FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the New England Patriots toyed with the Atlanta Falcons — sound familiar? — 23-7 in a fog-filled Super Bowl rematch Sunday night that wasn’t particularly super.
New England scored the final 31 points to win the NFL championship in February. Placards and shirts reading 28-3 were ever-present in and around Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (5-2) scored the first 23 points in this prime-time mismatch. The Falcons (3-3), who led New England by that 25-point margin in the third quarter of the Super Bowl before folding, were outplayed throughout this one.
While Atlanta looked tentative, if not intimidated, Brady and his offense clinically tore apart the Falcons. Mixing runs and passes, New England controlled the clock and field position. And its defense, ranked at the bottom of the entire league through six weeks, stymied the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense.
Brady threw a shovel pass to Bradin Cooks that traveled perhaps a foot, and the receiver used his speed to get into the left corner of the end zone. The other TD was a 2-yarder to James White, who had three touchdowns, including the winner, in the Super Bowl.
It got so bad for Atlanta that the usually reliable Matt Bryant had a field goal blocked and then put a 36-yarder off the left upright. That Super Bowl losers’ malaise folks talk about might have found a home in the ATL this year. Stephen Gostkowski had no trouble sending field goals of 29, 21 and 38 yards through the fog for New England.
Steelers 29, Bengals 14
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, Le’Veon Bell added 192 total yards, and Pittsburgh’s defense dominated Cincinnati in the second half.
The Steelers (5-2) relied on their stars to take the lead, then on their reinvigorated defense to blunt Cincinnati and give themselves a significant cushion over the rest of the underwhelming AFC North.
The Bengals (2-4) came in looking to add some street cred to their resurgence after their 0-3 start, but instead spent the second half reverting to the kind of ineffective offense that got offense coordinator Ken Zampese fired two weeks into the season. The Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice and sacked him three times over the final two quarters to pull away.
Chris Boswell added five field goals for Pittsburgh, which posted its highest points total and appears to be rounding into form as Halloween nears.
Saints 26, Packers 17
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Drew Brees threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Mark Ingram rushed for a score.
Will Lutz kicked two second-half field goals, including a 44-yarder to put New Orleans up for good 19-17 with 10:26 left in the game. Brees’ 1-yard sneak gave the Saints a two-score lead
The sloppy Saints (4-2) were fortunate to get their fourth straight victory. The Packers lost their first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for injured star Aaron Rodgers.
New Orleans’ defense gave up a 46-yard touchdown run to rookie Aaron Jones on the opening drive. Brees was picked off twice in the first quarter. Lutz had a blocked extra point and New Orleans was penalized seven times for 80 yards.
But the Saints pulled away late at overcast Lambeau Field, scoring on four second-half drives.
Trailing late, the Packers (4-3) couldn’t muster big plays late without Rodgers. He’s out indefinitely with a broken right collarbone.
Bears 17, Panthers 3
CHICAGO (AP) — Rookie safety Eddie Jackson became the first NFL player to score multiple defensive touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a game. Jackson ran back a fumble recovery 75 yards on the game’s opening possession and returned an interception of Cam Newton 76 yards for a score early in the second quarter to give Chicago a 14-0 lead.
He became the first Bears player since Fred Evans in 1948 — and the first NFL player since Tennessee’s Zach Brown in 2012 — with two defensive TDs in a game.
Chicago also sacked Newton five times and intercepted him twice.
The big plays by Jackson and the defense lifted the Bears (3-4) to their second straight win even though they got dominated in just about every statistical category. Carolina (4-3) held huge advantages in yards (293-153), time of possession (38:35-21:25), offensive plays (69-37) and first downs (20-5).
Newton completed 21 of 34 passes for 211 yards and ran for a team-high 50. But the Panthers dropped their second straight game.
Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky was 4 of 7 for 107 yards in his third NFL start. The No. 2 overall pick threw a 70-yard pass to Tarik Cohen, but did little else.
Jaguars 27, Colts 0
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Blake Bortles threw for a season-high 330 yards and one touchdown, and T.J. Yeldon scored on a 58-yard run. By ending a four-game losing streak at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Jaguars (4-3) remained atop the AFC South.
Indy (2-5) lost its second straight, both to division foes.