The Minnesota Vikings rallied on Sunday for a 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a rematch of desperate teams who met in the playoffs last year.
The Vikings were paced by Percy Harvin's 95-yard kickoff return to begin the second half and an E.J. Henderson interception in the fourth that led to Ryan Longwell's winning field goal.
Minnesota dominated Dallas in a NFC divisional playoff game in January but each team came into the game with a 1-3 record.
Only five teams have come back from a 1-4 start to make the playoffs since 1990, putting a serious dent in the hopes of Dallas fans hoping their team would be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl which will be played at Cowboy Stadium.
Each team has big divisional games on tap next week. Dallas hosts the New York Giants, while quarterback Brett Favre will return to Green Bay with the Vikings.
Tony Romo threw a pair of first half touchdowns to Roy Williams to put Dallas up by seven heading into the half.
The Vikings fed off the Harvin play to take their first lead of the game, with Adrian Peterson punching it in from a yard late in the third quarter for a 21-14 score.
Romo lofted a pass into the end zone for rookie Dez Bryant to tie the game early in the fourth, but midway in the quarter from his own 22, the Cowboys quarterback didn't spot Henderson on a pass intended for favourite target Jason Witten.
Favre couldn't lead Minnesota into the end zone on the ensuing drive, but Longwell's 38-yarder put them ahead to stay.
Favre threw for just 118 yards, finding Greg Camarillo for a first half passing touchdown. The veteran quarterback showed his resiliency by getting up off the mat from several hard hits from Dallas defenders.
Ravens 23, Patriots 20 (OT)
Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal with 1:56 left in overtime gave the New England Patriots a 23-20 come-from-behind win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Deion Branch, acquired five days after Randy Moss was traded to Minnesota on Oct. 6, sparked the comeback from a 20-10 deficit starting with a five-yard scoring pass from Tom Brady four minutes into the fourth quarter. The Patriots then forced the Ravens to punt and marched from their 14 to a third down at the Baltimore three-yard line and settled for Gostkowski's 24-yard tying field goal.
On the last possession of overtime, Branch caught passes for 23 and 10 yards, setting up the winning kick.
Branch finished with nine catches for 98 yards for the Patriots (4-1). For the Ravens (4-2) Joe Flacco completed 27-of-35 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
Steelers 28, Browns 10
Ben Roethlisberger, cheered loudly during his first game in 9 1/2 months, shook off the rust from his four-game suspension to throw three touchdown passes, as the Pittsburgh Steelers shut down a depleted Cleveland Browns offense.
With the Steelers (4-1) leading 7-3 but backed up to their own four late into the third quarter, Roethlisberger — flashing the big-play ability his team lacked without him — completed passes of 50 yards to Mike Wallace and 36 yards to Heath Miller on successive plays.
Three plays later, Hines Ward fought through two potential tacklers on an eight-yard touchdown catch that made it 14-3 and gave the Steelers' defence all the points needed on a mostly dominating day. The Browns fell to 1-5.
Dolphins 23, Packers 20 (OT)
Dan Carpenter kicked a 44-yard field goal with 9:01 left in overtime, giving the Miami Dolphins a victory over the struggling Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
It was the second straight overtime loss for the injury-riddled Packers (3-3), who lost at Washington last week.
And it was a special teams-driven victory for the Dolphins (3-2), who had a bye week to think about a loss to New England that resulted in the firing of their special teams coach.
Aaron Rodgers started for Green Bay one week after sustaining a concussion, and scored on a quarterback sneak with 13 seconds left in regulation. The Packers tied the game with the extra point and forced overtime, but a strong Dolphins running game made the difference in the extra period.
Jets 24, Broncos 20
LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for two touchdowns in the final quarter as New York (5-1) overcame a seven-point deficit.
Mark Sanchez threw a touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards, but also his first two interceptions of the season.
Tim Tebow scored his first NFL touchdown on a five-yard run and Kyle Orton found rookie Demaryius Thomas in the third on a 17-yard score to put the Broncos ahead after three quarters.
Denver (2-4) had the ball in New York territory with less than a minute left, but Orton fumbled the ball over to the Jets.
Colts 27, Redskins 24
Peyton Manning threw for 307 yards, with touchdowns to Pierre Garcon and Auston Collie as the Colts hung on in Washington in the Sunday night affair.
Joseph Addai rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries but left the game late after taking a hard hit.
Ryan Torain rushed for 100 yards and a score and Donovan McNabb threw touchdowns for Washington (3-3).
Indianapolis (4-2) received two tremendous one-handed catches — from Garcon, and a game-clinching interception by safety Aaron Francisco.
Eagles 31, Falcons 17
Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson each scored two touchdowns as the Philadelphia Eagles snapped Atlanta's four-game winning streak.
