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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- When Gary Kubiak resigned for health reasons less than a year removed from coaching the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl championship, he left behind a great gig.
“There’s 32 of these jobs, and to think that you’re doing one of them is the greatest feeling in the world. I’ll say this: At this place, this is the best job in America,” Kubiak said this week, “because the people you’ve got helping you on a daily basis are second to none.”
Several factors can be considered when rating which of the six head-coaching vacancies around the league is the most — or least — worth wanting. Those include roster quality, especially at quarterback; how helpful and patient ownership is; competence of the general manager; competitiveness of the division.
Among the potential candidates for these positions are top offensive minds (Josh McDaniels, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay), defensive experts (Matt Patricia, Teryl Austin) and folks who’ve been around before (Tom Coughlin, Mike Smith).
If one had his choice of landing spots, which should he pick? Here is one analysis of the current NFL openings, in order of desirability:
DENVER BRONCOS (2016 record: 9-7)
Why it’s a good gig: By far the best job available. One side of the ball is set, thanks to linebacker Von Miller and the rest of a topflight defense that led the club to the title not that long ago and was superb again this season. There’s considerable talent on the roster, a winning environment, a real home-field advantage, a GM (John Elway) who knows what he’s doing, and a willingness to do — and spend — what it takes to succeed.
Why it’s a bad gig: There is no established quarterback — Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch have a combined 16 pro starts — and the AFC West might just be the league’s toughest division.
What was said: “This is a great place to work, but the expectations are high. … Everybody that comes here, as a coach or as a player, understands that the standard is to have to be able to compete for world championships.” — Elway.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (3-13)
Why it’s a good gig: There’s a big drop-off from Denver to the rest of the bunch, but Jacksonville ranks No. 2, primarily because of an up-and-coming defense and relatively patient ownership, plus plenty of room under the cap to bring in help. Doesn’t hurt to be in the deeply flawed AFC South, either, meaning a playoff berth is never far out of reach.
Why it’s a bad gig: Not clear that Blake Bortles is a long-term solution at quarterback and, as of now, it appears the franchise could be stuck with him for at least another season.
What was said: “Whoever the new head coach is, I totally understand that he’s going to play at quarterback who he wants to play at quarterback, and I have no problem with that.” — Bortles.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-12)
Why it’s a good gig: Thanks mainly to Aaron Donald, the defense is respectable. Sophomore slump aside, Todd Gurley looks like the real deal at running back. There’s also a young QB drafted No. 1 overall, Jared Goff, to work with. And if you’re a coach who wants to “go Hollywood,” well, here’s a place you truly can.
Why it’s a bad gig: Something’s amiss when a coach gets fired within days of word leaking out that he received an extension a while ago. Oh, and there’s the not-so-little matter of 12 consecutive seasons without making the playoffs.
What was said: “With the talent we’ve got, we shouldn’t be where we’re at, as far as the record and the way we’ve been losing.” — Donald.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (5-11)
Why it’s a good gig: There’s quality at QB (in the short term, anyway, because Philip Rivers is 35), RB (Melvin Gordon) and DE (Joey Bosa). And, hey, can’t beat the weather, right?
Why it’s a bad gig: The uncertainty over whether the team will be in San Diego or LA is only one manifestation of the club’s long-standing lack of direction. Ownership is known for hiring coaches on the cheap, and the Chargers have made nine playoff appearances in 33 years.
What was said: “You’re looking for a leader. It’s not always just about the X’s and O’s.” — GM Tom Telesco, on what he wants in a coach.
BUFFALO BILLS (7-9)
Why it’s a good gig: Some pieces of the puzzle are in place, including WR Sammy Watkins and RB LeSean McCoy. Not a lot else, though.
Why it’s a bad gig: Start with two names — Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The Bills are basically playing for second place, at best, behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East, although even that doesn’t account for why they have gone 17 seasons without reaching the playoffs. That drought is unfathomable in today’s everyone-has-a-chance NFL. One example of the problems: GM Doug Whaley had no input in the decision to fire coach Rex Ryan.
What was said: “We’re searching for that coach that can be here for 10-15 years.” — Whaley.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-14)
Why it’s a good gig: Hmmmm. San Francisco’s a terrific city? The new stadium? Nowhere to go but up?
Why it’s a bad gig: A lengthy list, from the lack of a QB, to a woeful defense, to general dysfunction and impatience of an organization that dismissed three head coaches and a GM over the past three seasons. Things are so bad that team CEO Jed York was asked at a news conference why he shouldn’t be dismissed or reassigned.
What was said: “I own this football team. You don’t dismiss owners. I’m sorry that that’s the facts and that’s the case, but that’s the fact.” — York.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
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—Matt Ryan, Falcons, was 27 for 36 for 331 yards and four touchdown passes in Atlanta’s 38-32 win over New Orleans.
—Tom Brady, Patriots, finished 25for 33 for 276 yards and three touchdowns in New England’s 35-14 win over Miami. Brady finished the regular season with 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, the best touchdown/interception ratio in NFL history. Brady has 51 games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, tying Peyton Manning for the most in league history. Brady increased his total to 61,582 to surpass Hall of Famer Dan Marino for fourth place on the NFL’s career list.
—Landry Jones, Steelers, was 24 for 37 for 277 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception in Pittsburgh’s 27-24 overtime win over Cleveland.
—Sam Bradford, Vikings, finished 25 for 33 for 250 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. Bradford completed 395 of 552 passes for a 71.6 percent completion rate this season, the highest single-season mark in NFL history, surpassing Drew Brees’ mark of 71.2 percent in 2011.
—Isaiah Crowell, Browns, had 19 carries for a career-high 152 yards in Cleveland’s 27-24 overtime loss to Pittsburgh.
—Jordan Howard, Bears, had 23 carries for 135 yards in Chicago’s 38-10 loss to Minnesota.
—Corey Grant, Jaguars, had 18 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown in Jacksonville’s 24-20 loss to Indianapolis.
—Bilal Powell, Jets, had 22 carries for 122 yards in New York’s 30-10 win over Buffalo.
—Rex Burkhead, Bengals, had 27 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati’s 27-10 win over Baltimore.
—Michael Thomas, Saints, had 10 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown in New Orleans’ 38-32 loss to Atlanta.
—Julian Edelman, Patriots, had eight catches for 151 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown, in New England’s 35-14 win over Miami.
—Zach Ertz, Eagles, had 13 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns in Philadelphia’s 27-13 win over Dallas.
—DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, finished with seven receptions for 123 yards in Houston’s 24-17 loss to Tennessee.
—Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, had 11 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown in Minnesota’s 38-10 win over Chicago.
—Dennis Pitta, Ravens, had 11 catches for 91 yards in Baltimore’s 27-10 loss to Cincinnati.
—Tyreek Hill, Chiefs, returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown in Kansas City’s 37-27 win over San Diego.
—Doug Middleton, Jets, recovered a kickoff in the end zone for a touchdown in New York’s 30-10 win over Buffalo.
—Steven Hauschka, Seahawks, was 4 for 4 on field goals in Seattle’s 25-23 win over San Francisco.
—Justin Bethel and Markus Golden, Cardinals. Bethel returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown and Golden had 2½ sacks and a forced fumble in Arizona’s 44-6 win over Los Angeles.
—DaQuan Jones and Jurrell Casey, Titans. Jones recovered a fumble for a touchdown and Casey had two sacks in Tennessee’s 24-17 win over Houston.
—Brent Grimes and Lavonte David, Buccaneers. Grimes returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown and David had two sacks in Tampa Bay’s 17-16 win over Carolina.
—Jahleel Addae, Chargers, returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown in San Diego’s 37-27 loss to Kansas City.
—Everson Griffen, Vikings, returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown in Minnesota’s 38-10 win over Chicago.
—Joel Heath, Texans, had two sacks in Houston’s 24-17 loss to Tennessee.
—Malik Jackson, Jaguars, had two sacks in Jacksonville’s 24-20 loss to Indianapolis.
—Bobby Wagner, Seahawks, had two sacks in Seattle’s 25-23 win over San Francisco.
ROUGH DAY FOR COACHES
Three more teams are dealing with coaching changes after Sunday’s games. The San Diego Chargers fired coach Mike McCoy. He was 27-37 in four seasons, with the Chargers having lost 23 of their past 32 games. They’ve also lost 13 of their past 14 AFC West games going back to late in the 2014 season. Also in the AFC West, Gary Kubiak informed his players in an emotional postgame locker room after the Broncos’ 24-6 win over the Raiders that he’s stepping away for health reasons. And the San Francisco 49ers fired coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke in the latest overhaul for a franchise that has fallen from perennial Super Bowl contender to the bottom of the standings in three seasons.
STREAKS & STATS
Bills running back Reggie Bush finished the season with 12 carries for minus-3 yards, becoming the first NFL running back to have negative yards rushing with 10 or more carries. He had no carries against the Jets. … The Chicago Bears (3-13) finished the season with a 38-10 loss to the Vikings. It was their most losses in a season since 1969. … The 49ers lost the Seahawks 25-23. The defeat capped a an awful season for the 49ers (2-14), who matched the franchise record for losses in a season previously reached in 1978, ’79 and 2004. … The Rams ended their return season in LA with a seven-game losing streak and a 4-12 record. … The Bucs snapped a two-game losing streak with a 17-16 win over Carolina to finish with their first winning record since 2010. … The Titans beat the Texans 24-17 to finish 9-7, their first winning season since 2011. With their six-win improvement from going 3-13 in 2015, the Titans matched the biggest one-year turnaround in franchise history, previously set in 1967 and 1974. … New Orleans’ Drew Brees passed for 350 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta. Brees has 5,208 passing yards this season, the fourth-highest single-season passing total in NFL history. Brees, who also had 5,000 passing yards in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013, has five of the NFL’s nine all-time 5,000-yard passing seasons and is the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 5,000 yards in multiple seasons. Brees’ 471 completions this season also set an NFL record. … Atlanta’s Matt Ryan completed 373 of 534 passes (69.9 percent) for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 117.1 passer rating, the fifth-highest single-season passer rating in NFL history. … Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 202 yards and a touchdown in the Buccaneers’ 17-16 win over Carolina. Winston, who passed for 4,042 yards as a rookie last season, finished this season with a career-high 4,090 passing yards. He is the first player in NFL history to have at least 4,000 passing yards in each of his first two seasons. Winston has 50 touchdown passes and is the fifth player in league history to throw at least 50 touchdown passes in his first two seasons.
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates tied Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdown catches in NFL history by a tight end with 111 after a 2-yard TD catch in San Diego’s 37-27 loss to Kansas City. … Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott finished the regular season with a 104.9 passer rating and surpassed Robert Griffin III (102.4 in 2012) for the highest single-season passer rating by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. … Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott leads the league with 1,631 rushing yards. Elliott, who has the third-highest rushing total by a rookie in NFL history, would be the fifth rookie since 1970 to lead the league in rushing yards and the first since Edgerrin James (1,553 yards) in 1999. … Colts running back Frank Gore added to his stellar season by running 16 times for 62 yards, giving him 1,026 this season. He became the fourth player in league history to rush for 1,000 yards at age 33 or older and the oldest since 35-year-old John Riggins did it in 1984. Gore is 33. Gore also joins Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history with nine or more 1,000-yard seasons. He ended the Colts’ eight-year drought without a 1,000-yard rusher. Joseph Addai was the most recent Colts’ player to achieve it in 2007. .. Jordan Howard, the lone bright spot for the Bears, rushed for 135 yards on 23 carries to break Matt Forte’s franchise rookie record and finish with 1,313 yards for the season. … New England became the ninth team since 1972 to go undefeated on the road during the regular season after its 35-14 win over Miami. … The Bengals’ Andy Dalton topped 4,000 yards passing for the second time in his career, finishing with 4,206. The other time was 2013, when he set a club record with 4,293 yards. … Baltimore’s Justin Tucker had a 30-yard field goal, his 38th of the season, matching his club record. Only two kickers have made 40 field goals in a season: David Akers and Neil Rackers. … Baltimore’s Joe Flacco finished with 4,276 yards, topping Vinny Testaverde’s club record of 4,177 yards in 1996.
Houston quarterback Tom Savage was sidelined with a concussion in a 24-17 loss at Tennessee, forcing Brock Osweiler back onto the field for the AFC South champions. Savage started the regular-season finale, left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and was cleared. He took the final snap of the first half, and O’Brien told team radio that Savage would play in the second half. But Savage was diagnosed with a concussion after being re-evaluated at halftime. … QB Matt McGloin left Oakland’s 24-6 loss at Denver because of a left shoulder injury. The Raiders also lost safety Nate Allen, who left the game and was evaluated for a concussion. … Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders hurt his foot in the first quarter and didn’t return. More concerning, special teamer Zaire Anderson was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field after being injured on punt coverage in the third quarter. Team officials said Anderson was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and has movement in his arms and legs. … Arizona running back David Johnson ended his season finale on the sideline and with a brace on his left knee. … Atlanta Falcons rookie safety Keanu Neal and New Orleans Saints receiver Willie Snead both left with possible concussions after a collision in the fourth quarter.
“You don’t come out and lose and like that. That right there was just disgusting, it was despicable. … That right there, it’s not football.” — Redskins cornerback Josh Norman after his team was eliminated from the playoffs with a 19-10 loss to the Giants.
“You just don’t want it to end, but to be in position to say goodbye to the fans and the teammates the way they did, I can’t ask for anything more. I was extremely nervous, like more than usual for some reason. I guess for obvious reasons.” — Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said after playing his last game.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today) —- Here’s the finalized NFL playoff picture
y*-1. New England Patriots (14-2): AFC East champions. They have home field for the fourth time in the past seven seasons.
yz-2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4): AFC West champions. They began Sunday in wild-card position and ended it with a division crown and bye thanks to Oakland’s struggles.
y-3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): AFC North champions. They’ll open the playoffs hosting the Dolphins.
y-4. Houston Texans (9-7): AFC South champions. They’ll open the playoffs hosting the Raiders.
x-5. Oakland Raiders (12-4): Wild card No. 1. Their loss combined with Kansas City’s win drops them from second seed to fifth. They’ll be in Houston next weekend.
x-6. Miami Dolphins (10-6): Wild card No. 2. They’ll open the playoffs at Pittsburgh next weekend.
y*-1. Dallas Cowboys (13-3): NFC East champions. They’ll open the playoffs against the lowest-seeded team that wins on wild-card weekend. Dallas’ loss to Philadelphia on Sunday officially eliminated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
yz-2. Atlanta Falcons (11-5): NFC South champions. Their victory Sunday clinched a first-round bye.
y-3. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1): NFC West champions. They’ll open the playoffs hosting the Lions.
y-4. Green Bay Packers (10-6): NFC North champions. They reclaimed division crown they lost in 2015. They’ll open the playoffs hosting the Giants.
x-5. New York Giants (11-5): Wild card No. 1. They were locked into this spot before Sunday’s kickoff but still played their starters and knocked the Washington Redskins out of the playoff picture. They go to Green Bay next weekend.
x-6. Detroit Lions (9-7): Wild card No. 2. Their loss to the Packers puts them on the road to Seattle.
x — clinched playoff spot
y — clinched division
z — clinched first-round bye
* — clinched home-field advantage
SATURDAY, JAN. 7
*Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans*
Time:: 4:35 p.m. ET, TV: (ESPN/ABC)
Betting Line: Texans favored by 2.5
*Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks*
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET, TV: (NBC)
Betting Line: Seahawks favored by 7.5
SUNDAY, JAN. 8
*Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers*
Time: 1:05 p.m. ET. TV: (CBS)
Betting Line: Steelers favored by 10
*New York Giants at Green Bay Packers*
TIME: 4:40 p.m. ET,. TV: (Fox)
Betting Line: Packers favored by 4.5
Saturday, Jan. 14
Highest NFC seed at Atlanta Falcons – 4:35 p.m. ET, (Fox)
Lowest AFC seed at New England Patriots – 8:15 p.m. ET, (CBS)
Sunday, Jan. 15
Highest AFC seed at Kansas City Chiefs – 1:05 p.m. ET, (NBC)
Lowest NFC seed at Dallas Cowboys – 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
Conference championship weekend
Sunday, Jan. 22
NFC Championship Game – 3:05 p.m. ET, Fox
AFC Championship Game – 6:40 p.m. ET, CBS
Sunday, Feb. 5
Super Bowl LI (NRG Stadium, Houston) – 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox
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LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Facing an opponent with nothing to play for, the Washington Redskins blew their chance to make the playoffs with an uninspired 19-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
The Redskins would have made the playoffs with a win as long as the Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions night game didn’t end in a tie. Instead, Kirk Cousins was intercepted twice in the second half by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Washington (8-7-1) goes into an offseason filled with questions.
The Packers and Lions each qualified as a result of the Redskins’ loss to New York (11-5), which will be the first wild card and play at Green Bay on Sunday. Eli Manning played the entire game, going 17 of 27 for 180 yards despite the Giants opting for a conservative approach for much of the second half.
Cousins finished 22 of 35 for 285 yards and a touchdown, but more importantly the interceptions in the third and fourth quarters. Fittingly the game ended with another Washington turnover when tight end Jordan Reed’s attempted lateral turned into a Giants touchdown.
PACKERS 31, LIONS 24
DETROIT (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, lifting the Packers to an NFC North clincher.
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the Packers recovered the onside kick.,
The Packers (10-6) closed the regular season with six straight wins, running the table as Rodgers said they could after losing four straight midway through the season. They won the division for the fifth time in six years. Like his team, Rodgers has been perfect during the streak with 15 TD passes and no interceptions.
He will lead fourth-seeded Green Bay at home Sunday against the fifth-seeded New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game.
Detroit (9-7) dropped its last three games after it had a two-game lead in the NFC North. The Lions, though, will be in the playoffs at Seattle on Saturday night.
CHIEFS 37, CHARGERS 27
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Alex Smith threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Chiefs clinched the AFC West title and a first-round playoff bye in perhaps the final NFL game in San Diego.
The Chiefs (12-4) took the division with the win and Oakland’s loss at Denver.
San Diego fired coach Mike McCoy after the game.
Smith, who went to nearby Helix High in La Mesa, scored on a 5-yard scramble early in the second quarter to tie the game at 10. He threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Charcandrick West later in the quarter to put the Chiefs ahead for good. That followed the first of two interceptions of Philip Rivers that led to 10 points for the Chiefs.
Smith was intercepted once, on a deflected pass that Jahleel Addae returned 90 yards for a touchdown to pull the Chargers (5-11) to 20-17 in the third quarter.
Smith came right back and threw a 2-yard scoring pass to West, who again was wide open.
Chargers chairman Dean Spanos has until Jan. 15 to decide whether to move the team to the Los Angeles area and join the Rams in a stadium scheduled to open in Inglewood in 2019.
BRONCOS 24, RAIDERS 6
DENVER (AP) — In a game that couldn’t have gone much worse, Oakland lost its latest starting quarterback, Matt McGloin, to a shoulder injury, then fell to a team with nothing to play for.
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak will be stepping down for health reasons.
Combined with Kansas City’s win over San Diego, the Raiders (12-4) squandered the AFC West title and the first-round bye that went with it — and instead fell to the No. 5 seed. They will play at Houston on Saturday.
Now, they are a wild card with a rookie third-stringer, Connor Cook, as their only fully healthy quarterback.
McGloin, who got the start when Derek Carr broke his leg last week, left late in the second quarter. He completed six passes for 21 yards, missing virtually every throw downfield.
Cook was 14 of 21 with a touchdown to Cooper, an interception and a lost fumble against the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos (9-7), who ended a three-game slide.
FALCONS 38, SAINTS 32
ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan bolstered his MVP credentials with a brilliant first half, throwing four touchdown passes to secure a first-round playoff bye.
