Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes as the Patriots opened a 30-13 fourth-quarter lead and held on for the win last night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Falcons scored 10 points in the final five minutes to pull within a touchdown and reached New England’s 10-yard line before Matt Ryan’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 35 seconds left.
“We’ve got to do a better job of finishing out the game, but we did a good job of putting ourselves in that position with a 17-point lead with six minutes to go,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said at his postgame news conference.
New England is among four unbeaten National Football League teams after four regular-season games, joining the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. The Chiefs rolled to a 31-7 win over the New York Giants, who are 0-4 for the first time since 1987, while the Broncos cruised to a 15th straight regular-season win as Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes in a 52-20 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Seahawks pulled out a 23-20 road win against the Houston Texans on Steven Hauschka’s 45-yard field goal in overtime after Seattle erased a 17-point second-half deficit.
One more team will be 4-0 after tonight, as the Miami Dolphins visit the New Orleans Saints in a matchup of 3-0 teams.
The Tennessee Titans rolled past the New York Jets 38-13 yesterday as Jake Locker threw three touchdown passes before leaving with a hip injury that kept him in a local hospital overnight. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith had four turnovers, including a fumble that was recovered for a score.
The Detroit Lions (3-1) held on for a 40-32 win to prevent the visiting Chicago Bears starting with four victories for the first time in seven years. The San Diego Chargers (2-2) topped the Dallas Cowboys (2-2) 30-21 as Philip Rivers threw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns.
The Washington Redskins picked up their first win of the season after an 0-3 start, scoring 24 unanswered points in a 24-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders (1-3).
In a matchup of 0-3 teams at Wembley Stadium in London, Matt Cassel tossed a 70-yard scoring pass to Greg Jennings and Adrian Peterson ran for touchdowns of 60 and seven yards as the Minnesota Vikings beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27.
In a showdown between Ohio rivals Cincinnati and Cleveland, the Browns beat the Bengals 17-6 to leave both teams with 2-2 records.
Elsewhere in Week 4 it was Buffalo 23, Baltimore 20; Arizona 13, Tampa Bay 10; and Indianapolis 37, Jacksonville 3.
The Patriots opened the second half by outscoring the Falcons 20-3 last night in Atlanta, snapping a 10-10 tie as Brady threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins, LeGarrette Blount rushed for a 47-yard score and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a pair of field goals.
The Falcons rallied, getting an 11-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Tony Gonzalez and then a field goal after recovering an onsides kick. Atlanta got the ball back again with under two minutes left as Brady fumbled at the Falcons’ 38-yard line. Ryan threw a 49-yard pass to Julio Jones on the next play before the Falcons’ drive stalled, dropping them to 1-3 on the season. Atlanta went 13-3 last year.
In Denver, the Broncos put up their highest point total of the season as Manning completed 28-of-34 passes for 327 yards. He has 16 touchdown passes without an interception as the Broncos have averaged 44.8 points a game in their 4-0 start.
Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas each had two touchdown catches for Denver, while Trindon Holliday scored on a 105-yard kickoff return and Steven Johnson returned a blocked punt 17 yards for a touchdown.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs were nursing a 10-7 lead before Dexter McCluster returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown with 1:34 left in the third quarter. Alex Smith threw fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, leaving the Giants as one of four 0-4 NFL teams.
“Our inability to do anything with the ball in the second half, there’s no excuse for that,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said at his postgame news conference.
Since the NFL playoffs expanded to the current 12-team format in 1990, only one team has reached the postseason after starting the season with four straight losses.
In Nashville, the Titans jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead behind three touchdown passes from Locker.
All three scores came after turnovers by Jets’ quarterback Smith, who also fumbled in the end zone when he was sacked in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. The Titans didn’t have a turnover for the fourth straight game and are now the only team in the NFL without a giveaway.
Week 4 play began Sept. 26 with the San Francisco 49ers winning 35-11 at the St. Louis Rams. The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers were off this week.
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