(Reuters) - The Indianapolis Colts pulled off an emotional 30-27 surprise win over the Green Bay Packers while the Atlanta Falcons moved to 5-0 in Week Five National Football League action on Sunday.
Tom Brady led the host New England Patriots to a 31-21 victory against Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos in a battle of two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
The Baltimore Ravens ground out a 9-6 win over the host Kansas City Chiefs while a late field goal gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 16-14 win over the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.
It had been a tough week for the Colts, who revealed on Monday that head coach Chuck Pagano was in hospital after being diagnosed with leukemia, but rookie quarterback Andrew Luck showed his class in rallying his team to an inspiring win.
Luck, the first pick in April’s NFL Draft, put his team ahead with 35 seconds remaining after finding Reggie Wayne with a four-yard pass to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive that brought unavoidable comparisons with his predecessor Peyton Manning.
“This did mean a whole lot with how the week went,” said Wayne. “I talked to coach Pagano and he wanted us to win so bad. This was for Chuck.”
As Manning did so often, Luck made full use of receiver Wayne, who he found 13 times for 212 yards, including five times on the decisive drive.
The Packers, who began the season among the favorites to win the Super Bowl but have stumbled to a 2-3 record, missed a potential game-tying 51-yard field goal with three seconds to play.
The Washington Redskins lost quarterback Robert Griffin III to a mild concussion in their 24-17 home loss to a Falcons team that are off to their best start in franchise history.
Griffin, selected after Luck in the draft, left the game in the third quarter after being hit in the head on a tackle just short of the end zone. The Redskins scored a field goal shortly after for a 10-7 lead in the third quarter.
Back-up Kirk Cousins kept Washington in the game, finding a wide open Santana Moss for a 77-yard score but a 53-yard Falcons field goal and a 13-yard touchdown run from Michael Turner put the Falcons in front.
Cousins then threw two interceptions after in the final two minutes as the Redskins fell to 2-3 on the season following their eighth consecutive home loss.
While Manning’s numbers were good, throwing three touchdowns and 345 yards, the Broncos defense struggled with the Patriots putting up a franchise-record 35 first downs in the game.
Brady threw one touchdown and ran in another but, in a game billed as the renewal of one of the great quarterback rivalries following Manning’s lost season to injury last year, New England enjoyed plenty of success on the ground.
From 54 rushing plays, the Patriots made 251 yards with over half of those coming from second year running back Steven Ridley who made 151 yards and a touchdown.
New England led 31-7 late in the third quarter but a pair of Denver touchdowns added some respectability to the scoreline for a Broncos team that dropped to 2-3.
A last-second 34-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham handed the Steelers a victory after Michael Vick had given the Eagles a chance to triumph with a two-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek midway through the final quarter.
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to beat the winless Cleveland Browns 41-27.
Receiver Victor Cruz scored three touchdowns while running back Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for a career-high 200 yards and one score in the home victory.
The Baltimore Ravens improved to 4-1 after three field goals from Justin Tucker and some characteristically tough defending proved too much for a Chiefs team that lost quarterback Matt Cassel with a head injury.
The San Francisco 49ers (4-1) dominated the Buffalo Bills 45-3 and put up 621 yards of total offense with quarterback Alex Smith throwing for three touchdowns and 303 yards.
Another team with just one loss is the Chicago Bears, who had little trouble registering a 41-3 road win against a poor Jacksonville Jaguars squad.
The NFL’s surprise team at 4-1 is the Minnesota Vikings whose impressive early season form continued with a 30-7 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Percy Harvin had 108 yards receiving for the Vikings scoring one rushing and one receiving touchdown.
Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Frank Pingue