Count on the NFL to produce the dramatic and the unexpected almost every Sunday. That may be why it’s so popular.
Last minute wins by Cincinnati, Detroit, Seattle and Arizona. A sudden death win in overtime by Minnesota. That provided the drama.
Who expected New England to roll up 51 points on the Chicago Bears? Or the No. 1 ranked Indianapolis defense to give up 51 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers?
The Patriots scored 38 points in the first half against the Bears, the most Chicago ever has allowed in a half.
A capsule look at Sunday’s games:
Game of the day
Cardinals 24, Eagles 20
The scoop: Carson Palmer lofted a 75-yard touchdown pass to rookie John Brown with 1:21 to play to give Arizona a stunning victory in a matchup of two of the NFL’s four remaining one-loss teams. A goal-line stand forced the Eagles to settle for a 20-yard field goal and a 20-17 lead with 1:56 left. Then on third-and-five, Palmer – who also had an 80-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald – heaved the ball deep, where the speedy Brown gathered it in and crossed the goal line just as he was being tackled.
Why the Cardinals won: While their offense sputtered at times (three-and-out seven times), they allowed Philly only two touchdowns.
More late heroics
Bengals 27, Ravens 24
The scoop: Andy Dalton scored on a 1-yard sneak with 57 seconds left to win it for Cincinnati, which fell behind after leading 17-6 in the third quarter. Dalton threw a 53-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu on third and 10 to set up the winning score. The Ravens appeared to regain the lead when Steve Smith Sr. caught a pass and went 80 yards to the end zone with 32 seconds left, but was called for offensive interference.
Why the Bengals won: They made a goal-line stand on the Ravens’ opening series and forced Baltimore to settle for field goals twice in the first half. The Ravens had only one touchdown in the game.
Lions 22, Falcons 21
The scoop: Matt Prater kicked a 48-yard field goal on the last play of the game to win it for Detroit at Wembley Stadium in London. The Lions trailed, 21-0 at the half. Matthew Stafford threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 120 TDs, breaking the Lions record of 118 held by Bobby Layne. The blown halftime lead tied the biggest in Atlanta history.
Why the Lions won: Atlanta had three punts and a turnover in four second-half possessions.
Seahawks 13, Panthers 9
The scoop: Russell Wilson threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Luke Willson with 47 seconds left. For the third straight year, Wilson brought the Seahawks back from a second-half deficit to beat the Panthers on the road.
Why the Seahawks won: They stopped the Panthers on fourth down at the Seattle 8 with 20 seconds to go.
Patriots 51, Bears 23
The scoop: Tom Brady threw five scoring passes, three to Rob Gronkowski, as New England won its fourth in a row. The Pats scored on all five possessions in the first half and got a TD on their first series of the third quarter after a 42-yard punt return by Julian Edelman. New England scored three touchdowns in 57 seconds. It was the 13th straight win at home for the Patriots. Why the Patriots won: Brady was sensational again. He completed 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards and had a 148.4 passer rating.
Steelers 51, Colts 34
The scoop: Ben Roethlisberger set Pittsburgh records with 522 yards passing and six touchdowns in a surprising rout. Roethlisberger’s yardage total was the fourth highest in NFL history. He became the first player to go over 500 yards passing twice. Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two scores. Heath Miller caught seven passes for 112 yards and the clinching TD with 5:14 remaining. Andrew Luck passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions and was called for intentional grounding in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter as the Colts saw their five-game winning streak end spectacularly.
Why the Steelers won: Indy led the NFL in overall defense and pass defense, but you couldn’t tell that. The Steelers had long TD drives on five of their first six series, all scoring passes from Roethlisberger, sandwiched around a return TD.
Chiefs 34, Rams 7
The scoop: Alex Smith threw no TD passes but completed 24 of 287 for 226 yards with no interceptions in the victory. Jamaal Charles ran for two touchdowns, Knile Davis returned a kick 99 yards for another score. The Rams lost their sixth straight to Kansas City dating to Sept. 25, 1994.
Why the Chiefs won: The Chiefs had seven sacks, three by Justin Houston.
Saints 44, Packers 23
The scoop: After a 16-all halftime tie, the Saints exploded for three touchdowns on Drew Brees passes, 50 to Brandin Cooks, 22 to Jimmy Graham and 2 to Josh Hill. Aaron Rodgers of the Packers passed for 418 yards and one score and ran for another but threw two interceptions after having only one in the first seven games. The loss ended Green Bay’s winning streak at four and left Detroit alone in first place in the NFC North.
Why the Saints won: Believe it or not, they wore down the Packers with their running game, averaging 6.2 yards per try. Mark Ingram ran for 168 yards.
Dolphins 27, Jaguars 13
The scoop: Miami’s Louis Delmas and Brent Grimes returned Blake Bortles passes for touchdowns in what was an unimpressive performance for the Dolphins’ offense. Ryan Tannehill did lead a 95-yard drive for Miami’s only offensive touchdown in the third quarter, capping it with a 3-yard pass to Rishard Matthews. The Jaguars dominated the first half but had a field goal blocked and turned the ball over twice. Bortles has thrown 13 interceptions, four of which have been returned for touchdowns.
Why the Dolphins won: Miami, which never was behind, sacked Bortles four times and pressured him into three turnovers.
Texans 30, Titans 16
The scoop: Arian Foster ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a pass for a score as Houston snapped a three-game losing streak in the franchise’s 200th game. Foster topped 100 yards rushing for the fourth straight game. J.J. Watt had two sacks and forced a fumble for the Texans.
Why the Texans won: With rookie Zach Mettenberger at quarterback, Tennessee could produce little offense until falling behind by 24 in the second half.
Browns 23, Raiders 13
The scoop: The Browns avoided being the first team in NFL history to lose consecutive games to winless teams in Week Seven or later. Brian Hoyer threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Hawkins early in the fourth quarter to put the Browns ahead, 16-6, after safety Donte Whitner, a former Buffalo Bill, forced a fumble by Oakland’s Darren McFadden as the Raiders were driving deep into Cleveland territory. The Raiders have lost 13 straight games dating to last season. Oakland has dropped 16 games in a row played in the Eastern time zone – a streak that started in 2009.
Why the Browns won: Both offenses were terrible. The difference: Oakland had three turnovers, Cleveland none.
Dog of the day
Vikings 19, Buccaneers 13
The scoop: Anthony Barr stripped the ball from rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jankins on the first play of overtime and returned it 27 yards to score. The stunning end came just 17 seconds after the Vikings extended the game on Blair Walsh’s 38-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. Minnesota ended a three-game skid.
Why the Vikings won: Bucs’ porous defense couldn’t stop Teddy Bridgewater from putting together a nine-play, 61-yard march to get the game into OT.
News wire services contributed to this report.