FOXBORO, Mass. — Returning from a four-game substance-abuse suspension, Mike Cloud scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3 minutes 14 seconds left to help lift the New England Patriots over Tennessee, 38-30, Sunday.
"As I went to bed last night, I had visions of something good happening," said Cloud, who scored on a 15-yard run up the middle. "I guess the dream was right."
The final five minutes were wild. Before a crowd cheering as much for baseball's Boston Red Sox as the Patriots, Cloud put New England ahead for good, 31-27, with his touchdown run. The Patriots' lead increased to 38-27 when New England cornerback Ty Law followed with a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown on the next series.
The sequence started with 4:40 remaining when Tennessee's Steve McNair bulled into the end zone from one yard to give the Titans (3-2) a 25-24 lead and then threw for a two-point conversion to rookie Tyrone Calico. It came at the end of a 17-play, 86-yard drive. But another rookie, the Patriots' Bethel Johnson, returned the kickoff 71 yards to the Titan 30. Three plays later, Cloud scored.
Cloud, who was suspended for testing positive for an illegal supplement, signed with New England in the off-season after playing with Kansas City last year. Sunday, he ended up with 73 yards in seven carries.
On his first carry, the Patriots (3-2) were called for illegal procedure. On the next play, Cloud burst for 17 yards. He stayed in for the remainder of the game.
"I thought after that first one I might be done for the day," said Cloud, who backed up Priest Holmes in Kansas City. "But I felt good and I felt things would come."
Law's interception came on the series after Cloud's touchdown when the Patriot cornerback jumped in front of Calico and raced down the sideline untouched. Law was playing with a sprained ankle on a defense that has been without as many as nine starters this season.
Said McNair, who completed 23 of 45 passes for 391 yards and ran for two touchdowns: "I thought I could get it in there with the bad leg [Law] had. I don't guess right all the time. He broke on it, did a good job and that was the ballgame."
Not quite. Gary Anderson's 41-yard field goal with 36 seconds left cut it to eight points and Christian Fauria had to recover an on-side kick to ensure the win. New England, which had been averaging fewer than 100 yards, had 161 on the ground, 80 in 16 carries by Antowain Smith.