NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jimmy Graham caught seven passes for a career-best 146 yards and two touchdowns, cornerback Jabari Greer made a diving, touchdown-saving pass breakup on a late fourth-down play, and the New Orleans Saints held on to hand the Atlanta Falcons their first loss, 31-27 on Sunday.
Graham and his Atlanta counterpart, veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, both were superb in a game that showcased all the intensity and drama of one of the NFL’s most passionate and longstanding rivalries
Gonzalez finished with 11 catches for 122 yards and two scores for Atlanta (8-1), and in the process became the first tight end to catch 100 touchdown passes.
Brees threw for 298 yards and three TDs as the Saints (4-5) won for the fourth time in five games, keeping alive hope of getting back into the wild card race after an 0-4 start.
TEXANS 13, BEARS 6
CHICAGO (AP) — Arian Foster finished with 102 yards rushing and a touchdown catch, and Houston intercepted Jay Cutler twice before knocking him out of the game with a concussion on their way to a soggy win.
In a showdown between two of the NFL’s best teams, the Texans (8-1) beat the Bears (7-2) at their own game. They came away with four takeaways and Tim Dobbins delivered the biggest blow when he drove his helmet into Cutler late in the second quarter.
Foster was the only reliable offensive weapon on either side, particularly in the first half when he ran for 85 yards and made a sprawling catch for a 2-yard touchdown to put Houston ahead 10-3.
49ERS 24, RAMS 24 (OT, tie)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco and St. Louis played the NFL’s first tie game in four years as kickers from both teams missed overtime field goals in Sunday’s 24-24 outcome.
Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yarder, but the Rams were penalized 5 yards for delay of game. He tried again from 58 as coach Jeff Fisher played for the win, and missed wide right with 2:42 left in OT.
San Francisco’s David Akers missed wide left on a 41-yard attempt that could have sealed it for the 49ers (6-2-1), who lost quarterback Alex Smith to a first-half concussion.
And just when it seemed the 49ers — and Akers’ typically reliable left leg — would have one more chance to win it, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis was flagged for holding Lance Kendricks on third down. That extended St. Louis’ last drive, a costly mistake in a long list of them on an uncharacteristically sloppy day by coach Jim Harbaugh’s team.
Akers booted a tying 33-yarder with 3 seconds left in regulation after Sam Bradford threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 1:09 remaining. The Rams are 3-5-1.
SEAHAWKS 28, JETS 7
SEATTLE (AP) — Russell Wilson threw touchdowns of 38 yards to Golden Tate and 31 yards to Sidney Rice, and Seattle sent the Jets to their worst start since 2007.
Wilson was harried for much of the day by the multiple looks from the Jets’ defense. But the Seattle rookie responded with key throws, hitting Tate on the opening drive, then connecting with Rice early in the fourth quarter to give Seattle (6-4) a two-score advantage. Tate added a TD pass on a reverse to Rice later in the fourth quarter.
Mark Sanchez struggled in his reunion with Seattle coach Pete Carroll, his former coach at USC. Sanchez threw a costly interception at the goal line in the first half, then fumbled at the Seattle 32.
Muhammad Wilkerson’s fumble return for a TD was the only score for New York (3-6).
COWBOYS 38, EAGLES 23
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tony Romo threw a pair of touchdowns, Dwayne Harris had a 78-yard punt return for a score and Brandon Carr returned an interception 47 yards for a TD.
The Cowboys improved to 4-5, and are second in the NFC East, 1½ games behind the New York Giants.
The Eagles (3-6) lost Michael Vick to a concussion after consecutive bruising hits in the second quarter and have lost five straight games under coach Andy Reid for the first time in his 14 seasons.
Nick Foles filled in for Vick and briefly rallied the Eagles until the Cowboys started showing some touchdown versatility. Romo hit Dez Bryant on a 30-yard pass on the final play of the third quarter, and Harris and Carr scored their TDs in the fourth quarter.
BRONCOS 36, PANTHERS 14
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Peyton Manning made sure John Fox’s return to Carolina was a successful one, throwing for 301 yards and a touchdown.
Manning threw his 420th touchdown pass to move into a tie for second place on the NFL’s all-time list with Dan Marino. He trails only Brett Favre (508).
Manning had plenty of help from his teammates.Continued...