Ryan was 17 of 19 for 235 yards by halftime, directing the Falcons (11-5) to touchdowns on all five possessions and a commanding 35-13 lead. He finished 27 of 36 for 331 yards, leaving him with a franchise-record 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this season.
Atlanta is seeded second in the NFC to Dallas.
The Saints (7-9) came into the regular-season finale looking to finish another disappointing season with a three-game winning streak and avoid a third straight losing mark. But they were blitzed early and often by the league’s highest-scoring offense.
One consolation for New Orleans: Drew Brees became the first quarterback in league history to throw for 5,000 yards five times. He was 29 of 50 for 350 yards, giving him 5,208 on the season.
His 471 completions this season set an NFL record.
SEAHAWKS 25, 49ERS 23
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Russell Wilson threw for 258 yards and a touchdown and the Seahawks rallied from an early 11-point deficit in what could be coach Chip Kelly’s final game with the 49ers.
The NFC West champion Seahawks (10-5-1) head to the playoffs as the third seed in the NFC. The Seahawks will host Detroit on Saturday night.
The loss capped an awful season for the 49ers (2-14), who matched the franchise record for losses in a season previously reached in 1978, ’79 and 2004. San Francisco fired general manager Trent Baalke and coach Chip Kelly.
Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin caught two passes for 44 yards, tying the franchise record for catches in a season with 94. Baldwin tied Bobby Engram’s mark set in 2007 with an acrobatic 41-yard catch in the second quarter.
PATRIOTS 35, DOLPHINS 14
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) —Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and three scores, and the Patriots clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
New England took a 20-0 lead in the first half, and turned away Miami’s comeback bid with the help of a 77-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Julian Edelman and a 69-yard fumble return by linebacker Shea McClellin.
The Patriots (14-2), already assured of a first-round bye, became the ninth team since 1972 to go undefeated on the road during the regular season.
The Dolphins (10-6), beaten for only the second time in the past 11 games, had already earned an AFC wild-card berth. They play their first postseason game since 2008 next Sunday at Pittsburgh.
The Patriots had lost their past three games in Miami, and appeared intent from the outset on snapping that streak. By the time they led 20-0, they had advantages of 238 to 30 in yards, and 17 to one in first downs.
STEELERS 27, BROWNS 24
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Steelers backups assured the Browns of the top pick in the 2017 draft.
Landry Jones hit Cobi Hamilton with a 26-yard touchdown with 2:57 left in overtime. The Browns took a lead on Cody Parkey’s 34-yard field goal with 7:17 remaining in the extra session.
Jones, who started while the playoff-bound Steelers rested Ben Roethlisberger, took the Steelers 75 yards in nine plays. The last was a pretty lob to the end zone that Hamilton hauled in to give Pittsburgh (11-5) its seventh straight victory.
Jones finished with 277 yards passing and three touchdowns and one interception.
The Steelers will host Miami on Sunday in the wild-card round next weekend. The Dolphins thumped Pittsburgh 30-15 on Oct. 16.
Isaiah Crowell ran for a career-high 152 yards for the Browns (1-15), who finished with the worst record in franchise history.
The Browns said coach Hue Jackson will return next season.
JETS 30, BILLS 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes in what was likely his final game for the Jets.
Despite a 5-11 record, the Jets are making no changes in leadership, meaning both coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will remain with the team next season. The team announced the moves after the game.
Bowles is 15-17 in his two-year tenure with New York, which hired him in January 2015 after firing Rex Ryan. Maccagnan is also in his second season with the Jets, and had also been criticized for the team’s roster, which likely faces an overhaul this offseason.
The Bills (7-9) also face some uncertainty this offseason after firing coach Rex Ryan earlier in the week and elevating offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to the interim role. Two other people with direct knowledge of the situation told the AP before the game that Lynn is the clear favorite to take over the job permanently.
TITANS 24, TEXANS 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A concussion that sidelined quarterback Tom Savage could have the biggest impact coming out of the Texans’ loss.
Savage started for the AFC South champions, left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and was cleared. He took a snap to kneel down on the final play of the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion after being re-evaluated at halftime.
That left Brock Osweiler, benched for Savage last month, running the offense. He threw for 253 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a 1-yard TD on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
Houston (9-7) will host an AFC wild-card game next Saturday against Oakland, possibly with uncertainty at quarterback.
DaQuan Jones recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter, and the Titans never trailed to finish with their first winning season since 2011.
The Titans (9-7) also ended a five-game skid to the two-time AFC South champs, who had beaten Tennessee eight of the previous nine games in this series. With their six-win improvement from going 3-13 in 2015, the Titans matched the biggest one-year turnaround in franchise history, previously set in 1967 and 1974.
EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 13
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tony Romo threw his first touchdown pass in nearly 14 months and the playoff-bound Cowboys played it safe.
The Cowboys (13-3) locked up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs when the Eagles (7-9) beat the Giants on Dec. 22. So Dak Prescott played only two series and Ezekiel Elliott watched from the sideline.
Carson Wentz tossed two TD passes to Zach Ertz to help Philadelphia finish with a two-game winning streak.
Prescott was 4 for 8 for 37 yards before giving way to Romo, who hadn’t played in a regular-season game since Thanksgiving 2015 when he broke his left collarbone for the second time in less than three months. Romo broke a bone in his back in the third preseason game against Seattle this season, paving the way for Prescott to have one of the best years by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.
Romo overthrew Terrance Williams on a deep pass on his first play. His first completion was a 16-yarder to Williams on third-and-12. After Dez Bryant drew a pass interference penalty on a deep pass at the Eagles 3, Romo connected with Williams for his first TD pass since Nov. 22, 2015 against Miami.
Romo finished 3 for 4 for 29 yards.
BUCCANEERS 17, PANTHERS 16
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 202 yards and one touchdown And the Buccaneers broke up Cam Newton’s 2-point conversion throw in the closing seconds for their first winning season in six years.
Winston threw a 10-yard pass to Mike Evans to snap a fourth-quarter tie and became the first player in NFL history to start his career with consecutive 4,000-yard seasons.
But the Bucs (9-7) were eliminated from playoff contention, not getting the help they needed in other games for their first berth since 2007.
Winston’s franchise record-setting 28th TD pass put the Bucs ahead 17-10 with 3:10 remaining. Newton, however, moved the Panthers (6-10) right down the field, with help of a 47-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin and two fourth-down completions to set up a 5-yard scoring pass to trim Carolina’s deficit to one with 17 seconds left.
The defending NFC champions went for 2 points. Newton’s pass intended for tight end Greg Olsen was batted away by safety Bradley McDougald.
VIKINGS 38, BEARS 10
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sam Bradford concluded his first season with Minnesota with three first-half touchdown passes. Bradford went 25 for 33 for 250 yards and one interception, finishing with a 71.6 percent completion rate to set an NFL single-season record. Drew Brees (71.2 for New Orleans) set the league mark in 2011.
Kyle Rudolph caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a score for the Vikings (8-8), who started 5-0 before stumbling out of their bye week and never recovering.
The Bears (3-13) wound up with their fewest wins in a non-strike year since 1973 after turning the ball over five times. Everson Griffen returned one of their three lost fumbles for a touchdown.
Jordan Howard, the lone bright spot, rushed for 135 yards on 23 carries to break Matt Forte’s franchise rookie record and finish with 1,313 yards for the season for Chicago.
COLTS 24, JAGUARS 20
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle with 9 seconds left. Indy (8-8) went 75 yards in 84 seconds with no timeouts to avoid its first losing season since 2011, sending retiring linebacker Robert Mathis out with a win in his final NFL game.
Jacksonville (3-13) matched the second-worst record in franchise history after blocking a punt with 1:54 to go and breaking a 17-17 tie with 1:33 left.
Instead, Luck took the Colts right downfield for the score.
Mathis extended his league record of strip-sacks to 41 in the fourth quarter, two days after announcing he would retire.
Frank Gore ran 16 times for 62 yards, becoming the fourth player in league history to top 1,000 yards at age 33 or older. He’s also the oldest to achieve the milestone since John Riggins in 1984 at age 35, and he’s the first Colts to run for 1,000 since Joseph Addai in 2007 — ending the second-longest active streak in the NFL.
BENGALS 27, RAVENS 10
CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton completed his first 10 passes, one for a touchdown, and Rex Burkhead ran for a pair of scores in the Bengals’ fifth straight win at home over the Ravens.
The Bengals (6-9-1) missed the playoffs for the first time in six years, and haven’t won a playoff game in 26 years, the sixth-longest streak in NFL history. Coach Marvin Lewis, 0-7 in the postseason, says he’ll return in 2017.
Baltimore (8-8) failed to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years. The Ravens played their final game as if they were emotionally hung over from a last-minute loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday that eliminated them.
Ravens receiver Steve Smith caught three passes for 34 yards in what was probably the final game of his remarkable career. The 37-year-old receiver reiterated last week that he’s likely retiring. He has 51 games with 100 yards receiving, tied for fourth most in NFL history.
CARDINALS 44, RAMS 6
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carson Palmer threw touchdown passes to Jeremy Ross, Darren Fells and Larry Fitzgerald, and the Cardinals wrapped up a frustrating season.
Fitzgerald caught five passes and took the overall NFL lead with 107 catches in perhaps his final game for the Cardinals (7-8-1). Arizona missed the playoffs one year after reaching the NFC championship game despite an offense and a defense ranked in the top quarter of the league.
Arizona still finished the year strong with wins over NFC West champion Seattle and Los Angeles (4-12), which has lost seven straight.
The Cardinals’ defense sacked Jared Goff seven times and allowed just 122 yards by the Rams, who wrapped up their homecoming season with their worst record since 2011.
David Johnson left the field on a cart in the first quarter with an injured left knee, but Arizona’s star running back appeared to be able to put weight on his leg when he returned to watch the second half from the sidelines. Johnson failed to gain 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time in his spectacular season.
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(PhatzRadio Sports /USA Today) —- Aaron Rodgers’ midseason remark that the Green Bay Packers could still “run the table” might not have been a fully formed prediction, but the quarterback has his team in position to make good on his words.
Green Bay has rallied back from a 4-6 start to win its last five games and set itself up for a Week 17 showdown against the Detroit Lions for the NFC North. A win would give the Packers their fifth division title in six years, and perhaps their most unlikely one in some time.
But Green Bay also could drop from the postseason entirely, as a win by the Washington Redskins earlier in the day would leave the loser of Sunday’s prime time clash out of the playoffs.
Rodgers has been the Packers’ clear catalyst, completing 71.4% of his passes and throwing 11 touchdowns with no interceptions during the five-game win streak. Detroit is well-versed in how quickly he can dissect a defense after his four-touchdown first half guided Green Bay to a 34-27 win earlier this season.
For the Lions to capture their first division title since 1993, generating pressure will be paramount. Detroit ranks just 29th in the NFL with 25 sacks. Rodgers’ ability to evade the rush can be lethal for opposing defenses, but he’s still recovering from left hamstring and right calf injuries.
Denying big plays is a priority for coordinator Teryl Austin’s bend-but-don’t-break defense. Though Rodgers is an opportunist with big plays, he’s also patient enough to slice a defense with small plays. At some point, the defense will need a breakthrough or two in the form of a big play or key stand.
Cornerback Darius Slay could have a key role in his potential return from a hamstring injury. Detroit might lean on him to slow Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who had 101 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Here are four other matchups that could define Week 17 in the NFL:
Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi vs. Patriots’ front seven
Ajayi might not have a full day of work against New England given that he is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. The breakout running back, however, represents Miami’s best chance at moving up to the first wild-card slot and denying New England home-field advantage.
Ajayi quelled concerns about his late-season play last week by rushing for 206 yards against the Buffalo Bills, breaking the 200-yard barrier for the third time this season. With Matt Moore in for the injured Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, the second-year back likely becomes the focal point of the offense for the foreseeable future. New England hasn’t given up a touchdown in two games and has allowed a league-low six rushing scores this season.
Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman
Arguably the most heated wide receiver-cornerback matchup in the NFL might lack its usual fanfare heading into Week 17. But in order to position themselves for the final NFC wild-card berth, the Redskins still must handle an offense propped by Beckham.
Both stars shrugged off questions about their history this week, suggesting that the charged confrontations that ignited the rivalry would be left in the past. Beckham had seven catches for 121 yards in a game that became known for his outburst against a kicking net. With the Giants settled into the No. 5 seed and Beckham finding his comfort zone, Sunday could make for a more reserved showdown.
Raiders QB Matt McGloin vs. Broncos’ secondary
With Derek Carr sidelined by a broken fibula, McGloin now has the keys to Oakland’s first playoff season since 2002. His performance could be the key decider in the Raiders’ playoff seeding – as well as a harbinger of how the team will fare after the loss of its leader.
McGloin hasn’t started a game since his rookie season in 2013, but Oakland invested in him this offseason for situations such as this. Facing the top-ranked passing defense with the AFC West title – and possible home-field advantage – potentially on the line, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio isn’t likely to task the former Penn State walk-on with the same role as Carr on Sunday. But McGloin will need to get up to speed for the playoffs, and how the offense fares against the Broncos could reveal how the offense is faring after this major shift.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers vs. Chiefs’ secondary
Sunday’s AFC West showdown has playoff implications for Kansas City, but it could be more notable as the possible end of an era. With potential Los Angeles relocation looming, the Chargers could be playing their last game in San Diego.
San Diego has struggled to close out games (1-7 in contests decided by seven points or less) but has been resilient despite having 19 players on injured reserve. Rivers leads the league in interceptions with 19, but he and the rest of the Chargers are eager to play spoiler after giving up a 21-point lead in a 33-27 overtime loss to the Chiefs in Week 1.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today / AP) —- Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks heading into the season’s final Sunday.
yz-1. New England Patriots (13-2): AFC East champions. A win or Raiders loss would give Pats home field. [Remaining game: at Dolphins]
x-2. Oakland Raiders (12-3): AFC West leader. They take division and first-round bye with a victory. If New England also loses, Oakland would earn No. 1 seed. However a Raiders loss combined with a Chiefs win gives Kansas City the AFC West and second seed. [Remaining game: at Broncos]
y-3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5): AFC North champions. They’re locked into this spot and will open the playoffs against the No. 6 seed. [Remaining game: vs. Browns]
y-4. Houston Texans (9-6): AFC South champions. They’re locked into this spot and will open the playoffs against the No. 5 seed. [Remaining game: at Titans]
x-5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4): Wild card No. 1. They can still win the AFC West with a win and a loss by the Raiders . [Remaining game: at Chargers]
x-6. Miami Dolphins (10-5): Wild card No. 2. The Fins could jump up to the fifth seed (and a more favorable matchup with Houston) if they and the Chiefs finish tied at 11-5. [Remaining game: vs. Patriots]
y*-1. Dallas Cowboys (13-2): NFC East champions. They’re locked into the top spot and will open the playoffs against the lowest-seeded team that wins on wild-card weekend. [Remaining game: at Eagles]
y-2. Atlanta Falcons (10-5): NFC South champions. They’ll claim the other first-round bye with a win in Week 17. [Remaining game: vs. Saints]
y-3. Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1): NFC West champions. They must win and hope the Falcons lose in order to get the No. 2 seed and the bye. [Remaining game: at 49ers]
4. Green Bay Packers (9-6): NFC North leader. If they beat Detroit on Sunday night, the Pack reclaim division crown they lost in 2015. They cannot earn a bye, though. [Remaining game: at Lions]
x-5. New York Giants (10-5): Wild card No. 1. They’re locked into this spot and will open the playoffs at the No. 4 seed. [Remaining game: at Redskins]
6. Detroit Lions (9-6): Wild card No. 2. If they beat the Packers at home, they win the NFC North. But the loser of that games goes home if the Redskins triumph Sunday afternoon. [Remaining game: vs. Packers]
In the hunt
7. Washington Redskins (8-6-1): If they win their final game, they can watch the Packers-Lions game knowing they’ll bypass the loser for the final wild-card berth — assuming the NFC North clash does not end in a tie. [Remaining game: vs. Giants]
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7): Extreme long shots, but they’re still alive after Detroit’s loss Monday. The Bucs need to finish tied with Green Bay for the sixth seed and get a lot of tiebreaker assistance, including a tie between the Redskins and Giants, in order to advance. Tampa Bay can no longer pass the Lions after losing the common opponent tiebreaker. [Remaining game: vs. Panthers]
x — clinched playoff spot
y — clinched division
z — clinched first-round bye
* — clinched home-field advantage
NFL playoff picture: Packers-Lions showdown could be play-in game
Bad form for the AFC, which has all six of its playoff qualifiers determined heading into the final Sunday of the schedule.
While there are still some things to be decided there (seeding, matchups), the drama is center stage in the NFC.
The sharpest spotlights will be in the nation’s capital in the afternoon, then in the Motor City at night.
If the Redskins beat the Giants, then the loser between the Packers and Lions won’t get into the postseason.
If New York prevails, both Green Bay and Detroit are in — same thing if they tie regardless of what the Redskins do — and will be playing for who earns the NFC North title and who becomes a wild card.
“Obviously the last game of the regular season you can look at it for what it is, it’s a big game,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell says. “But nothing changes between those white lines, you’re still going to have to be effective.
“Still going to play the same and not adding different rules to the game because of the magnitude of the game, or anything of that nature. You’ve still got to play and we’ve got to play well.”
Ditto for Green Bay (9-5), which has played very well in winning five straight to tie Detroit for the division lead.
“It’s just an extra playoff game to play, and those are the best,” says Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who has had a spectacular return season after missing 2015 with an injured knee.
“The atmosphere will be incredible. The energy of the game, the speed of the game, everything will be full tilt. These are the games that you enjoy, you want to play in. You want to experience these and these are the ones you’ll remember.”
Tampa Bay remains on the fringes, but needs a ridiculous combination that includes a win against Carolina, a Giants-Redskins tie and a strength of victory tiebreaker over the Packers, who must lose.
New York Giants (10-5) at Washington (8-6-1)
Owning a wild card, the Giants could relax, except that their offense, other than Odell Beckham Jr., has been in a funk. So look for them to play hard and with the starters against up-and-down Washington.
Big and potentially inflammatory matchup between Beckham and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman could determine this one. So could New York finding a way to slow Washington’s second-ranked passing offense.
“We understand what’s at stake, we’re all professionals,” Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins says. “We want to be a mature football team and we know to do that we’ve just got to focus and take care of our business and let the chips fall where they may.”
New Orleans (7-8) at Atlanta (10-5)
The Falcons’ reward for a victory is a bye in the wild-card round. They could earn it with Detroit and Seattle losses, and with some ties involved.
This could be a shootout; Atlanta won 45-32 in September, the Falcons lead the NFL in scoring and are second in total yards. The Saints lead in yards and rank second in scoring. Saints RB Mark Ingram (940) and Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (983) can reach 1,000 yards rushing.
Carolina (6-9) at Tampa Bay (8-7)
Regardless of what happens Sunday, the Buccaneers have had a nice turnaround under new coach Dirk Koetter. Jameis Winston is 112 yards shy of throwing for 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons. He has 27 TD passes, tied for a club single-season record, but he also has thrown an NFC-leading 17 interceptions.
It has been the wrong kind of turnaround for 2015 NFC champion Carolina. But with 1,051 yards receiving, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is the first at the position in league history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
New England (13-2) at Miami (10-5)
Both are in the playoffs, with the Patriots needing a win or an Oakland loss to get AFC home-field advantage yet again. But they have lost three straight at Miami.
Both also have gotten huge contributions from running backs. LeGarrette Blount could have a big game against the Dolphins’ shaky run defense; he already leads the NFL with 17 TDs rushing and has 1,110 yards rushing. The Dolphins have given up 5,726 yards and could break the franchise record of 6,050 set in 1986.
