Sunday’s NFL roundup: Brady, Patriots handle Cowboys
Arlington, Texas — Chants of “Bra-dy” arose several times from a large New England contingent in Tom Brady’s first visit to the $1.2 billion showplace of the Dallas Cowboys.
First after a 1-yard plunge for his first rushing touchdown in almost three years, again after a long touchdown pass to Julian Edelman that helped seal the outcome and finally about 15 minutes after the end of the Patriots’ 30-6 victory Sunday.
It wasn’t as easy as his boisterous fans made it sound.
Brady threw a pair of touchdowns in the second half after enduring five sacks in the first half, including two for Greg Hardy and one from Rolando McClain in their season debuts after four-game suspensions, and New England pulled away from a powerless Dallas offense missing Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
“There were a lot of adjustments today,” Brady said. “I don’t think we practiced a lot of what they were doing, but I think our defense played great. Offense, we made a few plays but we can play better than that.”
The Super Bowl champion Patriots (4-0) won their seventh straight game going back to the playoffs last year. The Cowboys lost their third in a row without Romo and Bryant, both sidelined by injuries.
Dallas (2-3) has at least four more games without Romo (broken left collarbone), and this was the biggest struggle so far for backup Brandon Weeden. He lost his 11th straight game as a starter going back to his time as a first-round draft pick in Cleveland.
The Cowboys had just 59 yards at halftime, and trailed 20-3 before their first long drive, which ended with the second of their two field goals late in the third quarter.
Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys would evaluate the quarterback spot during their upcoming bye after Weeden went 26 of 39 for 188 mostly meaningless yards. The Dallas running game was almost mostly ineffective until it was too late.
“Brandon didn’t play well enough, but we didn’t play well enough,” Garrett said. “We just need to be able to control the line of scrimmage more in the running game and they did a good job loading the box up.”
Brady, in his 16th season, joined Peyton Manning and Fran Tarkenton as the only NFL quarterbacks with 4-0 starts at least four times. It wasn’t easy early.
Brady hadn’t been sacked more than five times in the regular season since Buffalo had seven in 2001, the year he took over as the starter and won the first of four Super Bowls.
Hardy, the defensive end making his Dallas debut after a four-game ban for his role in a domestic violence case, was credited with two sacks, including one that resulted in a fumble recovered for a short gain by the Patriots.
He made headlines during the week for commenting on Brady’s supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, after being suspended because the NFL believed he roughed up his former girlfriend last year.
McClain, in the first game of his second season with Dallas following a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy, had the first sack.
“Those are two great players,” said Brady, who threw for 275 yards, about 96 fewer than he averaged in the first three games for the league’s No. 1 offense. “They add ‘em to the mix and they’ve got a defense.”
(At) Green Bay 24, St. Louis 10: Aaron Rodgers’ remarkable run of mistake-free football at home is over. The Packers, though, are still perfect this season.
A relentless defense helped Green Bay overcome an unusually average day from their MVP quarterback.
Rodgers threw for two touchdowns and 241 yards, and the defense had three sacks and four interceptions to hold off St. Louis.
“Good team win today, start with the defense,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought they were clearly the key to our victory.”
Rodgers was 19-of-30 with long scoring strikes to receivers Ty Montgomery and James Jones for the Packers (5-0).
Since becoming the starting quarterback in 2008, Rodgers has 31 touchdown passes of at least 50 yards, the most in the NFL over that span.
But NFL-record streaks of 587 pass attempts and 49 touchdown passes at home without an interception for Rodgers ended in the first quarter on linebacker James Laurinaitis’ diving pick of a tipped ball for the Rams (2-3).
Rodgers threw another interception in the second quarter before losing a fumble in the third on a sack.
Relentless pressure on quarterback Nick Foles helped keep the Packers unbeaten. Foles’ four interceptions were a career-worst, with two in the fourth quarter inside the Packers 10.
Chicago 18, (at) Kansas City 17: Jay Cutler led the Bears to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, the second an alert toss to Matt Forte with 18 seconds left.
Kansas City lost star running back Jamaal Charles to a potentially season-ending right knee injury.
Chicago (2-3) trailed 17-3 early in the third quarter when Charles went down while trying to make a cut. The preliminary diagnosis was a torn ACL and Charles will have an MRI exam on Monday.
The Bears quickly seized the momentum.
After Robbie Gould’s second field goal got them going, Cutler led an 88-yard drive that he capped with a 22-yard strike to Marquess Wilson with 3:05 left. The 2-point conversion came up short, but the Bears defense responded by forcing a quick three-and-out.
With help from a pass interference call on Chiefs rookie Marcus Peters, the Bears quickly moved downfield. That’s when Cutler took a snap from the shotgun, dropped the ball, picked it up and spotted Forte running past safety Husain Abdullah in the end zone for the go-ahead score.
The Chiefs (1-4) tried a 66-yard field goal that came up short as time expired.
(At) Cincinnati 27, Seattle 24 (OT): Andy Dalton led the Bengals from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to an overtime victory, keeping Cincinnati undefeated.
Trailing 24-7 as the fourth quarter started, Dalton threw for a touchdown, ran for another and led the Bengals on a 69-yard drive without a timeout. Mike Nugent tied it with a 31-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.
Nugent was good again from 42 yards with 3:36 left in overtime, the ball deflecting off the left upright before going through.
Seattle (2-3) punted twice in overtime, giving the Bengals a chance to pull it out.
