Journeymen. Career backups. Busts. They get called a lot of names because they’re not the royalty of NFL quarterbacks.
Of course, Tom Brady of the Patriots had another big day, five touchdown passes, his 52nd game-winning drive and a 146.2 passer rating. But look at who was right behind him on Sunday. Case Keenum of the Vikings (142.1 rating), Blake Bortles of the Jaguars (128.2). Josh McCown of the Jets (126.3), Tyrod Taylor of the Bills (126.0) and Jacoby Brissett of the Colts (120.0). All have been disrespected at times.
All were winners and well into triple digits in their ratings on a day when NFL teams knelt, raised, fists, held hands, locked arms or just didn’t show up for the national anthem all over the league. They also lit up the scoreboard for a change.
Seven underdogs were outright winners including the previously winless Jets and Bears. At the end of the day only Atlanta and Kansas City, each 3-0, were left unbeaten.
A capsule look at Sunday’s games:
Game of the day
Patriots 36, Texans 33
The scoop: Brady threw his fifth touchdown pass of the day, 25 yards to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds left to climax a New England comeback and avoid a second straight loss in Foxborough. Two of Brady’s scoring passes went to ex Bill Chris Hogan, one for 47 yards. Stephon Gilmore, another ex Bill, had a interception. Houston rookie Deshaun Watson passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns and had two intercepted, one leading to a New England touchdown.
Why the Patriots won: After going up 33-28 on a field goal they left 2:24 on the clock, more than enough for Brady time to take his team 75 yards to the winning TD.
Chiefs 24, Chargers 10
The scoop: Alex Smith passed for two touchdowns in the first 9:27 and rookie back Kareem Hunt broke off a 69-yard run in the fourth quarter to put it away as Kansas City continued its dominance of the Chargers and the AFC West. KC won its 12th straight game against divisional opponents and sixth straight over the Bolts.
Why the Chiefs won: They picked off four Philip Rivers passes.
Falcons 30, Lions 26
The scoop: The Lions came from 11 down to tie the game at 23 late in the third quarter. But Atlanta went back in front on a 40-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Taylor Gabriel early in the fourth quarter. Matt Prater’s 57-yard field goal brought the Lions to within four but Golden Tate was ruled to not have crossed the goalline on a reception on the last play of the game to allow Atlanta to win its third in a row. Ryan passed for 294 yards and two scores and Devonta Freeman carried 21 times for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Why the Falcons won: They forced the Lions to settle for four field goals, one from the Atlanta 17 when Detroit had chance to take the lead.
Packers 27, Bengals 24 (OT)
The scoop: Green Bay came back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to win on Mason Crosby’s 27-yard field goal in overtime. The winner was set up by a 72-yard Aaron Rodgers pass to Geronimo Allison. Green Bay forced overtime when Rodgers threw his third TD pass of the game, 3 yards to Jordy Nelson with 17 seconds left in regulation.
Why the Packers won: They held the Bengals to just three points in the second half. Andy Dalton passed for two Cincinnati touchdowns and had no interceptions.
Eagles 27, Giants 24
The scoop: Jake Elliott kicked a 61-yard field goal on the last play of regulation to win it after he had kicked a 46-yarder to tie with 51 seconds to go. The Eagles forced a Giants punt in a series that lasted only 38 seconds and got in two plays before Elliott came on to kick the winner. The Giants scored three TDs in a 5 1/2-minute span to tie the Eagles at 21 in the fourth quarter. New York went ahead for the only time on a 41-yard field by Aldrick Rosas with 3:08 left, but the lead didn’t last long.
Why the Eagles won: The Giants’ offense woke up with Odell Beckham Jr. catching nine passes, two for touchdowns but how did they let the Eagles get two field goals in the last 51 seconds?
Vikings 34, Buccaneers 17
The scoop: Keenum directed scoring drives of 75, 76 and 92 yards as the Vikings were building a 28-3 lead. He passed for 359 yards and rookie Dalvin Cook ran 27 times for 97 yards.
Why the Vikings won: They intercepted Jameis Winston three times and the Bucs were 1 for 7 on third down. Tampa Bay had only 26 yards rushing.
Titans 33, Seahawks 27
The scoop: Tennessee scored 21 points in the third quarter then withstood the Seahawks’ rally in the fourth. Marcus Mariota passed for two Titans touchdowns and DeMarco Murray ran for 115 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson passed for all four Seattle touchdowns.
Why the Titans won: They shredded the Seahawks for 199 rushing yards.
Redskins 27, Raiders 10
The scoop: Kirk Cousins completed 25 of 30 for 365 yards and three touchdowns in the rout. He directed drives of 87, 72 and 75 yards as Washington built a 21-0 lead.
Why the Redskins won: They outgained Oakland, 472-128. The Raiders were 0 for 11 on third down and had only seven first downs. Derek Carr was sacked four times and was intercepted twice.
Jets 20, Dolphins 6
The scoop: Playing their home opener the Jets outgained Miami, 221-49, and limited the Dolphins to three first downs in the first half. McCown connected with Robby Anderson on a 69-yard pass to make it 10-0 in the second quarter and directed a 49-yard drive for the Jets’ other TD early in the third quarter.
Why the Jets won: They made Miami abandon its running game. The Fish ran only 15 times for 30 yards and Jay Ajayi had just 16 in 11 tries.
Jaguars 44, Ravens 7
The scoop: The Ravens had one first down, six punts and one turnover in seven first-half possessions. They were behind 23-0 by halftime and it was 44-0 in the fourth quarter. Bortles passed for four touchdowns, three to tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Why the Jaguars won: The Ravens forgot to set their alarm clocks for Greenwich Time.
Saints 34, Panthers 13
The scoop: Carolina’s offensive troubles continued even against the NFL’s last-ranked defense. Carolina’s only TD came on a 3-yard run by Cam Newton to make it 24-13 in the third quarter. Otherwise Newton struggled, with three interceptions, no touchdown passes and was sacked four times.
Why the Saints won: Drew Brees of the Saints passed for 220 yards and three scores.
Bears 23, Steelers 17 (OT)
The scoop: Jordan Howard scored on a 19-yard run with 8:27 left in overtime to win it. Chicago led by 10 at halftime (17-7) but Pittsburgh caught up at 17-all on a 32-yard Chris Boswell field goal with 8:03 left. Antonio Brown of the Steelers caught 10 passes for 110 yards including a 7-yard TD throw from Ben Roethlisberger. Howard ran for 138 yards and two scores in outperforming Steelers back LeVeon Bell (15 carries, 61 yards, 1 TD).
Why the Bears won: They ran for 220 yards, fumbled five times but lost only one and recovered two Pittsburgh bobbles.
Dog of the day
Colts 31, Browns 28
The scoop: After last week’s overtime loss to Arizona, Indianapolis almost blew another second half lead. The Colts were ahead 31-14 early in the fourth quarter before preserving the win with a last-minute interception. Brissett passed for 259 yards including a 61-yard TD strike to T.Y. Hilton to cap a 97-yard drive in the second quarter. He had no interceptions. Cleveland rookie QB Deshone Kizer passed for 242 yards and two scores and ran for a TD, but was intercepted three times.
Why the Colts won: They drove for touchdowns on four straight series, three of them 75 yards or longer, in the first half then did virtually nothing on offense the rest of the way.
News wire services contributed to this report.