.

Caleb Sturgis hit a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 17-7 lead at halftime. He nailed one from 39 in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles were driving on the first possession of the third quarter, but Jordan Matthews fumbled at the Giants 25 after a catch and Moore recovered for New York.

 

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