But they also have highly productive Jay Ajayi, who last week became the fourth NFL player to have three 200-yard rushing games in a season. Ajayi is averaging 7.1 yards per carry after third quarter, best in league.
Oakland (12-3) at Denver (8-7)
An Oakland victory over the spiraling defending Super Bowl champs gives the Raiders the AFC West. A loss opens a chance for Kansas City, which would drop the Raiders to the fifth seed.
With Derek Carr (broken leg) sidelined, Matt McGloin steps in at QB. McGloin’s last start came in 2013 as a rookie.
Denver’s defense has stagnated, leading to its slump despite another strong defense. LB Von Miller is second in the league with 13 1-2 sacks.
Kansas City (11-4) at San Diego (5-10)
Already in the playoffs, the Chiefs must take care of the Chargers in what could be the last NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium. Then Kansas City needs a Broncos win. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 31 takeaways and San Diego has 33 turnovers.
Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos is threatening to relocate to Los Angeles and has until Jan. 15 to decide to join the Rams as a tenant in a new stadium being built in Inglewood.
Houston (9-6) at Tennessee (8-7)
What could have been a faceoff for the AFC South fizzled when the Titans saw quarterback Marcus Mariota break his leg in last week’s upset loss to Jacksonville.
Houston, the site of the Super Bowl, won three in a row to take the division. Its defense is ranked No. 1 in yardage allowed, which it probably needs with the inconsistent offense. That’s now in the hands of QB Tom Savage after expensive free agent Brock Osweiler was benched.
Dallas (13-2) at Philadelphia (6-9)
Of note in this one as the top-seeded Cowboys head toward a bye, QB Dak Prescott’s 13 wins are tied for most by a rookie in NFL history set by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. Fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL with 1,631 yards rushing and is third with 15 TDs on the ground. He needs 178 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie record (1,808).
Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis (33 for 38) needs one field goal to set a single-season team record.
Seattle (9-5-1) at San Francisco (2-13)
In losing three of the past five, the Seahawks might have blown a first-round playoff bye. The NFC West winners must win and have Atlanta lose for the easiest way to grab that week off.
The Seahawks have won six straight in the series, including the 2013 NFC title game. San Francisco, which snapped a 13-game slide last week, can only dream of title games right now.
Cleveland (1-14) at Pittsburgh (10-5)
Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North with a win over Baltimore last week. Settled in as the No. 3 seed, the Steelers will rest Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
They still might have too much for Cleveland, though the Browns are hot: They avoided a winless season by holding off San Diego last weekend.
Baltimore (8-7) at Cincinnati (5-9-1)
Personal achievements are all the Ravens have left. Justin Tucker needs one more 50-yard field goal to move ahead of Blair Walsh for an NFL seasonal record with 11. Tucker has 37 FGs overall, one shy of his club record, and needs three to become the third kicker in NFL history with 40. Mike Wallace (984 yards, 68 catches) needs 16 yards for a third career 1,000-yard season. Entering what could be his finale, WR Steve Smith has 51 games with at least 100 yards, tied with Andre Johnson and Terrell Owens for fourth in NFL history.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton needs 314 yards passing to top his club season record of 4,293 in 2013.
Jacksonville (3-12) at Indianapolis (7-8)
Can interim coach Doug Marrone finish 2-0? He led the Jags to a win over Tennessee in his first game replacing the fired Gus Bradley. Jacksonville has lost nine of its past 10 road games, but seeks three straight wins over the Colts.
Colts RB Frank Gore, 33, needs 36 yards to become Indy’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2007 and the oldest NFL player to achieve it since 35-year-old John Riggins in 1984. Gore would join Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (11), Curtis Martin (10), Walter Payton (10) and Barry Sanders (10) as only NFL players with nine or more 1,000-yard seasons.
Chicago (3-12) at Minnesota (7-8)
The Vikings began 5-0 and look where they are now. But Sam Bradford leads the league with a 71.3 percent completion rate, which would be an all-time NFL record. Unheralded WR Adam Thielen has 960 yards receiving, seeking to become first Vikings player with 1,000 yards through the air since Sidney Rice in 2009.
This will be the worst finish by the Bears since 2002, when they went 4-12.
Arizona (6-8-1) at Los Angeles (4-11)
Few teams were more disappointing this season than Arizona, an NFC championship game loser last January.
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer returns to LA Coliseum, where he won Heisman Trophy for Southern California.
The Rams have lost six straight and 10 of 11 in homecoming season. They are 1-5 at the Coliseum, losing five straight.
Buffalo (7-8) at New York Jets (4-11)
With the Rex Ryan revenge factor gone because he was fired on Tuesday, not much to recommend in this one. Jets coach Todd Bowles, the guy who succeeded Ryan last in 2015 and went 10-6, could be on the hot seat because his team has seemed to lack effort in several recent losses.
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today) —- Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks heading into Week 16.
(Note: Bookmark this page — it will be regularly updated for duration of the regular season.)
yz-1. New England Patriots (12-2): AFC East champions. Division winners for eighth consecutive season, they can lock up home field in Week 16 with a win plus an Oakland loss. [Remaining games: vs. Jets, at Dolphins]
x-2. Oakland Raiders (11-3): AFC West leader. Back in playoffs for first time in 14 years, they win division and bye with victory and a K.C. loss. [Remaining games: vs. Colts, at Broncos]
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5): AFC North leader. They’ll clinch division by beating Baltimore on Christmas but would lose control of it if Ravens complete season sweep. [Remaining games: vs. Ravens, vs. Browns]
4. Houston Texans (8-6): AFC South leader. Now 5-0 in divisional games, they maintain tiebreaker advantage while sharing first place with the Titans. Houston needs only to beat Tennessee in Week 17 to keep its crown. The Texans can also clinch Saturday with a win plus Titans loss. [Remaining games: vs. Bengals, at Titans]
5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4): Wild card No. 1. A win against Denver on Christmas night will lock Chiefs into playoffs and would put them back atop AFC West if Raiders also lose. Kansas City would also clinch a berth if Baltimore loses. [Remaining games: vs. Broncos, at Chargers]
6. Miami Dolphins (9-5): Wild card No. 2. They lock in with a win plus a loss by the Broncos. But Miami can’t afford to slip given losses to Ravens and Titans earlier this season could hurt dearly if this spot winds up being decided by tiebreakers. [Remaining games: at Bills, vs. Patriots]
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In the hunt
7. Baltimore Ravens (8-6): They’ll claim AFC North by winning final two games. Defeating Miami would also serve them well in wild-card race if they wind up tied. [Remaining games: at Steelers, at Bengals]
8. Tennessee Titans (8-6): They’ll claim AFC South by winning final two games. They also beat Dolphins and would own head-to-head tiebreaker for wild card. [Remaining games: at Jaguars, vs. Texans]
9. Denver Broncos (8-6): They’re only in running for wild card at this point and would be eliminated this week by loss and a Miami win. [Remaining games: at Chiefs, vs. Raiders]
10. Indianapolis Colts (7-7): Any loss eliminates them. They still have path to AFC South crown but need to finish tied atop division with Tennessee or benefit from Titans-Texans tie in Week 17. [Remaining games: at Raiders, vs. Jaguars]
11. Buffalo Bills (7-7): Any loss eliminates them. They must win out and receive significant help to get sixth seed. [Remaining games: vs. Dolphins, at Jets]
x-1. Dallas Cowboys (12-2): NFC East leader. One more win (or Giants loss) secures division and home-field advantage. [Remaining games: vs. Lions, at Eagles]
y-2. Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1): NFC West champions. They cannot earn home field this season but can still snag first-round bye in Week 16 with win and losses by Atlanta and Detroit. [Remaining games: vs. Cardinals, at 49ers]
3. Atlanta Falcons (9-5): NFC South leader. A win and Bucs loss would sew up division. A win plus a loss by either the Lions or Packers gives Atlanta at least a wild card. Strength of victory keeps Falcons ahead of Detroit. [Remaining games: at Panthers, vs. Saints]
4. Detroit Lions (9-5): NFC North leader. A win and Packers loss earns Detroit its first division title since 1993. But a loss at Dallas on Monday sets up a de facto division championship game against Green Bay in Week 17 at Ford Field. The Lions guarantee a playoff berth with a win and loss by Tampa Bay. [Remaining games: at Cowboys, vs. Packers]
5. New York Giants (10-4): Wild card No. 1. They clinch first playoff trip since they won Super Bowl XLVI after 2011 season by beating Philadelphia on Thursday. A loss by the Lions, Packers, Bucs or Falcons would also clinch New York’s berth. Giants can still win NFC East and home field if they win out and Dallas loses its final two games. [Remaining games: at Eagles, at Redskins]
6. Green Bay Packers (8-6): Wild card No. 2. They’re currently ahead of Bucs on strength of schedule tiebreaker and could clinch berth this weekend with a win and some help (losses by Washington and Tampa Bay combined with an Atlanta win). If Green Bay wins out, it reclaims NFC North title. [Remaining games: vs. Vikings, at Lions]
In the hunt
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6): They’re back in the playoffs for first time since 2007 with a win Saturday combined with losses by the Packers, Lions and Redskins. Tampa Bay could still claim NFC South by winning out and hoping Falcons stumble. Bucs’ wild-card possibilities could be bolstered by fact Detroit and Green Bay meet in Week 17. It would also help in tiebreaker department if Lions lose to Cowboys on Monday. [Remaining games: at Saints, vs. Panthers]
8. Washington Redskins (7-6-1): The best they can do is earn the second wild card, which would require winning and a heavy combination of losses from Atlanta, Detroit, Green Bay and/or Tampa Bay. [Remaining games: at Bears, vs. Giants]
9. Minnesota Vikings (7-7): They can’t win NFC North. But winning out and getting plenty of help could put them back in play for the sixth seed. [Remaining games: at Packers, vs. Bears]
10. New Orleans Saints (6-8): They must win out and get significant help to be in running for sixth seed. [Remaining games: vs. Buccaneers, at Falcons]
11. Carolina Panthers (6-8): They must win out and get significant help to be in running for sixth seed. [Remaining games: vs. Falcons, at Buccaneers]
x — clinched playoff spot
y — clinched division
z — clinched first-round bye
* — clinched home-field advantage
The 40 things we learned from Week 15 of the NFL season:
1. Baby, it was cold out there on Sunday as the Polar Vortex took over Week 15.
2. The dramatic endings in four of the early afternoon games warmed the hearts of those who came out on the right side of the score, but that doesn’t mean it was all warm and fuzzy on Sunday.
3. The coldest move was made by the Jaguars, who fired coach Gus Bradley after the loss to the Texans. We knew it was coming, but with two weeks left? Happy holidays.
4. And since the Jaguars were in Houston, Bradley flew home on the team charter. #brrrr
5. The chill move was made by Texans coach Bill O’Brien, who yanked QB Brock Osweiler after a couple early interceptions.
6. Tom Savage came in, completed a 32-yard pass, went on to win the game and now we have a quarterback discussion in Houston.
7. And whoever thought a first-place team after 15 weeks would be meeting behind closed doors and deciding whether Brock Osweiler or Tom Savage could lead them to the Super Bowl? #yikes
8. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers showed the ice in his veins with a last-second, 60-yard completion to Jordy Nelson that helped Green Bay win a game they almost threw into Lake Michigan.
9. Speaking of ice, Chiefs coach Andy Reid used a timeout to “ice” Titans kicker Ryan Succop in the final seconds of the game. The timeout, as they usually do in those situations, came right before the snap, so Succop went through with the kick. It was short. After being “iced,” he made the 53-yarder to beat his former team.
10. No matter what the weather, Odell Beckham Jr. wears gloves on Sundays. And if you saw the way the ball stuck to that glove on his clinching TD, you know it’s not just a fashion statement.
11. We wonder (again) just what would it take for Walt Coleman’s crew to give Cam Newton a call. Even Dean Blandino didn’t jump on Twitter to defend the missed call against Newton on Monday night.
12. For the record, the Baltimore Ravens were the first team to score in the early games.
13. New England earned a first-round bye. Rinse, wash, repeat.
14. The Raiders are back in the playoffs. And the world is a better place because of it.
15. We wouldn’t have blamed Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer if he had used patches to cover both of his eyes during that 34-6 debacle.
16. Titans coach Mike Mularkey going for two points instead of the tie, on the road, with 3:12 to go in the game? Wow! That failed. The Titans pulled it out anyway. Double wow.
17. No Dak Prescott questions this week, right? Right?
18. Vikings DL Linval Joseph, all 329 pounds of him, attempted one of those try-to-hurdle-the-long-snapper-without-touching-him plays on a field goal attempt. It turned out like you thought it would.
19. What made it even sillier was it gave the Colts a first-and-goal and eventually a touchdown. We should have known then what kind of day it would be for Minnesota.
20. It seemed like referee Walt Anderson was sighing every time he announced a penalty during the Patriots-Broncos game. We feel ya.
21. The no-shows in Chicago: 16,536. Were the Cubs playing?
22. If you wait long enough, the Bengals always remember the script: Penalties on four straight defensive snaps were a big part of the Steelers’ drive that gave them the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
23. Before we pat GM John Elway on the back for passing on Osweiler, let’s remember he offered a reported $16 million per season for the QB to stay in Denver.
24. So Elway might have gotten lucky that Osweiler left, but it wasn’t like he was showing him the door.
25. Did people really criticize Doug Pederson for going for two after the Eagles scored to draw within one point of the Ravens with 4 seconds to go? When you’re 5-8, do you really want to play for a tie?
26. The Cowboys defense is considered their weak link. But they were the difference Sunday night against the Buccaneers.
27. The Jaguars hadn’t had an interception since Week 4 before picking off Osweiler twice.
28. We are Jeff Fisher fans. Really, we are. But that was one whiny interview with FOX Sports on Sunday. Dude, you would have fired yourself if you were the owner. Probably long ago.
29. We’re glad we’re not Woody Johnson (except for the whole money thing). The Jets actually played hard, for the most part Saturday night, before melting under an avalanche of mistakes. So what to do with coach Todd Bowles? Not an easy decision.
30. And we don’t what to make of the fact Johnson actually left the stadium before the game was over. Except we don’t blame him.
31. Ndamukong Suh can certainly disrupt an offense when he is on his game. For a while there, we thought he was a Jets running back, he was in their backfield so often.
32. Your head will hurt reading all the playoff possibilities in the AFC South, so know this: If either the Texans or Titans win out, they win the title. The Colts need to win out and get help.
33. Pete Carroll. So easy to dislike. A fake punt when up 25 points with just over five minutes to play Thursday night? That’s almost as stupid as calling for a pass play from the 1-yard line with the Super Bowl on the line. Almost.
34. So now the reports say Buffalo will fire Rex Ryan but keep GM Doug Whaley. It will be the third head coach Whaley has a say in hiring. Which, to us, is one too many.
35. Maybe Rex will get the benefit of the doubt because five of his (seven) wins have come against quality opponents: Browns, Jaguars, Patriots (without Brady), Rams and 49ers. #kidding
36. And just like that, you wonder if the Washington Redskins will back up the money truck for Kirk Cousins in the offseason. One of the most interesting off-season stories to watch.
37. This Ty Montgomery from WR-to-RB transition during the season isn’t getting the attention it should. Guy had 123 yards rushing in the first half against the Bears.
38. Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis were said to have had an animated conversation on the field before the game. Oh, to have been a proverbial fly on that midfield logo.
39. Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers showed they’re not quite ready for prime time. But watch out next season.
40. We tried to tell you to keep an eye on the Giants earlier this season. Hope you were listening.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today) —- In Sunday’s rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game, Tom Brady can either cheapen or deepen the ongoing narrative of his career record in Denver.
Brady is just 2-7 in road games against the Broncos, a rare blemish on the two-time MVP’s sterling career résumé. His last win in Denver came in 2011, when Tim Tebow was his opposition at quarterback.
But the New England Patriots star not only has a chance to bolster his team’s chance for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but also deal a significant blow to Denver’s postseason hopes.
The Broncos’ relentless pass rush helped shut down Brady in the playoffs last season, but little has slowed his MVP pace this year. He has 22 touchdowns to just two interceptions, and only the Seattle Seahawks have held him without a scoring strike.
Denver’s top-ranked pass defense returns many of the elements that confounded Brady and New England in last year’s playoffs. The focus for both teams should be Von Miller, who had 2 1/2 sacks and four hits in the last meeting. Even if Miller doesn’t replicate that performance, Denver likely will need to provide consistent pressure against Brady, who has been sacked just 12 times in nine games.
With Rob Gronkowski out, Brady will need someone from his receiving corps to break through against Denver’s deep and talented secondary. Gronkowski accounted for nearly half of the Patriots’ receiving yards in the last matchup, while no other Patriots receiver had more than 53 yards.
But New England could lean on LeGarrette Blount, who is fifth in the NFL with 1,029 rushing yards, to open up Denver’s defense in the early going. The Broncos have allowed opposing running backs to gain at least 100 yards from scrimmage in their last three games, and just three other teams have given up more rushing yards this season.
Here are four other matchups that will define NFL Week 15:
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott vs. Buccaneers’ pass rush
The Cowboys’ star quarterback finally hit the rookie wall last week in a 10-7 loss to the New York Giants. A bounce-back game is no guarantee, as the Buccaneers’ surging defense might be one of the least welcome matchups in the league right now for opposing quarterbacks.
During its five-game win streak, Tampa Bay has allowed just 12.8 points per game and forced 14 turnovers. With a disruptive front four led by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive end Robert Ayers, Prescott might face a reduced level of comfort similar to his experience against the Giants.
But the Cowboys could rely on their running game to pace the offense until the Buccaneers force them to do otherwise. Tampa hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in its last five games, but it ranks 20th against the run on the season. Dallas’ touted offensive line will have to stand strong, and Dez Bryant can’t be held to just one catch again as he was last week.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Colts’ front seven
Peterson appears to have outpaced even his own expectations for a return as he should be back in action Sunday after tearing his meniscus in Week 2. Regardless of how much he can do, the Vikings are a team in clear need of a lift.
Minnesota has averaged a league-worst 73.4 rushing yards per game. Peterson had just 50 yards on 31 carries prior to his injury, and he’ll likely need to be eased back into action. Still, the Vikings need to find some kind of spark to stay in the playoff picture.
Indianapolis is in for another gut check after allowing 185 rushing yards last week in a loss to the Houston Texans. Linebacker Robert Mathis, who’s set to return after missing the last two weeks with a biceps injury, questioned the team’s mental toughness. With their postseason chances dwindling, this final stretch could set the tone for the Colts entering the offseason.
Giants WR Odell Beckham vs. Lions CB Darius Slay
Detroit can clinch its first division title since 1993 on Sunday, but the game-breaking Beckham stands in the way.
Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin indicated this week that Slay likely would not trail Beckham for the entire game, as the Giants move their top wide receiver around and Detroit’s top corner does not cover slot receivers. But allowing plays like last week’s 61-yard catch-and-run touchdown could be devastating for a Lions team that has already had to engineer eight fourth-quarter comebacks this season.
For the Giants, Beckham has salvaged a sputtering offense. The star wide receiver has accounted for 49.8% of the team’s receiving yards in the last three games, during all of which Eli Manning has fallen short of 200 yards passing. With a shaky offensive line and languishing run game, the Giants haven’t found any way out of their funk beyond feeding Beckham.
Panthers QB Cam Newton vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman
Norman assured reporters this week there was no lingering animosity from Carolina deciding to move on from him this offseason, but his true feelings will be revealed Monday when he faces his former team.
Both the quarterback and cornerback said this week that they expected for Norman to be tested in the passing game, though Newton admitted he had to keep his ego in check when doing so. Newton hasn’t completed 50% of his passes in any of his last four games, and taking risks against the Redskins’ best defensive back isn’t a wise game plan.
