San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of their NFL football game in New Orleans, Louisiana November 25, 2012. REUTERS photo
Colin Kaepernick, who was making his second career start in place of Alex Smith, ran for one touchdown and threw for another as the San Francisco 49ers beat New Orleans 31-21 on Sunday.
Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner each returned an interception for a score for the 49ers, who had cleared Smith to play but decided to go with Kaepernick as their quarterback instead.
Smith suffered a concussion during the 49ers' 24-24 tie against the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago. Kaepernick completed 16-of-25 passes for 231 yards on Sunday.
"Coach said he's going to go with who has the hot hand, so now we have two starting quarterbacks," Brooks said.
Kaepernick finished with 27 yards and a touchdown on six carries and Frank Gore ran 19 times for 83 yards in San Francisco's second consecutive victory.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees had 267 yards passing, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He completed 26-of-41 passes but was kept in check by a 49ers defence that recorded five sacks.
"I felt like we played well enough to win in a lot of areas today," Brees said. "What's glaring is the two turnovers that resulted in touchdowns for them. That can't happen." Marques Colston finished with 36 yards and a touchdown on four receptions for the Saints, who had their three-game win streak stopped.
The game was tied 14-14 at the half but San Francisco took the lead on their first possession of the third when Kaepernick hooked up with Gore on a six-yard touchdown pass.
Two plays into New Orleans' ensuing possession, Whitner intercepted a pass and carried it 42 yards for a touchdown and a 28-14 lead with 11:30 left in the third quarter.
The battle between the two most recent Super Bowl champs turned into a rout as Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes and the New York Giants dominated the Green Bay Packers 38-10.
Ahmad Bradshaw rushed 10 times for 58 yards and a touchdown for the Giants, who defeated Green Bay in a NFC Divisional playoff game last season.
Aaron Rodgers completed 14-of-25 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and an interception for the Packers, who had their five-game win streak halted.
In Tampa, Michael Turner barged in for the go-ahead touchdown midway through the final quarter, as the Atlanta Falcons survived a scare to register a 24-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
First-place Atlanta now lead the NFC South division with a 10-1 record as they snapped Tampa's four-game win streak.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan turned the ball over twice but completed 26-of-32 passes for 353 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown strike to Julio Jones. Doug Martin ran for two touchdowns but was held to 50 yards on 21 carries for Tampa Bay. Quarterback Josh Freeman threw for 256 yards on 19-of-30 passing in the loss.
Justin Tucker tied the game on the final play of regulation, then kicked the game-winning field goal with 1:07 to play in overtime as Baltimore took a 16-13 win over San Diego.
Dan Carpenter drilled a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Miami Dolphins to a 24-21 win over the Seattle Seahawks at Sun Life Stadium.
In other games Sunday it was Denver 17 Kansas City 9, Chicago 28 Minnesota 10, Cincinnati 34 Oakland 10, Cleveland 20 Pittsburgh 14, Indianapolis 20 Buffalo 13, Jacksonville 24 Tennessee 19, St. Louis 31 Arizona 17.