The New Orleans Saints played their best football of the season Sunday in San Antonio, and they still couldn’t catch a break.
As Atlanta kicker Todd Peterson’s kick sailed through the uprights for a 34-31 Falcons win, Saints players started ripping their helmets off in anger and fans at the Alamodome threw paper out of the upper decks in disgust.
They had their reasons: Peterson had missed his first try in the final seconds and the game appeared headed for overtime. But a defensive holding penalty was called on New Orleans defensive end Tony Bryant. The infraction had nothing to do with Peterson’s missing the 41-yarder, but the Falcons were allowed to line up for another try nonetheless.
New Orleans had tied it at 31-31 when Aaron Brooks hit Devery Henderson in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard TD with under a minute left.
Then the Falcon’s Michael Vick completed four passes and ran for a first down that quickly moved the ball down the field.
Then the Saints – and the officials – practically handed it to Peterson to win. Not once, but twice.
First, the Saints were flagged for having too many players on the field. The extra five yards inched Peterson up from what would have been a 46-yard attempt.
Then, as his kick with six seconds left sailed wide left, another flag dropped, this time calling Bryant for the hold. So Peterson stepped up again and drilled his second chance.
Panthers 21, Lions 20
Playing in his first game since 2002, Chris Weinke threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl with 32 seconds left to give Carolina a road victory over Detroit.
Weinke relieved Jake Delhomme, who was knocked out of the game on the game-winning drive when he was hit hard by safety Kenoy Kennedy.
Broncos 28, Patriots 20
Tatum Bell had a 68-yard run and finished with 114 yards to lead Denver past visiting New England for its fourth straight victory.
New England fell behind by 25 early in the third quarter. With Tom Brady picking on the young Denver secondary, the Patriots pulled within eight and had the ball late. But Brady threw three straight incompletions and after a punt, the Denver offense ran the final 3 1/2 minutes off the clock.
Chargers 27, Raiders 14
LaDainian Tomlinson ran, caught and threw for a touchdown and visiting San Diego topped Oakland for the fourth straight time.
The Chargers hadn’t won four straight in a rivalry dominated by the Raiders since taking the first six meetings from 1960-62.
Chiefs 28, Redskins 21
Nine days after his 32nd birthday, Priest Holmes ran for a touchdown and caught five passes for 100 yards, including a 60-yard catch-and-run for the go-ahead score as Kansas City beat visiting Washington.
Santana Moss caught 10 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns for the Redskins.
Bengals 31, Titans 23
Carson Palmer tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chad Johnson with 4:19 left that gave Cincinnati the lead for good, and the visiting Bengals bounced back from their first loss of the season with a win over Tennessee.
Bucs 27, Dolphins 13
Michael Pittman ran for 127 yards and a touchdown, leading Tampa Bay to a victory over visiting Miami and ruining Dolphins running back Ricky Williams’ return from a one-year retirement and four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Bills 27, Jets 17
Kelly Holcomb had a pair of touchdown passes and Willis McGahee had a career-high 143 yards rushing and a score to lead Buffalo to a win over New York in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Bears 28, Vikings 3
Thomas Jones rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory over visiting Minnesota.
Ravens 16, Browns 3
Baltimore forced three turnovers, sacked quarterback Trent Dilfer four times and did all its scoring in the first half in a victory over visiting Cleveland.
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