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Sunday October 9th, 2011

Let’s face it: While there’s nothing better than NFL Sundays, it can be a little intimidating keeping up with what’s going on in every game. You can analyze the box scores or scan Twitter, but we’ll make it even easier. Here you’ll find the most important points from every day game, so you’ll be prepared no matter what comes up at the water cooler Monday morning. We’ll be updating throughout the games, so keep checking back.

[1-4] Vikings 34, [1-4] Cardinals 10 (box score | recap)

1.  It's Adrian Peterson's team. Remember a couple of weeks ago, when the Vikings were criticized for all but ignoring Peterson? Peterson got plenty of work Sunday, scoring three first-quarter touchdowns and finishing with 122 yards rushing.

2. The Cardinals' offensive line continues to sabotage them. It's been a question mark that is rearing its ugly head. Kevin Kolb was harassed often and sacked four times, and Arizona struggled to get Beanie Wells going.

3. Donovan McNabb had another dismal outing, completing just 10 passes. But he at least avoided turning the ball over -- plus, he added a rushing touchdown during the Vikings' first-half onslaught.

[4-1] Bills 31, [1-4] Eagles 24 (box score | recap)

1. Michael Vick pulled a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde performance. After tossing three first-half interceptions and seeing his down fall down 28-7 early in the third quarter, Vick led a furious rally, complete with two TD passes and a long scramble to set up another score. But down a touchdown and driving for the tying score, Vick reverted and threw his fourth pick of the game, the second by Nick Barnett, to end the game.

2. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller were in a playing-time battle this preseason. Jackson has dominated the competition during the regular season, though, and finishing with 111 yards on 26 carries (4.3 ypc) and a score, while adding 85 yards receiving. Spiller, meanwhile, had four total touches -- two carries and two catches.

3. The Eagles committed two costly mental errors. First, they closed out a crummy first half with some terrible clock management, opting for a pass instead of a field goal. But Vick's pass sailed out of the end zone as time expired. Late in the game, forcing the Bills into a 4th-and-1 down by 7 and a chance to get the ball back to tie, the Eagles jumped offside, robbing them of another possession.

[4-1] Saints 30, [1-4] Panthers 27 (box score | recap)

1. Cam Newton is a quick learner. After throwing a pick on his first pass attempt, Newton began to settle down and solve Gregg Williams' defense, turning it on with a big third quarter that led to the Panthers taking their first lead of the game. His comeback attempt down by three with under a minute left fell short, however.

2. Again, the Saints struggled to bury a team it had on the ropes. Up 7-0 and with the ball inside the 10, the Saints had to settle for a field goal when it looked like an early rout could be on. More failed drives and a resilient Panthers offense kept the game close, a week after the Saints failed to put Jacksonville away early.

3. Lack of discipline and flaring tempers have been a problem for both teams. A Roman Harper cheap shot on Steve Smith after Smith crossed the goal line on a catch sparked a mini melee, and a number of other personal foul calls have come on both sides. The hostility appears to be very genuine.

[3-2] Bengals 30, [1-4] Jaguars 20 (box score | recap)

1. Maybe the Bengals are a legit playoff contender. They found a way to win in Jacksonville Sunday, despite not playing extremely well. Bernard Scott's late TD put them ahead, 23-20, and the defense finished the job.

2. Cincinnati's Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green connection is quickly becoming a terrific duo -- to the point where Dalton's almost looking for Green to a fault. The pair put up an early TD score, but then Dalton tossed an ill-advised interception later, trying to fit one in to Green between two defenders.

3. The biggest series of the game might have come after Dalton's interception. Jacksonville had 1st-and-goal at the Cincinnati 2 and settled for a field goal -- a touchdown there, and the final score's probably different.

[3-2] Steelers 38, [3-2] Titans 17 (box score | recap)

1. Ben Roethlisberger was limping around after almost every play, but he still managed to torch Tennessee for five touchdown passes, in part thanks to an improved effort by the offensive line -- one that came despite Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert suffering nicks during the game.

2. Until Matt Hasselbeck started whipping the ball around late, this was a vintage Pittsburgh performance. The defense set the tone early, with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu coming up with back-to-back nice plays in the red zone to hold Tennessee to a field goal on a six-minute drive.

3. Chris Johnson hit Pittsburgh with a couple of nice runs early. He hit the wall after that, with the Steelers' lead forcing Tennessee to the air. Johnson finished with just 51 yards on 14 carries.

[2-3] Seahawks 36, [3-2] Giants 25 (box score | recap)

1. Eli Manning reverted to his turnover-prone ways. After a career-high in interceptions in 2010, Manning started the year protecting the ball much better. But the Seahawks forced him to cough up the ball four times -- three interceptions and a fumble. Manning's pick-6 with just over a minute left came with the Giants down four and driving to take a late lead.

2. Seattle fans have been rooting for Charlie Whitehurst to get a shot at quarterback, and they got their wish when Tarvaris Jackson left the game with a shoulder injury. But Jackson was playing well before he got hurt. The duo combined to go 26 of 41 for 315 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (which belonged to Jackson).

3. The typically sluggish Seahawks offense didn't have a problem moving on the Giants. Averaging 254 yards per game entering the contest, Seattle basically matched that total in the first half. They finished with 424 yards in total.

[2-3] Chiefs 28, [0-5] Colts 24 (box score | recap)

1. Maybe this is the Curtis Painter effect, but two weeks in a row, the Colts have been in position to win a game and absolutely fallen apart on offense. Sunday, Indianapolis put up 24 first-half points on K.C., then failed to score in the second half.

2. Losing Joseph Addai didn't help the Colts' cause. Addai left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, leaving Donald Brown and Delone Carter to split time in the backfield.

3. Kansas City got a solid day on the ground from Jackie Battle, who sailed past the 100-yard mark, and that helped Matt Cassel pick Indy apart through the air. Cassel finished with four touchdown passes, two each to Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston.

[3-2] Raiders 25, [3-2] Texans 20 (box score | recap)

1. The Raiders offense took a long time to show up. They needed almost the entire first half to pick up a first down, and looked listless into the third quarter, when Jason Campbell and Darren McFadden got going and mounted a Raider comeback.

2. Of course, who needs an offense when you've got Sebastian Janikowski? Seabass hit four field goals, including three from 50 yards or longer, to help keep the Raiders from falling into an early hole.

3. Houston lost Mario Williams in the first half to a pectoral injury. There's no word yet how serious it is, but Williams being out for any amount of time is a major blow to the Texans' improving defense.

[4-1] 49ers 48, [3-2] Buccaneers 3 (box score | recap)

1. Alex Smith had a breakthrough performance against Philadelphia in Week 4, and he came out firing again Sunday. He capped the 49ers' opening drive with a 26-yard scoring streak to Delanie Walker and finished with three touchdown passes.

2. Tampa Bay has been a slow-starting team this year and the schedule this week -- home last Monday, followed by a trip to the West Coast -- looked like a recipe for disaster. The Bucs did nothing to disprove that theory.

3. Frank Gore may not be 100 percent yet, but he's healthy enough to do some serious damage. He's well on his way to topping the century mark on the ground and has punched on in for a TD.

[4-1] Patriots 30, [2-3] Jets 21 (box score | recap)

1. Rex Ryan talked about wanting to get some more production on the ground from his offense -- and his team had a nice TD drive in the first half that included eight run plays. But it's surprising that Mark Sanchez has not been able to find more room through the air against a shaky New England pass defense.

2. Aaron Hernandez returned to New England's lineup after missing two games with a knee injury. He started slow and even left the field for a bit in the second quarter. But by the fourth quarter, he looked like his old self, making grabs over the middle and eluding defenders.

3. Key moment in this one: With New England up 10-7, Deion Branch caught a pass near the Jets' goal line and fumbled for an apparent turnover. But Bill Belichick challenged, the call was reserved and Brady found Branch for a touchdown pass on the next play.

[4-1] Chargers 29, [1-4] Broncos 24 (box score | recap)

1. Tim Tebow finally got his long-awaited opportunity in the second half. He still has issues throwing downfield -- he started 1-of-5 for 0 yards -- but ran for a TD and then hit Knowshon Moreno for a 28-yard score on a screen. Say what you will about his ability, but Tebow seems to be a spark for this Denver team.

2. Kyle Orton and Philip Rivers traded interceptions in the first quarter, but Rivers' mistake was more severe -- Denver's Cassius Vaughn took Rivers' mistake back 55 yards for a first-quarter TD.

3. Rivers also coughed up a fumble late, which Denver turned into a touchdown to close within 26-24, but give San Diego's QB credit. On the next series, facing 3rd-and-10 with Denver's home crowd roaring, Rivers found Malcom Floyd for a 38-yard gain to help ice a tight win.

- Tom Mantzouranis contributed to this post.

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