Defeating his old team would give Norman another bragging opportunity, but there are more important tasks ahead for a Washington team still jockeying for a wild-card berth. Norman could either shadow 6-5 receiver Kelvin Benjamin or remain on the left side of the field, which he did last week against Philadelphia.
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IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t saying whether he’s optimistic that San Diego and Oakland can keep their teams, while Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay considers both franchises all but gone.
Dean Spanos of the Chargers and the Raiders’ Mark Davis weren’t talking at the NFL owners meeting Wednesday in the Dallas area. And no new specifics were revealed by Goodell a day after city and county officials in Oakland agreed to open negotiations with an investment group on a $1.3 billion plan for a new stadium.
“As you know, these issues have been going on for an awful long time,” Goodell said. “The challenges of getting stadiums built is something that we’ve worked very hard on. We have not made great progress in Oakland and San Diego. There is not a stadium proposal on the table that we think addresses the long-term issues of the clubs and the communities.”
The Chargers face a Jan. 15 deadline to decide whether to join the Rams in Los Angeles, part of a deal struck almost a year ago when owners agreed to let the Rams leave St. Louis. A Chargers-written ballot measure asking for $1.15 billion in increased hotel taxes to help fund a new downtown stadium was soundly defeated last month.
Earlier this year, Davis said he was committed to moving the Raiders to Las Vegas, where a $1.9 billion stadium project has been approved. He declined to comment Wednesday when asked by The Associated Press about the vote a day earlier in Oakland.
The Raiders will have from the end of their season, which will likely include their first trip to the playoffs since 2002, until Feb. 15 to apply for relocation. Irsay didn’t offer any encouraging words for San Diego or Oakland.
“I think that there is at this point really no reason for optimism in either market for the Chargers and Raiders right now,” Irsay said. “We’ll see what happens. That’s the way it appears to be going with the year ending here.”
Irsay said it would be “fruitless” to extend the deadline facing the Chargers on their Los Angeles decision. He suggested that Spanos and Rams owner Stan Kroenke would reach an agreement to share Kroenke’s new stadium in Inglewood.
“You know this process has been going on for a very, very long time in San Diego,” Irsay said. “Dean’s going to need to make a decision on what’s best for the Chargers and go forward. I know as owners we all felt two teams could be supported in Los Angeles, unquestionably.”
Goodell said the NFL was still committed to keeping the teams in their respective cities, a point he said he reiterated with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Tuesday.
“But ultimately it’s for the community to decide,” Goodell said. “We have worked to try to get the referendum passed. And we’ll continue to work with the local officials. But ultimately, they have to determine what it is they want to do in the community, what it is that can work for the community and the team.”
Among other issues Goodell addressed:
—The salary cap will increase at least another $10 million for the fourth year in a row, which Goodell said was a sign that the labor deal reached in 2011 was working. “This is healthy for us,” Goodell said. “We should continue to find ways to continue to extend that and make sure that we address things that we think we could make better.”
When the NFL and the players’ union did a long-term deal with no opt-out clause, the idea was to help drive up revenues, which in turn makes the cap rise. The more the cap rises the more cash teams have to spend on players.
Had there been an opt-out clause, as previous collective bargaining agreements had, a lockout or strike scenario would have been possible during the contract.
Goodell mentioned the league is interested in an extension of the CBA. It’s unlikely the union would favor anything short of negotiations on a new deal in which both sides could address any perceived shortcomings in the current agreement.
—The NFL will experiment with the number of advertisements in TV breaks during Week 16 games as it continues to evaluate a decline in ratings this season. The changes are not expected to reduce the time for ads, but perhaps the number of ads in a break and how many breaks there are. “We’re evaluating every aspect of the game presentation on television, on media platforms and also in stadiums,” Goodell said.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today / AP) —- Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks after Week 14’s games.
(Note: Bookmark this page — it will be regularly updated for the duration of the regular season.)
1. New England Patriots (11-2): AFC East leader. They’ll clinch the division and a first-round bye if they win Sunday or if the Miami Dolphins lose Saturday.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3): AFC West leader. A win combined with a New England loss would move K.C. up to the top spot. But if the Chiefs lose, they could be overtaken by the Raiders for the division lead.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5): AFC North leader. The Baltimore Ravens are out of the picture after losing to the Patriots but would jump back into the field with a win and a Pittsburgh loss.
4. Houston Texans (7-6): AFC South leader. Despite their perfect division record, they’d relinquish first place if they lose and the Tennessee Titans win.
5. Oakland Raiders (10-3): Wild card No. 1. The Silver & Black can’t do any worse than remaining in this spot but could also get back into position for a bye or even home-field advantage if the Patriots and Chiefs stumble.
6. Denver Broncos (8-5): Wild card No. 2. The strength of victory tiebreaker currently keeps them ahead of Miami, but the Broncos could lose this spot to the Dolphins (8-5), Ravens (7-6) or Titans (7-6) this weekend.
x-1. Dallas Cowboys (11-2): NFC East leader. They failed to clinch the division and a first-round bye Sunday night but remain the favorite to win home-field advantage. A victory over the Bucs on Sunday night combined with a Giants loss would give Dallas the NFC East crown and a bye. If all that happens and Detroit loses, the Cowboys would secure the top seed.
2. Detroit Lions (9-4): NFC North leader. A win Sunday combined with a Green Bay Packers loss clinches Detroit’s first division title since 1993.
3. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1): NFC West leader. A win over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday clinches the division for Seattle. If the Seahawks falter again, they’ll still clinch with an Arizona Cardinals loss Sunday.
4. Atlanta Falcons (8-5): NFC South leader. Atlanta could drop out of the picture with a loss. However as long as the Falcons have the same record as Tampa Bay, they’ll hold the tiebreaker edge and retain first place in the division.
5. New York Giants (9-4): Wild card No. 1. A loss would drop them to sixth if Tampa Bay beats the Cowboys.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5): Wild card No. 2. They could wind up as high as the No. 2 seed or find themselves on the outside looking in if they lose to Dallas and the Washington Redskins (7-5-1) win. Neither the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) nor Green Bay Packers (7-6) can pass the Bucs or Falcons this week.
x — clinched playoff spot
Overreactions: Cowboys should bench Dak, start Romo
Get loose, Tony Romo.
Dak Prescott can’t beat the New York Giants, so the Cowboys have to bench him for Romo. Otherwise, Dallas (11-2) could be one-and-done in the playoffs.
Prescott had his worst game in a 10-7 loss to the Giants (9-4) on Sunday night. He threw two interceptions and had a season-low 139 yards passing. The rookie quarterback hasn’t thrown for 200 yards in three games and the Cowboys are a combined 2 for 24 on third downs the past two games after converting just once in 15 tries at New York.
Sure, that 11-game winning streak looked nice. But now the pressure is on. Romo certainly can handle it better than a 23-year-old fourth-round pick.
After all, Romo won two playoff games in 10 seasons.
Here are other overreactions following Week 14:
OVERREACTION: The Browns should give Terrelle Pryor a shot at quarterback. Cody Kessler (0-8), Josh McCown (0-3) and Robert Griffin III (0-2) are 0-13.
REALISTIC REACTION: Pryor is Cleveland’s best receiver and RG3 just returned from injury.
OVERREACTION: Matthew Stafford is the ultimate Comeback Kid and he’s taking the Lions to a division title.
REALISTIC REACTION: Eight comeback wins are impressive, but Detroit (9-4) has tough games coming up against the Giants, Cowboys and Packers (7-6) so their lead in the NFC North isn’t safe.
OVERREACTION: Le’Veon Bell is the Steelers MVP. While Ben Roethlisberger tossed three interceptions, Bell ran for a franchise-record 236 yards in a win at Buffalo.
REALISTIC REACTION: They lost their only game without Big Ben and went 2-1 without Bell. Those stats don’t lie.
OVERREACTION: DeSean Jackson will return to the Eagles next year.
REALISTIC REACTION: They need a playmaker and he’d like to come back, but rebuilding teams usually don’t pay big money to 30-year-old receivers.
OVERREACTION: The Seahawks won’t go anywhere in the playoffs because they can’t win on the road.
REALISTIC REACTION: Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have made plenty of teams look bad in December at Lambeau Field. Don’t count Seattle out yet.
OVERREACTION: The Titans (7-6) are going worst to first.
REALISTIC REACTION: The Texans (7-6) have an easier schedule, but the division should be decided when the teams meet Week 17 in Tennessee.
OVERREACTION: The Raiders got exposed in Kansas City.
REALISTIC REACTION: The Chiefs have won 20 of 23. Oakland (10-3) should be playing in January.
OVERREACTION: The defending Super Bowl champions won’t get a chance to repeat.
REALISTIC REACTION: The Broncos (8-5) have the toughest schedule down the stretch, but they’re tied with Miami for the second wild-card spot and the Dolphins lost QB Ryan Tannehill.
OVERREACTION: Tom Brady is the best athlete in sports history. At 39 years old, he threw for 406 yards and three TDs against the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
REALISTIC REACTION: Best quarterback? Probably. Athlete? Ali, Jordan and many more belong in that conversation.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
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Monday, Dec. 12
Baltimore at New England, 8:30 p.m. EST. The Ravens (7-5) and Patriots (10-2) are meeting on “Monday Night Football” for the first time since 2007. Baltimore is in the mix for the AFC North title on the strength of a defense that has limited the opposition to an NFL-low 73.8 yards rushing per game. Tom Brady has 2,470 yards passing, 19 TDs and one INT for a 113.1 passer rating in the eight games he has played.
— Matt Ryan, Falcons, passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-14 victory over Los Angeles.
— Aaron Rodgers, Packers, completed 18 of 23 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay’s 38-10 win against Seattle.
— Sam Bradford, Vikings, completed 24 of 34 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown in a 25-16 win at Jacksonville. He wasn’t sacked and scrambled four times for 17 yards, and his 3-yard TD toss to Kyle Rudolph with 2:13 remaining sealed the victory.
— Trevor Siemian, Broncos, threw for 354 yards and a touchdown on 35-of-51 passing in Denver’s 13-10 loss at Tennessee.
— Carson Wentz, Eagles, was 32 of 46 for 314 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Philadelphia’s 27-22 loss to Washington.
— Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins, went 15 for 20 for 195 yards and three touchdowns before leaving Miami’s 26-23 win over Arizona with what the team fears is a torn ACL.
— Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, ran for a franchise-record 236 yards and had three touchdowns on 38 carries in Pittsburgh’s 27-20 win at Buffalo. He also had 62 yards receiving to account for 298 of the 460 yards gained by Pittsburgh.
— Bilal Powell, Jets, ran for 145 yards, including the game-ending 19-yard touchdown in overtime, and had a career-high 179 yards from scrimmage in New York’s 23-17 win over San Francisco.
— Carlos Hyde, 49ers, rushed for a career-high 193 yards on only 17 attempts and caught a TD pass in San Francisco’s 23-17 overtime loss to the New York Jets.
— Isaiah Crowell, Browns, had 113 yards rushing on just 10 carries in Cleveland’s 23-10 loss to Cincinnati.
— Jeremy Hill, Bengals, rushed for 111 yards and a TD on 25 carries in Cincinnati’s 23-10 victory at Cleveland.
— Lamar Miller, Texans, ran 21 times for 107 yards and scored on a 2-yard run late in the first half of Houston’s 22-17 win over Indianapolis.
— Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, had 107 yards rushing on 24 carries in Dallas’ 10-7 loss to the New York Giants.
— Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, Broncos. Sanders caught 11 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, while Thomas had 10 receptions for 126 yards in Denver’s 13-10 loss at Tennessee.
— T.Y. Hilton, Colts, had nine receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown in Indianapolis’ 22-17 loss to Houston.
— Zach Ertz, Eagles, caught 10 passes for 112 yards in Philadelphia’s 27-22 loss to Washington.
— Jordy Nelson, Packers, had two touchdown catches in Green Bay’s 38-10 rout of Seattle.
— Tyler Eifert, Bengals, caught two first-half touchdown passes from Andy Dalton in Cincinnati’s 23-10 win at winless Cleveland.
— Nick Novak, Texans, kicked five field goals in Houston’s 22-17 victory at Indianapolis.
— Graham Gano, Panthers, booted four field goals in Carolina’s 28-16 win over San Diego.
— Jordan Phillips, Dolphins, blocked Chandler Catanzaro’s extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter of Miami’s 26-23 win over Arizona.
— Kai Forbath, Vikings, kicked four field goals to help Minnesota top Jacksonville 25-16 for the Jaguars’ second win in nine weeks.
— Vic Beasley, Falcons, had three sacks, a forced fumble and a 21-yard fumble-return touchdown in Atlanta’s 42-14 win at Los Angeles.
— Damarious Randall, Packers, intercepted two of Russell Wilson’s passes in Green Bay’s 38-10 win over Seattle.
— Cre’Von LeBlanc, Bears, scored on a 24-yard interception return in Chicago’s 20-17 loss at Detroit.
— Leodis McKelvin, Eagles, returned an interception 29 yards for a TD early in the fourth quarter of Philadelphia’s 27-22 loss to Washington.
— Deion Jones, Falcons, returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown in Atlanta’s 42-14 win at Los Angeles.
— Mario Addison, Panthers, sacked Philip Rivers in the end zone for a safety in Carolina’s 28-16 win over San Diego.
— Sean Lee, Cowboys, had 18 total tackles in Dallas’ 10-7 loss to the New York Giants.
STREAKS & STATS
The New York Giants snapped the Cowboys’ 11-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory, preventing Dallas from clinching the NFC East. Dallas (11-2) hadn’t lost since the season opener against the Giants (9-4), who solidified their position in the NFC playoff chase as the top-wild card team. … Denver, which leads the NFL in three-and-outs, snapped an 0-for-17 drought on third-down conversions late in the third quarter of a 13-10 loss at Tennessee when Trevor Siemian found Demaryius Thomas on third-and-14 with a 15-yard pass. … San Francisco (1-12) led the New York Jets 17-3 at halftime, but fell flat after that and lost a franchise-worst 12th straight game. The 49ers also had just 17 yards passing after halftime — its fewest in 11 years. … New Orleans’ Drew Brees failed to throw for a touchdown for the second straight week, the first time he’s done that in consecutive games since 2009. … Tampa Bay has won five straight for the first time since 2002 , the season the Buccaneers (8-5) went on to win their only Super Bowl. The surge has them in contention for their first playoff berth since 2007. … Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston was 16 of 26 with no touchdowns or interceptions in the Bucs’ 16-11 win over New Orleans. He had thrown for at least one TD in 28 consecutive games to begin his career. … Atlanta’s Matt Ryan surpassed 4,000 yards passing for the sixth consecutive season, tying Peyton Manning for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Brees reached 4,000 for his league-record 11th straight season.
Indianapolis’ Frank Gore finished with 74 yards from scrimmage in the Colts’ 22-17 loss to Houston to move past Terrell Owens (16,185) for No. 11 on the NFL’s list. … Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri scored five points, ending the day with 104 to extend his NFL record to 19 100-point seasons. … Houston linebacker Brian Cushing had six tackles against Indianapolis, giving him 639 in his career — breaking DeMeco Ryans’ franchise record (636). … Anquan Boldin’s 16-yard TD catch with 19 seconds left in the first half was the 1,063rd reception of his career, moving him past Andre Johnson for 10th place on the NFL’s career list. … Brandon Marshall finished the Jets’ 23-17 overtime win at San Francisco with 33 yards receiving on three receptions, bringing his career receiving total to 12,017 yards to become the 25th wide receiver in the NFL history to amass 12,000 or more. He’s also the eighth wide receiver in NFL history to accomplish the feat in 165 or fewer games. … Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson, giving the duo 57 TD passes overall, which ties Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman for the most touchdown passes from a quarterback to a receiver in Packers history.
Robert Griffin III returned from injury and played for the first time in three months, but didn’t stop Cleveland from falling closer to a 0-16 finish as the Cincinnati Bengals built a big early lead and held off the winless Browns 23-10 on Sunday in the snow. The Browns (0-13) lost their 16th straight, going back to Dec. 13 last season. Cleveland has lost 23 of 24 and 31 of 34 since the end of 2014. The Browns have three games left to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams. Cleveland is also the seventh team since 1962 to start 0-13, joining the ’08 Lions, 1980 Saints, 1976 Buccaneers, 2011 Colts, 2007 Dolphins and 1962 Raiders.
Matthew Stafford’s go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left made up for his two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one that was returned for a score, and helped the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 20-17. The Lions became the first team in NFL history to have eight comeback wins from fourth-quarter deficits in a season, according to information provided by the team from the Elias Sports Bureau.
Los Angeles’ Jeff Fisher, who received a two-year contract extension, tied Dan Reeves’ NFL record with his 165th career coaching loss when the Rams got routed by Atlanta 42-14.
Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer returned after a one-game absence and was on the sideline for the Vikings’ 25-16 win at Jacksonville. Zimmer missed last week’s game against Dallas because of a detached retina and was unsure earlier in the week whether he would be on the field or in an upstairs box. Zimmer, who needed a doctor’s clearance to fly to Jacksonville, was wearing a patch over his right eye. He also had protective glasses on beforehand, but ditched those when the game started.
Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell scored three times and gained a franchise-record 236 yards rushing in a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills in the snow. Bell also had 62 yards receiving to account for 298 of the 460 yards gained by Pittsburgh. It was the second three-TD game of his career, and first in which he scored three times rushing. Bell broke the franchise rushing record set by Willie Parker, who had 223 yards against Cleveland on Dec. 7, 2006. Bell is also the second player in NFL history with at least 225 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 50 receiving yards in a single game, joining Jim Brown (Nov. 19, 1961).
LOTS OF MISTAKES
Frequent heavy rain resulted in a sloppy game, including four turnovers by Arizona — all in the first 20 minutes — and three by Miami in the Dolphins’ 26-23 win at home. The Dolphins overcame 14 penalties for 118 yards, and Arizona had seven for 54. In addition, the Cardinals’ Chandler Catanzaro missed a field-goal attempt and two extra points, with one blocked PAT returned for a 2-point conversion.
Philadelphia lost long snapper Jon Dorenbos to a right wrist injury, and then backup Brent Celek made a poor snap on a 50-yard field goal attempt and suffered a stinger, leaving Trey Burton to handle the tough task in the Eagles’ 27-22 loss to Washington. After the offense lined up to go for fourth-and-1, quarterback Carson Wentz called a timeout. Burton practiced a couple of snaps on the sideline along with linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Holder Donnie Jones had to reach up to catch Burton’s snap and Caleb Sturgis took a stutter-step before kicking the ball through the uprights for a 41-yarder.
Buffalo had minus-1 yards through two series in the first quarter of a 27-20 loss to Pittsburgh, becoming the NFL’s first team this season to have negative yards through the first 15 minutes. Buffalo didn’t get into positive yardage until its first snap of the second quarter, when LeSean McCoy had a 9-yard run.
Philadelphia’s Darren Sproles had a 4-yard touchdown catch in the Eagles’ 27-22 loss to Washington, his 30th touchdown reception. Sproles is the first player in NFL history to have at least 30 receiving TDs (30), 20 rushing TDs (21), a punt-return TD (seven) and a kick-return TD (two).
San Diego running back Melvin Gordon was carted off the field in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to Carolina after injuring his left hip. He’s expected to undergo an MRI on Monday. The Chargers suffered another significant injury when this year’s first-round pick Joey Bosa stayed in the locker room at halftime to be evaluated for a neck injury. … Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill limped off with a left knee injury in the third quarter, and the Dolphins fear their quarterback tore his ACL. He’ll undergo further testing Monday. … Jets running back Matt Forte left the game with a knee injury and didn’t return. He’ll have an MRI. Safety Marcus Gilchrist will undergo season-ending surgery for a patella tendon tear. … San Francisco wide receiver Torrey Smith left with a concussion after his helmet slammed against the turf following an incomplete pass in the third quarter against the Jets.
