Sunday's roundup: Packers stop Rivers, Chargers
Green Bay, Wis. — In the end, a rookie stood up to Philip Rivers and kept the Packers unbeaten.
Green Bay stopped San Diego on fourth-and-goal from the 3 with 15 seconds left thanks to first-round pick Damarious Randall, and overcame a career day by Rivers to hold off the Chargers 27-20 on Sunday.
Rivers set franchise marks with career highs of 43 completions, 65 attempts and 503 yards passing. He threw for two touchdowns for the Chargers (2-4). His 43 completions were the most in NFL history in a loss; he needed one more, at least.
Randall denied that as he lunged to poke away Rivers' short pass to Danny Woodhead near the front right pylon in the final seconds. Rivers was on his back after being knocked down, arched his neck up, then laid back down in frustration and flailed his arms.
"Biggest play of the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Damarious is off to a great start."
San Diego lost to Pittsburgh on the last play on Monday night.
"I was acting like I really wasn't seeing him, but honestly, I was just trying to bait him a little bit," Randall said.
The Packers (6-0) started strong and finished barely in front. Running back James Starks had touchdowns on a 65-yard run and a 5-yard pass in the first quarter.
The Packers went up for good after Aaron Rodgers found James Jones for an 8-yard pass in the corner of the end zone for a 24-17 lead with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. The defense bent and allowed Josh Lambo's 32-yard field goal with 11:14 left.
Green Bay's stout pass rush finally caught up to Rivers in the second half. Datone Jones sacked Rivers on third-and-7 from the Packers 40 to end one drive. Until then, a Chargers line missing three starters held up well, with Rivers orchestrating a quick-strike offense and finding all the holes in the secondary.
It was the most porous outing of the year for the Packers' defense.
But the Packers came up with their most important stop at the end. Rivers was under pressure from linebacker Julius Peppers when he threw his final incompletion.
Rodgers was 16 of 29 for 255 yards. At one point, Rodgers had as many completions as Keenan Allen had receptions midway through the fourth quarter.
But a hip injury kept Allen sidelined for much of the second half. He wound up with 14 receptions for 157 yards.
New England 34, (at) Indianapolis 27: Tom Brady threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns and New England took advantage of a botched fake punt in the Patriots' victory.
The Patriots improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2007. It was the first meeting between the rivals since the "Deflategate" storm erupted after the AFC title game in January.
For a half, the teams traded jabs.
But New England seized control in the second half.
Brady's 25-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowksi gave New England a 27-21 lead. And when the Patriots stopped the Colts (3-3) on an odd-looking and ill-advised fake punt, the scrambling Brady eventually found LeGarrette Blount for an 11-yard scoring pass that made it 34-21.
Andrew Luck was 30-of-50 for 312 yards and three touchdowns in his first game back from an injured right shoulder.
Cincinnati 34, (at) Buffalo 21: Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes and the unbeaten Bengals won their sixth straight to match the team's best start to a season.
With star receiver A.J. Green covered much of the game, Dalton completed touchdown passes to Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert and Jeremy Hill. Dalton finished 22 of 33 for 243 yards for Cincinnati, which was also 6-0 to start the 1975 and '88 seasons.
The Bengals broke the game open by scoring 17 points on their first three second-half possessions to build a 34-14 lead.
"I told Andy to just throw it because I'm go to run and get it," Jones said, referring to his 42-yard, over-the-shoulder catch that eventually set up his 10-yard touchdown on the Bengals opening drive of the second half.
The Bills (3-3) were undone by injuries and several penalties .
Carolina 27, (at) Seattle 23: Cam Newton threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen with 32 seconds left and the Panthers remained unbeaten.
Newton led the Panthers (5-0) to touchdowns on their final two possessions after trailing 23-14, the second straight week the Seahawks collapsed in the fourth quarter.
Newton was 12 of 15 for 169 yards in the fourth quarter as the Panthers improved to 5-0 for the second time in franchise history.
It was the second straight week the Seahawks (2-4) suffered a late defensive meltdown.
(At) N.Y. Jets 34, Washington 20: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, and the Jets overcame a sloppy first half.
Chris Ivory ran for 146 yards and a TD on 20 carries for the Jets, who improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2010. Brandon Marshall had seven catches for 111 yards, and Eric Decker also caught a TD. The Redskins are 2-4.
"Every win's not going to be pretty," coach Todd Bowles said. "We're going to make some mistakes, but how we come back from it and how we grow as a team moving forward is what's going to make us a decent team."
(At) Pittsburgh 25, Arizona 13: Landry Jones threw two touchdown passes to Martavis Bryant in relief of Michael Vick and Pittsburgh rallied for the win.
Vick left in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and Pittsburgh's offense took off when Jones took over. Jones hit Bryant for an 8-yard score to give the Steelers (4-2) the lead. The two hooked up later for an 88-yard strike.
"I just can't believe I got in the game," Jones said. "I'm still kind of reeling from it."
(At) San Francisco 25, Baltimore 20: Colin Kaepernick completed a 76-yard touchdown pass to ex-Ravens star Torrey Smith, Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and the 49ers ended a four-game losing streak.
Phil Dawson kicked four field goals in the first win since Week 1 for San Francisco (2-4), while Anquan Boldin — a Super Bowl star for the Ravens against the 49ers — made a 51-yard reception late that set up Quinton Patton's 21-yard TD catch.
The rematch of the Super Bowl three seasons ago featured a pair of last-place teams trying to turn around their seasons.
Miami 38, (at) Tennessee 10: Cameron Wake got his first four sacks this season and also forced two fumbles — all in the first half — and Miami won in Dan Campbell's debut as interim coach.
The Dolphins (2-3) came in having lost three straight, costing coach Joe Philbin his job Oct. 5.
Miami finished with six sacks and two interceptions against Marcus Mariota. The rookie quarterback needed a knee brace and was replaced by Zach Mettenberger after the 2-minute warning.
"That should be taken out of the game," Whisenhunt said. "That's not the way you play football. I think it was done with the idea of trying to hurt our quarterback."
Houston 31, (at) Jacksonville 20: Brian Hoyer (Michigan State) threw three touchdown passes on third down, two to DeAndre Hopkins, for Houston.
"When you have a guy like that who wants the ball, who wants it in crunch time and who has the ability to go out and do it, it's fun to have him on your team," Hoyer said.
The Jaguars (1-5) lost their fourth in a row.
"He went in there and managed the game well," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said of Hoyer. "He has a good calmness about him right now."