Unstoppable Peyton Manning continued his electric start to the NFL season by throwing four touchdown passes as the Denver Broncos moved to 4-0 with a 52-20 crushing of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Manning completed 28 of 34 passes for 327 yards and no interceptions and his work was so effective that he was able to sit out the fourth quarter as the Broncos enjoyed another blowout win.
The quarterback’s 16 touchdowns in the first four games of the season are a league record for the period since the merger of the AFL and NFL in 1970.
“I enjoyed it, we were playing a good team and felt really motivated to score points – touchdowns and not field goals and we did that,” said Manning.
Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker had two touchdown receptions each while Trindon Holliday scored with a 105-yard kick-off return.
Not for the first time this season, Denver ran away with the game in the third quarter with Manning throwing three touchdowns in that period. The team has scored 62 points in the third so far this season.
New England Patriots 30, Atlanta Falcons 23
ATLANTA // Tom Brady threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns and New England held off a furious Atlanta comeback, beating the Falcons to improve to 4-0 for the first time since their near-perfect season in 2007.
New England built a 30-13 lead before the Falcons rallied.
They had a chance to tie it up in the final minute, but Matt Ryan’s fourth-down pass went off the hands of Roddy White in the end zone with 36 seconds remaining.
The Patriots seemed in control when LeGarrette Blount scored on a 47-yard run, and Brady threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins.
Thompkins finished with six catches for 127 yards – nearly as much as the first three games of his career. Julian Edelman chipped in with 118 yards on seven receptions.
Atlanta (1-3) is two games below .500 for the first time since 2007.
Detroit Lions 40, Chicago Bears 32
DETROIT // Reggie Bush’s 37-yard touchdown run helped Detroit score 27 points in the second quarter and he accounted for 173 yards of offence to help the Lions beat Chicago.
Detroit (3-1) moved into a first-place tie with Chicago (3-1) in the NFC North. The Lions scored 24 straight points, including three TDs in a span of 3 minutes, 26 seconds, after Matt Forte’s 53-yard TD run gave the Bears 10-6 lead early in the second quarter.
Jay Cutler, who had four turnovers, threw a pair of touchdown passes and two-point conversions in the final four minutes to pull Chicago within eight points to make the score look respectable.
Kris Durham, the Lions receiver, recovered the onside kick to seal the win.
Minnesota Vikings 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 27
LONDON // Greg Jennings made two touchdown catches, Adrian Peterson ran for two scores and the Vikings’ defence made a big stop with time running out to preserve a win over the Steelers.
Playing at Wembley Stadium, Everson Griffen stripped Ben Roethlisberger on the six-yard line with 19 seconds left. Kevin Williams recovered to seal the victory.
Jennings made a 70-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown and Peterson had a 60-yard score to help offset two scores by Le’Veon Bell, the Pittsburgh rookie running back, and give Minnesota (1-3) some hope of turning their season around.
The Steelers fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1968.
Matt Cassel, the Vikings quarterback, starting in place of injured Christian Ponder, finished 16 of 25 for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
Roethlisberger was 36 for 51 for 383 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
San Diego Chargers 31, Dallas Cowboys 20
SAN DIEGO // Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns, including a 56-yarder to Antonio Gates.
The Chargers (2-2) had blown late leads in their two losses this season. On Sunday, they scored the final 20 points to beat Dallas (2-2).
Rivers short-armed a pass over the middle to Gates, who slid behind Sean Lee, the linebacker, to haul it in and score with 6:54 to go.
Lee had intercepted Rivers on a deflected pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown and a 21-10 lead late in the second quarter. Dallas did not score again.
Tony Romo moved the Cowboys to the San Diego 7 and hit Terrance Williams, who fumbled at the 1. San Diego’s Richard Marshall recovered in the end zone with 2:42 left.
Tennessee Titans 38, New York Jets 13
NASHVILLE, Tennessee // Jake Locker threw a career-high three touchdowns before being taken to the hospital with an injured right hip.
Locker was hurt early in the third quarter when hit first by Muhammad Wilkerson after throwing an incomplete pass, then popped by Quinton Coples. He grabbed at his hip as he went to the ground and was carted off the field before being loaded into an ambulance. The Titans had no immediate word on the severity of his injury.
Alterraun Verner intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble, Karl Klug sacked Geno Smith and stripped him of the ball for a TD as the Titans turned Smith’s four turnovers into 28 points. Ropati Pitoitua had two of Tennessee’s five sacks as the Titans (3-1) continued their surprising start.
The Jets (2-2) could not overcome Smith’s rookie mistakes.
Washington Redskins 24, Oakland Raiders 14
OAKLAND // Robert Griffin III threw a go-ahead touchdown pass late in the third quarter to help Washington overcome an early 14-point deficit for its first win of the season.
David Amerson returned an interception for another score for the Redskins (1-3).
Washington looked ready to extend the worst start for the franchise since 2001 when they fell behind 14-0 after the first quarter thanks to a blocked punt touchdown and a scoring pass from Matt Flynn.
