Denver’s Mike Adams (20), Tracy Porter (22) and Chris Harris (25) combine to tackle New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley in the first quarter Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were both solid in their latest showdown. As usual, Brady beat him even though Manning was in a new uniform.
In the 13th meeting between the star quarterbacks, and first since Manning joined the Denver Broncos, Brady directed four scoring marches of at least 80 yards and the Patriots won 31-21 on Sunday.
Brady improved to 9-4 against Manning, who left the Indianapolis Colts after last season. Brady completed 23 of 31 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown and ran for another. Manning was 31 of 44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns but lost a fumble on a third-quarter sack.
The fumble led to Stevan Ridley’s 8-yard run that put the Patriots (3-2) ahead 31-7 with about five minutes left in the third quarter. Ridley led the Patriots with a career-high 151 yards rushing.
Manning then threw touchdown passes of 2 yards to Eric Decker and 5 yards to Brandon Stokley but Denver (2-3) lost a fumble with 3:42 remaining.
The Patriots set a franchise record with 35 first downs as they kept their offense rolling one week after gaining 580 yards, 247 on the ground, in a 52-28 rout of the Buffalo Bills. The Broncos sputtered after beating the Oakland Raiders 37-6.
Brady and Manning first faced each other in the third game of the 2001 season. The Patriots won 44-13 in Brady’s first career start.
There were plenty of close games in subsequent regular-season matchups with six of the previous seven decided by seven points or less. Sunday’s outcome was different, although Manning brought the Broncos back from a 24-point deficit in the second half.
His scoring pass to Stokley followed a fumble by Brady on a sack.
Ridley then lost a fumble on New England’s next possession and Manning seemed poise to keep the comeback going. A 28-yard completion to Demaryius Thomas put the ball at the Patriots 14 but two plays later Willis McGahee fumbled and Jermaine Cunningham recovered at the New England 11..
The Patriots led 17-7 at halftime and 31-7 after three quarters. Brady and his runners kept slicing through the Denver defense with a balanced attack. They went ahead to stay, 14-7, midway through the second quarter on a 14-play drive (seven pass plays and seven runs) capped by Shane Vereen’s 1-yard run.
Ridley had his third 100-yard rushing game of his career, all this season. Wes Welker, the NFL’s leading receiver last year with 122 catches, had 13 for 104 yards.
The Broncos wasted an excellent opportunity on their first series. Manning hit Thomas with a 43-yard completion to the Patriots 10-yard line, but Sterling Moore stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. The Patriots went four-and-out on the ensuing possession then the Patriots scored on their next three possessions — 84 yards to Brady’s 8-yard pass to Welker, 80 yards to Vereen’s touchdown and 93 yards to Stephen Gostkowski’s 23-yard field goal.
Denver did tie the game 7-7 on Manning’s 1-yard pass to Joel Dreessen but didn’t reach the end zone again until Manning hit Decker to end a 90-yard march, cutting the lead to 31-14 with 1:08 left in the third.
The Patriot even got key plays from their backup running backs. Brandon Bolden had a 24-yard gain on the series leading to Gostkowski’s field goal. On that same drive, Danny Woodhead gained 25 yards on a pass from Brady on a third-and-14 play from the Broncos 11.
Woodhead kept another drive going in the third quarter with a 19-yard rush on third-and-17 at the Patriots 43. That series ended with Brady’s touchdown dive.
COLTS 30, PACKERS 27
INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck capped a second-half comeback by throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with 35 seconds to go that gave Indianapolis a stunning 30-27 victory over Green Bay on Sunday in the Colts’ first game without coach Chuck Pagano.
Green Bay (2-3) had a chance to force overtime, but Mason Crosby missed a 51-yard field goal with 3 seconds to go. Luck then took a knee and time ran out and the team celebrated. Missing was Pagano, who is in a hospital undergoing treatment for leukemia that was recently diagnosed.
Luck came through with just what Pagano wanted — getting the Colts (2-2) to .500. And they did it despite trailing 21-3 at halftime.
After Adam Vinatieri gave Indy its first lead at 22-21 with a 28-yard field goal, Aaron Rodgers threw an 8-yard TD pass to James Jones to make it 27-22 with 4:30 left before the Colts rallied.
FALCONS 24, REDSKINS 17
LANDOVER, Md. — Michael Turner ran 13 yards for the go-ahead score with 2:46 to play, and Atlanta knocked Robert Griffin III out of the game.
The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Matt Ryan completed 34 of 52 passes for 345 yards as Atlanta handed Washington (2-3) its eighth consecutive home loss.
Griffin left the game in the third quarter after being hit in the head on a sack by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Coach Mike Shanahan said RG3 has a “mild concussion.”
Kirk Cousins took over and threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss to give the Redskins a fourth-quarter lead, but the fourth-round pick also threw two interceptions in the final two minutes.
STEELERS 16, EAGLES 14
PITTSBURGH — Shaun Suisham hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired.
The Eagles (3-2) took the lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick to Brent Celek with 6:33 remaining, but the Steelers responded by driving 64 yards, including a pair of key third-down conversions by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, to set up the winning kick.
Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall ran for 81 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the season as the Steelers (2-2) avoided their first two-game losing streak in three years.
Vick completed 20 of 30 passes for 175 yards and two scores but fumbled twice for the Eagles, whcouldn’t keep their string of narrow early-season victories going.
DOLPHINS17, BENGALS 13
CINCINNATI — Reshad Jones intercepted Andy Dalton’s overthrown pass at midfield with 1:22 left, preserving a win that ended two weeks of miserable, last-minute finishes for Miami.
Miami (2-3) had dropped its past two games in overtime. The Dolphins held on against the Bengals (3-2), who never got anything going consistently on offense and wasted a chance for a tighter finish.
Mike Nugent was wide right on a 42-yard field goal try with 3 minutes left — his first miss of the season — giving the Dolphins a chance to run down the clock behind rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was smooth in the toughest moments.
The Bengals got the ball back at their 20 following a punt with 1:45 to go, but Dalton’s second interception sealed it. Dalton was 26 of 43 for 234 yards with three sacks and two interceptions.
GIANTS 41, BROWNS 27
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Victor Cruz and Ahmad Bradshaw set career bests in leading New York Giants over winless Cleveland.
Cruz caught three touchdown passes from Eli Manning covering 3, 7 and 28 yards, while Bradshaw surpassed his yardage on the ground for the season with a career-high 200. He had 132 entering the game.
The Giants are 9-0 in games he has rushed for 100 yards or more.
New York (3-2) also forced three turnovers, including Chase Blackburn’s interception in the end zone midway in the fourth quarter to clinch it.
The Browns are 0-5 for the first time since their return season to the NFL in 1999.
RAVENS 9, CHIEFS 6
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ray Rice ran for 101 yards and Justin Tucker made all three of his field goal attempts.
Joe Flacco threw for 187 yards and was picked off once, but the Ravens (4-1) were still able to come up with enough points to beat the Chiefs (1-4), who turned it over four times.
Matt Cassel threw for 92 yards, was intercepted twice and credited with two lost fumbles before leaving in the fourth quarter with what the Chiefs described as a head injury. Brady Quinn led Kansas City to another field goal by Ryan Succop.
VIKINGS 30, TITANS 7
MINNEAPOLIS — Percy Harvin pounded his way through Tennessee’s defense for one touchdown rushing and another receiving in helping the Minnesota Vikings to victory over the Titans on Sunday.
Harvin caught eight passes for 108 yards for the Vikings (4-1), who have given up a combined 33 points in winning three straight games. Christian Ponder threw his first two interceptions after 143 attempts without one, but he still finished 25 for 35 for 258 yards and two scores against the reeling Titans (1-4).
Matt Hasselbeck, starting in place of the injured Jake Locker, went 26 for 43 for 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Most of those gains came near the end with the outcome no longer in doubt.
49ers 45, BILLS 3
SAN FRANCISCO — Alex Smith threw for a season-high 303 yards and three touchdowns, Frank Gore ran for 106 yards and a score, and the San Francisco 49ers amassed a franchise-record 621 yards in blowing by the Buffalo Bills.
Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis each eclipsed 100 yards receiving to back Smith, who threw TD passes of 43, 28 and 10 yards and surpassed 300 yards passing for only the third time in his career.
Rian Lindell kicked a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter before San Francisco scored the final 42 points to hand Buffalo (2-3) its second straight embarrassing loss.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 126 yards and an interception, and the Bills rushed for only 89 yards, most with the game well out of hand once again.
BEARS 41, JAGUARS 3
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs returned interceptions for touchdowns — their second in six days — and the Chicago Bears used stifling defense to overwhelm the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bears (4-1) scored 38 unanswered points, including 35 in the second half, to win their third consecutive game. The streak has everything to do with defense.
Chicago has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in the last three weeks.
Tillman and Briggs returned two of the team’s five interceptions for touchdowns in Monday night’s 34-18 victory at Dallas. Safety Major Wright returned one the previous week against St. Louis.
Tillman’s second interception return for a TD this season — a 36-yarder in the third quarter — was a history maker. It was the first time since 1950 that Chicago returned interceptions for touchdowns in three consecutive games.
The Jaguars (1-4) never recovered and played the final quarter amid a chorus of boos.
SEAHAWKS 16, PANTHERS 12
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Russell Wilson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate with 35 seconds left in the third quarter to help the Seattle Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers.
Wilson shook off two third quarter interceptions — including one that was returned for a touchdown — and outperformed Cam Newton on a struggle-filled day for the Carolina offense.
Wilson threw for 221 yards, while Marshawn Lynch ran for 85 yards for the Seahawks (3-2).
Newton threw for 141 yards on 12-for-29 passing, while the Panthers managed just 190 total yards. Their only touchdown came on Captain Munnerlyn’s 33-yard interception return early in the third quarter.
Carolina started the season with plenty of optimism with the return of Newton to lead a high-scoring offense, but the Panthers (1-4) struggled against the tough Seahawks defense all afternoon.MORE IN Sports WireMILWAUKEE — Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is returning to Los Angeles for tests on a sore back... Full StoryI remember the first time I met coach Summitt. Full Story
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