“We’re not going 0-16. We’re going to keep fighting to the very end. We still have three more games left.” — Cleveland rookie linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah after the Browns dropped to 0-13 and could join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams.
“How much can I appreciate it? About as much as any Steeler fan. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. When you’re running the ball as well as you do, might as well stick to it.” — Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on teammate Le’Veon Bell, who ran for a franchise-record 236 yards and had three touchdowns on 38 carries in Pittsburgh’s 27-20 win at Buffalo.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With a no-huddle offense and no-fooling-around defense, the New York Giants snapped the Cowboys’ 11-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory Sunday night, preventing Dallas from clinching the NFC East.
Dallas (11-2) hadn’t lost since the season opener against the Giants (9-4), who solidified their position in the NFC playoff chase as the top-wild card team. New York still hopes to catch Dallas in the division, and it can thank a stingy, aggressive defense for still having that opportunity.
Missing star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants couldn’t stop rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott from rushing for 107 yards. But New York’s pressure stymied the other Cowboys rookie standout, quarterback Dak Prescott, blanked receiver Dez Bryant until 2:13 remained — he fumbled away the ball on that play — and held Dallas to one conversion in 15 third-down attempts.
The Giants had three sacks, continually made Prescott uncomfortable, and he threw two picks.
New York’s offense was unsightly much of the night, blanked at halftime with only 84 net yards. Then it switched to the no-huddle and put together a short drive to Robbie Gould’s 39-yard field goal, making it 7-3.
But Odell Beckham Jr., stepped up, as he often does, and sped through the Cowboys on a 61-yard touchdown play. Beckham caught Eli Manning’s pass at the Giants 48 and raced all the way to the end zone for the lead the defense preserved.
Manning was 17 for 28 for 193 yards, one TD, one interception and two fumbles. His main adversary was linebacker Sean Lee, who had 18 tackles. Prescott finished 17 for 37 for 165 yards and a touchdown.
BENGALS 23, BROWNS 10
CLEVELAND (AP) — Robert Griffin III returned from injury but couldn’t keep Cleveland from falling closer to infamy as Cincinnati built a big early lead and held off the winless Browns in the snow.
Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes to Tyler Eifert as the Bengals (5-7-1) kept their playoff chances pulsating for another week.
Griffin started for the first time since getting hurt in the opener. He couldn’t produce a win for the Browns (0-13).
RG3 did score on a 1-yard sneak in the third quarter, but the Browns lost their 16th straight dating to Dec. 13 last season. Cleveland has lost 23 of 24 and 31 of 34 since the end of 2014.
The Browns have three games left to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams. They are making history with every loss. They are the seventh team since 1962 to start 0-13, joining the ’08 Lions, 1980 Saints, 1976 Buccaneers, 2011 Colts, 2007 Dolphins and 1962 Raiders.
Griffin finished 12 of 28 for 104 yards. Isaiah Crowell was a bright spot for Cleveland, rushing for 113 yards on 10 carries.
Dalton, who has had some of his best games against Cleveland, connected twice in the first half with Eifert as the Bengals bullied the NFL’s worst team for 30 minutes.
BUCCANEERS 16, SAINTS 11
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Streaking Tampa Bay bolstered its playoff hopes by building an early lead and holding off Drew Brees and New Orleans for its fifth straight victory.
Doug Martin scored on a 1-yard run, Roberto Aguayo kicked three field goals and an improving defense intercepted Brees three times while holding the NFL passing leader without a touchdown pass.
Brees began the day leading the league in completions, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards and TD passes, but failed to throw for a touchdown for the second straight week, the first time he’s done that in consecutive games since 2009.
Safety Keith Tandy picked off the quarterback’s final pass on fourth-and-1 from near midfield in the final minute.
The Bucs (8-5) have won five straight for the first time since 2002, the season they went on to win their only Super Bowl. New Orleans (5-8) entered hoping to tighten the NFC South race, but instead dropped three games behind division co-leaders Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
TITANS 13, BRONCOS 10
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — DeMarco Murray ran for 92 yards and a touchdown, and the Titans held on to and keep a piece of first place in the AFC South. With the win, the Titans (7-6) also climbed above .500 for the first time all season.
The Titans came in with the NFL’s third-best rushing offense and the AFC’s top runner in Murray, and they ran right over a Denver defense that came in 28th in that category. By halftime, the Titans ran 26 times for 138 yards — the second-most rushes by any team in the first half this season and most allowed in the first half by Denver since 2014.
Tennessee then had to hold on as Trevor Siemian tried to rally Denver (8-5) despite a sprained left foot that kept him out last week. He threw a 3-yard TD pass to Emmanuel Sanders with 9:58 left and drove the Broncos to first-and-goal at the Tennessee 7 before rookie Aaron Wallace sacked him.
Coach Gary Kubiak settled for a 34-yard field goal by Brandon McManus on fourth-and-goal at the 16 with 4:28 left.
Siemian was driving the Broncos again when A.J. Derby fumbled after a catch. Safety Daimion Stafford recovered with 53 seconds left, and the Titans finished off their biggest win in years.
PACKERS 38, SEAHAWKS 10
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers passed for 246 yards and three touchdowns and Green Bay routed Seattle.
Seattle’s Russell Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions and the Packers (7-6) won their third straight game to keep their playoff hopes alive.
They’re two games back of first-place Detroit in the NFC North, but play division opponents in the last three weeks of the season.
Green Bay gained more than 300 yards in the first game for the Seahawks (8-4-1) without former All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, who is out for the season with a broken leg.
Rodgers set the tone on the opening drive after connecting with receiver Davante Adams on a perfectly-thrown pass down the right sideline for a 66-yard touchdown. Cornerback Jeremy Lane slipped on the play.
REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 22
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Chris Thompson’s 25-yard touchdown run with 1:54 remaining lifted Washington. Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard toss to DeSean Jackson, and had a pick-6.
The Eagles took a 22-21 lead when Caleb Sturgis hit a 41-yard field goal with 4:59 left after holder Donnie Jones got the high snap from third-string long snapper Trey Burton down in time.
Carson Wentz drove Philadelphia to the Redskins 14 in the final minute, but Ryan Kerrigan sacked him to force a fumble and seal the win for Washington (7-5-1), which remained in the middle of a jumbled playoff race.
The Eagles (5-8) have lost four in a row and eight of 10 after a 3-0 start.
Jackson made a twisting, over-the-shoulder catch and spun away from Leodis McKelvin before slowing down and jogging into the end zone to give the Redskins a 14-13 lead in the third quarter.
McKelvin intercepted Cousins and returned it 29 yards for a TD early in the fourth quarter, but Wentz’s pass to Jordan Matthews was knocked down on the 2-point conversion.
Cousins then connected with Pierre Garcon on a 15-yard TD pass to extend the lead to 21-13.
STEELERS 27, BILLS 20
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Le’Veon Bell scored three times and set a franchise record with 236 yards rushing in finding traction on a slick, snow-covered field.
The Steelers overcame three interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger to win their fourth straight and improve to 8-5 and keep pace in the AFC playoff race. The loss all but mathematically eliminated the Bills (6-7) from contention, and puts them in jeopardy of extending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 17 years — the longest since New Orleans ended a 20-year drought by reaching the postseason for their first time in 1987.
After scoring in the first half on 3- and 7-yard runs, Bell put the game away on the opening drive of the third quarter. He had nine rushes for 72 yards alone and capped the 82-yard drive by waltzing into the end zone from 5 yards.
Bell also had 62 yards receiving to account for 298 of the 460 yards gained by Pittsburgh. It was the second three-TD game of his career, and first in which he scored three times rushing. Bell broke the franchise rushing record set by Willie Parker, who had 223 yards against Cleveland on Dec. 7, 2006
FALCONS 42, RAMS 14
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Ryan passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns and Atlanta forced five turnovers to beat the Los Angeles.
Deion Jones returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown, and Vic Beasley forced a fumble by Jared Goff and returned it for another TD during Atlanta’s comprehensive pummeling of the Rams (4-9), who have lost four straight and eight of nine in their increasingly miserable homecoming season.
Tevin Coleman caught a TD pass and rushed for another score for the Falcons (8-5), who opened up a 42-point lead in the third quarter and stayed atop the NFC South with their fourth win in six games.
Even without injured receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta had little trouble from the opening kickoff, which was fumbled by Rams rookie Michael Thomas and recovered at the Los Angeles 3.
VIKINGS 25, JAGUARS 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Matt Asiata scored on a short touchdown run, Kai Forbath kicked four field goals and the Vikings won for just the second time in nine weeks.
Asiata had a chance to score three times, but he was stopped on a fourth-and-goal run in the second quarter and fumbled at the goal line in the fourth. Those mistakes hardly hurt against the hapless Jaguars (2-11), who dropped their eighth consecutive game and fell to 0-6 at EverBank Field this season.
Minnesota (7-6) hadn’t won on the road since Sept. 25 at Carolina. A loss to the Jaguars would have weakened their playoff chances.
Sam Bradford completed 24 of 34 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. His 3-yard TD toss to Kyle Rudolph with 2:13 remaining sealed the victory.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer returned after a one-game absence and was on the sideline. Zimmer missed last week’s game against Dallas because of a detached retina and was unsure earlier in the week whether he would be on the field or in an upstairs box. Zimmer, who needed a doctor’s clearance to fly to Jacksonville, was wearing a patch over his right eye. He also had protective glasses on beforehand, but ditched those when the game started.
TEXANS 22, COLTS 17
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Lamar Miller scored Houston’s only touchdown and the Texans defense stopped Andrew Luck on Indy’s final drive. Houston (7-6) retained a share of the AFC South lead with Tennessee by ending its three-game losing streak.
The Texans won for the second straight year in Indy, have won nine straight against division foes and got their first sweep of the Colts in franchise history.
Luck drove the Colts (6-7) to the Texans 42-yard line with 1:24 left. But on fourth-and-1, a blitz forced an errant screen pass to Robert Turbin.
Miller finished with 21 carries for 107 yards, while Brock Osweiler was 14 of 24 for 147 yards with one interception.
Luck was 24 of 45 for 276 yards with two TD passes, two interceptions and one fumble. T.Y. Hilton had nine catches for 115 yards and a 35-yard TD catch that closed Indy’s deficit to 19-17 early in the fourth quarter.
PANTHERS 28, CHARGERS 16
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina’s defense forced five turnovers by Philip Rivers and had five sacks and a safety.
Cam Newton was a pedestrian 10 of 27 for 160 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception for Carolina (5-8), which snapped a two-game losing streak and kept its slim playoff hopes alive. Jonathan Stewart ran for 66 yards and a touchdown and Graham Gano had four field goals.
But it was Carolina’s defense that set the tone early — and later put the game away.
Despite playing without middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Charles Johnson, the Panthers had four sacks on Rivers and forced three turnovers in the first half to build a 23-7 lead.
One of those turnovers, a strip-sack by Kawann Short, proved extra costly for the Chargers (5-8). Running back Melvin Gordon, who came in averaging 117.5 yards from scrimmage and had scored 12 touchdowns, was carted off with a hip injury after his left leg twisted under a pile while attempting to recover the loose ball. He did not return.
The Chargers later lost defensive end Joey Bosa to a neck injury.
DOLPHINS 26, CARDINALS 23
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Tannehill threw three touchdown passes before being sidelined with a knee injury, and Andrew Franks kicked a 21-yard field goal as time expired.
Tannehill limped to the locker room late in the third quarter after being hit around the legs by defensive tackle Calais Campbell as he released a completion. The Dolphins led 21-9 when Tannehill departed, and backup Matt Moore failed to lead Miami to a first down in his first three series.
The Cardinals mounted touchdown drives of 99 and 50 yards to tie the game, but Miami forced a punt to start at the Arizona 47 with 1:29 left. Moore threw a 12-yard completion to Kenny Stills for a first down, and then threw long to Stills for 29 yards to set up Franks’ winning kick.
The Dolphins (8-5) won for the seventh time in the past eight games and helped their bid to end an eight-year playoff drought. The Cardinals (5-7-1) fell further behind in the race for the final NFC wild-card berth.
LIONS 20, BEARS 17
DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford ran for a go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left after throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one that was returned for a score on the previous possession.
Matt Barkley completed two passes that put the Bears in a position to at least attempt a tying field goal in the final minute, but both were negated by penalties, before Chicago turned over the ball on downs from the Detroit 44.
The NFC North-leading Lions (9-4) have won five straight and eight of nine, moving them a step closer to winning a division title for the first time in 23 years.
Chicago (3-10) has lost four of five.
Stafford was picked off twice after he threw only one interception the previous eight games. Demontre Hurst intercepted Stafford’s pass in Chicago’s end zone after it ricocheted off teammate Bryce Callahan and receiver Golden Tate early in the fourth quarter. Cre’Von LeBlanc returned an interception 24 yards midway through the fourth to put Chicago up 17-13.
JETS 23, 49ERS 17, OT
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Bilal Powell ran for 145 yards, including the game-ending 19-yard touchdown in overtime, to help Bryce Petty and New York rally from 14 points down.
Petty threw an interception on his first pass of the game and the Jets (4-9) trailed 14-0 less than 5 minutes into the game. San Francisco (1-12) led 17-3 at halftime, but fell flat after that and lost a franchise-worst 12th straight game.
Powell took over from there and scored his second TD of the game on New York’s first possession of overtime after Petty’s scramble and 26-yard pass to Robby Anderson put the Jets in field goal range.
Petty, who went 23 for 35 for 257 yards in his second career start, rallied the Jets back from a 17-3 deficit in the first half by leading two fourth-quarter scoring drives. New York used a 15-play, 66-yard drive to cut the deficit to 17-14 with 5:04 left when Powell bowled his way in for a 5-yard run and Petty ran in the 2-point conversion.
New York then forced a punt and Petty led the Jets 33 yards to tie the game on Nick Folk’s 50-yard field goal with 38 seconds left.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today) — Here’s how the NFL playoff picture could be shaped in Week 14.
(Note: Bookmark this page — it will be regularly updated for the duration of the regular season.)
1. Oakland Raiders (10-2): AFC West leader. A loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night, which would mean a series sweep for K.C., would knock the Raiders out of the division lead and down to the fifth seed. Oakland will nail down a playoff spot with a win plus a loss by either the Broncos or Miami Dolphins.
2. New England Patriots (10-2): AFC East leader. A win plus a Miami loss clinches the division for New England. If that happens and the Pittsburgh Steelers also lose, the Pats would secure a first-round bye.
3. Baltimore Ravens (7-5): AFC North leader. They must beat the Patriots on Monday night to retain the nominal lead in the division, which they currently share with the Steelers.
4. Houston Texans (6-6): AFC South leader. They’re now in a three-way division tie with the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. The Texans visit the Colts on Sunday, with the winner remaining in first place. The Titans only take the division lead if they beat the Broncos, and Houston and Indianapolis tie.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3): Wild card No. 1. Beat Oakland, and they take over the AFC West lead and move up to the No. 2 seed. A loss means the Chiefs remain the fifth seed.
6. Denver Broncos (8-4): Wild card No. 2. A win over the Titans keeps them here. However a loss combined with a Steelers win moves Pittsburgh into the sixth seed ahead of Denver and the Dolphins by virtue of a superior conference record.
w-1. Dallas Cowboys (11-1): NFC East leader. They’ll clinch the division by beating the Giants on Sunday night. If they win and either the Lions or Seahawks lose, the Cowboys will earn a first-round bye. Dallas will own the NFC’s home field with a victory and losses by both Detroit and Seattle.
2. Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1): NFC West leader. If they win and the Arizona Cardinals lose, the Seahawks clinch the division.
3. Detroit Lions (8-4): NFC North leader. They cannot cede the division lead, win or lose this weekend, but have a chance to overtake Seattle.
4. Atlanta Falcons (7-5): NFC South leader. If they and the Bucs both win, Atlanta remains in first place based on a better record in common games.
5. New York Giants (8-4): Wild card No. 1. They can’t drop from the field with a loss but could fall to the sixth spot.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): Wild card No. 2. They could wind up with the NFC South lead but would also exit the field with a loss if the Washington Redskins also win.
w-clinched playoff spot
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Raiders and Chiefs are such bitter foes that not even a late-season game between losing teams with no hope of a division title or playoff berth would take away the importance of a matchup.
Now, consider the stakes when they meet Thursday night.
The Raiders are 10-2 and leading the AFC West, one of the surprise teams in the NFL, while the Chiefs are 9-3, with a win over Oakland already in their pocket. The winner of their prime-time matchup at frosty Arrowhead Stadium will have the inside track on ending a lengthy division title drought, not to mention the potential for a first-round playoff bye and a home game in the second round.
“We know the type of game it is, big game,” Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson said. “The Chiefs and Raiders have a long history against each other. You understand the importance and what you’re playing for, but you have to treat it like any other game.”
Good luck with that.
The Raiders are trying to win their seventh straight for the first time since 1976, when they later beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl. And they’re trying to reach the 11-win plateau for the first time since 2002, a season that also ended in the Super Bowl with a loss to the Buccaneers.
The Chiefs have won seven of their last eight, a stretch that began with a 26-10 win in Oakland on Oct. 16, and have won four straight against their old AFL rivals. And while the Raiders are chasing their first division title since 2002 , the Chiefs are trying for their first since 2010 .
Significant stakes, to be sure. Just like in the 1960s, when the Raiders and Chiefs were often in contention.
“We always have old players come in and talk to us and tell us how violent the games used to be, and how physical they used to be,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said , “and obviously, they talk about how the game’s changed and things like that, as all past players do. That’s really the main thing that sticks out — how violent and physical the games were. They would always talk about that.”
There’s a good chance Thursday night’s game looks similar.
First, the Chiefs have ferocious linebacker Justin Houston back from the knee injury that sidelined him for the first matchup. And the Raiders counter with a defense led by Khalil Mack that shut out Buffalo for most of the second half last week, allowing Oakland to rally for a 38-24 victory.
Then, consider the weather: The forecast calls for temperatures in the teens at kickoff, with a wind chill that could dip into the single digits by the fourth quarter.
It should make for an old-school matchup with stakes that couldn’t be much higher .
“You have to get ready for the team. You can’t worry about all that,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “You spend all your energy studying the team and getting yourself to know the game plan. Anything short of that I think you’re short-changing yourself, if you’re worried about magnitudes and all that stuff.”
As the Raiders and Chiefs prepare to meet for the 116th time, here are some key story lines:
MACLIN IN THE SADDLE: Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has missed four games with a groin injury, but he’s been practicing the past couple of weeks and there’s optimism he’ll be available. “If that’s the case, it’ll be an awesome addition,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “Jeremy is a special player.”
SERIES DOMINANCE: The Chiefs have won six of the last seven in the series, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is winless against Kansas City in three tries with the silver and black, and Smith is 8-1 against the Raiders in his career. “I don’t know if you can lump them together,” Smith said. “You try to play the chess game here in the rematch: what is different, what can we change?”
GIMMICKY? SURE: Del Rio took some heat from Chiefs fans for calling Smith’s play “gimmicky” after their first meeting, but he intended it as a compliment. The constant shifts, unorthodox lineups and fake handoffs kept getting Oakland out of position. “Those are effective plays. You can call it what you want,” Del Rio said. “If the word is something they don’t like, too bad.”
DOUBLE TROUBLE: While Mack gets the attention on Oakland’s defense with sacks in seven straight games, and back-to-back games with strip-sacks and recoveries, linebacker Bruce Irvin also must be feared. He has sacks in three straight games. “We feed off each other’s energy,” Mack said.
