Houston quarterback Matt Schaub passed for 527 yards, equaling the second-highest total in a single National Football League game, as the Texans fought their way back to defeat Jacksonville on Sunday.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan also got it right when they really needed to as the Packers and Falcons fought back to register wins and stay on track for the playoffs.
The Packers (7-3), Super Bowl champions two seasons ago, came from behind to beat NFC North rivals Detroit (4-6) 24-20.
The Texans and the Falcons, who share the best record in the NFL at 9-1, both survived tight encounters against opponents they were expected to easily beat.
The Falcons rebounded from their first loss of the season last weekend to hold off the Arizona Cardinals (4-6) 23-19, while the Texans escaped with a 43-37 win over the struggling Jaguars (1-9) after being pushed to overtime.
The New England Patriots (7-3), last season’s beaten Super Bowl finalists, thrashed the Indianapolis Colts (6-4) 59-24, matching a franchise record for points scored, with quarterback Tom Brady throwing three touchdowns.
Peyton Manning, who left the Colts for Denver, led the Broncos (7-3) to a 30-23 win over the San Diego Chargers (4-6), adding more honors to his list of achievements.
It was Manning’s 148th career win, tying John Elway in second place for the most wins by a starting quarterback.
He also moved into outright second place for touchdown passes. Only Brett Favre, in both categories, has more than Manning.
Drew Brees also had three touchdown passes as the New Orleans Saints (5-5) beat the Oakland Raiders (3-7) 38-17.
The Dallas Cowboys (5-5) and Tampa Bay (6-4) needed overtime to win. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns (2-8) 23-20 and Tampa Bay scored a 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers (2-8).
The New York Jets (4-6) and the Washington Redskins (4-6) both snapped three-game losing streaks, with the Jets beating the St Louis Rams (3-6-1) 27-13 and the Redskins defeating Philadelphia (3-7) 31-6 on Robert Griffin III’s four touchdowns to hand the Eagles their sixth straight defeat.
The Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) suffered their seventh loss in a row when they were beaten 28-6 by the Cincinnati Bengals (5-5), while the Baltimore Ravens (8-2) beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) 13-10 in a rare week when most results went according to the script, albeit after some scares.
The Packers extended their winning streak to five games, but only after a late strike against the Lions.
Trailing by six points with less than two minutes to go, Green Bay quarterback Rodgers threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb that decided the outcome. A late field goal by Mason Crosby just extended the margin.
Atlanta quarterback Ryan recovered from a career-worst five interceptions to lead the Falcons to an unconvincing win against the Cardinals, who have lost six in a row after starting the season 4-0.
The Falcons trailed 13-0 at the end of the first quarter and only took the lead with less than seven minutes remaining in the game when Michael Turner scored a touchdown.
The Texans were two touchdowns behind in the final quarter when they clawed their way back against the Jaguars, scoring twice to force overtime before receiver Andre Johnson scored a walk-off touchdown on a 48-yard pass from Schaub.
Schaub completed 43 of 55 passes and threw five touchdowns. His total of 527 yards tied former Oilers quarterback Warren Moon as the second-best in NFL, behind only Norm Van Brocklin’s 554 yards for the Los Angeles Rams in 1951.
Additional reporting by Staff writer