Colts win 1 for ailing coach
The weeping team owner held up the game ball and vowed to leave the stadium with it.
"We know what kind of man we have down the street, fighting, fighting for his life, and winning the fight," Irsay said of Pagano, who has been hospitalized with leukemia. "Everyone in here knows how much that this means, and this ball is going right down the street."
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and veteran receiver Reggie Wayne won it with a 4-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left to complete the Colts' second-half rally from a 21-3 deficit. Interim coach Bruce Arians acknowledged he was fighting back tears when he spoke to reporters afterward.
"You guys doing this today, Bruce coming in, all you guys pulling together, Reggie being so close to Chuck going back for so long," Irsay told his players.
Wayne finished with 13 receptions for a career-high 212 yards -- the second-highest total in Colts history behind Hall of Famer Raymond Berry in 1957. And he wore orange gloves instead of the traditional pink ones for breast cancer awareness month, because that's the color for leukemia patients.
"I just wanted to do something, you know, for Chuck," Wayne explained. "I had some equipment guys make some calls. If they (NFL officials) fine me, they fine me. I really feel like that would be a terrible thing to do, but if so, so be it, I'll go ahead and take the fine and do it for Chuck."
They all did it for Chuck on Sunday.
Also, it was New Orleans 31, San Diego 24; New England 31, Denver 21; Atlanta 24, Washington 17; San Francisco 45, Buffalo 3; Chicago 41, Jacksonville 3; Pittsburgh 16, Philadelphia 14; New York Giants 41, Cleveland 27; Minnesota 30, Tennessee 7; Miami 17, Cincinnati 13; Seattle 16, Carolina 12; and Baltimore 9, Kansas City 6.
The week's action began with St. Louis (3-2) beating Arizona (4-1) on Thursday night, 17-3. On Monday night, Houston (4-0) is at the New York Jets (2-2).
Off this week were Dallas (2-2), Detroit (1-3), Oakland (1-3) and Tampa Bay (1-3).
COLTS 30, PACKERS 27
At Indianapolis, Green Bay (2-3) blew the 18-point lead, then had a chance to force overtime, but Mason Crosby badly hooked a 51-yard field goal with 3 seconds to go.
"I've got 12 years of (special) games," said Wayne, who has known Pagano since they were at the University of Miami together in the late 1990s. "But this did mean a lot, just with the whole deal with how the week's been going. You know, I talked to coach Pagano and he wanted us to win so bad. Is it a high? Yeah. I don't necessarily have one other than the Super Bowl game. But it's up there."
Green Bay already is two games behind Minnesota and Chicago in the NFC North.
"We just didn't make any plays," Rodgers said. "They got a little more aggressive in the second half, we turned the ball over and got them into a two-score game and then we kind of got back mentally into the game."
But not enough to win it.
At New Orleans, Drew Brees broke John Unitas' half-century-old NFL record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game, and the Saints (1-4) finally won. Brees' 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson eclipsed the mark set by Unitas from 1956-60 and began his big night.
Brees also had three scoring strikes to Marques Colston, giving him a franchise-record 52 touchdown catches with the Saints.
At Brees' request, the NFL allowed head coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis -- all serving various suspensions in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation -- to attend the game. They and Johnny Unitas son, Joe, saw Brees pass for 370 yards.
"It gave us a good mojo for sure," Brees said of Payton's presence. "I love my coach, so glad he could be here. Mickey and Joe Vitt as well. It is special for our team, special they could be a part of this record."
Philip Rivers passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns for the Chargers (3-2), but had an interception and fumble in the final quarter.
PATRIOTS 31, BRONCOS 21
At Foxborough, Mass, Tom Brady won his latest showdown with Peyton Manning, but needed help from the running game: a career-high 151 yards from Stevan Ridley, part of a 252-yard rushing performance for the Patriots (3-2).
In the 13th meeting between the star quarterbacks, and first since Manning left the Colts, Brady directed four scoring drives of at least 80 yards.
Brady improved to 9-4 against Manning, going 23 of 31 for 223 yards and one touchdown and running for another. Manning was 31 of 44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns, but lost a fumble on a third-quarter sack.