SHOTGUN SNAPS: After hurting his pinkie two weeks ago while taking a snap, Carr has not gone under center. He worked exclusively out of the shotgun against Carolina, then the shotgun and pistol formations against Buffalo. “We worked a lot on it in the offseason,” Carr said of the pistol. “It’s cool to actually take it out there and use it.”
TAY TRAIN: After missing the first meeting with Kansas City with turf toe, Latavius Murray will be counted on to give the Raiders a big boost. He has six touchdowns in the past four games. “Any way I can be a threat,” he said, “any way I can get the ball in my hands,” he added, “I want it.”
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP / USA Today) — Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks after Week 13’s Sunday games.
(Note: Bookmark this page — it will be regularly updated for the duration of the regular season.)
1. Oakland Raiders (10-2): AFC West leader. Strength of victory tiebreaker moves them back ahead of Patriots.
2. New England Patriots (10-2): AFC East leader.
3. Baltimore Ravens (7-5): AFC North leader. Their Week 9 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers currently gives Baltimore the advantage.
4. Houston Texans (6-6): AFC South leader. They could wind up in a three-way division tie with the Tennessee Titans (6-6), who are on bye, and Indianapolis Colts (5-6). But the Texans have beaten both teams, so they’ll remain in field despite Sunday’s loss.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3): Wild card No. 1.
6. Denver Broncos (8-4): Wild card No. 2. Their win combined with the Miami Dolphins’ loss moves the defending champions back into the field.
x-1. Dallas Cowboys (11-1): NFC East leader. The Washington Redskins’ loss Sunday allowed Dallas to lock up this season’s first postseason berth.
2. Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1): NFC West leader.
3. Detroit Lions (8-4): NFC North leader.
4. Atlanta Falcons (7-5): NFC South leader. They’re tied with the Bucs but keep the higher seed due to a superior division record (the teams split their season series).
5. New York Giants (8-4): Wild card No. 1.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): Wild card No. 2. Their fourth consecutive win moves them past Washington.
x-clinched playoff spot
Monday, Dec. 5
Indianapolis (5-6) at New York Jets (3-8), 8:30 p.m. ET. Andrew Luck will be back under center for the Colts after a concussion sidelined him for one game. Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting again for New York despite calls by some fans and media for the Jets to give second-year quarterback Bryce Petty an extended look.
— Tom Brady, Patriots, became the NFL’s career leader in victories by a quarterback, earning his 201st by throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown to lead New England past Los Angeles 26-10.
— Joe Flacco, Ravens, threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns, and had a franchise-record 36 completions on 47 attempts in Baltimore’s 38-6 rout of Miami.
— Carson Palmer, Cardinals, had three touchdown passes while going 30 of 46 for 300 yards in Arizona’s 31-23 win over Washington.
— Andy Dalton, Bengals, threw for 332 yards and two TDs as Cincinnati sent Philadelphia to its most lopsided loss of the season, 32-14.
— Matthew Stafford, Lions, passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns, and Detroit beat New Orleans 28-13.
— Jordan Howard, Bears, ran for 117 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and the Bears handed San Francisco its 11th straight loss, 26-6.
— LeSean McCoy, Bills, rushed for 130 yards and caught seven passes for 61 yards in Buffalo’s 38-24 loss at Oakland.
— Thomas Rawls, Seahawks, had 106 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries in Seattle’s 40-7 rout of Carolina.
— Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, ran for 118 yards on 29 carries to help lead Pittsburgh past the New York Giants 24-14.
— LeGarrette Blount, Patriots, ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in New England’s 26-10 win over Los Angeles.
— Latavius Murray, Raiders, rushed for 82 yards and two TDs in Oakland’s 38-24 win over Buffalo.
— Devonta Freeman, Falcons, had two 1-yard touchdown runs in Atlanta’s 29-28 loss to Kansas City.
— Golden Tate, Lions, had eight receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s 28-13 win at New Orleans.
— Travis Kelce, Chiefs, caught eight passes for 140 yards in Kansas City’s 29-28 win at Atlanta.
— Jordy Nelson, Packers, had 118 yards receiving and a score on eight catches to help Green Bay top Houston 21-13.
— Dennis Pitta, Ravens, caught two of Joe Flacco’s four touchdown passes in Baltimore’s 38-6 win over Miami, his first trips to the end zone since December 2013.
— Ladarius Green, Steelers, had six catches for 110 yards and a score in Pittsburgh’s 24-14 victory over the New York Giants.
— Julio Jones, Falcons, caught seven passes for 113 yards in a losing cause as Atlanta fell to Kansas City, 29-28.
— Matt Prater, Lions, had field goals of 27, 29, 32, 27 and 52 yards in Detroit’s 28-13 win at New Orleans.
— Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots, kicked field goals of 28, 48, 45 and 45 yards in New England’s 26-10 win over Los Angeles.
— Steven Hauschka, Seahawks, booted four field goals in Seattle’s 40-7 rout of Carolina.
— Johnny Hekker, Rams, had a 76-yard punt in the fourth quarter of Los Angeles’ 26-10 loss at New England. It was his third punt this season of 75 or more yards.
— Ra’Shede Hageman, Falcons, blocked Cairo Santos’ first extra-point attempt in Atlanta’s 29-28 loss to Kansas City.
— Eric Berry, Chiefs, returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, and then brought back another pick 99 yards for a 2-point conversion that gave Kansas City a 29-28 victory over Atlanta.
— Bradley Roby, Broncos, returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown, helping Denver beat Jacksonville 20-10.
— Vontaze Burfict, Bengals, intercepted Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz twice in Cincinnati’s 32-14 victory.
— Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks, Bears. Each had two sacks in Chicago’s 26-6 win over San Francisco.
— Lavonte David and Keith Tandy, Buccaneers. David had a 15-yard interception return for a score in Tampa Bay’s 28-21 win over San Diego. Tandy intercepted Philip Rivers in the end zone with 2:56 left to seal the victory.
STREAKS & STATS
Detroit became the first team in 60 Saints home games to stop Drew Brees from throwing a touchdown pass, as the Lions pulled away from New Orleans, 28-13 on Sunday. It was also the Lions’ first victory in a road game following Thanksgiving since 1974, snapping a streak of 22 losses in such games. … San Francisco (1-11) extended its franchise-record losing streak to 11 games with a 26-6 defeat at Chicago, and set a club low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Colin Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert. … Los Angeles entered its game against New England ranked 31st in total offense, averaging just 295 yards per game. Those struggles continued in a 26-10 loss, with the Rams managing 25 yards in the first half, the fewest by a team in a game this season. Los Angeles was outgained 402-162 for the game. … Miami was limited to 62 yards rushing in a 38-6 loss at Baltimore, its lowest output since gaining 51 in a loss to Tennessee on Oct. 9 — also its last loss. The Ravens’ win ended a six-game winning streak for the Dolphins.
Tom Brady became the league’s leader in career victories among quarterbacks, earning his 201st by throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown to lead New England past Los Angeles 26-10. Brady, who was 33 of 46, had tied Peyton Manning last week in a win over the New York Jets. … Atlanta’s Matt Bryant tied the franchise record for longest field goal with a 59-yarder, matching Morten Andersen (1995) in a 29-28 loss to Kansas City. It was the second-longest field goal of Bryant’s career, with a 62-yarder with Tampa Bay in 2006 the only one longer. … Green Bay’s Julius Peppers had a sack against Houston, giving the 15-year veteran 142 1/2 for his career, snapping a tie for fifth on the career list with Michael Strahan. Chris Doleman is fourth on that list with 150 1/2. … Arizona’s David Johnson became the second player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in each of the first 12 games of a season. Edgerrin James was the other. Johnson carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards and caught nine passes for another 91 in a 31-23 win over Washington.
Dallas (11-1) became the first team in the league to clinch a postseason berth, due to Washington’s 31-23 loss at Arizona. The Cowboys beat Minnesota 17-15 on Thursday night.
New England (10-2) clinched its 14th consecutive season with at least 10 wins, the second-longest streak in NFL history, with a 26-10 victory over Los Angeles. The 1983-98 San Francisco 49ers (16) are the only franchise with more consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins.
Kansas City safety Eric Berry intercepted a 2-point conversion attempt and returned it for the go-ahead score with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ 29-28 victory at Atlanta. It was the first game-winning defensive 2-point conversion scored when his team was trailing since the rule was adopted in 2015. Berry, who also returned an interception 37 yards for a TD, is the first player to return an interception for both a touchdown and a 2-point conversion in the same game.
Neither San Francisco nor Chicago completed a pass in the first quarter of the Bears’ 26-6 win — something that hadn’t happened in an NFL game since the Jets and Patriots did it on Nov. 13, 1988, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. San Francisco set a club low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Colin Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick completed just one of five passes for 4 yards and was sacked five times. He also ran for 20 yards on six attempts before Gabbert replaced him in the fourth quarter. Chicago’s Matt Barkley finished 11 of 18 for 192 yards.
FITZ KEEPS GOING
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald had 10 catches for 78 yards in the Cardinals’ 31-23 win over Washington, giving him 1,106 for his career. Fitzgerald, the youngest player in NFL history — at 33 years, 95 days — to reach 1,100 career catches, passed Hall of Famers Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) for the third-most receptions in NFL history. Fitzgerald has also recorded a catch in 191 consecutive games, surpassing Harrison (190) for the third-longest streak in NFL history.
Derek Carr threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns to rally the Oakland Raiders to their biggest comeback in 16 years with a 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. After falling behind 24-9 following touchdowns on the first two drives of the second half for Buffalo, the Raiders took the game over with 29 straight points and won their sixth straight. Oakland scored touchdowns on three straight drives, including scoring strikes from Carr to Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper for his sixth fourth-quarter comeback of the season. This was the biggest comeback for the Raiders since overcoming a 21-point deficit to Indianapolis to win 38-31 on Sept. 10, 2000.
Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell ran for 118 yards in a 24-14 victory, becoming the first player to rush for 100 or more against the New York Giants since Adrian Peterson in Week 16 of the 2015 season. Bell touched the ball 35 times — 29 rushes and six receptions — and had his third straight 100-yard rushing performance.
LOTS OF LOSING
Jacksonville’s 20-10 loss to Denver was the seventh in a row for the Jaguars (2-10), who became the fifth team in NFL history to post double-digit defeats in six consecutive seasons, joining Tampa Bay (1983-94), Detroit (2001-06), Oakland (2003-09) and Cleveland (2008-13).
Ben Roethlisberger’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh’s 24-14 victory over the New York Giants marked the 49th time the two have connected for scores. That ties them with Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann for the most TD passes from a quarterback to a receiver in franchise history.
SPECIAL TEAMS WOES
Jacksonville has had special-teams meltdown for seven straight games, including Alex Ellis getting flagged for unnecessary roughness on a punt return in the final minute of the first half in the Jaguars’ 20-10 loss to Denver. The streak includes five muffed punts — including three turnovers — a punt return for a touchdown and two long punt returns that set up scores.
Seattle safety Earl Thomas broke a bone in his lower left leg during a first-half collision with teammate Kam Chancellor while trying to intercept Cam Newton’s pass in the Seahawks’ 40-7 win over Carolina. X-rays revealed a “cracked tibia,” coach Pete Carroll told Seattle’s radio broadcast. … New England wide receiver Danny Amendola left late in the third quarter of the Patriots’ 26-10 win over Los Angeles with an ankle injury and did not return. He was later spotted walking on crutches in the tunnel underneath Gillette Stadium. Cornerback Eric Rowe also did not return after leaving with a hamstring injury. … Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul left in the second quarter of New York’s 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh with a groin injury. New York also lost cornerback Coty Sensabaugh to a rib injury. … Atlanta lost left tackle Jake Matthews to a left knee injury in the first half of the Falcons’ 29-28 loss to Kansas City. … Houston wide receiver Braxton Miller (shoulder) left in the first half of the Texans’ 21-13 loss at Green Bay and did not return. … Tampa Bay wide receiver Cecil Shorts III was taken off the field on a cart after sustaining a knee injury on a hard hit by San Diego’s Jahleel Addae following a catch on the Bucs’ first possession of a 28-21 win.
“I shed a few tears before the game, I shed a few tears during the game and I shed a few after. It was just a lot of emotions. I tried to contain them and let it show through my play.” — Kansas City’s Eric Berry who returned an interception for a score and also brought back another 99 yards for a 2-point conversion that gave the Chiefs a 29-28 victory over Atlanta. Berry, who grew up in suburban Atlanta, was playing in the city for the first time as a professional. It’s where he was treated after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma near the end of the 2014 season.
“That’s a record that I don’t think will ever be broken. He’ll continue to build on it, I’m sure.” — New England running back LeGarrette Blount on Tom Brady’s NFL record of 201 wins by a quarterback.
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Derek Carr threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns to rally the Oakland Raiders to their biggest comeback in 16 years with a 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
After falling behind 24-9 following touchdowns on the first two drives of the second half for Buffalo (6-6), the Raiders (10-2) took the game over with 29 straight points and won their sixth straight to remain one game ahead of Kansas City in the tough AFC West.
Oakland scored touchdowns on three straight drives, including scoring strikes from Carr to Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper for his sixth fourth-quarter comeback of the season. This was the biggest comeback for the Raiders since overcoming a 21-point deficit to Indianapolis to win 38-31 on Sept. 10, 2000.
The defense also tightened by forcing three straight three-and-outs and then getting a turnover when Khalil Mack deflected Tyrod Taylor’s pass that Nate Allen intercepted .
SEAHAWKS 40, PANTHERS 7
SEATTLE (AP) — Thomas Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Tyler Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and Seattle routed Carolina.
Another prime-time game in Seattle was clouded with odd story lines right from the outset when Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was benched for the first play, only to watch backup Derek Anderson throw an interception.
The Seahawks (8-3-1) rolled up a season-high 534 yards and kept a three-game lead over Arizona in the division with four remaining.
Rawls finished with 106 yards on 15 carries, quiet in the second half after briefly being checked for a concussion. Russell Wilson was 26 of 36 for 277 yards and a touchdown.
Seattle safety Earl Thomas broke a bone in his lower left leg during a first-half collision with teammate Kam Chancellor while trying to intercept Newton’s pass. X-rays revealed a “cracked tibia,” coach Pete Carroll told Seattle’s radio broadcast.
Carolina dropped to 4-8.
CHIEFS 29, FALCONS 28
ATLANTA (AP) — Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown, and then brought back another pick for a 2-point conversion that gave Kansas City an improbable victory over Atlanta.
The Falcons (7-5), rallying from a 27-16 deficit, went ahead 28-27 on Matt Ryan’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 4:32 remaining.
Atlanta decided to go for 2, looking to stretch the margin to a field goal. But Berry stepped in front of Ryan’s pass and ran 99 yards the other way to give the Chiefs (9-3) their winning margin. It came after Denver won a game in similar fashion last month, returning a blocked PAT for the winning points at New Orleans.
Berry had another huge play with less than a minute to go in the first half, picking off Ryan’s pass over the middle and bringing it back 37 yards for a touchdown. After reaching the end zone, the suburban Atlanta native handed the ball to his mother sitting in the stands at the Georgia Dome.
Those weren’t the only big plays for the Chiefs.
CARSDINALS 31, REDSKINS 23
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Carson Palmer threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns and David Johnson scored twice.
The loss by the Redskins (6-5-1) clinched a playoff spot for the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys.
Palmer’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 11:09 to play put Arizona ahead 24-20, the fourth lead change of the second half.
After a Washington field goal, Palmer’s 42-yard pass to J.J. Nelson with 1:56 padded gave the Cardinals (5-6-1) a 31-23 lead.
Washington drove to the Arizona 28-yard line before Patrick Peterson’s interception of Kirk Cousins’ pass with 41 seconds left sealed the victory.
Johnson, who also scored on a 1-yard run, became the second player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in the first 12 games of a season. Edgerrin James was the other.
STEELERS 24, GIANTS 14
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le’Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh’s resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes.
Antonio Brown edged good buddy Odell Beckham Jr. in their personal showdown, catching six passes for 54 yards and an acrobatic scoring grab at the back of the end zone. Tight end Ladarius Green added six receptions for 110 yards, both career highs, and a touchdown as the Steelers (7-5) won their third straight to keep pace with Baltimore atop the AFC North.
Manning completed just 24 of 39 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns and two picks in the red zone for the Giants (8-4), whose six-game run ended with a thud. Beckham was largely a non-factor despite a game-high 10 receptions for 100 yards.
BUCCANEERS 28, CHARGERS 21
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jameis Winston threw a go-ahead, 12-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brate midway through the fourth quarter and Keith Tandy intercepted Philip Rivers in the end zone with 2:56 left to give the Buccaneers their fourth straight victory.
Rivers had the Chargers on the move in the final minutes before Tandy got in front of a pass to Dontrelle Inman and picked it off. Tandy’s momentum carried him into the end zone, giving the Bucs the ball on their 20. They ran out the clock.
The Bucs (7-5) pulled into a tie with Atlanta atop the NFC South.
Rivers threw two second-half interceptions, including Lavonte David’s pick-6.
The Chargers (5-7) were trying to get back to .500 for the first time since Week 2.
PACKERS 21, TEXANS 13
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers pulled away with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
The Packers (6-6) weathered snowy conditions at Lambeau Field, making just enough plays on the cold turf.
Brock Osweiler connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 left to get within eight for Houston. Nick Novak missed the extra point, with footing slippery at Lambeau.
The Texans (6-6) had one last shot after the Packers failed to run out the clock. But Osweiler’s last-ditch pass-and-lateral play from Houston’s 12 with 4 seconds left failed, handing Houston its third straight loss and dropping it into a tie with Tennessee atop the AFC South.
Nelson finished with eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown for Green Bay.
LIONS 28, SAINTS 13
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Matthew Stafford passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
Golden Tate exploited a coverage breakdown on third-and-long for a 66-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Detroit (8-4) was clinging to a six-point lead. The Lions, who’ve won seven of eight, dominated statistically, but four opportunities inside the New Orleans 20 ended with Matt Prater field goals, allowing the Saints (5-7) to stay close until the fourth quarter.
This time, however, the Lions pulled away for their most comfortable victory of the season after seven previous victory margins of one to seven points.
The Lions also became the first team in 60 Saints home games to stop Drew Brees from completing a touchdown pass, although tight end Coby Fleener had a pass bounce off his hands at the goal line.
RAVENS 38, DOLPHINS 6
BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Flacco threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns, and the Ravens overwhelmed the Dolphins in the first half to end Miami’s six-game winning streak.
Baltimore (7-5) led 24-0 at halftime behind Flacco and a dominant performance from the league’s second-ranked defense. Flacco went 27 for 34 for 258 yards and three scores over the first 30 minutes, and the Ravens yielded only 115 yards and intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass.
That was enough to provide the Ravens with their fourth win in five games. Miami also is 7-5.
Flacco finished with a franchise-record 36 completions in 47 attempts, by far his most impressive outing in an uneven season. He entered with 11 TD passes and 10 interceptions.
PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady became the NFL’s career leader in victories by a quarterback, earning his 201st by throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown. Brady, who was 33 of 46, had tied Peyton Manning last week in a win over the New York Jets.
His lone touchdown came on a 14-yard pass to Chris Hogan in the first quarter. LeGarrette Blount scored the game’s first touchdown , rumbling for a 43-yard, ankle-breaking score in the first quarter while spinning around safety Maurice Alexander in the process. He finished with 88 yards on 18 carries.
The Patriots (10-2) have won seven of their last eight.
On the same day that Los Angeles coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead were given contract extensions, the recently relocated Rams (4-8) proved they still have a long way to go after losing for the seventh time in eight outings.
BRONCOS 20, JAGUARS 10
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Bradley Roby returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown, helping the Broncos gain ground in the AFC playoff picture.
