They both trailed for a time on Sunday, but both the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts showed their respective character as both rallied to maintain their 100 per cent records. The Saints (8-0) had looked to be in massive trouble against their NFC South rivals the Carolina Panthers (3-5) as they trailed 17-6 at the interval, with DeAngelo Williams having scored two touchdowns.
But they fought back to make it 20-20 going into the fourth quarter and a 40-yard field goal from John Carney, which was followed by a one-yard fumble touchdown return by defensive tackle Tony Hargrove, completed the recovery to give the Saints the best start to a season in their franchise history. The Saints' quarterback Drew Brees, who threw for 330 yards and one touchdown pass in the 30-20 win, said he and his teammates were not going to rest on their laurels despite making history. "That's special, that's really special," Brees said. "I feel like we have a special group of guys, we've got a special team. Certainly we're not satisfied with just being 8-0."
Meanwhile, Joseph Addai punched his way into the end zone from two yards in the fourth quarter as Indianapolis (8-0) just edged past the Houston Texans (5-4) 20-17, extending their winning run to 17 successive games. Addai's touchdown proved to be the decisive score and it helped give the Colts the win after Houston's kicker Kris Brown missed a 42-yard field goal on the game's last play. The Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 318 yards and one touchdown for the Colts, who equalled the Chicago Bears of 1933-34 for the third-longest winning streak in NFL history.
"It was a great job kind of hanging in there," said Manning. "Obviously, everything wasn't perfect, but we did a good job of just kind of fighting, and came away with a big win." Indianapolis, who have not lost a game since October of last year at Tennessee, ended the Texans' (5-4) three-game winning streak in the process. The big NFC East showdown saw the Dallas Cowboys (6-2) go to the Philadelphia Eagles (5-3) and come away with a crucial 20-16 victory that sees them move ahead of their rivals in the race for the divisional title.
The Eagles had begun the second half trailing 10-6, but Ellis Hobbs got the home crowd cheering with a 96-yard punt return into the end zone from the kick-off. The joy was short lived, however, as a referee's flag brought attention to some holding by the Philadelphia rookie Moise Fokou and the touchdown was ruled out. Donovan McNabb gave his side some points soon after though, his 11-yard touchdown pass for Brent Selek finally edging the Eagles in front as they took a 13-10 lead into the final quarter.
The final quarter saw the Cowboys get their noses in front once again as Tony Romo threw a 49-yard pass for wide receiver Miles Austin, who cut inside from the sideline to score the decisive touchdown. The New York Giants (5-4) slumped to a fourth defeat in a row when the visiting San Diego Chargers (5-3) scored a game-tying touchdown with 21 seconds left on the clock. The Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw the 18-yard touchdown pass for wide receiver Vincent Jackson to level the Giants Stadium contest at 20-20 with Nate Kaeding converting the extra point for victory.
Tom Brady threw for 332 yards and hit Randy Moss with the decisive 71-yard score in the third quarter, as the New England Patriots (6-2) posted a battling 27-17 win over the Miami Dolphins (3-5). Tampa's (1-7) rookie quarterback Josh Freeman made the most of his first NFL start by throwing three touchdown passes in a 38-28 come-from-behind win over Green Bay (4-4) that saw the Bucs collect their first win of the season.
The Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) were always in charge against the Baltimore Ravens (4-4) after scoring on their first three possessions on their way to a 17-7 triumph. The Detroit Lions (1-7) lost again as they wasted an early 17-0 lead to allow the Seattle Seahawks (3-5) to score a 32-20 home win, while the Tennessee Titans (2-6) upset the 49ers in San Francisco (3-5) with a 34-27 away win.
Kurt Warner tied a career high by throwing five touchdown passes for the Arizona Cardinals (5-3) in their convincing 41-21 success over the Chicago Bears (4-4). Larry Fitzgerald added 123 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while the Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 369 yards and had three touchdown passes in his side's losing cause. Michael Turner ran for a season-high 166 yards as he helped the Atlanta Falcons (5-3) cruise to a 31-17 success over the struggling Washington Redskins (2-7).
Turner broke away from the former Falcon DeAngelo Hall on a 58-yard touchdown that finished off Washington early in the fourth quarter. David Garrard threw for 264 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown to Mike Sims-Walker, as the Jacksonville Jaguars edged past the Kansas City Chiefs 24-21. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org