Matt Bryant did what Garrett Hartley could not, drilling a 46-yard field goal with 1:55 left in overtime to lift the Atlanta Falcons to a 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
The Saints appeared to have a thrilling victory in hand when Drew Brees drove New Orleans deep into Falcons territory to set up a 29-yard field goal in overtime. Instead, Hartley hooked the kick to the left for his third miss this season.
Matt Ryan passed for 228 yards and touchdowns of 13 yards to Tony Gonzalez and 22 yards to Roddy White to give the Falcons (2-1) their second straight win.
Lance Moore had a pair of TD catches for New Orleans (2-1), including a career-long 80 yarder. He also had a 72-yard punt return to set up Jeremy Shockey's TD.
The game was a back-and-forth affair that one would expect from longtime rivals who appear to be the best teams in the NFC South.
There were bizarre blunders and big plays, including an unusual turnover by Atlanta on a Saints punt in the third quarter.
Thomas Morstead's punt hit Atlanta's Thomas DeCoud on the heel as it came down near the sideline and bounced straight up. Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham grabbed it and, just before falling out of bounds, tossed it back to long-snapper Jason Kyle, who tapped toes on both feet down like a receiver just inside the sideline.
New Orleans converted the turnover into Moore's second TD on a 16-yard catch and run to put New Orleans ahead 21-17 late in the third quarter.
Fortunately for Atlanta, Ryan rarely made a mistake and routinely exhibited uncanny instincts, decisiveness and accuracy in the clutch.
On the Falcons' 80-yard scoring drive to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Ryan converted a third-and-10 with a pass to Gonzalez and his scoring strike to White came on third-and-6.
Brees, who was 30 of 38 for 365 yards and three TDs, drove the Saints into game-tying field goal range late in regulation, in part by converting a fourth-and-1 pass to Shockey for a 6-yard gain.
Hartley made that kick, from 32 yards, with four seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Last season, Hartley sent the Saints to the franchise's first Super Bowl with an overtime game-winner in the NFC title game, made three field goals during the Super Bowl, and also clinched the Saints' Week 2 win at San Francisco last Monday night with a 37-yard, partially blocked field goal at the end of regulation.
He just couldn't come through in OT this time, and the critical miss looked similar to two less consequential misses that were hooked left in the Saints' season opening win against Minnesota.
While Brees was clutch late, he made early mistakes that came back to haunt his team, throwing an interception on a flea-flicker and another when he tried to underhand a pass, Brett Favre-style, to Graham as he was falling forward. Brent Grimes made Atlanta's first interception and DeCoud the second. Brees also sacked by John Abraham and Jonathan Babineaux.
Ryan was at his determined best on a 19-play, 72-yard drive that consumed 10:39 of the second quarter and tied the game at 14 shortly before halftime. Ryan converted a third-and-short with a quarterback keeper that required a second effort after he was hit behind the line of scrimmage. He converted another third down with a pass to Gonzalez along the sideline while scrambling to his right. Then he converted a pair of fourth-and-short plays with quick passes over the middle. Turner punctuated the drive with his 1-yard scoring plunge.
Gonzalez wound up being his top target with eight catches for 110 yards, while White had five catches for 69 yards.
Steelers 31, Bucs 13
Charlie Batch threw for 186 yards and two long touchdowns to Mike Wallace in the 35-year-old quarterback's first start in nearly three years, helping the Steelers remain unbeaten with a 38-13 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Wallace scored on catches of 46 and 41 yards during a stretch where Pittsburgh, which did little offensively the first two weeks of the season, scored on four straight possessions to build a 28-6 halftime lead.
Tampa Bay's Aqib Talib intercepted Batch's first pass of the day to set up a 40-yard field goal. But Bucs fans had little to cheer about the rest of the way.
Cowboys 27, Texans 13
Tony Romo threw two touchdown passes to Roy Williams, Marion Barber ran for another score and the Dallas Cowboys got their first win by beating the Houston Texans 27-13.
The Cowboys' defence got its first three takeaways of the season and held Houston's top-ranked offence to 340 yards.
DeMarcus Ware sacked Matt Schaub three times, and the Dallas secondary limited All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson to four catches for 64 yards.
Titans 29, Giants 10
Chris Johnson ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns, Vince Young threw a touchdown and the Tennessee defense forced three turnovers in beating the error-prone and undisciplined New York Giants 29-10 on Sunday.
The victory was the 10th straight against an NFC opponent for the Titans (2-1) and their fifth straight over the Giants (1-2), who have now lost two in a row.
The Giants missed two field goals, had two drives inside the Titans 6-yard line end in turnovers, gave Tennessee a safety with a chop block in the end zone and committed five personal fouls, including two by offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie that led to him being yanked from the game.
Chiefs 31, Niners 10
Matt Cassel's three touchdown passes included a trick play that caught San Francisco completely flat-footed and the surprising Kansas City Chiefs remained unbeaten with a 31-10 whipping Sunday of the hapless, winless 49ers.
After starting 0-4 a year ago and winning only 10 games the previous three seasons combined, the Chiefs are 3-0 for the first time since 2003.
The offence of the 49ers (0-3), which rolled up 417 yards Monday night against New Orleans managed only a field goal until the final play from scrimmage.
Colts 27, Broncos 13
Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns even without Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon and the Indianapolis Colts beat the crestfallen Denver Broncos.