Roby picked off Blake Bortles’ wobbler across the middle in the third quarter and went untouched the other way. Star linebacker Von Miller hit Bortles as he released the ball.
It was the 11th pick-6 of Bortles’ three-year career and his third in the last four games. Houston and Detroit also returned interceptions for touchdowns in games the Jaguars lost by less than seven points.
The latest one resulted in a seventh consecutive loss for Jacksonville (2-10) and secured another miserable milestone for the small-market franchise. The Jaguars became the fifth team in NFL history to post double-digit losses in six consecutive seasons, joining Tampa Bay (1983-94), Detroit (2001-06), Oakland (2003-09) and Cleveland (2008-13).
Jacksonville had a chance to tie in the final minutes, but Bortles fumbled trying to make a play in the pocket.
The Broncos (8-4) rebounded from an overtime loss against Kansas City, and with Miami’s loss at Baltimore, moved into position to get one of the conference’s wild-card spots.
BENGALS 32, EAGLES 14
CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes and Cincinnati finally got its depleted offense moving without receiver A.J. Green.
The Bengals (4-7-1) got their first win since Oct. 23, beating a team that’s in a swoon of its own. The Eagles (5-7) opened the season with three straight wins, but have dropped seven of nine.
Dalton had completions of 50, 44, 29, 23 and 21 yards. The Bengals scored on each of their first six possessions for a 29-0 lead, reinventing themselves with Green and running back Giovani Bernard sidelined by injuries. The previous time they scored on their first six possessions was 2009 against the Bears.
The only bad moment: Mike Nugent missed another PAT kick wide to the right, his fourth miss in a span of five tries. Nugent made field goals from 32, 33, 26 and 38 yards, the last one deflecting off the left upright.
BEARS 26, 49ERS 6
CHICAGO (AP) — Jordan Howard ran for 117 yards and a career-high three touchdowns and the Bears handed San Francisco its 11th straight loss.
The 49ers (1-11) extended their franchise-record losing streak and set a club low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Colin Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert.
The Bears (3-9) finished with a season high in points and picked up a rare win in a matchup between two of the NFL’s worst teams.
Matt Barkley, making his second start with Jay Cutler sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury, went nearly the entire first half without a completion. But he led a touchdown drive near the end of the second quarter and finished 11 of 18 for 192 yards.
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today) — After Antonio Brown received yet another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Thanksgiving dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the wide receiver needed to rein in his touchdown celebrations.
Yet for Pittsburgh, reveling in the reason for those celebrations is a welcome development after a four-game losing streak threatened the season.
Viewed as a potential preseason conference favorite, the Steelers stand at 6-5, putting them a game back for the AFC North lead as well as the final wild-card berth. But the franchise had the same mark and a similarly uncertain outlook last season before reeling off four wins in five games to seal a spot in the playoffs.
To begin a similar push on Sunday, the Steelers likely will lean on Roethlisberger again to push the offense past the New York Giants.
An offseason overhaul has yielded immediate results for New York, which is tied for sixth in scoring defense (19.4 points per game) after ranking 30th in 2016. But the Giants have feasted on sub-par offenses during their six-game win streak, making Sunday’s showdown something of a proving ground.
One of the key battles could be up front, as the Steelers have allowed just 14 sacks this season. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has revitalized New York’s pass rush with 5 1/2 sacks in his past two games, and his showdown with right tackle Marcus Gilbert could set the tone for the day.
The task of containing Brown likely falls on cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who has fared well against top receivers but employs a gambling style that could yield a game-breaking play in either direction. The Giants’ massive defensive tackle tandem of Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins have helped form the league’s fifth-ranked run defense, but running back Le’Veon Bell remains a substantial threat in the passing game for a linebacking corps that has struggled in coverage.
Here are four other matchups that will define Week 13 in the NFL:
Falcons RT Ryan Schraeder vs. Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali
The marquee matchup in this game might be Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones’ showdown with Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, but Matt Ryan has shown a willingness to look beyond his top option. Kansas City’s best option for short-circuiting the league’s highest-scoring offense likely runs through its pass rush.
Schraeder has held strong this season against some of the league’s best threats off the edge while remaining a stalwart in the run game. Establishing offensive balance with running back Devonta Freeman will be paramount in keeping Kansas City from unleashing its rushers in full force. Ryan could also find big opportunities if his protection holds, as cornerback Phillip Gaines was repeatedly burned last week by the Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs present one of the deepest set of pass rushers in the NFL with Tamba Hali and Dee Ford. But Houston showed why he’s the premiere threat last week, posting three sacks in just his second game back from a knee injury.
Ravens’ run defense vs. Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi
Even with Ajayi’s production slowing down in recent weeks, Miami has strung together a six-game win streak. Baltimore ranks first against the rush, but the defense could be in for a long day if it has any lapses.
Ajayi gained just 45 yards on 18 carries last week against the San Francisco 49ers, who rank last in rushing yards allowed. But the second-year back remains an offensive focal point with at least 19 touches in each of his previous six games.
Baltimore hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season, and slipping against Ajayi could cost it the lead in the AFC North. Ryan Tannehill has displayed an increased comfort in Adam Gase’s system, as evidenced by a 67.6% completion rate and just one interception during Miami’s ongoing streak. Ravens linebackers C.J. Mosley and Zach Orr could be difficult for an ailing Dolphins offensive line.
Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham vs. Panthers defense
Graham missed last season’s NFC divisional playoff loss to the Panthers, but he burned them for eight catches and 140 yards in the regular-season matchup. Now the tight end could play a crucial role in helping Seattle’s offensive regain its footing after last week’s unraveling against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Seahawks converted just one of 11 third-down attempts last week, and they rank 25th in the league with a 35% conversion rate on the season. The 6-7 tight end might be the best option for addressing this deficiency. With Russell Wilson likely to remain under constant pressure behind a struggling offensive line and no certainty of improvements in the run game, Graham may need to provide a spark on jump balls and with yards after the catch.
Linebacker Luke Kuechly and safety Kurt Coleman are both sidelined with concussions this week, leaving the Panthers even more vulnerable against Graham. Carolina is tied for third with 31 sacks this season, and it will need its defensive line to corral Wilson and ease the burden for an overextended secondary.
LeSean McCoy vs. Raiders’ front seven
With the No. 1 seed in the AFC within reach, Sunday could serve as a litmus test for Oakland’s playoff readiness. McCoy and the Bills’ second-ranked rushing attack are an imposing matchup for a defense that has given up the most yards per carry (4.62) in the AFC.
Despite its inconsistencies, Buffalo’s offense remains an ever-present big play threat. McCoy had just 5 yards on eight carries in the first half last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he later broke a 75-yard touchdown run and added another score on a 25-yard reception.
Oakland’s defense yielded three rushing touchdowns last week, and its best bet for stopping McCoy might be to force Buffalo into obvious passing situations. Tyrod Taylor has been sacked 30 times this season, and Khalil Mack earned AFC defensive player of the month honors in November after the edge rusher tallied four sacks and two forced fumbles in his last three games.
Monday, Nov. 21
Houston vs. Oakland at Mexico City, 8:30 p.m. ET. It’s the second regular-season game in Mexico City and first since 2005. … Houston’s Brock Osweiler is averaging a league-low 5.6 yards per pass. The Texans have been outscored by 27 points despite 6-3 record. Houston is one of four teams not to allow a 300-yard passer. Raiders DE Khalil Mack sacked Osweiler five times last season when Osweiler played in Denver. Mack has six sacks in his past four games. Raiders QB Derek Carr has 155 consecutive passes without an interception. Oakland is going for its first four-game winning streak since 2002.
—Tom Brady, Patriots, was 24 of 40 for 280 yards and four touchdown passes in New England’s 30-17 win over San Francisco. Brady has 199 victories, tied with Hall of Famer Brett Favre for the second-most in NFL history. Brady needs one win to tie Peyton Manning (200) for the most all time.
—Dak Prescott, Cowboys, finished 27 for 36 for 301 yards and three touchdowns in Dallas’ 27-17 win over Baltimore. He joined Hall of Famer Dan Marino (1983) as well as Russell Wilson (2012) as the only rookie quarterbacks since 1970 to have multiple touchdown passes in five consecutive games.
—Eli Manning, Giants, was 21 of 36 for 227 yards and two touchdowns in New York’s 22-16 win over Chicago.
—Marcus Mariota, Titans, was 25 for 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s 24-17 loss to Indianapolis.
—Jameis Winston, Buccaneers, was 24 for 39 for 331 yards and a touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 19-17 win over Kansas City.
—Andrew Luck, Colts, was 15 of 28 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in Indianapolis’ 24-17 win over Tennessee.
—Le’Veon Bell, Steelers, had 28 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh’s 24-9 win over Cleveland.
—LeGarrette Blount, Patriots, had 19 carries for 124 yards in New England’s 30-17 win over San Francisco.
—David Johnson, Cardinals, had 22 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown in Arizona’s 30-24 loss to Minnesota.
—Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, had 25 carries for 97 yards in Dallas’ 27-17 win over Baltimore. Elliott’s 1,102 yards rushing are the third-most in NFL history in a player’s first 10 games, trailing only Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (1,223) as well as Adrian Peterson (1,197).
—Rishard Matthews, Titans, had nine receptions for 122 yards in Tennessee’s 24-17 loss to Indianapolis.
—Travis Kelce, Chiefs, had seven catches for 108 yards in Kansas City’s 19-17 loss to Tampa Bay.
—Mike Evans, Buccaneers, had six catches for 105 yards in Tampa Bay’s 19-17 win over Kansas City.
—Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, had four catches for 104 yards in Seattle’s 26-15 win over Philadelphia.
—Steve Smith, Ravens, had eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown in Baltimore’s 27-17 loss to Dallas. Smith became the 14th player with 1,000 catches.
—Dez Bryant, Cowboys, had six catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns in Dallas’ 27-17 win over Baltimore.
—Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings, returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown in Minnesota’s 30-24 win over Arizona.
—Andre Roberts, Lions, returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in Detroit’s 26-19 win over Jacksonville.
—Roberto Aguayo, Buccaneers, was 4 for 4 on field goals in Tampa Bay’s 19-17 win over Kansas City.
—Xavier Rhodes, Vikings, had two interceptions and returned one of them 100 yards for a touchdown in Minnesota’s 30-24 win over Arizona.
—Rafael Bush, Lions, returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown in Detroit’s 26-19 win over Jacksonville.
—Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants, had 2½ sacks and a forced fumble in New York’s 22-16 win over Chicago.
—Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave, Steelers. Tuitt had 2½ of Pittsburgh’s eight sacks and Hargrave recovered a fumble in the end zone of a 24-9 win over Cleveland.
—Stephon Gilmore, Bills, had two interceptions in Buffalo’s 16-12 win over Cincinnati.
OFF ON THE WRONG FOOT
NFL kickers missed like never before Sunday, setting a record with 12 failed extra point attempts. Kickers missed left, right, had kicks blocked and hit the uprights. Kickers missed in the wind and indoors. Kickers had the most misses in one week since the NFL merger. Cincinnati’s Mike Nugent and Robbie Gould of the New York Giants each missed two extra-point attempts. Chicago’s Connor Barth, Minnesota’s Kai Forbath, Jacksonville’s Jason Myers, Cleveland’s Cody Parkey and New England’s Stephen Gostkowski each missed one. Seattle’s Steven Hauschka and Detroit’s Matt Prater had kicks blocked. At night, Washington’s Dustin Hopkins also hit the upright.
STREAKS & STATS
The Lions scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of the team’s 26-19 comeback victory over Jacksonville. The Lions, who are the first team in NFL history to have each of its first 10 games decided by seven points or fewer, have trailed in the fourth quarter in all 10 games. Detroit is the first team in NFL history to have six wins when trailing in the fourth quarter in the team’s first 10 games of a season. … The Cowboys set a franchise record with their ninth straight win after beating the Ravens 27-17. … The Giants have won five straight games after Sunday’s 22-16 win over the Bears. The winning streak is New York’s longest in the regular season since 2010. … The Dolphins rallied past the Rams 14-10 for their fifth straight victory. The winning streak is Miami’s longest since 2008. The Dolphins also became the second team this season to win a game after it was scoreless entering fourth quarter. The Jaguars did it against Chicago in Week 6. … The Colts held off the Titans 24-17 and have won 11 straight against Tennessee and still have not lost to the Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in 2008. … The Steelers came in with a league-low 13 sacks before racking up eight in a 24-9 win over the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger improved to 20-2 in starts against Cleveland. The Browns fell to 0-11 on the season. Three NFL teams previously went 0-11 before winning a game — the 1975 Chargers, 1984 Bills and 2000 Chargers — while seven had even worse starts. … After a season-opening shutout against the Rams, the 49ers have lost nine in a row. … Jacksonville has dropped five straight after a 26-19 loss to Detroit.
Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison is the club’s career sack leader. Harrison dropped Cleveland’s Cody Kessler in the third quarter to pass Jason Gildon (77) for the most sacks in the Steelers’ storied defensive history. … The Vikings became the first team since the 1962 Dallas Cowboys to have a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 100-plus-yard kickoff return for a TD in the same game. The Cowboys’ Amos Marsh had a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown and Mike Gaechter had a 100-yard interception return touchdown in Dallas’ 41-19 win over Philadelphia. … Steve Smith became the first player in NFL history to have at least 1,000 catches, at least 1,000 punt return yards and at least 2,000 kickoff return yards. … With a 33-yard field goal in the first quarter, San Francisco’s 41-year-old kicker, Phil Dawson, became the 10th player in NFL history to reach 400 field goals. … Dallas’ Dak Prescott is the first rookie in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, multiple passing TDs and no interceptions in back-to-back games.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green significantly hurt his hamstring in the opening minutes of a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Green got his right foot caught awkwardly while trying for a contested catch on Cincinnati’s first pass of the game. Green grabbed his right hamstring as he hit the ground and stayed down for several minutes. … The Bills lost two of their top offensive players in the first half: receiver Robert Woods injured his knee while being tackled after a catch, and LeSean McCoy hurt his left thumb late in the second quarter. It’s unclear how long each will be sidelined. … Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd had the day’s scariest injury. The first-round draft pick from Georgia left on a stretcher with less than six minutes remaining in a loss to the New York Giants. Bears coach John Fox said Floyd injured his neck and the team said Sunday night that Floyd was released from the hospital and returned to Chicago. Chicago also lost tight end Zach Miller to a foot injury after he caught three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. … The Philadelphia Eagles lost two of their top running backs as Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (ribs) were both knocked out against Seattle.
“They have a great organization, they always have. They inspired a lot of kids here in the Bay Area in my time growing up, and I was one of them.” — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was back home in the Bay Area playing on San Francisco’s home field for the first time. Facing the team he cheered as a boy, Brady threw four touchdown passes in the Patriots’ 30-17 victory.
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — This time, Seattle won it at the goal line.
It certainly won’t make up for the Super Bowl loss two seasons back, but the Seahawks’ goal-line stand lifted them to a 31-24 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
Tom Brady couldn’t connect with Rob Gronkowski on a fade pattern on fourth down as New England (7-2) failed four times from inside the 2 in the dying moments.
It was reminiscent of how the Seahawks (6-2-1) lost the 2015 Super Bowl when Malcolm Butler intercepted at the goal line to win the NFL title for the Patriots.
Doug Baldwin caught three touchdown passes, including a 15-yarder for the final margin. Strangely, Seattle went for 2 points and failed on the conversion, leaving the Patriots a chance to tie with a touchdown and an extra point kick.
But LeGarrette Blount, who earlier rushed for three touchdowns, couldn’t get into the end zone from close range, nor could Brady on a pair of sneaks.
BRONCOS 25, SAINTS 23
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Denver’s Justin Simmons used a perfectly timed leap over the offensive line to block an extra-point kick that would have given New Orleans a late lead, Will Parks ran it back 84 yards for a defensive 2-point conversion, and the Broncos pulled out a wild victory.
The decisive play came while the Superdome crowd was still celebrating Brandin Cooks’ twisting, 32-yard touchdown catch between two defenders. That put New Orleans (4-5) in position to take the lead with 1:28 left. Simmons’ block of Wil Lutz’s kick was scooped up by Parks, who nearly stepped out of bounds as he raced down the left sideline.
It was the first such play to provide the winning points in an NFL game. The rule was instituted last year.
The Broncos then recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.
Safety Darian Stewart intercepted Drew Brees twice and recovered a fumble for the Broncos (7-3), while Trevor Siemian overcame two interceptions by passing for touchdowns to Jordan Taylor and Demaryius Thomas.
COWBOYS 35, STEELERS 30
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ezekiel Elliott ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns — both in the final two minutes — and had an 83-yard catch-and-run for a score as the Cowboys pulled off a thrilling victory for their eighth straight win.
Dak Prescott overcame an early fumble to pass for 319 yards and two scores for Dallas (8-1), which matched the longest single-season win streak in club history behind the two rookies who hardly seem bothered by the stage. Dez Bryant added six catches for 116 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown reception.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Antonio Brown caught 14 passes for 154 yards, including a 15-yard score with 42 seconds left after Roethlisberger faked a spike to surprise the Dallas defense.
The heady play — a throwback to Hall of Famer Dan Marino’s move while leading Miami to a victory over the New York Jets in 1994 — gave the Steelers (4-5) a one-point lead.
It also gave Prescott and Elliott too much time.
Dolphins 31, Chargers 24
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kiko Alonso intercepted Philip Rivers’ pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown with 1:01 left to give Miami a fourth straight win. The Dolphins (5-4) intercepted Rivers four times, all in the fourth quarter.
Alonso jumped in front of Tyrell Williams and outraced everybody into the end zone for the winning score.
Two plays into the ensuing drive, Rivers was intercepted again, by Tony Lippett, his second of the game.
Rivers threw three touchdown passes to move past John Elway for eighth place on the career list with 301. Rivers’ 51-yard touchdown pass to Williams with 4:04 left gave the Chargers (4-6) a 24-21 lead.
Miami came right back to get a 27-yard field goal from Andrew Franks to tie it. That was set up by Ryan Tannehill’s 56-yard pass to DeVante Parker and a roughing-the-passer call that put the ball on the San Diego 10.
CARDINALS 23, 49ERS 20
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired. Catanzaro missed twice on winning field goal tries earlier in the season, most memorably a 24-yarder in overtime of a 6-6 tie against Seattle.
But this attempt was right down the middle as Arizona (4-4-1) narrowly averted a devastating loss.
The 49ers (1-8) lost their eighth in a row despite a strong game by Colin Kaepernick, who tied it 20-20 on a 4-yard run with 1:55 to play.
That was enough time for Carson Palmer to gain redemption after three second-half turnovers, the last an interception by Gerald Hodges that led to the tying touchdown. Palmer completed 4 of 7 passes for 64 yards, including a leaping 26-yard grab by Michael Floyd, as the Cardinals drove from their 15 to the San Francisco 16 to set up the winning kick.
CHIEFS 20, PANTHERS 17
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Marcus Peters stripped Kelvin Benjamin with 20 seconds left, Cairo Santos kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, and the Chiefs overcame a 17-point deficit.
The game was tied when Benjamin caught a pass from Cam Newton, and Peters ripped the ball from his arms. Santos’ fourth field goal of the day split the uprights, lifting the Chiefs (7-2) to their fifth straight victory and 17th win in their last 19 games.
Eric Berry also returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown as Kansas City’s defense came up with big plays when needed. The Chiefs failed to score an offensive touchdown.
Newton threw for 261 yards and a touchdown and ran for 54 yards and a score for the Panthers (3-6).
EAGLES 24, FALCONS 15
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ryan Mathews ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns, while a tenacious defense held down the league’s highest-scoring offense.