A head-on collision in the second quarter cost Philadelphia star receiver Jackson, and Atlanta lost cornerback Dunta Robinson, both with head injuries. Jackson dropped a pass when hit by Robinson, who led with his head and hit Jackson in the helmet. Robinson was flagged for hitting a defenceless receiver.
Jackson scored both Philadelphia touchdowns in the first quarter, on a 31-yard run and a 34-yard pass from Kevin Kolb.
Maclin made sure his receiving partner wasn't missed after the collision, catching an eight-yard TD pass and also scoring on an 83-yard bomb.
Philadelphia (4-2) ensured it would stay atop the NFC East, while the Falcons fell to 4-2.
Texans 35, Chiefs 31
Matt Schaub threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson with 28 seconds left to give Houston a stunning fourth-quarter comeback win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The Texans (4-2) trailed 31-21 with just over seven minutes left after Thomas Jones' 11-yard touchdown run. Schaub threw two long passes to Owen Daniels before Arian Foster scored with 3:30 left to cut the Chiefs' lead to three.
Houston regained possession after a punt with just over two minutes left. Schaub found Johnson across the middle for a 15-yard gain, then hit him down the sideline for 31 more to the Chiefs 24.
Five plays later, Schaub eluded the rush and found Johnson open in the back of the end zone. Johnson, still nursing a sprained right ankle, caught eight passes for 138 yards.
Matt Cassel threw three touchdown passes for Kansas City (3-2).
Saints 31, Buccaneers 6
Drew Brees threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns, leading the New Orleans Saints to a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Super Bowl champions rebounded from a mistake-filled road loss that dumped them into third place in the NFC South, scoring on their first three possessions and getting an unexpected lift from rookie running back Chris Ivory.
Ivory rushed for 158 yards on 15 carries, stepping up in the absence of the injured Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.
The Saints (4-2) amassed 476 yards total offence and weren't forced to punt until early in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay (3-2) was held scoreless until Josh Freeman led a long fourth-quarter touchdown drive aided by a pair of personal foul penalties for a late hit on the quarterback.
Seahawks 23, Bears 20
Matt Hasselbeck threw for a season-best 242 yards and a touchdown and Seattle's defence sacked Jay Cutler six times in a win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Cutler was in trouble much of the game, and completed just 17 of 39 for 290 yards.
He missed last week's game with a concussion after being sacked nine times by the Giants the previous week.
The biggest hit came in the closing minutes when Devin Hester ran a punt back 89 yards, equalling an NFL record with his 13th kick return for a touchdown.
During the play, Earl Bennett lowered his shoulder and levelled punter Jon Ryan. Ryan stayed down for several minutes before walking off.
The Seahawks (3-2), coming off a bye week, got a needed lift by beating a team that was tied for the league's best record. Chicago fell to 4-2.
Rams 20, Chargers 17
James Hall, Chris Long and Larry Grant had two sacks apiece and the St. Louis Rams stuffed the NFL's top offence in a victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Sam Bradford threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Danario Alexander, making his NFL debut, to help build a 14-point cushion in the first half. Steven Jackson also scored and had several key late carries for the Rams (3-3), who won their third straight at home for the first time since 2004 after entering the season with a 14-game losing streak.
The Rams dominated on both sides of the ball against the NFL's top-ranked offence and second-ranked defence, one week after getting blown out 44-6 at Detroit. Fans stood much of the fourth quarter, helping to rattle the four-time defending AFC West champions.
San Diego (2-4) lost tight end Antonio Gates with a left ankle injury in the first half.
Giants 28, Lions 20
Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes for the New York Giants to send the error-prone Lions to an NFL record-tying 24th straight road loss.
Safety Deon Grant preserved the third straight win for the Giants (4-2) on Sunday by forcing and recovering a fumble by Lions' receiver Nate Burleson at the Giants 42 with about five minutes to go and New York ahead by four points.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 45 yards on the first play, setting up Brandon Jacobs' second touchdown run, a six-yarder. He also scored from four yards out.
Manning threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Mario Manningham and one-yard to Travis Beckum.
Shaun Hill left the game late in the first half with an injured left arm. Drew Stanton had an 87-yard scoring pass to Calvin Johnson in the fourth quarter for the Lions (1-5).
49ers 17, Raiders 9
It was hardly a Bay Area barnburner, but San Francisco will take the result.
The 49ers overcame 11 penalties to win their first game of the season. Trailing 6-3 in the third, quarterback Alex Smith connected on a 32-yard touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis.
Smith threw a TD pass in the fourth to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, set up by a 64-yard rush from Frank Gore.
Jason Campbell had helped rally Oakland (2-3) last week against San Diego but was terrible against the Niners. The Raiders quarterback went 8-of-21 passing for just 83 yards, throwing two interceptions.
The result leaves Buffalo and Carolina as the only winless teams in the NFL. San Francisco (1-5) will try and build some momentum with a game against the Panthers next week.