The biggest surprises in the 2013 National Football League season fall on the negative side. Who would have imagined the misery the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons are going through in a season when each began with hope of playing in the Super Bowl?
Houston lost its eighth in a row, falling at home to Oakland, 28-23. To make it worse, fill-in quarterback Matt McGloin led the Raiders.
Atlanta dropped to 2-8, losing its fourth in a row and seventh in the last eight games in a 41-28 romp at Tampa Bay. And, a waiver wire pickup, Bobby Rainey, scored three touchdowns for the Buccaneers.
Denver handed Kansas City its first loss and moved into a tie for first in the AFC West; Philadelphia took sole possession of first in the NFC East; Detroit fell into tie with Chicago for the NFC-North lead; Seattle widened its lead in the NFC West, and Cincinnati increased its margin in the AFC North.
Games of the day
Broncos 27, Chiefs 17
The scoop: Peyton Manning threw one touchdown pass and guided two other long drives that resulted in touchdown runs by Montee Ball. Denver pulled even at 9-1 with the first-place Chiefs. They will meet again on Dec. 15 in Kansas City.
Why the Broncos won: The Chiefs outrushed Denver but couldn’t match Manning’s passing production and were unable to sack him.
Saints 23, 49ers 20
The scoop: Garrett Hartley kicked a 31-yarder as time expired, lifting New Orleans to a come-from-behind victory. Hartley made all three of his field goal tries in the fourth quarter as the Saints overcame a 20-14 deficit.
Why the Saints won: They sacked Colin Kaepernick three times and he completed 17-of-31 passes for only 127 yards.
Life in the penthouse
Seahawks 41, Vikings 20
The scoop: In his debut with Seattle, Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 58 yards late in the first half to set up Russell Wilson’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin, and the Seahawks won their 13th straight at home. Harvin missed the first 10 weeks of the regular season following hip surgery.
Why the Seahawks won: They fended off the Vikings by intercepting three passes in the fourth quarter and converting them to 13 points.
Steelers 37, Lions 27
The scoop: Ben Roethlisberger passed for 367 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the final 5 minutes, as Pittsburgh rallied after blowing an 17-3 lead and falling behind, 27-20. Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 147 yards and two scores and the Steelers’ defense shut out Detroit in the second half and kept the Lions winless in Pittsburgh for 58 years and counting.
Why the Steelers won: Matthew Stafford of the Lions completed just 3-of-16 passes in the second half, with none of the completions going to Calvin Johnson.
Bengals 40, Browns 21
The scoop: Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes and Cincinnati returned a blocked punt and a fumble for touchdowns during a 31-point second quarter that set a Bengals record. Cleveland fell apart after taking a 13-0 lead.
Why the Bengals won: They held Cleveland to just two first downs total in six possessions in the second quarter.
Eagles 24, Redskins 16
The scoop: Nick Foles threw for 298 yards and ran for a touchdown, LeSean McCoy had two TDs rushing and Philadelphia snapped a 10-game home losing streak and moved a half-game ahead of idle Dallas. The Eagles hadn’t won at Lincoln Financial Field since defeating the New York Giants on Sept. 30, 2012.
Why the Eagles won: They controlled play for three quarters, scoring on drives of 68, 69, 83 (field goal) and 80 while shutting out the Redskins.
Bears 23, Colts 20 (OT)
The scoop: Robbie Gould’s 38-yard field goal in overtime won a game that was stopped in the first quarter and delayed 1 hour, 53 minutes because of inclement weather, including the threat of tornadoes. The Bears trailed, 10-0, at the time of the stoppage.
Why the Bears won: Leading, 20-17, they forced the Ravens to settle for a game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter after Baltimore had first-and-goal from the 5-yard line.
How other half lives
Giants 27, Packers 13
The scoop: Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul scored on a spectacular, leaping 24-yard fourth-quarter interception return and the resurgent Giants won their fourth in a row. The Packers lost their third straight, two after Aaron Rodgers was sidelined.
Why the Giants won: They intercepted Green Bay’s fill-in quarterback Scott Tolzien three times. Tolzien completed 24 of 34 for 339 yards but no touchdowns.
Dolphins 20, Chargers 16
The scoop: Miami held San Diego without a touchdown over the final three quarters, and Brent Grimes broke up Philip Rivers’ final pass in the end zone to bring a happy ending to a miserable week for the Dolphins. Miami played at home for the first time since the Richie Incognito “bullying” scandal broke. The stands were less than two-thirds full, and an airplane banner called for the firing of General Manager Jeff Ireland.
Why the Dolphins won: They gave up four sacks but averaged 5.5 yards per rush behind a makeshift line.
Buccaneers 41, Falcons 28
The scoop: Rainey rushed for 163 yards and scored three TDs as Tampa Bay won its second after an 0-8 start. The Falcons have lost four straight by a combined score of 135-61.
Why the Buccaneers won: Atlanta had to settle for two field goals twice in drives into Bucs’ territory and turned the ball over twice in the first half while falling behind, 24-6.
Raiders 28, Texans 23
The scoop: McGloin, who played at Penn State, threw three touchdown passes in his first NFL start for Oakland. He played in place of an injured Terrelle Pryor.
Why the Raiders won: After falling behind, 17-14, they responded with a McGloin TD pass and an 80-yard run by Rashad Jennings to retake control.
Dog of the day
Cardinals 27, Jaguars 14
The scoop: Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards and did not throw an interception for the first time all season and Michael Floyd had a career-high 193 yards receiving, including a 91-yard touchdown on a catch-and-run for Arizona. The Jaguars scored a touchdown at home for the first time this season.
Why the Cardinals won: They ran for only 14 yards but held the Jaguars to 32. The longest rushing play in the game was nine yards.
News wire service contributed to this report. email:firstname.lastname@example.org.