(Reuters) - The Dallas Cowboys stunned Super Bowl champions Seattle with a 30-23 win on Sunday to move to 5-1 and the top of the NFC East.
While Dallas had made a positive start to the season, their victory in Seattle, their fifth consecutive win this year, was still a surprise given the Seahawks (3-2) had lost just once in their previous 18 home games.
Meanwhile, Joe Flacco threw five touchdown passes, four of them in a remarkable first quarter, as the Baltimore Ravens crushed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-17 on a day when the league’s elite quarterbacks came up big.
Tom Brady passed for four touchdowns as the New England Patriots beat AFC East divisional rivals Buffalo 37-22 while Peyton Manning’s three touchdown passes helped the Denver Broncos defeat the New York Jets 31-17.
Aaron Rodgers’ third touchdown in Miami was a game-winner with three seconds left on the clock as the Green Bay Packers beat the Dolphins 27-24 in a thriller.
In Seattle, the Seahawks’ offense struggled against a Dallas defense that has been transformed from one of the worst in the league last season into a highly effective unit.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson managed to complete only 14 of 28 passes, throwing for 126 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
Wilson’s opposite number Tony Romo linked up for two touchdowns and threw for 250 yards in another accomplished display from the Cowboys quarterback.
Dallas made sure of the win in the fourth quarter with some superb work from their offensive line, creating space for DeMarco Murray to exploit with a fine 15-yard touchdown run.
A Dan Bailey field goal from 31 yards wrapped up the deserved road win for Dallas who now believe they have everything in place for a run into the post-season.
The Ravens move to 4-2 on the season after a one-sided victory in Tampa where Flacco took full advantage of a depleted Bucs secondary.
Flacco found Torrey Smith with touchdown passes twice in the opening six minutes and the game was over as a contest when Flacco found Steve Smith on a 56-yard touchdown pass at the start of the second quarter for the Ravens’ fifth touchdown in 16:03 minutes — the fastest five-touchdown performance since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Flacco finished with 21 of 29 passes completed, throwing for 306 yards and the five scores as Lovie Smith’s troubled Tampa Bay fell to 1-5.
Early season talk about the decline of the New England Patriots and their quarterback looks a little premature after Bill Belichick’s team took sole control of the AFC East, moving to 4-2, after their win at Buffalo.
Brady sealed the victory with a 56-yard pass to Brandon LaFell, the wide receivers’ second touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, and finished with 361 passing yards.
Manning continues to close in on Brett Favre’s record of 508 NFL career touchdowns with the Broncos quarterback now on 506. Manning found Julius Thomas twice for scores as he threw for 237 yards.
Packers quarterback Rodgers showed his class throughout Green Bay’s win at Miami but the Dolphins almost ran out winners after a spirited second-half display.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled in the first half, throwing two interceptions, but touchdowns from receiver Jarvis Landry, running back Lamar Miller and wide receiver Mike Wallace gave Miami a 24-17 lead.
But a Mason Crosby field goal brought Green Bay in sight and some poor clock management from Miami allowed the Packers a chance with the final drive of the game which Rodgers accepted gleefully — finding Andrew Quarless with a four-yard pass into the corner to win the game.
Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent missed a 36-yard field goal at the end of overtime as the Bengals tied 37-37 with the Carolina Panthers. Both teams had scored field goals in overtime.
The San Diego Chargers, the AFC West leaders, won their fifth consecutive game, a 31-28 comeback triumph over Oakland, and the Arizona Cardinals stay in front in the NFC West by defeating the Washington Redskins 30-20.
The Steelers have dominated Cleveland during the Ben Roethlisberger era but the Browns enjoyed just their second win over the Pittsburgh quarterback thanks to their running game.
Ben Tate rushed for two touchdowns and Isaiah Crowell another as Cleveland ran out a 31-10 win over their rivals.
Reporting By Simon Evans in Miami, editing by Gene Cherry