The Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions each used a game-winning field goal to improve to 3-0, while the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers remained undefeated by thumping a divisional foe in week three NFL action.
The full NFL results for Sunday, September 25:
New Orleans 40 – Houston 33
Drew Brees threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints notched a 40-33 victory over the Houston Texans in a thrilling game that saw five lead changes in the second half. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns, including one that was bobbled by Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas into the grasp of Texans receiver Kevin Walter. The odd play put Houston (2-1) on top 33-32 late in the fourth quarter, but Saints rookie running back Mark Ingram had a 13-yard touchdown, his first NFL score, to secure the win for New Orleans (2-1).
Buffalo 34 – New England 31
Rian Lindell kicked a 28-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Buffalo Bills a 34-31 comeback victory over the New England Patriots. The winning kick, which snapped the Bills’ 15-game losing streak to the Patriots, was set up via a final drive led by Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 369 yards and two scores. Buffalo (3-0) overcame a 21-0 second-quarter deficit, much like it had in a last-minute win over Oakland last week. The Patriots lost despite another big day from quarterback Tom Brady, who had 386 yards passing, four touchdowns — and four interceptions — for New England (2-1). Patriots receiver Wes Welker had a franchise record 217 yards and two touchdowns, including one that tied the game with 3:25 left.
San Francisco 13 – Cincinnati 8
San Francisco’s Kendall Hunter scampered seven yards with under four minutes left to score the game’s only touchdown as the 49ers topped the Cincinnati Bengals by a 13-8 score in front of the smallest opening day crowd in Cincinnati since 1981. The game was tied 3-3 entering the fourth quarter as both offenses struggled to sustain drives. Cincinnati (1-2) was hampered by an awful day from rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter and finished with just 157 yards passing. San Francisco (2-1) got notable production from tight end Vernon Davis, who had 114 receiving yards.
Cleveland 17 – Miami 16
Colt McCoy threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 43 seconds remaining to lift the Cleveland Browns (2-1) to a 17-16 win over the Miami Dolphins. Miami (0-3) pushed ahead 16-10 on a 38-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter with 3:23 left in the fourth quarter, but McCoy completed nine passes on the Browns game-winning drive against the league-worst Dolphin defense. Miami rookie running back Daniel Thomas gained 95 yards and caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Chad Henne in the first quarter. McCoy finished with 210 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.
Tennessee 17 – Denver 14
Matt Hasselbeck tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Graham with 4:24 to play to rally the Tennessee Titans to a 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos. With Denver holding Titans star running back Chris Johnson to just 21 yards and Tennessee’s Kenny Britt, the AFC’s leading receiver, lost to a knee injury in the first half, Hasselbeck passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns to lead Tennessee (2-1). The Titans defense harassed Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton throughout the game, intercepting him twice and sacking him once. Denver (1-2) threatened late, but linebacker Will Witherspoon picked off Orton with 1:39 left to ensure the victory.
Detroit 26 – Minnesota 23 (OT)
Jason Hanson kicked a 32-yard field goal in overtime to give the Detroit Lions a 26-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The kick capped the Lions rally from a 20-0 halftime deficit to the Vikings (0-3), who lost a lead late in a game for the third consecutive week. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two touchdowns to receiver Calvin Johnson during the second-half comeback. Adrian Peterson rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, who could not close out the game as Detroit (3-0) remained unbeaten after the first three weeks for the first time since 1980.
N.Y. Giants 29 – Philadelphia 16
Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes to lead the New York Giants to a 29-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to Atlanta, left the game with a broken right hand in the fourth quarter with Philadelphia ahead 16-14. Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who started due to injuries in the New York receiving corps, caught two scores, including a 74-yard pass from Manning that staked the Giants (2-1) to a 14-10 lead in the first half. Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy had 128 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Eagles (1-2), who are reeling despite being a pre-season favorite of many to win the NFC East.
Carolina 16 – Jacksonville 10
Cam Newton completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen with 4:20 left to help the Carolina Panthers to a 16-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars . The Panthers rallied from a 10-5 halftime deficit to get the win, which was the first for Carolina coach Ron Rivera and rookie standout Newton. Jacksonville (1-2) started its own rookie quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, who threw for 139 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start. The Jaguars offense was led by running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who rushed for 122 yards. Newton was held to just 158 yards passing after he had thrown for a combined 854 yards in the first two games of the season for Carolina (1-2).
Oakland 34 – N.Y. Jets 24
Darren McFadden rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns as the Oakland Raiders defeated the New York Jets by a 34-24 count. After Oakland (2-1) went ahead 24-17 on a 23-yard score on a reverse by receiver Denarius Moore, the Jets Antonio Cromartie fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Raiders special teams player Taiwan Jones on the Jets’ 13-yard line. A one-yard touchdown by running back Michael Bush two plays later put the Raiders up 31-17. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez finished with 369 passing yards, two touchdown passes and a touchdown run for New York (2-1). The Raiders defense, which gave up a 21-3 lead against Buffalo last week, sacked Sanchez four times and stopped a fourth quarter Jets drive on its own two-yard-line to close out the victory.
Baltimore 37 – St. Louis 7
Rookie Torrey Smith caught three touchdowns from quarterback Joe Flacco, who threw for a career-high 389 yards, as the Baltimore Ravens routed the St. Louis Rams by a score of 37-7. The Ravens defense sacked Sam Bradford five times and forced the young Rams quarterback into two turnovers, including a fumble returned 28 yards for a touchdown by defensive lineman Haloti Ngata late in the game. St. Louis (0-3) managed just one score: Bradford’s 34-yard pass to Brandon Gibson in the third quarter. After netting 133 yards on his first three career receptions in the first quarter, Smith finished with 152 receiving yards for Baltimore (2-1), which rolled up a franchise-record 553 yards on offense.
San Diego 20 – Kansas City 17
San Diego’s Eric Weddle intercepted Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel with under a minute to play to secure a 20-17 victory for the Chargers over Chiefs. The Chiefs (0-3), hobbled by injuries to key players on both offense and defense, were hoping for a comeback win, but instead remained winless in 2011. Running back Ryan Mathews ran for 98 yards and scored twice for San Diego (2-1), as the Chargers overcame two interceptions by quarterback Philip Rivers.
Green Bay 27 – Chicago 17
Aaron Rodgers threw for 297 yards, including three touchdown passes to tight end Jermichael Finley, as the Green Bay Packers won 27-17 over the Chicago Bears. Receiver Greg Jennings had nine catches for 119 yards for Green Bay (3-0), which led 27-10 after Finley’s third touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter. Chicago (1-2), which lost its second straight game after an opening day win over Atlanta, had only 13 yards rushing on 12 attempts. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 302 yards, but also had two passed picked off.
Seattle 13 – Arizona 10
Seattle sacked Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb three times and intercepted him twice, as the Seahawks recorded a 13-10 win over the Cardinals. Down 10-3, Seattle (1-2) went ahead to stay when quarterback Tavaris Jackson scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with 5:57 left in the third quarter. Receiver Sidney Rice led the Seahawks offense, the NFL’s worst coming into the game, with 109 yards receiving. Arizona (1-2) lost despite sacking Seattle’s QB Jackson four times and getting 252 yards passing from Kolb, including a 12-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald.
Tampa Bay 16 – Atlanta 13
The Tampa Bay defense sacked Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan four times and forced four turnovers, as the Buccaneers grabbed a 16-13 win over the Falcons. Ryan passed for 330 yards, and receivers Roddy White and rookie Julio Jones had 100-plus-yard receiving days for Atlanta (1-2), but the Falcons could not overcome the mistakes made on drives that ultimately resulted in no points. Quarterback Josh Freeman scored his first career rushing touchdown for Tampa Bay in the second quarter. Freeman and running back LeGarrette Blount, who finished with 81 rushing yards, helped the Buccaneers run out the clock after Atlanta had closed to within three points with four minutes left.
Pittsburgh 23 – Indianapolis 20
Shaun Suisham kicked a 38-yard field goal with four seconds left as the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to a 23-20 victory over the winless Indianapolis Colts. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had over 300 yards passing and a touchdown, led Pittsburgh down the field with under two minutes remaining to set up the game-winning kick. Indianapolis (0-3) had to use Curtis Painter at quarterback when Kerry Collins left the game in the fourth quarter after taking several big hits. Collins had been starting in place of the injured Peyton Manning, who is out indefinitely after off-season neck surgery. Receiver Mike Wallace had five catches for 144 yards and a score to lead Pittsburgh (2-1). Safety Troy Polamalu returned a Painter fumble 16 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 20-13 lead with five minutes left. Indianapolis tied the game with 2:09 remaining on a touchdown by running back Joseph Addai, who rushed for 86 yards on the game.