FOXBOROUGH, Mass, Oct 23, (AP): Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the New England Patriots toyed with the Atlanta Falcons – sound familiar? – 23-7 in a fog-filled Super Bowl rematch Sunday night that wasn’t particularly super.
New England scored the final 31 points to win the NFL championship in February. Placards and shirts reading 28-3 were ever-present in and around Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (5-2) scored the first 23 points in this prime-time mismatch.
The Falcons (3-3), who led New England by that 25-point margin in the third quarter of the Super Bowl before folding, were outplayed throughout this one.
While Atlanta looked tentative, if not intimidated, Brady and his offense clinically tore apart the Falcons. Mixing runs and passes, New England controlled the clock and field position. And its defense, ranked at the bottom of the entire league through six weeks, stymied the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense.
Brady threw a shovel pass to Bradin Cooks that traveled perhaps a foot, and the receiver used his speed to get into the left corner of the end zone. The other TD was a 2-yarder to James White, who had three touchdowns, including the winner, in the Super Bowl.
It got so bad for Atlanta that the usually reliable Matt Bryant had a field goal blocked and then put a 36-yarder off the left upright. That Super Bowl losers’ malaise folks talk about might have found a home in the ATL this year. Stephen Gostkowski had no trouble sending field goals of 29, 21 and 38 yards through the fog for New England.
Steelers 29, Bengals 14
In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, Le’Veon Bell added 192 total yards, and Pittsburgh’s defense dominated Cincinnati in the second half.
The Steelers (5-2) relied on their stars to take the lead, then on their reinvigorated defense to blunt Cincinnati and give themselves a significant cushion over the rest of the underwhelming AFC North.
The Bengals (2-4) came in looking to add some street cred to their resurgence after their 0-3 start, but instead spent the second half reverting to the kind of ineffective offense that got offense coordinator Ken Zampese fired two weeks into the season. The Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice and sacked him three times over the final two quarters to pull away.
Chris Boswell added five field goals for Pittsburgh, which posted its highest points total and appears to be rounding into form as Halloween nears.
Cowboys 40, 49ers 10
In Santa Clara, Calif, Ezekiel Elliott gained 219 yards from scrimmage and tied a career high with three touchdowns just days after a legal reprieve put his suspension on hold.
Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order on Tuesday, putting his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold, and then gave the Cowboys (3-3) a big boost on the field.
Elliott matched his season total of rushing touchdowns with two in the first quarter, then took a short pass from Dak Prescott 72 yards for another touchdown on Dallas’ first possession of the second half to put away the 49ers (0-7). Elliott ran for 147 yards on 26 carries to go with the big catch, setting a career high in scrimmage yards in a game.
That performance spoiled the starting debut of rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard , who was sacked five times, lost two fumbles and failed to lead the 49ers into the end zone until he scored on a run with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter.
Chargers 21, Broncos 0
In Carson, Calif, Travis Benjamin returned a first-quarter punt 65 yards for a touchdown and caught a 42-yard TD pass in the fourth, and the Chargers played a dominant defensive game in the first home victory of their relocation season.
Joey Bosa had two of the Chargers’ five sacks while they sent the Broncos (3-3) to the franchise’s first shutout defeat since a 24-0 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders on Nov. 22, 1992.
Philip Rivers passed for 183 yards in his 100th victory, hitting Austin Ekeler for an early TD and Benjamin for the late clincher.
The Chargers (3-4) have won three straight under new coach Anthony Lynn following a winless opening month in their first season back in Los Angeles after 56 years in San Diego.
Trevor Siemian passed for 207 yards, but Denver lost to the Chargers for the third time in the AFC West rivals’ past 14 meetings – and did so in historic fashion.
Seahawks 24, Giants 7
In East Rutherford, N.J, Russell Wilson threw three second-half touchdown passes and the Seahawks limited the New York Giants’ receiver-depleted offense to 177 yards.
Wilson hit Doug Baldwin with a go-ahead 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. He put the game away with a 38-yard TD throw to Paul Richardson on a play that had to be reviewed because of simultaneous possession. He closed out the scoring with a 1-yard toss to Jimmy Graham with 2:14 to go.
