The Jacksonville Jaguars pulled off the weekend’s shock, upsetting the Tennessee Titans 29-27 to collect their first win of the season on Sunday to leave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the NFL’s only winless team.
While the victory by the Jaguars (1-8) was the big surprise, the St Louis Rams’ 38-8 demolition of the Indianapolis Colts ranked a close second on another wild Sunday filled with Hail Mary passes and plenty of last-second drama.
The Carolina Panthers (6-3) showed they deserve some Super Bowl consideration, coming out on top 10-9 in a bruising battle with the San Francisco 49ers (6-3) to collect their fifth consecutive win, while the Arizona Cardinals (6-4) tried to keep pace in the National Football Conference West with a 27-24 win over the Houston Texans (2-7).
The Seattle Seahawks (9-1) retained a firm hold on the top spot in the West, thumping the Falcons 33-10 in Atlanta, Georgia, while the New York Giants (3-6) moved back into the playoff chase in the National Football Conference East, running their winning streak to three games with a 24-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders (3-6).
The Denver Broncos improved to 8-1 as Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes in a 28-20 win over the San Diego Chargers, setting up a mouthwatering showdown at the weekend against unbeaten American Football Conference West rivals the Kansas City Chiefs (9-0).
A dismal season that had seen the Jaguars outscored 264-86 finally produced a bright moment as Maurice Jones-Drew and Jordan Todman each ran for a touchdown to help Jacksonville to a long awaited win.
There was nothing pretty about the Jaguars’ performance as Chad Henne completed just 14 passes for 180 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, but the Jacksonville defense came through when needed most, recording a safety early in the fourth quarter, then recovering a fumble and returning it 21 yards for the winning points with just over two minutes remaining.
In Indianapolis, St Louis (4-6) quarterback Kellen Clemens completed just nine passes, but two were for touchdowns to speedy rookie Tavon Austin, who also returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown as the Rams dominated the Colts (6-3). It was a tough afternoon for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who had three interceptions and a fumble that resulted in a St Louis touchdown.
The Panthers and 49ers engaged in a punishing defensive battle with Carolina coming out on top, allowing San Francisco just 151 net yards total offense, with quarterback Colin Kaepernick completing 11 passes for just 91 yards.
Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams had the game’s only touchdown, while Graham Gano’s 53-yard field goal provided the only points in the second half to clinch the victory.
In the National Football Conference North, the Detroit Lions (6-3) moved to the top of the division with a narrow 21-19 win over the Chicago Bears (5-4), while the problems continued for the Green Bay Packers (5-4) in a 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (5-5).
Matthew Stafford tossed three touchdowns, including a pair to All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson, but it was the Detroit defense that sealed the win, stopping the Bears two-point conversion attempt with 40 seconds left on the clock.
With Aaron Rodgers out with a broken collarbone, Seneca Wallace got the start for the Packers, but before the end of the first quarter Green Bay were down to third string Scott Tolzien after Wallace was forced out of the game with a groin injury.
Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles, who threw an NFL record-equaling seven touchdowns the previous weekend, tossed three more against Green Bay, including a 55-yarder to DeSean Jackson.
Trailing the Baltimore Ravens 17-0 at the half, the Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) staged a furious second-half comeback forcing overtime when Andy Dalton threw up a Hail Mary pass with no time on the clock that landed in the hands of A.J. Green for a touchdown, but the Bengals could not put away the Super Bowl champions, Justin Tucker kicking a 46-yard field goal to secure a thrilling 20-17 victory for the Ravens (4-5).
Also on Sunday, the New Orleans Saints beat the Dallas Cowboys 49-17 and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Buffalo Bills 23-10.
Additional reporting by staff writer