The New England Patriots denied the New Orleans Saints their third 6-0 start in franchise history, rallying for a 30-27 win as Tom Brady threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds left.
Brady’s first touchdown pass of the game came on the Patriots’ last play in Foxboro, Massachusetts, and after the Saints had scored 10 points in a 65-second span in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to grab a 27-23 lead.
“What a football game,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said at his postgame news conference. “I feel like that took about five years off my life.”
With the Saints falling to 5-1, the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs are the National Football League’s only teams with 6-0 records after both had home wins yesterday.
Knowshon Moreno rushed for three second-half touchdowns as Denver pulled away for a 35-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) after leading 14-12 at halftime.
Peyton Manning threw two first-quarter touchdown passes for the Broncos, yet also had an interception returned 59 yards for a score. The Broncos, who were averaging a league-leading 46 points, failed to cover a point spread that was as high as 28 points, the biggest in NFL history.
“We certainly started well up 14-0 and then just hit a little lull there,” Manning said. “Sometimes you score a lot of points and people take it for granted.”
The Chiefs were 24-7 winners over the Oakland Raiders (2-4) as Jamaal Charles ran for two scores. Kansas City is the NFL’s most-improved team this season under new coach Andy Reid, having tied for the league’s worst record a year ago at 2-14.
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New York Jets 19-6 to avoid an 0-5 start for the first time since 1968. Emmanuel Sanders scored the only touchdown on a 55-yard third-quarter reception as Pittsburgh (1-4) sent the Jets (3-3) to their first loss in three games this season at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Seattle Seahawks (5-1) rebounded from their first defeat of the season with a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans (3-3) behind a pair of rushing touchdowns from Marshawn Lynch.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, playing two days after the death of his 2-year-old son, had a season-low 62 yards on 10 carries and a fumble in a 35-10 home loss to the Carolina Panthers (2-3).
“I never thought about not playing,” said Peterson, whose son died of head injuries sustained while in the care of a man identified by police as the boyfriend of the child’s mother.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ran for a seven-yard score and threw three touchdown passes, including a 79-yarder to Brandon LaFell, as Carolina dropped the Vikings to 1-4.
The Green Bay Packers held on to beat the Baltimore Ravens (3-3) 19-17 in a matchup of two of the past three Super Bowl champions to improve to 3-2. The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 3-3 with a 31-16 win over the Washington Redskins (1-4), while the San Francisco 49ers improved to 4-2 as Vernon Davis had 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a 32-20 win against the Arizona Cardinals (3-3).
The Houston Texans (2-4) suffered their fourth straight defeat, 38-13 at home to the St. Louis Rams (3-3) and lost quarterback Matt Schaub to an ankle injury in the third quarter. Some Texans fans cheered after the injury to Schaub, who had an interception returned for a touchdown each of the previous four games. Schaub’s replacement, T.J. Yates, threw interceptions on his first two drives, including one that was returned 98 yards for a touchdown by Alec Ogletree.
“That is just tactless and tasteless,” Texas running back Arian Foster told reporters when asked about the home fans cheering Schaub’s injury. “I don’t care how you feel about a man. You don’t kick him when he is down.”
The Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) beat Tampa Bay 31-20 as backup quarterback Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and also ran for a score in place of an injured Michael Vick to drop the Buccaneers to 0-5. The Detroit Lions (4-2) were 31-17 winners over the Cleveland Browns (3-3) as Matthew Stafford threw four touchdown passes, including three to Joseph Fauria.
The Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in Buffalo before pulling out a 27-24 win over the Bills (2-4) on Mike Nugent’s 43-yard field goal in overtime.
Week 6 play -- which began Oct. 10 with the Chicago Bears (4-2) winning 27-21 to leave the New York Giants 0-6 for the first time since 1976 -- wraps up tonight with the Indianapolis Colts (4-1) at the San Diego Chargers (2-3). The Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins had byes.
The Patriots, coming off a 13-6 loss to the Bengals in which Brady was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in 53 games, opened a 17-7 halftime lead as Stevan Ridley rushed for two second-quarter touchdowns.
After New Orleans tied the score 17-17 in the third quarter, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a pair of field goals, including a 54-yarder, to put the Patriots back in front.
Trailing 23-17 in the closing minutes, the Saints went ahead as Brees’s 34-yard pass into the end zone on a 3rd-and-20 play was pulled down by Kenny Stills for his first career NFL touchdown.
Rookie Aaron Dobson dropped a fourth-down pass that would have given the Patriots a first down on the ensuing drive, giving the Saints the ball back at the New England 24-yard line and setting up a 39-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley.
Brady had a deep pass intercepted on the Patriots’ next possession, yet the Saints weren’t able to run out the clock. New England got the ball and Brady marched the Patriots downfield with no timeouts left before tossing the winning score to Thompkins in the back of the end zone.
“Lord knows we had our chances at the end there,” Brees said. “You can’t give Tom Brady and that offense three chances at a two-minute drill.”
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