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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Colts, Patriots and Saints bend but don't break

They are pushed by opponents but show their mettle and respond with second-half rallies to win.

November 09, 2009|SAM FARMER | ON THE NFL

The New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints -- we knew they could score.

We now know they can rebound.

Each of those elite teams won at home Sunday with second-half rallies against division foes.

The Patriots overcame a one-point deficit to beat Miami. The undefeated Colts wiped out a four-point lead by Houston. And the unbeaten Saints survived a scare against Carolina, trailing by as much as two touchdowns in the first half before coming to life in the second.

"We felt like we could close the gap," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose team scored 24 points in the second half to win, 30-20, and reach 8-0 for the first time in club history. "We felt like if we came out and scored right away, we'd be in good shape."

Dressed for success

Who says Tampa Bay's decision to bring back those Creamsicle uniforms was a bad idea?

The Buccaneers, the league's remaining winless team, got their first victory -- and Raheem Morris' first as a head coach -- with a 38-28 stunner over Green Bay.

In his starting debut, first-round pick Josh Freeman threw three touchdown passes with an interception. His Buccaneers, who hadn't scored more than 21 points in a game all season, did that in the fourth quarter.

East coasting

Winning at the Meadowlands was huge for the San Diego Chargers, who have struggled lately to win in the Eastern time zone. In handing the New York Giants their fourth consecutive loss, the Chargers collected their first victory over an opponent with a winning record, and a come-from-behind one at that.

"It's a big emotional win," Philip Rivers said. "I don't need a real reason why, but it ranks right up there with the win at Indy in the playoffs [2009]. The link between me and Eli [Manning] is always going to be there.

"So yeah, it's a little special. Any time you play against a team that won the Super Bowl, it's fun. It [the 2004 draft-day trade] didn't weigh into my mind and my thinking, but I bet it was there."

Getting his kicks

At the end of the first half in Indianapolis, the 56-yard field-goal attempt by Houston's Kris Brown was blocked. But he got a second chance because Coach Jim Caldwell had called a timeout to put a returner under the goal post. Brown's mulligan was good.

In the end, though, Brown couldn't get it done. His potential overtime-forcing kick from 42 yards sailed wide as time expired.

Legging it out

In plays separated by a few minutes at most, Arizona's Antrel Rolle and Jacksonville's Rashean Mathis tried to run back short field-goal attempts. Both nearly made spectacular returns. And both were brought down by last-line-of-defense players not accustomed to making tackles.

Rolle was stopped by Chicago kicker Robbie Gould, and Mathis by Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt.

Tommie gone

Arizona guard Deuce Lutui made a huge play within the first minute at Chicago, and all he did was lie there. The former USC lineman obviously did something to enrage Chicago defensive tackle Tommie Harris because the Bears standout felt compelled to punch the prone Lutui in the helmet. Not smart.

Referee Ed Hochuli watched the whole exchange and promptly ejected Harris, denying the Bears one of their best defensive players.

Arizona U-turn

A week ago, Arizona's Kurt Warner had five interceptions and a fumble against Carolina. Sunday, he threw five touchdown passes to lead the Cardinals to victory over the Bears. That's the first time since 1978 a quarterback has followed a five-interception game with a five-touchdown game.

It was the fourth consecutive road victory for the Cardinals, something they had not done since 1982, when they called St. Louis home.

The Cardinals now have an opportunity to gather some momentum. They take on Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee in the next three weeks -- all teams they can beat -- before playing host to Minnesota on Dec. 6.

Deck the Hall

Atlanta is billed as "the city too busy to hate," but DeAngelo Hall might beg to differ.

Hall, a Washington Redskins cornerback, said he plans to file a complaint with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about what he says were cheap shots delivered by the Atlanta Falcons -- Hall's former team -- during a melee on the sideline.

The incident in question came late in the second quarter, when Washington safety LaRon Landry was flagged for hitting quarterback Matt Ryan out of bounds on the Atlanta side. Hall said he went to pull Landry away and said that Jeff Fish, the Falcons' director of athletic performance, tried to "get some licks in" and Coach Mike Smith "cussed me out."

Said Hall: "I'm going to get on the horn with Commissioner Goodell and we're going to figure out a way how to nip this in the bud. It's different with me coming in trying to break stuff up and as a strength coach, if you're coming at me and you're trying to get . . . licks, that ain't how you do things."

Does Vick fit Bills?

Could Michael Vick wind up in Buffalo next season? Tony Dungy thinks it's a possibility.

Philadelphia signed Vick to a deal that pays him $1.6 million this season but goes up to $5.2 million next season if the Eagles choose to keep him.

"I told Michael to just worry about this year," Dungy said in his role as NBC commentator. He has served as a mentor to Vick. "It's technically up to Philadelphia. If they want him back, he has to stay there. If they don't, there are some teams looking for quarterbacks: Cleveland, St. Louis and Washington.

"But I think a dark horse is Buffalo. They talked originally. There was some communication there. I think that could be a good spot."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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