The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS — 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.
BRONCOS 36, PANTHERS 14
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.
Von Miller harassed Cam Newton all day and Trindon Holliday returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown as the Broncos (6-3) won for the fifth time in six weeks. The Broncos sacked Newton seven times, including once for a safety, and Miller pressured him into an interception Tony Carter returned 40 yards for a score.
Fox, who coached the Panthers for nine seasons, downplayed his return all week, but celebrated with a few fist pumps Sunday.
PATRIOTS 37, BILLS 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns, Devin McCourty ended Buffalo’s hopes with an interception in the end zone and New England kept Buffalo winless at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots (6-3) let a 17-3 lead slip to 34-31 with 7:47 left on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Donald Jones. Then the Bills (3-6) held the Patriots to a 27-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with 2:06 remaining.
Buffalo then moved to a second-and-10 at the New England 15 before Fitzpatrick threw the ball right into the hands of McCourty while trying to hit T.J. Graham.
New England is 11-0 against the Bills at Gillette since it opened in 2002 and 20-2 overall in its last 22 games against Buffalo.
VIKINGS 34, LIONS 24
MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson raced 61 yards for the game-sealing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, padding his NFL rushing lead with 171 yards on 27 carries for Minnesota.
Peterson had 120 yards in the final 15 minutes, 10 1/2 months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee. Ponder bounced back from a rough game with 221 yards and two touchdowns on 24-for-32 passing for the Vikings (6-4).
Calvin Johnson had 207 yards on 12 catches, including a touchdown that brought the Lions (4-5) a little closer with 1:53 left. But Johnson’s lost fumble near midfield on the previous possession put Vikings rookie Blair Walsh in position for his fourth field goal.
BUCCANEERS 34, CHARGERS 24
TAMPA, Fla. — Josh Freeman threw two touchdown passes and the surging Buccaneers scored on a blocked punt and Leonard Johnson’s 83-yard interception.
Freeman has thrown for 13 TDs with one interception in his past five games, helping the Bucs (5-4) win four times to climb back over .500 following a 1-3 start.
Rivers threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns for San Diego. He was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter to ruin any chance of the Chargers (4-5) coming from behind.
BENGALS 31, GIANTS 13
CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton threw a career-high four touchdown passes — each to a different receiver — and the Cincinnati Bengals ended their four-game losing streak by beating the New York Giants 31-13 on Sunday.
The Bengals (4-5) took advantage of a fumble and Eli Manning’s two interceptions, which set up third-quarter touchdowns. That helped A.J. Green back up his observation there are holes in New York’s defense.
The defending Super Bowl champions have a lot of holes everywhere.
The Giants (6-4) head into their bye with back-to-back losses and a lot of issues, especially on offense. Manning had another subpar game, failing to live up his family legacy of beating the Bengals. Older brother Peyton improved to 8-0 against Cincinnati on the same field a week earlier, leading Denver to a 31-23 win.
The Giants turned it over four times in the second half.
TITANS 37, DOLPHINS 3
MIAMI — Colin McCarthy returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown, and four takeaways helped Tennessee rout Miami.
The Titans came into the game on pace to set an NFL record for points allowed in a season, but they stymied Miami by intercepting Ryan Tannehill three times and recovering a Reggie Bush fumble to set up a touchdown.
Tennessee (4-6) rebounded from a 51-20 loss a week ago against the Bears that prompted owner Bud Adams to put the organization on notice. Last week the Titans trailed 28-2 after one quarter; this week they led 21-0 after 16 minutes.
For Miami (4-5), the home loss was the most lopsided since 1968.