(Reuters) - Jamaal Charles ran for two touchdowns as the Kansas City Chiefs extended their unbeaten record to 6-0 with a 24-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders while the Pittsburgh Steelers gained their first win, downing the New York Jets 19-6 on Sunday.
The Chiefs, who finished last season tied for the NFL’s worst record with 2-14, suddenly find themselves among the league’s elite with their start the franchise’s best since 2003 when they opened 9-0.
The Raiders (2-4) had looked ready to end the Chiefs sparkling run by battling to at 7-7 draw into the third quarter before the Kansas City defense took over in the second half intercepting Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor three times, including a 44-yard return for a touchdown by Husain Abdullah to clinch the win.
The Steelers (1-4), off to their worst start since 1968, finally collected their first win thanks to four field goals from Shaun Suisham, a 55-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders and the re-emergence of the famed Pittsburgh defense.
The Jets (3-3), coming off a short week and a big win over the Atlanta Falcons, could not keep up the momentum as rookie quarterback Geno Smith completed 19 passes for 201 yards and no touchdowns and two interceptions.
In Minnesota, the Carolina Panthers (2-3) thumped the Vikings (1-4) 35-10 in game overshadowed by the tragic death last week of the two-year-old son of All-Pro running Adrian Peterson.
Cam Newton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Panthers never trailed leading 14-3 at the half and easing to a comfortable win.
The rout added to the somber mood as the crowd watched a mourning Peterson run for 62 yards on 10 carries.
The NFL’s most valuable player learned earlier in the week that his son, who lived with his mother in South Dakota had died of injuries from alleged abuse by her boyfriend.
In other early games, the Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) needed a 43-yard field goal from Mike Nugent in overtime to claim a nervy 27-24 win over the Buffalo Bills (2-4), who started undrafted back up quarterback Thad Lewis in place of injured rookie EJ Manuel.
Lewis, making just his second career start, nearly engineered the upset, directing two fourth quarter touchdown drives to force overtime.
The Houston Texans (2-4) problems continued as they were hammered at home 38-13 by the St. Louis Rams in an error-filled game that saw starting quarterback Matt Schaub leave the game with an apparent ankle injury.
Sam Bradford tossed three touchdowns for the Rams (3-3) while Alec Ogletree intercepted T.J. Yates and returned the ball 98 yards for another score.
In Baltimore, Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass and Mason Crosby kicked four field goals at the Green Bay Packers (3-2) held on to beat the Super Bowl champion Ravens (3-3) for their first road win of the season.
Packers’ NFC North division rivals the Detroit Lions (4-2) were convincing 31-17 winners over the Cleveland Browns (3-3).
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Gene Cherry