This was finally the week the New England Patriots couldn’t plug the holes left by injuries – not against Drew Brees and San Diego’s explosive offense.
The Chargers handed the Patriots their first loss at Gillette Stadium in 22 games Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., beating them 41-17 as Brees threw for two touchdowns, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for two more and Antonio Gates had six catches for 108 yards.
It was the first loss in Foxborough for the Patriots since Dec. 22, 2002, when they were beaten by the New York Jets. That was the only season in the past four that they failed to win the Super Bowl.
The last time the Patriots started a season 2-2 was 2003, though they went on to win the title that year anyway.
Though the game was tied 17-all at the half, Brees took advantage of a secondary that was already without two of its top three cornerbacks and now is without safety Rodney Harrison, lost for the year with a knee injury. Harrison’s absence was clearly felt on one play in the third quarter when backup running back Michael Turner ran right through Harrison’s replacement, Guss Scott, on the way to an 18-yard pickup.
That drive ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell that gave San Diego a 31-17 lead. Brees also had an 11-yard touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell in the second quarter.
Giants 44, Rams 24
Second-year quarterback Eli Manning had his second straight outstanding performance, throwing for 296 yards and a career-high four touchdowns as New York beat the Rams in East Rutherford, N.J.
Manning was 19 for 35 and threw for two TDs to Plaxico Burress – who had a career-high 10 catches – and one each to Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey. Jay Feely added three field goals for New York, which has scored the most points in the NFL this season.
The Rams’ Marc Bulger finished 40 of 62 for 442 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice and was hampered by his team’s inability to establish a running game. St. Louis finished with 42 yards on 15 carries.
Colts 31, Titans 10
In Nashville, Tenn., Peyton Manning threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Marvin Harrison that tied the NFL record for most TDs between a quarterback and receiver, as Indianapolis beat Tennessee.
Harrison caught nine passes for 109 yards, and Edgerrin James also ran for 90 yards in helping the Colts improve to 4-0 with their highest point total this season.
Broncos 20, Jaguars 7
In Jacksonville, Fla., Jake Plummer threw two touchdown passes to backup offensive lineman Dwayne Carswell, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell combined for 175 yards rushing, and Denver’s defense harassed Byron Leftwich and Fred Taylor in a win over Jacksonville.
The Broncos won their third straight despite a short week that followed a Monday night victory against Kansas City and improved to 3-10 in Florida. They had been 0-2 in Jacksonville.
Saints 19, Bills 7
In San Antonio, Aaron Brooks ran for a touchdown, John Carney kicked four field goals and the defense kept Buffalo’s floundering offense bottled up after the first quarter as New Orleans beat the Bills to snap a two-game losing streak in its adopted home.
Bengals 16, Texans 10
The Bengals are 4-0 for the first time since 1988 – the last time they went to the Super Bowl – as T.J. Houshmandzadeh paced a bogged-down offense with 105 yards on eight catches as Cincinnati beat Houston in Cincinnati.
Buccaneers 17, Lions 13
In Tampa, Fla., with rookie running back Cadillac Williams slowed by a sore hamstring, Joey Galloway scored on an 80-yard reception and Brian Griese also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Williams’ backup, Michael Pittman, as the Tampa Bay defense stopped a march deep in their territory at the end of the game to hang on for a victory over Detroit.
Falcons 30, Vikings 10
In Atlanta, Warrick Dunn rushed for 126 yards, including his 50th career touchdown on a 37-yard run, to lead a 285-yard performance on the ground and Michael Vick ran for 58 yards and threw a touchdown pass before getting hurt as Atlanta routed Minnesota.
Ravens 13, Jets 3
In Baltimore, Jamal Lewis scored on a 1-yard run, Matt Stover kicked two field goals, and the Ravens sacked third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger five times en route to a win over New York.
Raiders 19, Cowboys 13
In Oakland, Calif., LaMont Jordan ran for 126 yards and a score, Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals and Oakland’s defense put together a late goal-line stand to ensure a win over Dallas.
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