The Broncos (1-2) were playing with heavy hearts following the death of teammate Kenny McKinley.
Kyle Orton threw for a career-best 476 yards on 37-of-57 passing and the Broncos outgained the Colts (2-1) by more than 100 yards. But they failed to get into the end zone on five trips inside the 20-yard line, settling for two field goals and turning over the ball on downs three times.
Colts receiver Austin Collie caught 12 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns in place of Garcon (hamstring), and Blair White, playing because Gonzalez has a high ankle sprain, caught a touchdown pass one day after being promoted from the practice squad.
Vikings 24, Lions 10
Adrian Peterson sped around the corner for a career-long 80-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, spurring the Minnesota Vikings to a 24-10 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Brett Favre took all kinds of hard hits in the pocket and threw two interceptions while Minnesota's passing attack frequently misfired, but Peterson picked up the slack with 160 yards on 23 carries.
His game-breaking run around right end put Minnesota up 24-10.
Patriots 38, Bills 30
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, two to Randy Moss, and the New England Patriots overcame Buffalo's stiff challenge for a 38-30 win Sunday, their 14th straight over the Bills.
First-round draft pick C.J. Spiller scored his first NFL touchdowns on a 5-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick and a 95-yard kickoff return.
But Buffalo's last chance faded when Fitzpatrick threw an interception to Brandon Meriweather with three minutes left.
New England (2-1) took a 17-16 lead at intermission on Stephen Gostkowski's 43-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
Buffalo (0-3) had its best offensive day of the season, but still came up short as it settled for three first-half field goals by Rian Lindell instead of touchdowns.
Ravens 24, Browns 17
Anquan Boldin made himself right at home in Baltimore with a sensational performance against the Cleveland Browns.
Boldin caught eight passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns, and the Ravens rallied to a 24-17 victory Sunday.
After tossing a career-high four interceptions one week earlier in a loss to Cincinnati, Joe Flacco went 22-for-31 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception after committing six turnovers in his first two games.
Eagles 28, Jaguars 3
Michael Vick threw three touchdown passes, ran for another score and the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Vick completed 17-of-31 passes for 291 yards, mostly staying in the pocket and picking apart Jacksonville's beleaguered secondary. One of the few times he did run, he broke a tackle, juked another defender and scored from 17 yards out.
He made coach Andy Reid's quarterback decision look like the right one.
Vick found DeSean Jackson for a 61-yard touchdown and hooked up with Jeremy Maclin for two scores. Jackson finished with five catches for 153 yards, Maclin had four receptions for 83 yards, and the Eagles (2-1) improved to 2-0 with Vick as their starter.
Vick became the latest in a growing list of quarterbacks to torch the Jaguars (1-2).
Bengals 20, Panthers 7
Carson Palmer was far from sharp and made some head-scratching decisions but it was still good enough for Cincinnati against a struggling Carolina offence that rookie Jimmy Clausen couldn't jump-start.
Palmer shook off two interceptions to throw a game-clinching touchdown pass to Cedric Benson midway through the fourth quarter, and Benson rushed for another TD in the Bengals' 20-7 victory over the Panthers on Sunday to spoil Clausen's first NFL start.
Cincinnati (2-1) snapped a five-game road losing streak despite a mistake-filled performance of turnovers and penalties in drizzly weather that included little explosiveness from the receiving duo of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
But the Panthers (0-3) couldn't take advantage with Clausen throwing for 188 yards and the Panthers committing four more turnovers.
Rams 30, Redskins 16
Backup running back Kenneth Darby scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, helping the St. Louis Rams overcome an injury to Steven Jackson and end a 14-game home losing streak with a victory over the Washington Redskins.
The Rams (1-2) won for only the second time in 29 games overall behind a strong start and even stronger finish, with the biggest offensive showing under second-year coach Steve Spagnuolo.
St. Louis, which lost its first two games by a total of six points, topped its previous best of 23 points under Spagnuolo in a five-point loss to the Saints last November.
Cardinals 24, Raiders 23
Sebastian Janikowski missed a 32-yard field goal as the game ended to allow Arizona to escape with a 24-23 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday in the Cardinals' home opener, a game littered with mistakes on both sides from start to finish.
The kick, after a pass interference call against Arizona's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, was wide left. Janikowski missed two others in the game, a 41-yarder and a 58-yarder. Both were wide right.
LaRod Stephens-Howling returned the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown for Arizona (2-1) and Derek Anderson threw two touchdown passes, including an 8-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald that proved to be the game winner.
Oakland (1-2) committed 11 penalties for 123 yards, Arizona seven for 104.
Seahawks 27, Chargers 20
Leon Washington returned two second-half kickoffs for touchdowns of 101 and 99 yards, making up for a long list of Seattle mistakes, and the Seahawks held off Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.
Washington took the opening kickoff of the second half 101 yards to give Seattle a 17-0 lead. Rivers brought the Chargers (1-2) storming back, tying the game at 20 on a 12-yard throw to Antonio Gates and a 2-point conversion to Legedu Naanee with 6:39 left.
Fifteen seconds later, Seattle (2-1) was back in front. Washington got lost in a pile, squirted free and raced 99 yards to give Seattle a 27-20 advantage.
Rivers threw for a career-high 455 yards.