What figured to be one-sided wins for the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers turned out to be close games while Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Oakland won by double-digit margins as slight underdogs or modest favorites. That’s the kind of unpredictable Sunday it was in Week Eight of the National Football League season, although the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys encounter in Arlington, Texas, was as wild and woolly as you might expect.
Chicago needed a last-play field goal to extend its winning streak to five games with a 23-22 win over the Carolina Panthers. Green Bay let Jacksonsville, a 17-point underdog, hang around before the Packers pulled off a 24-15 win, their third in a row. The Giants also hung on to win over Dallas, 29-24.
Atlanta (7-0), the NFL’s only unbeaten team, had an easier time than expected, jumping on the Eagles early in a 30-17 win in Philadelphia.
Miami and Oakland won division games on the road in the AFC while Pittsburgh swatted away the Washington Redskins and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III in easy fashion.
Game of the day
Giants 29, Cowboys 24
The scoop: Lawrence Tynes kicked two fourth-quarter field goals to put New York back in front after blowing a 23-0 lead and the Giants survived two scary possessions by Dallas to win for the fourth straight time at Cowboys Stadium, where they never have lost.
Why the Giants won: The difference turned out to be the Tony Romo pass that Jason Pierre-Paul returned 28 yards for a first-half touchdown.
Bears 23, Panthers 22
The scoop: Robbie Gould kicked a 41-yard field goal with no time left as the Bears escaped an embarrassing upset at home. They trailed, 19-7, in the fourth quarter before the game turned around when Brad Norman of the Jaguars shanked a punt 6 yards, setting up a Chicago touchdown. Justin Medlock’s fifth field goal gave Carolina a 22-20 lead with 2:27 left, but it did not stand up.
Why the Bears won: Cam Newton’s overthrow resulted in an easy pick-six for Tim Jennings to put the Bears in front, 20-19, with 6:44 left.
Lions 28, Seahawks 24
The scoop: Matthew Stafford threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Titus Young with 20 seconds left after Zach Miller made a spectacular, 16-yard catch on a toss from Russell Wilson with 5:27 left to put the Seahawks ahead.
Why the Lions won: Seattle twice gave up the lead in the fourth quarter as the league’s fifth-ranked defense gave up scoring drives of 82, 80 and 80 yards.
Packers 24, Jaguars 15
The scoop: Aaron Rodgers threw for two touchdowns, passing Bart Starr for second place on Green Bay’s all-time list, and Dezman Moses gave the Packers their first touchdown on a blocked punt in almost 22 years.
Why the Packers won: Although outgained by 341-238 (233-91 in the first half), they allowed only one touchdown.
Colts 19, Titans 13
The scoop: Andrew Luck threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Vick Ballard at 4:49 of overtime. Ballard took a screen pass and dove the last 4 yards to the end zone.
Why the Colts won: They contained Chris Johnson (88 yards in 21 carries) and kept him out of the end zone.
Dolphins 30, Jets 9
The scoop: Matt Moore stepped in for an injured Ryan Tannehill and threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano, Olivier Vernon recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown and blocked a field goal. Tannehill injured his left knee and quadriceps muscle early in the game. Moore finished 11 of 19 for 131 yards.
Why the Dolphins won: The Jets’ special teams were dreadful covering kicks and punts and in protection.
Steelers 27, Redskins 12
The scoop: Griffin completed just 16 of 34 passes for 177 yards and a score while managing 10 yards rushing against a swarming defense. Pittsburgh scored on its first four possessions, building a 20-7 first-half lead as Ben Roethlisberger passed for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Jonathan Dwyer added 107 yards rushing in his second NFL start.
Why the Steelers won: They limited the Redskins to only 169 net passing yards.
Broncos 34, Saints 14
The scoop: Peyton Manning won his duel with Drew Brees of the Saints, throwing for three touchdowns and Willis McGahee ran for 122 yards and a score in the Denver rout. Manning hit Eric Decker for the go-ahead touchdown (14-7) in the second quarter. In the third, Manning passed 1 yard to DeMariyus Thomas and Decker caught another TD pass early in the fourth.
Denver (4-3) took sole possession of first place in the AFC-West while defending NFC South champion New Orleans (2-5) fell five games behind first-place Atlanta (7-0).
Why the Broncos won: They hamstrung the Saints’ passing game.
Falcons 30, Eagles 17
The scoop: Matt Ryan (22 of 29, 262 yards) threw touchdown passes on Atlanta’s first three possessions. Michael Vick of the Eagles didn’t turn the ball over for once, but it made no difference. The Falcons scored on their first six possessions.
Why the Falcons won: They held the Eagles to 92 yards rushing.
Patriots 45, Rams 7
The scoop: After St. Louis scored the game’s first touchdown, Tom Brady led touchdown drives on his first five possessions and New England cruised at Wembley Stadium in London. New England surpassed 350 yards of total offense for the 17th straight game, an NFL record.
Why the Patriots won: They scored touchdowns on six of their seven trips to the red zone – including two by Rob Gronkowski.
Raiders 26, Chiefs 16
The scoop: Kansas City fans got just what they didn’t want – Matt Cassel back at quarterback after starter Brady Quinn left the game in the first quarter with a head injury.
Cassel passed for 218 yards and a touchdown but Carson Palmer of the Raiders threw for two scores and Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals.
Why the Raiders won: The Chiefs made it easy. Oakland had to drive only 28, 11 and 7 yards for 13 of its points.
Dog of the day
Browns 7, Chargers 6
The scoop: The quarterbacking was dismal on a windy, soggy day. Rookie Trent Richardson of the Browns rushed for 122 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown, a 26-yard run in the first quarter.
Why the Browns won: They limited the Chargers to averages of 3.4 yards rushing and 8.6 on pass completions.
News wire services contributed to this report.