NEW ORLEANS – Alvin Kamara climbed into the Superdome stands, stood in the first row with his arms folded and soaked in the adulation of fans who were relishing their decision to stick around after all had looked lost.
Kamara’s celebration of his 18-yard touchdown reception had an air of presumption, given New Orleans still needed a 2-point conversion to erase what had been a 15-point deficit when the Washington Redskins scored with 5:58 left in regulation. Then again, the Saints’ confidence was understandable; they haven’t lost in more than two months.
Kamara climbed back down in time to take a pitch into the end zone for the needed conversion, and the Saints won their eighth straight when Wil Lutz’s 28-yard field goal capped a 34-31 triumph in overtime.
“We just kind of hung in there. Guys believed,” said Saints coach Sean Payton, whose mind seemed to be racing as he labored to recall details of the frenzied final stretch. “There were a lot of things happening in a short period of time.”
Drew Brees passed for 385 yards and two touchdowns, going 11 of 11 for 164 yards and his only two touchdowns on New Orleans’ final two possessions of regulation. His first TD went to tight end Josh Hill from 3 yards out with 2:53 to go and the last to Kamara with 1:05 left.
“I tip my hat to Brees. That’s what he does. That’s what great quarterbacks do. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to make plays,” said Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger, whose first-quarter interception was Brees’ first turnover in four games. “We didn’t do our job. We beat ourselves for sure.”
The unlikely comeback made New Orleans the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to win eight straight after starting 0-2.
“We haven’t encountered a game like this in a while, and it was great to watch the team rally,” said Brees, whose team won its previous seven games more convincingly. “We have the confidence to win in a lot of different ways. We have the personnel to do it and the right attitude to do it.”
The Saints (8-2) set up their final drive by stopping Samaje Perine on third-and-1 at the two-minute warning when a first down would have allowed Washington (4-6) to run out the clock.
Washington moved into winning field-goal range in the final minute of regulation, only to be pushed back by a fluky grounding penalty that appeared to result from Kirk Cousins’ miscommunication with receiver Jamison Crowder, followed by a sack.
The Redskins received the ball first in overtime, but the Saints’ hobbled defense, which gave up more yards than in any game during its winning streak, forced a quick punt thanks in part to Cameron Jordan’s sack.
Cousins passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns, finishing 22 of 32 with no interceptions. His touchdowns went for 40 yards to Ryan Grant, 16 to Chris Thompson and 7 to Jeremy Sprinkle. Grant’s TD, which made it 24-13 in the third quarter, capped a drive extended by a successful fake punt on fourth-and-1 from the Redskins 15-yard line.
Cousins said he understood why the pivotal grounding penalty was called when he threw to an empty spot where Crowder had vacated, but he disagreed with officials’ interpretation.
“If he had turned and looked at me and the ball had been 10 feet over his head, I can just say the ball slipped out of my hand,” Cousins said. “That’s what I didn’t understand — how do you separate an inaccurate throw from no eligible in the area? I felt like an eligible was in the area, so I threw it in the area.”
Patriots 33, Raiders 8
In Mexico City, Tom Brady felt right at home in his first appearance in Mexico by throwing for 339 yards and three touchdowns, to the delight of an adoring crowd.
Brady completed his first 12 passes and picked apart Oakland’s suspect defense to chants of “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!” from an amped-up crowd at Azteca Stadium. The large contingent of Patriots fans in the well-divided crowd for a Raiders “home” game had plenty to cheer about as New England (8-2) dominated from start to finish.
Giants 12, Chiefs 9 (OT)
In East Rutherford, New Jersey, Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the Giants overcame weeks of adversity to beat AFC West-leading Kansas City on a blustery, cold day.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games.
Vikings 24, Rams 7
In Minneapolis, Latavius Murray rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns, Adam Thielen turned a short catch into a 65-yard score and the Vikings smothered the NFL’s highest-scoring offense.
Case Keenum completed 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and no turnovers against the team that benched him last season for No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. He also guided Minnesota (8-2) to its sixth straight victory in a matchup of division leaders.
Ravens 23, Packers 0
In Green Bay, Baltimore forced five turnovers in its third shutout of the season. The Ravens last accomplished that feat when the Ray Lewis-led defense had four shutouts for the Super Bowl-winning team in 2000.
Chargers 54, Bills 24
In Carson, California, Casey Hayward recorded two of Los Angeles’ five interceptions during a horrific first half by Buffalo rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, and the Rams cruised over the slumping Bills.
Korey Toomer returned Peterman’s first interception 59 yards for a touchdown on Buffalo’s opening drive. The rookie threw two more interceptions in the first quarter and two additional picks in the second.
Bengals 20, Broncos 17
In Denver, Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes in Cincinnati’s win over the Broncos, their first win in Denver since 1975 when franchise founder Paul Brown was their head coach.
That snapped the Bengals’ 10-game losing streak in Denver and sent the Broncos (3-7) to their sixth straight loss, their longest skid in 27 years.
Lions 27, Bears 24
In Chicago, Matthew Stafford threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns and Matt Prater kicked a 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining.
Detroit (6-4) took the lead after Tarik Cohen had tied it for Chicago (3-7) with a 15-yard touchdown run. The Lions escaped with their third straight win when the Bears’ Connor Barth was wide right on a 46-yarder in the closing seconds.
Stafford completed 21 of 31 passes. Marvin Jones Jr. had four receptions for 85 yards and a TD.
Jaguars 19, Browns 7
In Cleveland, Blake Bortles threw a touchdown pass and Jacksonville linebacker Telvin Smith recovered a fumble for a TD with 1:14 remaining as the Jaguars won their fourth straight and moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC South.
Jacksonville’s top-ranked defense forced five turnovers, two in the final two minutes.
Buccaneers 30, Dolphins 20
In Miami Gardens, Florida, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining and Tampa Bay snapped a six-game road slide.
O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored the Dolphins 17-0 in the second quarter.
Texans 31, Cardinals 21
In Houston, rookie D’Onta Foreman ran for 65 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns before being carted off the field with an ankle injury as the Texans snapped a three-game skid.
Houston (4-6) went on top when Foreman scored his first career touchdown on a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Arizona was stopped for a loss on a fourth-and-1 later in the fourth. Foreman dashed 34 yards on the next play to push the lead to 31-21 with about six minutes left.
Eagles 37, Cowboys 9
In Arlington, Texas, Carson Wentz threw for two touchdowns and three 2-point conversions after Philadelphia lost kicker Jake Elliott to a head injury, and the Eagles all but wrapped up the NFC East.