The inspirational Tom Brady was back to his best last weekend as he led a 70-yard touchdown drive in a little over a minute to snatch victory for his New England Patriots and end the New Orleans Saints’ unbeaten start to the season.
New England, whose 100% start to the year was ended by the Cincinnati Bengals a week ago, came into the game at 4:1, while the Saints stood at an impressive 5:0 – one of only three teams yet to be beaten in 2013.
It was a record that looked set to be extended when Drew Brees’ 34-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Still with 3.29 remaining gave the Saints a 24-23 lead. Keenan Lewis’ interception on the Patriots next snap looked to have wrapped things up, but the visitors were restricted to a Garrett Hartley field goal and the Patriots got the ball back with 1.08 left on the clock.
Brady marched his team downfield with no timeouts and claimed the winning touchdown with a 17-yard pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining.
It was no less than New England deserved, having led for the majority of the game and turned in comfortably their best performance of the year.
Steven Ridley’s two second-quarter touchdown runs added to Stephen Gostkowski’s early field goal and ensured the home side a comfortable 17-7 half-time lead, with Travaris Cadet’s touchdown reception the Saints only score of the half.
However, the Saints came out fighting after the restart, levelling through a Khiry Robinson touchdown run after Harley’s field goal had initially closed the gap to seven.
The boot of Gostkowski edged the Patriots back in front, before the Brees-Stills combo looked to have taken the victory for the Saints. But their defence could just not stand up to the Brady onslaught, and the Patriots found their way through in the dying seconds.
Two teams did remain unbeaten through Week Six – the AFC West pair of the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Peyton Manning added 295 passing yards and two touchdowns to his already glittering season as the Broncos beat the winless Jacksonville Jaguars 35-19, while there were also three rushing touchdowns for Knowshon Moreno. It was at least an improved performance from the Jags, who visit Wembley in a little over a week’s time, with quarterback Chad Henne impressing with over 300 passing yards.
The Chiefs defeated divisional rivals the Oakland Raiders 24-7, with Jamaal Charles again contributing with two touchdowns. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until Week Eleven for the Broncos and the Chiefs to come face to face.
Jacksonville are not the only winless team. The New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also yet to get off the mark in 2013. Last weekend, the Giants lost out 27-21 to the Chicago Bears, while the Buccaneers, despite two touchdown throws from rookie quarterback Matt Glennon, lost out 31-20 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes in that same game, and will leave Eagles coach Chip Kelly a real selection headache once regular starter Michael Vick has returned from injury.
The Eagles (3:3) share the lead of the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys, who ended a two match losing streak with a comfortable 31-16 win over divisional rivals the Washington Redskins.
Meanwhile, the Bears (4:2), have also kept level with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. The Lions were 31-17 winners against the Cleveland Browns last weekend. The Green Bay Packers (3:2) are also in the playoff fight after a narrow 19-17 success over the Baltimore Ravens. The division’s strugglers remain the Minnesota Vikings, who failed to build on last month’s Wembley success, as they returned from their bye week with a 35-10 loss to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Ben Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers, who fell to 0:4 at Wembley, did pick up their first win of the season, as they defeated the New York Jets 19-6.
Elsewhere, it was a bad week for teams of the AFC South, as all four fell to defeat. Losses for Indianapolis, Houston and Tennessee added to those of Jacksonville, keeping the Colts (4:2) atop the division for the time being.
While the Colts and the Titans lost hard-fought games – 19-9 to the San Diego Chargers and 20-13 to the Seattle Seahawks respectively – it will be the form of the Texans that is most worrying. Regular playoff competitors in recent years, Houston have lost their last four games – the latest of which, a 38-13 thrashing by the St. Louis Rams, saw quarterback Matt Schaub jeered from the field by his own fans upon picking up a match-ending injury.
The weekend’s final fixtures saw the San Francisco 49ers emerge victorious from an all NFC West clash against the Arizona Cardinals – Colin Kaepernick and co winning by a score of 32-20 – and the Cincinnati Bengals claim an overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills. The final score of 27-24, coming despite the Bengals giving up a 14 point lead in the final quarter.
Full List of Week Six Results:
Giants 21 (at the) 27 Bears, Packers 19 (at the) 17 Ravens, Bengals 27 (at the) 24 Bills, Lions 31 (at the) 17 Browns, Rams 38 (at the) 13 Texans, Panthers 35 (at the) 10 Vikings, Raiders 7 (at the) 24 Chiefs, Steelers 19 (at the) 6 Jets, Eagles 31 (at the) 20 Buccaneers, Jaguars 19 (at the) 35 Broncos, Titans 13 (at the) 20 Seahawks, Saints 27 (at the) 30 Patriots, Cardinals 20 (at the) 32 49ers, Redskins 16 (at the) 31 Cowboys, Colts 9 (at the) 19 Chargers, Bye Week – Falcons & Dolphins.
Week Seven Fixtures:
Seahawks (5:1) at the Cardinals (3:3), Buccaneers (0:5) at the Falcons (1:4), Bears (4:2) at the Redskins (1:4), Cowboys (3:3) at the Eagles (3:3), Patriots (5:1) at the Jets (3:3), Bills (2:4) at the Dolphins (3:2), Chargers (3:3) at the Jaguars (0:6), Rams (3:3) at the Panthers (2:3), Bengals (4:2) at the Lions (4:2), 49ers (4:2) at the Titans (3:3), Texans (2:4) at the Chiefs (6:0), Ravens (3:3) at the Steelers (1:4), Browns (3:3) at the Packers (3:2), Broncos (6:0) at the Colts (4:2), Vikings (1:4) at the Giants (0:6), Bye Week – Saints & Raiders.
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