Aaron Rodgers threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson in the fourth quarter, and the Green Bay Packers shook off a week’s worth of controversy by rallying to beat the New Orleans Saints, 28-27, on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
With Packers fans howling about what appeared to be yet another bad call — this time by the regular officials, not the replacements — Garrett Hartley missed a 48-yard field goal attempt with just under three minutes remaining, costing the Saints a shot at the lead and their first win.
Rodgers threw for 319 yards with four touchdowns and an interception for the Packers (2-2).
Drew Brees passed for 446 yards with three touchdowns for New Orleans (0-4). Brees has thrown at least one TD pass in 47 straight regular-season games, tying the NFL’s all-time mark set by Johnny Unitas.
With the win, the Packers were able to put last Monday night’s controversial loss at Seattle behind them. But even with the regular refs back, the Packers and their fans still nearly were dealt a crushing blow on a blown call.
After Rodgers’s TD pass to Nelson, Darren Sproles appeared to fumble the ensuing kickoff but officials ruled that he was down by contact. Replays showed that the ball clearly came out. The Packers were out of challenges.
Brees then led the Saints into field goal range, and Hartley hit a 43-yard attempt — but the Saints were called for holding, forcing Hartley to line up a 53-yarder. The Packers then were called for encroachment, leaving Hartley to try a 48-yarder and he missed it wide left.
The Saints drove for a 27-yard field goal by Hartley to take a 27-21 lead with 13:04 remaining.
Green Bay started the go-ahead drive at its 43 with 10:25 to go. On second and 10 from the New Orleans 11, Rodgers threw a strike to Nelson in the end zone as the Saints’ Corey White tried to wrap his arms around the ball at the same time as Nelson — briefly re-creating a scene similar to the controversial game-ender last Monday. This time, though, Nelson clearly came away with the ball and then spiked it.
Cardinals 24, Dolphins 21
At Glendale, Ariz., Jay Feely kicked a 46-yard field goal 6:31 into overtime to keep the Cardinals unbeaten. Arizona (4-0) forced the extra period when Kevin Kolb threw a 15-yard TD pass on fourth down to Andre Roberts with 22 seconds to play in regulation.
Two big defensive plays set up the final two Arizona scores. First, Daryl Washington sacked Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill, whose fumble was recovered by Vonnie Holliday at the Arizona 49. Ten plays later, the Cardinals sent the game to OT. The winning field goal came after Tannehill was hit by Paris Lenon as he threw and Kerry Rhodes came up with an interception.
Kolb finished 29 of 48 for 324 yards and three TDs, two to Roberts and one to Larry Fitzgerald. But he was also sacked eight times and threw two interceptions.
Tannehill (26 of 41) passed for 431 yards for Miami (1-3), with a TD and two interceptions. Brian Hartline set a Dolphins record with 253 yards receiving on 12 catches.
Vikings 20, Lions 13
Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a TD and Marcus Sherels scored on a 77-yard punt return in the third quarter in Detroit, helping Minnesota (3-1) match its win total from last season.
Detroit (1-3) has lost three straight. The Lions are the first team since at least 1940 to give up a kickoff return and a punt return for TDs in consecutive games, according to STATS LLC.
The Vikings’ Christian Ponder passed for only 111 yards but Adrian Peterson picked up the offense with 102 yards rushing on 21 carries. Minnesota sacked Matthew Stafford (319 yards passing, TD run) five times.
Redskins 24, Buccaneers 22
Billy Cundiff redeemed himself for three earlier misses by making a 41-yard field goal with three seconds remaining, lifting visiting Washington (2-2) after Tampa Bay wiped out an 18-point deficit.
The Bucs (1-3) trailed, 21-3, late in the first half before finding some flow on offense. LeGarrette Blount’s 2-yard TD run brought Tampa Bay within 21-19 early in the fourth quarter, and Connor Barth’s third field goal, a 47-yarder with 1:42 remaining, gave the Bucs the lead.
But Robert Griffin III (323 yards passing, TD run) completed three straight passes to move the Redskins from their 20 to the Bucs’ 41, then ran for 15 yards. Cundiff kicked the winner two plays later.
Texans 38, Titans 14
Danieal Manning and Kareem Jackson returned interceptions for scores and Matt Schaub threw two TD passes as host Houston moved to 4-0. Leading, 14-7, at the break, the Texans shook Tennessee (1-3) behind their defense. Manning’s score made it a two-touchdown lead, and Jackson’s runback was good for a 38-7 edge.
Titans quarterback Jake Locker left in the first quarter and did not return after hurting his left, nonthrowing shoulder on a hit by Glover Quin. Locker will have an MRI Monday. Matt Hasselbeck threw two TD passes in relief.
Chargers 37, Chiefs 20
San Diego (3-1) raced to a 27-6 halftime lead thanks to five first-half turnovers by the Chiefs, and Kansas City finished with six giveaways that resulted in 24 points by the visitors. The Chargers’ Jackie Battle had two TDs against his former team, and Philip Rivers had two TD passes.
Matt Cassel threw for two scores for the Chiefs (1-3), but he had three first-half interceptions. Jamaal Charles, who entered as the league’s leading rusher, fumbled twice.
Bengals 27, Jaguars 10
Andy Dalton threw two TD passes and ran for a score, and Cincinnati’s defense did the rest by limiting host Jacksonville to 212 total yards while amassing six sacks. The Bengals (3-1) took advantage of early mistakes by the Jaguars (1-3) in building a 17-7 halftime lead.
Rams 19, Seahawks 13
Rookie Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals to improve to 12 for 12 on the season, and was the decoy on the biggest play of the day for host St. Louis (2-2) — a fake field goal that turned into a 2-yard TD pass from punter Johnny Hekker to Danny Amendola late in the first half. All three turnovers by Seattle (2-2) came on Russell Wilson interceptions.