The Seahawks (4-2) limited the Giants (1-6) to 46 yards rushing, 14 first downs and 24:34 in time of possession. The defense only forced one turnover, but the fumble by Eli Manning led to the Richardson touchdown.
The Giants, who stunned Denver on Sunday night for their first win, were only in this game because their defense made plays and limited the Seattle to a field goal in the first half despite being on the field for more than 20 minutes.
Titans 12, Browns 9, OT
In Cleveland, Ryan Succop’s fourth field goal, a 47-yarder with 1:55 left in overtime, extended his NFL record for makes inside 50 yards to 55 straight and sent the Tennessee Titans to an ugly 12-9 win on Sunday over the winless Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland (0-7) lost durable Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas with an injury. A 10-time Pro Bowler, he missed his first play in 11 seasons. Thomas went out with a triceps injury that snapped his streak of 10,363 consecutive offensive plays. The No. 3 pick in 2007 has been the lone bright spot over the past decade for Cleveland’s franchise.
Succop’s clutch kick enabled the Titans (4-3) to get their second win in six days. Succop made five field goals in Monday night’s win over Indianapolis.
Browns rookie Zane Gonzalez forced overtime by kicking a season-long 54-yard field goal with 47 seconds left in regulation to tie it 9-9. Gonzalez added kicks of 31 and 47 yards.
The Browns committed 12 penalties and dropped to 1-22 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, whose future is becoming less certain.
Rams 33, Cardinals 0
In London, Jared Goff ran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerlein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain.
Arizona (3-4) heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer injured his left arm in the second quarter and did not return.
Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception, and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2). Los Angeles has won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003 – the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.
Palmer, who finished 10 for 18 for 122 yards, was hit by linebacker Alec Ogletree and intercepted with 5:48 remaining in the first half. He was replaced by longtime backup Drew Stanton, who completed 5 of 14 passes for 162 yards and an interception and was unable to close what began as a 6-0 deficit.
Gurley’s 18-yard touchdown run immediately followed Palmer’s interception, and Goff helped push the Rams’ lead to 20-0 after he took a zone-read keeper 9 yards for a touchdown.
Zuerlein, who set a franchise record by making seven field goals in a win against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct 1, connected from 23, 33, 53 and 34 yards.
Saints 26, Packers 17
In Green Bay, Wis, Drew Brees threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Mark Ingram rushed for a score.
Will Lutz kicked two second-half field goals, including a 44-yarder to put New Orleans up for good 19-17 with 10:26 left in the game. Brees’ 1-yard sneak gave the Saints a two-score lead.
The sloppy Saints (4-2) were fortunate to get their fourth straight victory. The Packers lost their first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for injured star Aaron Rodgers.
New Orleans’ defense gave up a 46-yard touchdown run to rookie Aaron Jones on the opening drive. Brees was picked off twice in the first quarter. Lutz had a blocked extra point and New Orleans was penalized seven times for 80 yards.
But the Saints pulled away late at overcast Lambeau Field, scoring on four second-half drives.
Trailing late, the Packers (4-3) couldn’t muster big plays late without Rodgers. He’s out indefinitely with a broken right collarbone.
Bills 30, Buccaneers 27
In Orchard Park, N.Y, Rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White forced and recovered a fumble to set up Stephen Hauschka’s 30-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining.
LeSean McCoy had 91 yards rushing and scored twice, including a 7-yard run to tie the score with 2:28 remaining. Tyrod Taylor went 20 of 33 for 268 yards and a touchdown, while Buffalo’s defense forced three turnovers.
Coming out of its bye week, Buffalo improved to 4-2 under rookie head coach Sean McDermott. It marks just the fourth time the Bills have won at least four of their first six games during a 17-year playoff drought.
Jameis Winston showed no signs of a sprained throwing shoulder that sidelined him during the first drive of a 38-33 loss at Arizona last weekend. Winston finished 32 of 44 for 384 yards passing and three touchdowns. He threw an interception and also lost a fumble.
Rookie tight end O.J. Howard caught two touchdown passes for the Buccaneers (2-4), who have lost three straight.