"It's Patriots-Broncos," Brady said. "It was a great team win. We got some turnovers from our defense and I thought offensively capitalized at times. There were a few lulls in there, which I wish we had executed a little bit better, but for the most part it's a good day."
FALCONS 24, REDSKINS 17
At Landover, Md., the Falcons moved to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history in a passing showcase capped by Michael Turner's 13 yard TD run. Matt Ryan completed 34 of 52 passes for 345 yards as Atlanta handed Washington (2-3) its eighth consecutive home loss.
Tony Gonzalez, the career record holder in most categories for tight ends, had a huge game with 13 catches for 123 yards and a TD.
London Fletcher had 20 tackles for Washington.
49ERS 45, BILLS 3
At San Francisco, the 49ers set a franchise mark with 621 yards on offense.
"Very cool," Smith said. "When you think of the 49ers, you think of great offense."
When you think of the Bills (2-3), weak defense comes to mind. Buffalo allowed 52 points to New England a week ago.
"We have to figure out what in the world is going on from the first guy to No. 11 on defense," said defensive end Mario Williams. "It's all on us."
BEARS 41, JAGUARS 3
The Bears (4-1) scored 38 unanswered points, including 35 in the second half, to win their third consecutive game. The streak has everything to do with defense: Chicago has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in the last three weeks.
Tillman and Briggs returned two of the team's five interceptions for touchdowns in Monday night's 34-18 victory at Dallas. Safety Major Wright returned one the previous week against St. Louis.
"There is an emphasis on it. And after a while, you see one guy doing it, you want to join in on that action," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
The Jaguars (1-4) played the final quarter amid a chorus of boos.
STEELERS 16, EAGLES 14
The Eagles (3-2) took the lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Vick to Brent Celek with 6:33 remaining, but the Steelers responded by driving 64 yards, including a pair of key third-down conversions by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, to set up the winning kick.
"I always have confidence in myself and the guys that we can do it," said Roethlisberger after engineering his 25th career fourth-quarter comeback. "It's good to go down. That was everybody on that drive."
Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the season as the Steelers (2-2) avoided their first two-game losing streak in three years. Star safety Troy Polamalu aggravated a right calf injury and left in the first quarter.
GIANTS 41, BROWNS 27
Cruz caught three touchdown passes from Eli Manning covering 3, 7 and 28 yards, while Bradshaw surpassed his yardage on the ground for the season with a career-high 200. He had 132 entering the game; the Giants are 9-0 in games he has rushed for 100 yards or more.
They became the first tandem since 1960 to get 200 yards rushing and three TD catches in a game.
The Browns are 0-5 for the first time since their return season to the NFL in 1999 and have lost 11 straight over two seasons. They're the only remaining winless team.
VIKINGS 30, TITANS 7
At Minneapolis, the Vikings (4-1) kept up their surprising strong start with a third straight victory. Minnesota has yielded a total of 33 points in those three wins.
Percy Harvin caught eight passes for 108 yards. Although Christian Ponder threw his first two interceptions after 143 attempts without one, he finished 25 for 35 for 258 yards and two scores against the reeling Titans (1-4).
Vikings rookie safety Harrison Smith was ejected after a tussle between the two teams. One of the officials tugged Smith away from the pile, and Smith responded by shoving him, drawing an automatic 15-yard penalty and the disqualification.
Titans RB Javon Ringer was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.
DOLPHINS 17, BENGALS 13
Mike Nugent was wide right on a 42-yard field goal try with 3 minutes left -- his first miss of the season -- for Cincinnati (3-2). Dalton was sacked three times and picked off twice.
"We had two tough weeks leading up to this one," rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "Guys really talked all week about how we've got to finish. We were two plays away from having a winning record."
SEAHAWKS 16, PANTHERS 12
Wilson threw for 221 yards, while Marshawn Lynch ran for 85 yards for the Seahawks (3-2).
RAVENS 9, CHIEFS 6
At Kansas City, the Ravens (4-1) couldn't do a lot on offense except for Ray Rice, who ran for 101 yards, and rookie Justin Tucker, who provided all the points with field goals of 28, 26 and 39 yards.
The Chiefs (1-4) had four more turnovers, giving them 19 for the season, and lost QB Matt Cassel in the fourth quarter with what the team described as a head injury.
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Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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