Six games into the season, there is little doubt which team is the biggest surprise on the positive side. It’s the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys went on the road and rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks 30-23. DeMarco Murray ran for a 15-yard touchdown with 3:16 left for the go-ahead score. He’s the second running back in NFL history with six straight 100-yard games to start the season.
The 5-1 Cowboys are the first team outside the NFC West to win in Seattle since 2011. The Seahawks fell to 3-2.
Taking advantage of Seattle’s loss, the Arizona Cardinals moved into first place in the NFC West. They beat Washington 30-20, continuing rookie coach Jay Gruden’s woes in Washington. Carson Palmer returned from a five-week absence to throw two touchdown passes. The Cardinals are 4-1 while Washington fell to 1-5. The Redskins have lost four straight and 13 of 14 going back to last year.
Jay Cutler threw for 381 yards and a touchdown, Matt Forte ran for a couple of second-half scores, and the Chicago Bears picked up another road victory by beating the Atlanta Falcons 27-13. Chicago, which is 3-3 overall, has won three of four away from Soldier Field this season. But there were so many Bears fans at the Georgia Dome that this seemed almost like a neutral site.
Playing on the road Joe Flacco of the Ravens had a good outing, tossing for 306 yards and five scores as Baltimore bounced the Buccaneers 48-17. The Ravens, who are 4-2, scored on six straight possessions to begin the game, with Flacco throwing for TDs on the first five. With the loss Tampa Bay dropped to 1-5. The Bucs have now had two embarrassing defeats this season as they were beaten by the Falcons Sept. 18 56-14.
Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes, leaving him two shy of Brett Favre’s career mark, as the Broncos beat the York Jets 31-17. Manning now has 506 career touchdown passes and could break the record next Sunday at home against San Francisco. In Sunday’s win over the Jets Julius Thomas caught two of Manning’s scoring passes and Demaryius Thomas had 10 grabs for 134 yards and a score. Ronnie Hillman ran for 100 yards on 24 carries for the 4-1 Broncos. The Jets, who fell to 1-5, had a chance to tie with less than a minute left. But with the ball at the 1, Geno Smith was intercepted. The pick sent the Jets to their fifth straight loss.
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes and posted his 60th career 300-yard game to lead the Patriots to a 37-22 win over the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East battle. Brandon LaFell had two touchdown catches for the Pats, including a 56-yarder. The Patriots’ defense forced three turnovers that resulted in 13 points in the second quarter. Brady finished 26 of 36 for 352 yards as he upped his career mark against the Bills to 23-2. The Patriots are 4-2 while the Bills, who have dropped three of four, are 3-3.
Aaron Rodgers came through with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless with 3 seconds left to give the Green Bay Packers a 27-24 win over host Miami. The Packers twice gave up leads and trailed 24-17 before Rodgers directed a 68-yard drive for a field goal with 4:09 to go. The Packers quickly forced a punt to start at their 40 with 2:04 left, and Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on fourth-and-10 for 18 yards to keep the winning drive alive. Rodgers finished with three touchdown passes and 264 yards while committing no turnovers. Green Bay has won three straight and is now 4-2 while the Dolphins dropped to 2-3.
Cleveland fans got a big treat, a home win over the Steelers. At one time Pittsburgh and Cleveland ranked as one of the NFL’s best rivalries, but of late it’s been pretty lopsided with the Steelers having won 20 of the previous 22 games. That changed as Brian Hoyer passed for 217 yards as the Browns routed the Steelers in Cleveland 31-10. He threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron and improved to 6-2 as Cleveland’s starter. The Browns also got two rushing scores from Ben Tate and one from rookie Isaiah Crowell. The Browns are now 3-2 while the Steelers fall to 3-3. Browns Pro-Bowl center Alex Mack suffered a broken leg in the game.
Mike Nugent missed a 36-yard field goal attempt on the final play of overtime leaving the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers in a 37-37 tie. Nugent made a 42-yard field goal that put the Bengals, who are now 3-1-1, up after the opening drive of overtime. Carolina, which is 3-2-1, tied it on Graham Gano’s 36-yarder with 2:19 left. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was nearly perfect in overtime, going 8 for 9 for 87 yards with one throwaway. He led the Bengals into range to win it, but Nugent sliced his kick wide right.
Tennessee bounced back from that tough loss last week to Cleveland to edge Jacksonville 16-14. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Titans. Sammie Hill secured the win as he blocked a field goal attempt in the final seconds. On the other side of the ball Jackie Battle ran for a touchdown, and Ryan Succop kicked three field goals as the Titans improved to 2-4. The Jaguars are winless in six games.
Tahir Whitehead intercepted Teddy Bridgewater twice; Joique Bell put the game away with a fourth-quarter touchdown run as the Lions beat the Vikings 17-3. With Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush missing, the Lions played a low-risk game and punted nearly as often as the Vikings did. But their defense made another case for top billing in the league. Bridgewater threw three interceptions in his second career start for the 2-4 Vikings. The Lions remain atop of the NFC North at 4-2, tied with Green Bay.
The beat goes on for the winless Oakland Raiders, who changed coaches last week to no avail. Branden Oliver scored on a 1-yard run with 1:56 to play and the San Diego Chargers spoiled interim coach Tony Sparano’s Oakland debut with a 31-28 victory over the Raiders. Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes for the 5-1 Chargers. Oakland is 0-5.