Hauschka tied an NFL record by making 12 consecutive field goals from 50 yards or longer by hitting a 52-yarder that put Buffalo up 20-13 in the fourth quarter. The record is shared by Blair Walsh, Robbie Gould, Justin Tucker and Matt Prater.
Dolphins 31, Jets 28
In Miami Gardens, Fla, Matt Moore replaced an injured Jay Cutler and threw two touchdown passes in the final 12 minutes, and the Dolphins pulled off another comeback win by erasing a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Josh McCown threw three touchdown passes and ran for another for the Jets, but his interception in the final minute set up the winning field goal.
Bobby McCain stepped in front of a pass intended for Jermaine Kearse to give Miami the ball at the Jets 27 with 39 seconds left. Cody Parkey kicked a 39-yard field goal with 22 seconds to go for the Dolphins’ first lead of the game.
It was the second consecutive comeback win by the Dolphins, who overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half a week ago for an upset victory at Atlanta. They’ve won 12 games in a row when the margin is seven points or less.
The Dolphins (4-2) earned their third consecutive victory and avenged a loss to the Jets (3-4) in Week 3.
Cutler left the game due to a chest injury with his team trailing 21-14. After the Jets took a two-touchdown lead, Moore threw scoring passes to Kenny Stills covering 28 and 2 yards to tie the game.
Bears 17, Panthers 3
In Chicago, Rookie safety Eddie Jackson became the first NFL player to score multiple defensive touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a game. Jackson ran back a fumble recovery 75 yards on the game’s opening possession and returned an interception of Cam Newton 76 yards for a score early in the second quarter to give Chicago a 14-0 lead.
He became the first Bears player since Fred Evans in 1948 and the first NFL player since Tennessee’s Zach Brown in 2012 – with two defensive TDs in a game.
Chicago also sacked Newton five times and intercepted him twice.
The big plays by Jackson and the defense lifted the Bears (3-4) to their second straight win even though they got dominated in just about every statistical category. Carolina (4-3) held huge advantages in yards (293-153), time of possession (38:35-21:25), offensive plays (69-37) and first downs (20-5).
Newton completed 21 of 34 passes for 211 yards and ran for a team-high 50. But the Panthers dropped their second straight game.
Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky was 4 of 7 for 107 yards in his third NFL start. The No. 2 overall pick threw a 70-yard pass to Tarik Cohen, but did little else.
Vikings 24, Ravens 16
In Minneapolis, Latavius Murray rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown and Kai Forbath kicked six field goals.
Forbath made kicks of 52, 51, 43, 43, 34 and 32 yards to back another suffocating effort from the defense for the Vikings (5-2). Minnesota sacked Joe Flacco five times and allowed just 208 yards. Everson Griffen had two sacks and has nine for the season.
Murray averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for the Ravens (3-4), including a 57-yarder in the first half. Flacco completed 26 of 38 passes for 186 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to Chris Moore as time expired.
The nine combined field goals tied an NFL record for most in a game.
Former Vikings WR Mike Wallace left in the first quarter after a vicious hit from S Andrew Sendejo. Wallace appeared to be knocked out cold by the shoulder-to-head hit that knocked his helmet off.
Wallace was later ruled out, but appeared to be arguing with coaches on the sideline about wanting back in.
Jaguars 27, Colts 0
In Indianapolis, Blake Bortles threw for a season-high 330 yards and one touchdown, and T.J. Yeldon scored on a 58-yard run. By ending a four-game losing streak at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Jaguars (4-3) remained atop the AFC South.
Indy (2-5) lost its second straight, both to division foes.
Bortles and the offense looked good on a day when they played without rookie Leonard Fournette, the NFL’s second-leading rusher. Fournette was inactive because of a sprained right ankle.
The quarterback finished 18 of 26 with a 124.7 rating, the fourth-highest rating of his career.
While Jacksonville didn’t add to its league-leading takeaway total, it matched the single-game franchise record for sacks (10), set in the season opener against Houston. And the Jags got their first shutout since a 41-0 victory over the New York Jets on Oct 8, 2006.
Indy, strangely, was shut out for the first time since a 41-0 loss to the Jets in a playoff game on Jan 4, 2003. Its only serious scoring chance was snuffed out with a fourth-down stop at the Jaguars 6-yard line.