What’s a safe lead in the National Football League? Are 17 points in the third quarter enough? How about 12 in the third quarter?
The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles seemed to be routinely on their way to a home victory over the Carolina Panthers Sunday. Nothing routine, as it turned out.
Cam Newton led the biggest comeback in Carolina franchise history, from 17-0 down to a 21-17 victory, dropping Philadelphia to a disappointing 3-4 and tied for second place in the NFC East.
Tampa Bay seemed in control over the Cleveland Browns in Tampa. The Buccaneers had a 23-9 lead after a 2-yard touchdown run by rookie Ronald Jones II with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
However, the Browns rallied and forced the game to overtime, where the Bucs squeezed out a 26-23 win on Chandler Catanzaro’s 59-yard field goal with 1:50 left in the extra period.
Chicago led New England, 17-7, in the second quarter and lost, 38-31.
A capsule look at Week Seven games:
Game of the day
Saints 24, Ravens 23
The scoop: With 24 seconds left, Justin Tucker missed an extra-point try for the first time in his NFL career, allowing New Orleans to escape with the victory and extend its winning streak to five. Drew Brees joined the NFL’s exclusive 500 touchdown pass club when he passed 1 yard to Benjamin Watson for a second quarter touchdown. He then engineered two fourth-quarter touchdown drives including a 5-yard pass to Michael Thomas for a 21-17 lead with 4:58 to play. After Wil Lutz kicked a 39-yard field goal to make it 24-17, Joe Flacco drove the Ravens 81 yards in six plays, ending the drive with a 14-yard pass to John Brown. However, Tucker’s kick went wide right.
Why the Saints won: They ran for 134 yards and Brees passed for 212 against the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense. They had only one turnover, a lost fumble at the Baltimore 4 on the game’s first possession that did not figure in the scoring.
Panthers 21, Eagles 17
The scoop: Carolina punted after each of its five possessions with just seven first downs in the first three quarters. Then they scored on their next three in the fourth quarter for 21 points and 12 first downs. Cam Newton’s second TD pass of the game to tight end Greg Olsen from 1 yard put Carolina in front, 21-17, with 1:22 to go. Philadelphia’s final possession ended when Carson Wentz was sacked and fumbled the ball away on a fourth down from the Carolina 14 with 21 seconds left.
Why the Panthers won: Jake Elliott missed a 36-yard field goal after the Eagles had driven 62 yards on their second offensive series of the game. They scored on their next three with Wentz passing for two scores but the missed opportunity was felt in the end.
Buccaneers 26, Browns 23 (OT)
The scoop: Catanzaro kicked his game-winner after he had missed a 40-yarder at the end of regulation. The winning kick came after a muffed punt by Jabrill Peppers of the Browns. Firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith last week seemed to help because the Bucs limited Cleveland to two first-half points and just three first downs. However, the Browns had 221 yards in the second half, scoring on two Baker Mayfield passes, the second a 16-yarder to Jarvis Landry that tied the game with 2:28 left. Cleveland took over after an interception in OT but ended up punting it away from the Tampa Bay 45.
Why the Bucs won: Despite a valiant comeback led by Mayfield (23 for 34, 215 yards, 104.4 rating) the Browns made enough mistakes to lose it.
Redskins 20, Cowboys 17
The scoop: Brett Maher’s try for the tying field goal from 52 yards on the last play of regulation went off the left upright, leaving the Redskins with their slim victory and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. After a 7-7 first half, Washington led the rest of the way after a 21-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal on the first offensive series of the second half. The game’s deciding points turned out to be a 1-yard return of a Dak Prescott fumble by former Bills linebacker Preston Brown with 4:55 to go. Prescott scored on a 1-yard run with 1:37 to go and the Cowboys got the ball back with 1:09 left after a Washington punt.
Why the Redskins won: They held Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards in 15 rushing attempts and Dallas gained only 73 overall on the ground.
Patriots 38, Bears 31
The scoop: Two huge plays that had nothing to do with Tom Brady led to the New England victory. The Patriots trailed 17-7 in the second quarter, before a 95-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson began the comeback. Patterson’s muffed punt earlier had led to a Chicago touchdown. The game was tied at 24 in the third when Dont’a Hightower blocked a Chicago punt and Kyle Van Noy returned it 29 yards to put New England in front to stay. Brady passed for three touchdowns. Bears QB Mitch Trubisky threw for two scores and ran for another. He passed for 333 yards and led Chicago with 81 yards rushing.
Why the Patriots won: They made big plays when they needed them.
Chiefs 45, Bengals 10
The scoop: Patrick Mahomes passed for 358 yards and four touchdowns, two to Karim Hunt who also ran for a score. Mahomes has thrown 22 TD passes and only five interceptions in seven games. Ron Parker made the rout complete when he returned an interception 33 yards in the third quarter. It was the 11th career interception for the veteran safety who was cut the Chiefs after last season but re-signed just before this season began.
Why the Chiefs won: Cincinnati could put no pass-rush pressure on Mahomes, sacking him only twice for minus-5 yards.
Lions 32, Dolphins 21
The scoop: Matthew Stafford passed for two touchdowns to tight end Michael Roberts and Matt Prater kicked four field goals as Detroit led it all the way. Their shortest scoring drive was 44 yards for a clinching field goal with 1:55 yards left. Brock Osweiler started at quarterback for Miami again in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) and passed for two touchdowns.
Why the Lions won: They rolled up 248 yards rushing, controlling the clock. Rookie Kerryon Johnson gained 158 in 19 carries, including a 71-yard run.
Vikings 37, Jets 17
The scoop: Kirk Cousins passed for two touchdowns and Latavius Murray ran for two in the Minnesota win. Adam Thielen of the Vikings had 100 or more receiving yards for the seventh game in row, the first to do that to start a season since Charley Hennigan of the 1961 Houston Oilers of the old American Football League.
Why the Vikings won: Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold had a difficult day, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. His passer rating was 34.4, even worse than Derek Anderson’s 39.8 for the Bills on Sunday. The Jets converted only 2 of 13 third downs.
Chargers 20, Titans 19
The scoop: Los Angeles almost let one get away at Wembley Stadium in London. Philip Rivers passed 75 yards to Tyrell Williams and 55 to Mike Williams in building an 11-point lead before the let-up. Derrick Henry ran a yard for one touchdown and Marcus Mariota passed 1 yard to tight end Luke Stocker with 31 seconds left to get the Titans close.
Why the Chargers won: The offensively challenged Titans had 390 yards (they were averaging 262.7) but produced no big plays in their passing game. Their longest completion was 21 yards.
Texans 20, Jaguars 7
The scoop: Frustration is growing in Jacksonville with an unproductive offense. The Jaguars failed to score
in the first half for the third game in
a row and coach Doug Marrone benched Blake Bortles in favor of Cody Kessler in the second half. Bortles lost two fumbles, one leading to a Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal for a 3-0 lead and the other to a DeShaun Watson pass to DeAndre Hopkins to make it 20-0, sending the Texans on to their fourth win in a row.
Why the Texans won: Credit the defense, which had four sacks, recovered two fumbles and limited the Jaguars to 70 yards rushing. Watson completed only 12 of 24 for 139 yards.
Dog of the day
Rams 39, 49ers 10
The scoop: The Rams didn’t
need much from NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley, who ran for two touchdowns but only 63 yards. L.A. took a 22-0 lead, scoring 17 points after Niners turnovers.
Why the Rams won: They scored on five straight possessions in the middle of the game. The 49ers had four turnovers and took a safety.
News wire services contributed to this report.