It was billed as a repeat of last year's Green Bay-Atlanta NFC Divisional Playoff encounter; a match of football alphas. In the first half, it looked for all the world like the defending Super Bowl champions were going to be run out of the Georgia Dome, literally, as the Falcons built an early 14-0 lead. But Green Bay hung on-losing its starting left tackle Chad Clifton to injury early and with an at times dazed-looking Aaron Rodgers under center. Last year's Super Bowl MVP clearly was disrupted by Atlanta's strong defense. But that was before the Packers rattled off 25 unanswered points and leveled the Falcons in the second half in a 25-14 victory Sunday night that propelled Green Bay to an NFL-best 5-0 mark.
RAIDERS WIN ONE FOR BIG AL: The Oakland Raiders went out and fulfilled their late owner's core belief: Just win, baby. The memorable maxim, Al Davis's recurring theme to his Raiders teams for more than six decades, did not come easily at Houston. With the aid of four Sebastian Janikowski field goals, three of them 50 yards or beyond, and quarterback Jason Campbell's two scoring aerials, Oakland fought back from a 416-yard passing performance by the Texans' Matt Schaub to take a 25-20 victory. But it was one of two interceptions of Schaub that preserved the emotional win for the Raiders. Safety Michael Huff pulled in the game-saver with no time left, after Schaub had completed a 34-yard pass down to the Oakland 5 with eight seconds left.
Both teams now stand at 3-2. It is the Raiders' best start since 2003.
ANGLING FOR THE CORNER: Week 5 surprises include: Kansas City's second win in a row after their debacle 0-3 start...Michael Vick again doing superhuman feats on the field-315 passing yards, two touchdowns, 90 yards rushing-but his four killing interceptions resulted in another Philadelphia loss. Maybe Buffalo's defense had a little something to do with it, especially linebacker Nick Barnett's two picks, including one for a score...Minnesota overpowering the Cardinals in the desert for its first win, behind Adrian Peterson's three first-quarter touchdowns...The Packers' Mason Crosby and his career franchise record-tying 56-yard field goal against Atlanta...Tim Tebow's near-game-winning antics in Denver against the Chargers.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: There had to have been a lot of emotions to deal with among the Raiders the day before Oakland went out and won a tough game on the road for Al Davis. But that wouldn't have happened without Silver and Black kicker deluxe Sebastian Janikowski's four field goals, three of which were 50 yards or longer; his longest from 55, his shortest from 42. Janikowski tied the NFL record for the longest field goal in history, 63 yards, in the season opener against Denver on Monday Night Football.
Alan Ross is the author of 32 books, including Away from the Ball: The NFL's Off-the-Field Heroes. E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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