(Reuters) - The Kansas City Chiefs remained unbeaten after a close shave with the Houston Texans, while the New York Jets capitalized on a controversial officiating call to beat division rivals New England in overtime on an eventful NFL Sunday.
On a day when quarterbacks in three different games were injured, the Chiefs emerged unscathed - but only barely - after a bold effort by the visiting Texans came up short.
The Texans kept it close all day before finally succumbing 17-16 when quarterback Case Keenum, in his first NFL start, was sacked with less than two minutes left.
There was little argument about the final result in Kansas City, but it was a different story in the Jets game, where a new rule was called for the first time as New York beat the New England Patriots 30-27 in overtime.
Jets kicker Nick Folk missed a 56-yard field goal attempt but got the chance to make amends after the referees called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on New England’s Chris Jones.
Jones was penalized for pushing a team mate forward to try to block the kick, breaking a new league rule that was introduced this year - at the request of NFL players - in an effort to make the game safer.
Folk then made the winning kick from 42 yards.
The rule states “Team B players cannot push team mates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation.”
Dean Blandino, the league’s vice president of officiating, told the NFL Network that referees had made the correct call, although he added that similar infractions this season had not been penalized.
Head coaches Rex Ryan (Jets) and Bill Belichick (Patriots) had different opinions about the ruling.
”I was fairly happy about it, was my reaction,“ Ryan told chuckling reporters. ”I was like, you know what, it’s about time we got a break.
“I think my reaction was just like our fans.”
Belichick saw it differently.
“You can’t push from the second level,” the Patriots coach said. “I didn’t think we did that.”
Jones was contrite about the infraction: “The mistake was mine. It was all my fault,” he said.
The Jets, riding high on the back of rookie quarterback Geno Smith, improved their season record to 4-3, second to the Patriots (5-2) in the AFC East.
The other AFC East showdown was also a thriller, with the Buffalo Bills pulling off a 23-21 road win over the Miami Dolphins as Dan Carpenter kicked the winning field goal from 31 yards with 33 seconds left.
The Dolphins, who failed on a ‘Hail Mary’ attempt as time expired, fell to 3-3 for the season, while the Bills moved to 3-4 in what has suddenly become a tightly-bunched division.
The San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals both improved to 5-2.
The AFC North Division leading Bengals beat the Detroit Lions 27-24 on Mike Nugent’s 54-yard field goal as time expired and the 49ers, chasing the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West, topped the Tennessee Titans 31-17.
The struggles continued for reigning Super Bowl champions Baltimore (3-4), who fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-16 on a game-ending field goal, while the Dallas Cowboys (4-3) cemented their NFC East lead with a 17-3 victory over Philadelphia, whose quarterback Nick Foles suffered a head injury.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler was also injured, experiencing an apparent groin problem in a 45-41 loss to Washington, while St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford also left the field with a potentially season-ending knee injury in his team’s 30-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
It was an ill-tempered game in Charlotte, where St. Louis defensive end Chris Long was ejected for throwing a punch during a large melee.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, Editing by Gene Cherry