But the much-maligned Washington defence allowed the Raiders (1-3) no more points, taking advantage of an offence that was without starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor the entire game and starting running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece for most of it.
Buffalo Bills 23, Baltimore Ravens 20
ORCHARD PARK, New York // Buffalo rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso’s second interception of the game with 57 seconds remaining sealed a win over Baltimore.
Aaron Williams, the converted safety, also intercepted Joe Flacco twice, while Fred Jackson had 87 yards rushing and a touchdown for Buffalo (2-2).
Robert Woods scored on a 42-yard touchdown reception. Buffalo totaled 203 yards rushing against a stout Ravens defence that had allowed just 224 in its first three games.
Joe Flacco threw a career-worst five interceptions, and finished 25 of 50 for 347 yards passing, and two touchdowns.
Torrey Smith had five catches for 166 yards and a 26-yard touchdown for the Ravens (2-2).
The Ravens’ last chance to tie the game ended when Flacco forced a pass over the middle intended for Dallas Clark. Safety Da’Norris Searcy got a piece of the ball, which bounced into the air and was intercepted by Alonso.
Arizona Cardinals 13, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10
TAMPA BAY // Carson Palmer threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald, then Jay Feely kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining and Arizona rallied to beat Tampa Bay.
Patrick Peterson had two interceptions, one setting up Arizona’s first TD in six quarters, the other to ruin any chance of rookie Mike Glennon pulling off a comeback in his first NFL start for the winless Bucs (0-4).
Feely also kicked a 42-yard field goal for the Cardinals (2-2), who trailed 10-0 at halftime.
Starting in place of the benched Josh Freeman, Glennon was steady – if not spectacular – for most of the game. But it all unraveled after Peterson stepped in front of a pass for Vincent Jackson.
Fitzgerald beat cornerback Darrelle Revis on the next play for his 80th career TD reception.
Cleveland Browns 17, Cincinnati Bengals 6
CLEVELAND // Brian Hoyer, the local boy who always dreamed of being Cleveland’s quarterback, threw two touchdown passes in his first start at home to lead the Browns to a win over Cincinnati.
Hoyer’s one-yard TD pass to Chris Ogbonnaya with 4:54 left gave the Browns (2-2) an 11-point lead and Cleveland turned it over to the vastly improved defence.
In his second start in place of injured Brandon Weeden, Hoyer finished 25 of 38 for 269 yards. He threw a two-yard TD pass in the first half to Jordan Cameron, who had 10 catches for 91 yards.
The Bengals (2-2) could not get anything going on offence and Andy Dalton was intercepted by Buster Skrine with 3:43 left, ending any chance of a comeback.
Cleveland limited the Bengals to 63 rushing yards and cornerback Joe Haden contained wide receiver AJ Green.
Kansas City Chiefs 31, New York Giants 7
KANSAS CITY // Alex Smith threw three touchdown passes, Dexter McCluster returned a punt 89 yards for another score and unbeaten Kansas City kept New York winless at 0-4.
Smith hit touchdown passes of four, two and 35 yards for the Chiefs (4-0), who under Andy Reid have already doubled their victory total of 2012. They are the second team to go from a two-win season to 4-0 the next year.
The Giants, who trailed only 17-7 after three quarters, are 0-4 for the first time since 1987.
Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz on a 69-yard scoring play for New York’s only score. The Kansas City defence sacked Manning three times. Smith was intercepted twice, the first giveaways by the Chiefs, who also lost a fumble.
Indianapolis Colts 37, Jacksonville Jaguars 3
JACKSONVILLE // Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, Trent Richardson ran for a score and Indianapolis became the latest team to beat Jacksonville by double digits.
The Colts (3-1) were not all that good, especially early in the first half, but they were plenty good against one of the worst teams in the league.
Indianapolis led 20-3 at halftime – Jacksonville (0-4) has been outscored 75-8 in the first half this season – and made it a laugher with consecutive touchdown drives in the third quarter.
Luck found Coby Fleener for a 31-yard score, a play in which even Fleener was surprised that he was so wide open, and then connected with Reggie Wayne in the back of the end zone from five yards.
That made it 34-3 and sent many of the Jaguars faithful heading to the exits.
Seattle Seahawks 23, Houston Texans 20
Steven Hauschka kicked a 45-yard field goal in overtime to give the Seattle Seahawks a 23-20 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday and the first 4-0 start in franchise history.
Houston (2-2) failed to score on two possessions in overtime. The Seahawks got the win on their second drive in overtime after rallying from a 20-3 deficit.
A key play on the winning drive came when Doug Baldwin caught a seven-yard pass and Kareem Jackson was penalised for unnecessary roughness for dumping him into the ground. That got Seattle in field goal range and Hauschka’s kick came four plays later.
The Seahawks rallied to tie it at 20-20 on an interception return for a touchdown by Richard Sherman in the fourth quarter.