The Minnesota Vikings preserved their status as the NFL's only unbeaten team with a 31-13 victory over the Houston Texans at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Quarterback Sam Bradford threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns as he continued his exemplary recent form to take the Vikings to 5-0 for the first time since 2009.
Following losses by the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles, they are now the sole unbeaten side in the competition - a feat made all-the-more impressive given injury problems that have robbed them of their starting quarterback, running back and left tackle.
The Vikings also joined the 1969 Los Angeles Rams as the only teams in NFL history to start 5-0 without an interception.
As good as Bradford has been for Minnesota, his performance on Sunday was overshadowed by the return of one of the NFL's greats.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was back from his four-game suspension and threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-13 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Things did not go as well for Broncos rookie Paxton Lynch, however, who was making his first NFL start in place of injured Trevor Siemian. Lynch was sacked six times and threw an interception in a 23-16 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons (4-1), who now look like NFC contenders with wins over both Super Bowl 50 teams in consecutive weeks.
Over at Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers came away with an ugly 23-16 victory over New York Giants as both Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning endured games to forget.
Manning barely completed 50 percent of his passes for the second straight week, finishing 18 of 35 for 199 yards, while Rodgers undid a strong start by eventually throwing multiple interceptions in a game since week five of last season.
A pair of touchdown strikes from Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams helped the Packers to victory, though they suffered injury concerns to Eddie Lacy (ankle) and Randall Cobb (head/neck).
SHERELS JOINS PUNT RETURN ROYALTY
Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels returned a punt 79 yards in Minnesota's dominant win for the fifth punt return for a score in his six-year career.
Sherels, who already owns the Vikings franchise record, is now one of four active NFL players with five or more career punt returns for touchdowns. He joins Devin Hester (14), Darren Sproles (7) and Adam Jones (5).
Call this an anti-highlight for the Ravens. Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosley picks off Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. But as Mosley tries to reach the ball over the goal line, he drops it and it rolls through the end zone for a touchback. The result was a 17-yard gain for the Redskins.
Mosley picks off Cousins.-- NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2016
Wants the Pick-6.
Stretches for the TD.
It's 17-yard gain for WAS. Wow. https://t.co/zUYNUQG9vO
The Chargers were lining up for a game-tying field goal with 2:08 remaining, but punter and holder Drew Kaser fumbled the snap and the Raiders held on for a 34-31 victory. All four losses by the Chargers (1-4) this season came after they held a second-half lead.
DAK'S MORE LIKE IT
When Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe in his second season, he had 162 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is closing in on that record after going 18 of 24 for 227 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 28-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Prescott has the NFL's rookie record for pass attempts to start a career without an interception and is just eight attempts shy of breaking Brady's overall tally.
Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger has been on fire since running back Le'Veon Bell returned from a three-game suspension. Roethlisberger threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-13 win over the New York Jets.
BELICHICK CLIMBS LADDER
New England's 33-13 victory in Cleveland was the 227th career win for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to move him into fourth place in NFL history. Belichick broke a tie with former Packers coach Earl "Curly" Lambeau.
Belichick, 64, is now 23 wins behind former Cowboys coach Tom Landry for third place.
Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore ran for 75 yards in Sunday's 29-23 win over the Chicago Bears to move past Hall of Famer Jim Brown for ninth place on the NFL's all-time rushing list. Gore now has 12,368 yards in his 12-year career.
The Falcons had a perfect strategy to beat the Broncos' aggressive pass rush -- check it down. Falcons running backs caught eight passes for 180 yards, the most combined receiving yardage by a team's running backs since the Kansas City Chiefs had 236 receiving yards out of the backfield in a 2013 win over the Oakland Raiders.
BRADY 'RUSTY' IN 400-YARD DEBUT
Brady threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns while completing 70 per cent of his passes in his first game of the season, but he was still not satisfied.
"I think there was plenty of rust out there. I could do better in a lot of areas," he said after the game. "It was a good win. It was one game, and like I said, 4-1 is a good point to be at for us. We have a long road ahead so we have to stay focused."
The Texans have been thrashed twice in three weeks by two of the NFL's best clubs in the Patriots and Vikings.
"That's two times facing an elite team and we didn't look good," Vince Wilfork told the media. "So, it's gut-check time. We're way better than that, but we haven't shown that. Until we show it, maybe I'm seeing things a little bit different. Maybe I'm screwed up. Until we show it, that's who we are."
WENTZ SHOWS FLAWS
The rookie record for most pass attempts to start a career without an interception was held briefly by Philadelphia's Carson Wentz. Then Prescott's game started.
The Cowboys rookie did not throw a pick in Dallas' win over the Bengals and owns the NFL record with 155 pass attempts without an interception. Wentz saw his streak come to an end at 134 attempts with a late interception in a 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions.