An unstoppable Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers got their revenge Sunday on the Atlanta Falcons.
Four days after Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy promised ‘‘payback’’ and ‘‘punishment’’ for the Falcons, Newton threw for 287 yards and scored on a 72-yard run in a 30-20 victory.
Despite playing without four starters and having 13 players on injured reserve, the struggling Panthers dominated the NFC South champions. Newton piled up a career-high 116 yards on the ground and the Panthers racked up 475 yards overall, avenging a Week 4 loss to Atlanta.
It was Newton’s first victory in four tries over his hometown team and he admitted after the game it was a special feeling. ‘‘I think this game allows me to have a little chip on my shoulder,’’ Newton said.
Carolina (4-9) came in with little to play for except to gain a measure of revenge on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whom they felt disrespected them after Atlanta’s 30-28 come-from-behind win on Sept. 30. Hardy was upset when television cameras caught Ryan cursing at the Panthers sideline, telling them to get off the Falcons’ field.
This one was over early. After the Panthers stuffed Atlanta (11-2) on its first drive, Newton faked a handoff to DeAngelo Williams and raced 72 yards to the end zone, getting a big block from receiver Steve Smith near the 20. Newton somersaulted into the end zone for a 23-0 lead.
Ryan threw two TD passes and Michael Turner ran for one for the Falcons.
Chargers 34, Steelers 24
So much for Ben Roethlisberger’s triumphant return. Roethlisberger struggled early and the host Pittsburgh (7-6) never recovered in a listless loss to San Diego (5-8).
Roethlisberger finished 22 of 42 for 285 yards and three TDs in his first game back after spraining his right shoulder and dislocating a rib nearly a month ago. Philip Rivers threw three TD passes, two to Danario Alexander, for the Chargers.
Giants 52, Saints 27
Rookie David Wilson returned a kickoff 97 yards for one touchdown, ran for two more scores, and piled up a team-record 327 all-purpose yards, and Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes in host New York’s blowout of New Orleans.
The Giants (8-5) maintained their one-game lead in the NFC East over Washington and Dallas. The loss all but ended the playoff hopes of the Saints (5-8).
Vikings 21, Bears 14
Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two TDs and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead host Minnesota (7-6) over Chicago.
Jay Cutler was 22 for 44 for 260 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, but couldn’t finish the game for the Bears (8-5), who have lost four of five. Cutler took a wicked hit to the head from Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Jason Campbell.
Packers 27, Lions 20
DaJuan Harris rushed for a score in his first game with Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers ran 27 yards for a TD, and Mike Daniels returned a fumble 43 yards as the host Packers (9-4) closed in on the NFC North title. The Packers can clinch by beating the Bears Sunday at Soldier Field.
The loss was the fifth straight for Detroit (4-9) and third in a row in which it blew a lead of 10 or more points, tying an NFL record shared by six other teams.
Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21
Nick Foles threw a pair of TD passes in the final four minutes, including a 1-yarder to Jeremy Maclin with no time left, to give Philadelphia (4-10) the home win over Tampa Bay (6-7) and end an eight-game skid, the team’s longest in 42 years.
Foles completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards in his fourth start in place of the injured Michael Vick. He threw an 11-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor with 3:55 remaining, then led the Eagles on a 64-yard game-winning drive after the Philadelphia defense forced a punt by Tampa Bay.
Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0
Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner each had two interceptions, part of the eight turnovers forced by host Seattle, Marshawn Lynch had three TD runs, and the Seahawks (8-5) handed Arizona (4-9) its ninth straight loss.
Leon Washington’s 3-yard run with 2:32 remaining pushed the Seahawks past the old record of 56 points scored against Buffalo in 1977.
Colts 27, Titans 23
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck led the Colts back from a 13-point second-half deficit and veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give Indianapolis (9-4) the lead and a 40-yarder a little later to seal a home win over Tennessee (4-9).
Luck engineered his sixth fourth-quarter comeback this season, and Vinatieri delivered again as the Colts moved a step closer to making the playoffs.
Jets 17, Jaguars 10
Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell ran for short touchdowns and visiting New York (6-7) kept its postseason hopes alive by beating Jacksonville (2-11). Mark Sanchez, benched last week in a 7-6 win over Arizona, completed 12 of 19 passes for 111 yards while backup Tim Tebow spent his Florida homecoming on the sideline.
Browns 30, Chiefs 7
Travis Benjamin’s electrifying 93-yard punt return for a touchdown gave Cleveland momentum, Trent Richardson had a pair of 1-yard TD runs, and the host Browns (5-8) won their third straight game by routing Kansas City (2-11).
Rams 15, Bills 12
Sam Bradford capped a 14-play, 84-yard drive with a 13-yard pass to Brandon Gibson with 48 seconds left to rally visiting St. Louis (6-6-1) past Buffalo (5-8), giving the Rams three straight wins for the first time since 2006.