Adam Vinatieri beat the St. Louis Rams with his leg in the 2002 Super Bowl. This time, he used his leg and his arm.
New England’s kicker connected on a season-best four field goals, then threw his first career touchdown pass on a fake to Troy Brown to help the Patriots bounce back from their only loss with a 40-22 victory Sunday at St. Louis.
“You kind of hope to get these guys sleeping a little bit, and we did,” Vinatieri said. “Troy kind of hid out on the side and we snapped the ball before they noticed him.”
Corey Dillon returned after a one-week absence with 112 yards rushing in 25 carries and a touchdown for the Patriots, whose 21-game winning streak ended in a loss to Pittsburgh last week. They had won an NFL-record 18 straight in the regular season.
“I’m just here to do my part and help the team win,” Dillon said. “Everybody stepped up after last week.”
The Patriots (7-1) compensated for an injury-ravaged secondary by sacking Marc Bulger five times, forcing a fumble and intercepting a tipped ball. Bulger said the Patriot strategy was to jam the receivers at the line and then pass them on to the safeties. As a result, he had to wait longer to make throws.
“There’s different reasons for it, schemes and all of that,” Bulger said. “I probably held on to the ball too long sometimes, and things happen, but I don’t think we can throw blame around quite this soon.”
New England was without both starting cornerbacks, then lost one of the fill-ins, Asante Samuel, with an arm injury in the first quarter. That forced them to use Brown in the secondary.
Bulger completed 23 of 33 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns for St. Louis (4-4), which had been 4-0 after the bye week under Coach Mike Martz. This was their worst loss at home in his five seasons.
Oakland 27, Carolina 24 -- Tyrone Wheatley and Amos Zereoue combined to run for three touchdowns, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 19-yard field goal with six seconds to play for the Raiders at Charlotte, N.C.
Kerry Collins passed for 231 yards and threw his 12th interception of the season, but came out victorious in his first meeting against his former team.
After Carolina (1-7) tied the score, at 24-24, with 2:25 to play, Collins threw completions of 19 and 12 yards to move the Raiders (3-6) into Panther territory.
His next pass was incomplete to Doug Gabriel near the end zone, but Dante Wesley was flagged for pass interference. The 38-yard penalty gave Oakland the ball at the four, and Janikowski kicked the game-winner three plays later.
Cincinnati 26, Dallas 3 -- Tight end Matt Schobel caught a down-the-middle pass from Carson Palmer and ran 76 yards for a touchdown at Cincinnati.
It was another unsettling setback for the Cowboys (3-5), who have lost four of their last five and fumbled away more of their hopes of a second straight playoff appearance. Vinny Testaverde, who turns 41 next Saturday, had his worst game with the Cowboys. Throwing to an injury-depleted receiving corps, he was 18 of 30 for 207 yards with three interceptions and a fumble.
Palmer spent the afternoon throwing short passes to tight ends and running backs, finishing 21 of 32 for 212 yards for the Bengals (3-5).
Tampa Bay 34, Kansas City 31 -- Michael Pittman scored one of his three touchdowns on a team-record 78-yard run and the Buccaneers (3-5) held off the Chiefs (3-5) at Tampa, Fla., giving them consecutive victories for only the second time since they won the Super Bowl two years ago.
Priest Holmes scored his 14th rushing touchdown of the season for the Chiefs on a two-yard run, but was on the sideline when the Buccaneer defense put the clamps on Kansas City’s last two drives.
There was no official announcement on why Holmes, who gained 282 yards and scored seven touchdowns the last two weeks, was not in the game.
The league’s leading rusher had been listed as probable to play because of a sore ankle and finished with 59 yards in 16 carries.
Arizona 24, Miami 23 -- To end a 17-game road losing streak, the Cardinals merely needed to pay a visit to Miami.
The Cardinals (3-5) benefited from two critical penalties and drove 70 yards in the final two minutes for the winning touchdown.
Larry Fitzgerald caught the winning score on a two-yard pass from Josh McCown with 19 seconds left. The road win was the first since Oct. 6, 2002, for Arizona.
Miami’s latest loss came amid speculation Coach Dave Wannstedt might soon be fired by owner Wayne Huizenga. The Dolphins (1-8) are heading into their bye week.