(At) Atlanta 25, Washington 19 (OT): Robert Alford returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown, keeping the Falcons unbeaten.
Washington had the first possession of OT, and Kirk Cousins moved the team to midfield. When wide receiver Ryan Grant slipped on a pass route, Alford caught Cousins’ pass and was left with open field down the Atlanta sideline for the touchdown.
Devonta Freeman’s apparent 13-yard TD catch in the final minute of regulation was ruled incomplete on a review. Freeman scored on 6-yard run two plays later to give the Falcons a 19-16 lead. Dustin Hopkins’ 52-yard field goal on the final play of regulation forced overtime.
The Falcons (5-0) overcame two interceptions and a lost fumble by Matt Ryan. Freeman had 27 carries for 153 yards and the touchdown.
Washington fell to 2-3.
Cleveland 33, (at) Baltimore 30 (OT): Travis Coons kicked a 32-yard field goal in overtime and Josh McCown threw for a team-record 457 yards.
Cleveland (2-3) had lost 13 of the previous 14 meetings between these AFC North foes, but in this one the Browns rallied from a 12-point deficit to leave the Ravens (1-4) alone in the division cellar.
Playing its second straight overtime game, Baltimore went three-and-out on the first possession of the extra session. McCown then used more than seven minutes to move the Browns 51 yards before Coons kicked his fourth field goal with 6:43 left in OT.
McCown completed 36 of 51 passes with two touchdowns in becoming the first quarterback in Browns history with three straight 300-yard games. He broke the team record of 444 yards passing set by Brian Sipe on Oct. 25, 1981, against the Baltimore Colts.
Joe Flacco ran for two 1-yard touchdowns and threw for a score, but fell to 13-2 against Cleveland.
Denver 16, (at) Oakland 10: Chris Harris Jr. returned a fourth-quarter interception 74 yards for a touchdown and the Broncos overcame a shaky day from Peyton Manning.
Manning was intercepted twice by 1998 draft classmate Charles Woodson and failed to lead the Broncos (5-0) to an offensive touchdown for the second time in five games this season. But Denver’s defense made sure it didn’t matter, getting a third defensive touchdown of 2015.
Derek Carr threw for 249 yards and one touchdown for Oakland (2-3), but was done in by the interception midway through the fourth quarter with the Raiders in position for a possible go-ahead field goal.
The Raiders added a late 50-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski following a 48-yard pass interference penalty on Bradley Roby, but Denver recovered the onside kick.
Manning finished 22-for-35 for 266 yards, was sacked twice and had two interceptions. Denver ran for only 43 yards.
(At) Philadelphia 39, New Orleans 17: Sam Bradford overcame two red-zone interceptions and threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, and Fletcher Cox forced two fumbles on sacks.
Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray each rushed for touchdowns to help the Eagles (2-3) break out of their offensive slump. They snapped a three-game losing streak at home that dated to last season.
Drew Brees had three turnovers leading to 17 points for Philadelphia, and the Saints fell to 1-4 a week after an overtime win against Dallas.
Bradford and the rest of the offense struggled through the first quarter of the season. It looked like more of the same after he threw two INTs in the end zone, but he bounced back from the rough start. Philadelphia rushed for 186 yards.
Buffalo 14, (at) Tennessee 13: Tyrod Taylor threw a touchdown pass, ran for another and even caught a pass in rallying the Bills.
With their top two running backs and top wide receiver injured, Taylor ran for 77 yards as Buffalo (3-2) snapped a five-game skid against Tennessee.
Taylor ran for a 22-yard TD late in the third quarter after a 26-yard run that was Buffalo’s biggest play of the game. Taylor also scrambled for 24 more on third-and-23 from the Bills 7, jump-starting an 80-yard drive he capped with a 2-yard TD pass to Chris Hogan. Taylor caught a 4-yard pass from Hogan to set up that TD.
Stephon Gilmore intercepted Marcus Mariota’s pass with 1:32 left to seal the win.
The Titans (1-3) blew a second straight double-digit lead at home.
(At) Tampa Bay 38, Jacksonville 31: Doug Martin ran for 123 yards and scored three touchdowns, helping Jameis Winston rebound from his worst pro performance.
The Bucs (2-3) snapped an 11-game home losing streak that dated to December 2013, the same month the Jaguars (1-4) began an equally agonizing road skid that now stands at 12.
Winston threw for 209 yards and one touchdown without an interception, redeeming himself after turning the ball over five times in a 14-point loss to Carolina last week.
Blake Bortles passed for 303 yards and four TDs, but also threw an interception that set up a Bucs touchdown. The Jaguars gave up a 58-yard punt return that led to Martin’s 10-yard TD reception, and rookie Corey Grant lost a third-quarter fumble that defensive end Jacquies Smith returned 3 yards for a score that put Tampa Bay ahead for good.
(At) N.Y. Giants 30, San Francisco 27: Larry Donnell’s spectacular catch over two 49ers with 21 seconds remaining capped Eli Manning’s sensational clutch performance. Manning had a career-best 41 completions and his perfect throw to Donnell finished an 82-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown. It made him the winningest quarterback in team history with 102.
New York (3-2) has won three straight and leads the NFC East. San Francisco (1-4) has lost four in a row.
Carlos Hyde’s 2-yard run with 1:45 remaining gave the 49ers the lead. But on a night of huge plays and lengthy drives, Manning had the topper.