Carson Wentz threw for 231 yards and led the Eagles (5-4) to a comeback victory for the first time this season. Caleb Sturgis made three field goals, including a clutch kick from 48 yards to seal the win.
Matt Ryan threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel in the fourth quarter to give Atlanta (6-4) a 15-13 lead, but Philadelphia answered.
Mathews ran in from the 5 and also converted the 2-point conversion for a 21-15 lead. On Atlanta’s ensuing possession, Julio Jones dropped a pass on third-and-12 and the Falcons punted. Jones couldn’t make a difficult catch on fourth-and-5 on Atlanta’s next drive.
REDSKINS 26, VIKINGS 20
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw for two touchdowns, Preston Smith had two sacks and a game-altering interception in Washington’s first victory in almost a month.
Washington (5-3-1) got all of its second-half points off the foot of Dustin Hopkins, who hit four field goals, including a 50-yarder. The Redskins shut out Minnesota (5-4) in the second half, and Smith sacked Sam Bradford in the final seconds to hand the Vikings their fourth consecutive loss.
Cousins was 22 of 33 for 262 yards with touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Jamison Crowder. Robert Kelley ran for 97 yards, helping Washington bounce back from a rough 6-minute stretch.
Bradford was 31 of 39 for 307 yards, two touchdowns and the interception that Smith tipped and caught with 5:44 left. Stefon Diggs had 13 catches for 164 yards.
TITANS 47, PACKERS 25
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns in the rout. Five Titans scored a touchdown in the first half as Tennessee put together its best scoring performance this season with 35 points.
With the win, the Titans (5-5) also matched their five victories over the past two seasons combined.
DeMarco Murray set the tone on the opening play from scrimmage, running 75 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 123 yards and also threw a TD pass, becoming the first non-quarterback to do that for this franchise in the same game since Earl Campbell on Sept. 7, 1980, for the then-Houston Oilers.
Brian Orakpo had two of Tennessee’s five sacks, and the Titans also forced three turnovers.
The Packers (4-5) started a three-game road swing by losing their third straight.
TEXANS 24, JAGUARS 13
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Brock Osweiler threw two touchdown passes and Kareem Jackson returned an interception 42 yards for a score. The Texans (6-3) scored on offense and defense and set up another score with special teams, a complete team effort that led to their first road win of the season. It kept them perfect (3-0) against the AFC South. They won their fifth in a row against Jacksonville.
The Jaguars (2-7) lost their fourth straight and fell to 0-4 at home. Coach Gus Bradley’s team rallied late, with Blake Bortles hitting Allen Robinson for a touchdown and again for a 2-point conversion.
The loss dropped Bradley’s record to 14-43 in four seasons and prompted even the most loyal supporters to question why owner Shad Khan hasn’t made a change.
BUCCANEERS 36, BEARS 10
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns against mistake-prone Chicago.
Winston threw for TDs of 10 yards to Cameron Brate and 43 yards to Freddie Martino, the latter set up by a bizarre highlight-reel play. The No. 1 pick in last year’s draft scrambled 23 yards backward into his end zone before avoiding a safety and launching a 39-yard completion to Mike Evans at the Chicago 38.
Martino, a former practice squad player with two career receptions, scored his first NFL touchdown after a delay-of-game penalty pushed the Bucs (4-5) back to the 43.
Two weeks after returning from injury and helping the Bears (2-7) beat NFC North leader Minnesota, Jay Cutler threw two interceptions and fumbled twice, one resulting in a third-quarter safety that put the Bucs up 29-10.
The Bucs forced four turnovers overall and sacked Cutler four times.
RAMS 9, JETS 6
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Alec Ogletree intercepted Bryce Petty with just under two minutes left to clinch this snoozer. Petty made his first NFL start in place of an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, but couldn’t get much going against the Rams’ defense.
After getting the ball with 2:55 remaining and down by three, Petty tried to lead the Jets (3-7) downfield. But Petty’s pass to Quincy Enunwa was picked off by Ogletree and Enunwa tried to wrestle it away from the linebacker to no avail.
Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals, including a go-ahead 34-yarder with 6:52 left, helping the Rams (4-5) snap a four-game losing streak and avoid their first five-game skid since Weeks 9-13 last season.
The game featured 15 punts — eight by the Jets and seven by the Rams.
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It’s not difficult to pinpoint the teams that have unexpectedly prospered or just as stunningly plummeted halfway through the 2016 season.
Yep, we’re looking at you, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals. Last January, you played for a spot in the Super Bowl. Right now, you’re hanging with the mediocrities (or worse) of the NFL.
Nor is it hard to spot the surprisingly successful teams putting themselves in the championship mix, from the Dallas Cowboys to the Oakland Raiders.
But what about the individuals who are rising or flopping? The Associated Press sports writers who cover the 16 AFC teams suggest the following.
Surprise: LB Zachary Orr leads the team in tackles as a third-year player.
Disappointment: QB Joe Flacco has looked tentative in the pocket and has more interceptions than TDs. Granted, the Ravens have no running game and the left side of the O-Line has been injured, but still …
Surprise: LB Lorenzo Alexander, maybe the most pleasant development in the NFL this season. The free-agent addition, a journeyman in his 10th season, is among the league leaders in sacks.
Disappointment: WR Sammy Watkins (left foot) is hobbled by injury for the third straight season and is on IR, though he could return this month.
Surprise: WR A.J. Green was leading the NFL in receptions when Cincinnati went on its bye despite being the focus of opposing defenses on every passing play.
Disappointment: DT Geno Atkins had 42 tackles and 11 sacks last season. Through eight games, he has only 16 tackles and 3½ sacks, and the Bengals are 3-4-1.
Surprise: WR Terrelle Pryor only made the conversion from quarterback last season and has quickly developed into a playmaker. Through the first nine games, Pryor had 46 catches and four touchdowns.
Disappointment: QB Robert Griffin III. Not his fault, but he broke a bone in his shoulder in the season opener that deprived him of a chance at a comeback and the Browns from seeing if he could be their long-term answer.
Surprise: QB Trevor Siemian was an afterthought when Peyton Manning retired. Now he’s the starting QB on a playoff contender.
Disappointment; OT Russell Okung, who went through a stretch of five holding calls in three games and gave up a sack-strip.
Surprise: DE Jadeveon Clowney, finally healthy after two injury-filled years. His move from outside linebacker has helped the Texans make up for the loss of J.J. Watt.
Disappointment: QB Brock Osweiler got a $72 million contract and has thrown the same number of interceptions (nine) as touchdowns. Houston’s passing game ranks among the worst in the league.
Surprise: TE Jack Doyle, claimed off waivers from Tennessee in 2013, has steadily progressed each season and already surpassed his previous career totals in yards and TD catches.
Disappointment: Coach Chuck Pagano. After signing a four-year deal, being given more authority over some decisions and armed with a healthy Andrew Luck, it looked as if Pagano would take his second chance and run with it. Instead, the Colts have gotten stuck in neutral.
Surprise: DE Yannick Ngakoue, a third-round pick from Maryland who has four sacks and three forced fumbles and has replaced Dante Fowler in the starting lineup.
Disappointment: QB Blake Bortles has been so inaccurate and inconsistent that he brought in a mechanics coach for a two-day refresher course, a last-ditch effort to turn his season around.
Surprise: WR Tyreek Hill, a fifth-round pick expected to be primarily a kick returner, already has 19 catches for 223 yards and four touchdowns.
Disappointment: OLB Tamba Hali signed a three-year, $21 million contract when the Chiefs realized they would be without Justin Houston most of the season, but he’s aging before their eyes.
Surprise: RB Jay Ajayi has turned a weak ground game into a strength by averaging 6.0 yards per play and has six TDs.
Disappointment: WR DeVante Parker, a 2015 first-rounder, has done little to establish himself as a complement to top target Jarvis Landry.
Surprise: RB LeGarrette Blount, whose production over the first four games coming off hip injury last season helped take the pressure off Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.
Disappointment: CB Cyrus Jones, a second-rounder, has struggled in his limited action returning punts, was ejected at Cleveland and hasn’t played since.
NEW YORK JETS
Surprise: WR Quincy Enunwa, a sixth-rounder in 2014, has blossomed into a legitimate playmaker in Chan Gailey’s offense. With Eric Decker out, Enunwa has stepped up as the No. 2 receiver behind Brandon Marshall.
Disappointment: CB Darrelle Revis, a former shutdown defender, has looked mostly mediocre this season, no longer resembling the guy who left opposing teams’ best receivers stranded on “Revis Island.”
Surprise: RB Jalen Richard, an undrafted free agent, has helped provide depth behind Latavius Murray.
Disappointment: CB Sean Smith, a major free agent addition who got benched in the opener and struggled earlier in the season before showing some improvement of late.
Surprise: WR Sammie Coates led the league in yards per reception (21.3) before injuring his left index finger. He’s been a long-distance threat.
Disappointment: LB James Harrison is hardly the only disappointment on an underwhelming defense, but the 38-year-old got his first two sacks of the season this past weekend. He’s seen his playing time slowly decrease.
Surprise: Top draft pick DE Joey Bosa. After a holdout and hamstring injury that cost him four games, he has become a force on the Chargers’ defense, particularly in opposing backfields.
Disappointment: That the team couldn’t get the rookie defensive end signed in time for training camp. A squabble over money he was due and offset language caused the No. 3 overall pick to miss camp. After signing, Bosa pulled the hamstring and the Chargers went 1-3 without him.
Surprise: RB DeMarco Murray. For a player who looked washed up in Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia last season and cost the Titans only swapping 13 spots in the fourth round of the draft, what a bargain.
Disappointment: Rookie LB Kevin Dodd, the 33rd pick overall, has been a minimal contributor. The Titans could use more pressure from someone who had 12 sacks and 23½ tackles for loss last season at Clemson.
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Latavius Murray ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns and the Oakland Raiders showed they were ready for prime time, beating the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos 30-20 on Sunday night.
In what was being billed as the biggest game in Oakland since the team went to the Super Bowl following the 2002 season, the Raiders (7-2) put together a complete effort to overpower the Broncos (6-3) and take over sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
Derek Carr threw for 184 yards and did not turn the ball over, Khalil Mack had two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery and the Raiders outrushed Denver 218-33.
The performance was to the delight of an energetic crowd at the Coliseum, excited to host a prime time Sunday night game for the first time in more than a decade.
Trevor Siemian looked shaky at times for Denver but did throw two touchdown passes, including a short pass behind the line that Kapri Biggs turned into a 69-yard touchdown catch and run in the fourth quarter.
LIONS 22, VIKINS 16, OT
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Matthew Stafford threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate, who vaulted into the end zone in overtime to lift Detroit past Minnesota.
After Matt Prater kicked a 58-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime, Tate finished the opening drive when he ran through arm tackles by Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith and leaped in for the winning score.
Stafford completed 23 of 36 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Lions (5-4), who have won four of their past five games. Tate had 11 catches for 79 yards.
Sam Bradford completed 31 of 40 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings (5-3), who started the season 5-0 but have imploded since coming out of the bye. Stefon Diggs had a career-high 13 catches for 80 yards.
GIANTS 28, EAGLES 23
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning threw for four touchdowns and New York’s defense had two interceptions and three stops on fourth downs to beat Philadelphia.
The Giants (5-3) won their third straight game, holding off the Eagles (4-4 after a 3-0 start) after Manning was intercepted with less than two minutes to go.
Two of Manning’s touchdowns went to Odell Beckham Jr., with the others to Roger Lewis Jr. and Sterling Shepard.
Manning moved into ninth place in yards passing with 46,428. Manning, in his 13th NFL season, threw for 257 yards against Philadelphia. He passed Vinny Testaverde, who had 46,233 yards through the air.
RAVENS 21, STEELERS 14
BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Flacco threw a 95-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, and Baltimore frustrated an ineffective Ben Roethlisberger in a victory over Pittsburgh.
Baltimore (4-4) snapped a four-game losing streak and moved into a tie atop the AFC North with the Steelers (4-4), who have dropped three in a row.
Three weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee, Roethlisberger returned well ahead of schedule. Playing for the first time since Oct. 16, the 13-year veteran looked out of sync until the fourth quarter, when he directed a 75-yard drive that got the Steelers to 21-7 with 8:38 remaining.
Before that, Pittsburgh’s offense produced only two first downs and was limited to 69 yards. The Steelers finished with 36 yards rushing, 32 by Le’Veon Bell.
Roethlisberger ran for a 4-yard score with 48 seconds left, but Chris Boswell botched the onside kick — barely knocking it off the tee — and Baltimore ran out the clock.
CHARGERS 43, TITANS 35
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Melvin Gordon ran for a career-high 196 yards and scored the go-ahead TD on a 1-yard run, and defensive backs Dwight Lowery and Brandon Flowers scored on turnovers by Marcus Mariota to lead the Chargers over Tennessee, which still hasn’t won in San Diego since 1990.
The Chargers (4-5) won two days before the team will ask voters to approve a billion-dollar subsidy for a new downtown stadium to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium. The measure was polling well short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.
Gordon, who leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns, scored on a 1-yard run with 5:28 left in the third quarter to give the Chargers a 26-21 lead. He ran 32 times, and broke a 47-yard run in the closing minutes. He also caught four passes for 65 yards.
Mariota, who led the Titans to a 21-19 lead by guiding two quick scoring drives on either side of halftime, helped the Chargers surge to a 12-point lead when he fumbled late in the third quarter. Lowery picked up the ball ran 43 yards for a touchdown and a 33-21 lead.
The Titans (4-5) have lost seven straight in San Diego since 1993, when they were the Houston Oilers. The franchise’s last victory in San Diego was in 1990.
COLTS 31, PACKERS 26
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Frank Gore rushed for two touchdowns, Jordan Todman had a tone-setting 99-yard return on the opening kickoff and Indianapolis held on for a win over Green Bay.
Andrew Luck shook off two interceptions in the first quarter to finish with 281 yards passing and a touchdown. The Colts, who had allowed an NFL-worst 31 sacks coming into the game, gave their quarterback decent protection.
Indianapolis (4-5) heads into a bye week with a confidence-building victory after surviving a vintage Aaron Rodgers comeback.
His 3-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 3:29 left got Green Bay (4-4) within five, capping a 14-point spurt in four-plus minutes.
Rodgers finished 26 of 43 for 297 yards with three scores and an interception.
SAINTS 41, 49ERS 23
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Drew Brees threw a pair of touchdown passes to Michael Thomas and another to Mark Ingram, who also ran for a 75-yard score a week after being benched and New Orleans beat lowly San Francisco.
Ingram, replaced by Tim Hightower during last Sunday’s 25-20 win against Seattle after fumbling for a second straight game, scored his second straight TD for the Saints on a career-long run to answer immediately after DuJuan Harris caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick. Ingram’s run also was the second-longest in Saints history and he wound up with 158 yards rushing as San Francisco allowed an opposing 100-yard runner for the seventh straight game.
The Saints (4-4) have grabbed back some momentum and returned to the race in the NFC South. They won for the fourth time in five games following an 0-3 start and eighth in the past 10 regular-season meetings with San Francisco. The Niners (1-7) didn’t have nearly enough to avoid their seventh straight loss since shutting out the Rams to start the season.
PANTHERS 13, RAMS 10
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cam Newton persevered through five sacks to pass for 225 yards and a touchdown, and Carolina’s defense shut down Los Angeles.
Greg Olsen caught a touchdown pass in the first half and Graham Gano added two fourth-quarter field goals for the Panthers (3-5), who won their second straight after a four-game skid.
Newton’s offense managed just 244 yards against the Rams’ vaunted defense, but the Panthers nearly shut out Los Angeles in a defense-dominated game.
Case Keenum passed for 296 yards for the Rams (3-5), who have lost four straight after a strong start to their homecoming season. Los Angeles’ scoreless streak reached 102 minutes, 12 seconds before Greg Zuerlein’s 25-yard field goal with 8:01 to play.
DOLPHINS 27, JETS 23
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Rookie Kenyan Drake scored untouched on a 96-yard kickoff return with 5:15 left, and Miami won a seesaw battle with New York Jets.
Jay Ajayi rushed for 111 yards and helped to run out the clock after the Dolphins came from behind for the third time.
A botched Dolphins punt led to a touchdown that put New York ahead 23-20. On the ensuing kickoff , New York’s Antonio Allen was called for being offside, so the Jets had to kick again. Drake took the kickoff, found a lane and sped past the final Jet — kicker Nick Folk — into the clear.
The Dolphins (4-4) won their third game in a row, while New York (3-6) fell deeper into last place in the AFC East. The Jets hurt themselves with four personal foul penalties, two interceptions thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick and numerous missed chances.
COWBOYS 35, BROWNS 10
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes and kept any talk for Tony Romo unnecessary, leading Dallas over winless Cleveland.
Rookie Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 92 yards and scored twice and durable tight end Jason Witten had 134 yards receiving for the Cowboys, off to their best start since 2007.
Prescott has won seven straight starts since losing the season opener, and with the Cowboys (7-1) leading the NFC East and getting better, there’s no reason for the team to accelerate Romo’s return from a back injury.
The miserable Browns (0-9) dropped their franchise-record 12th straight game going back to last season and are 3-27 in their past 30. They also started 0-9 in 1975.
CHIEFS 19, JAGUARS 14
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City stuffed Jacksonville on fourth down with less than 2 minutes left deep in its own territory, preserving a victory despite finishing without five offensive starters.
Nick Foles threw for 187 yards and a first-half touchdown toss to Albert Wilson, and helped to set up four field goals by Cairo Santos, as Kansas City (6-2) won its 10th consecutive home game.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars (2-6) couldn’t overcome four turnovers — including a fumble at the goal line in the fourth quarter — in their first game with quarterback coach Nathaniel Hackett directing the offense.
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Halfway through his rookie year, Carson Wentz finds himself in a position the Philadelphia Eagles likely wanted to keep him out of at all costs.
The No. 2 overall pick’s promising start has been set off course by protection problems and ball security issues (five fumbles, three interceptions in last four weeks). Doug Pederson’s offense has responded by turning to an approach so low on risk that it may actually be damaging. In last week’s 29-23 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Wentz attempted just one pass more than 15 yards downfield and averaged just 4.7 yards per attempt.
The performance illustrated how far off Wentz’s situation is from the outlook for Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, whose strong play has been boosted by a stellar supporting cast. Now Wentz has to find a way to lift his own group up when facing a promising, albeit inconsistent, New York Giants defense on Sunday.
Philadelphia’s problems are feeding into one another, as the offensive line’s struggles have hindered a wide receiving corps lacking a consistent deep threat. Facing a Giants pass rush that has just nine sacks in seven games, however, might give Wentz the opening he needs to take a few more risks.
New York ranks 22nd against the pass but has allowed just seven touchdowns through the air this season. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins remains a dangerous playmaker, and safety Landon Collins had two interceptions against the Los Angeles Rams in London.
Here are four other matchups that will define Week 9 in the NFL:
Derek Carr vs. Broncos’ pass rush
Solving Denver’s defense remains the towering hurdle for Carr and Oakland in the hunt for AFC West supremacy. Clearing that challenge may mean the difference between a second-half surge and a reality check.
Even with a league-low 2.7% sack rate, Carr has been composed under pressure so far this season. But the Broncos’ defense, which is tied for the NFL lead with 26 sacks, is operating on a different level than the rest of the league. Beyond defensive player of the year front-runner Von Miller and the recently returned DeMarcus Ware, defensive end Derek Wolfe and outside linebacker Shane Ray have combined for 8.5 sacks so far this season.
Carr will have to be decisive yet mindful with his throws, though the Broncos will be without cornerback Aqib Talib. Amari Cooper has the most yards after catch (293) of any receiver, so providing him with opportunities to turn upfield could aid Carr if the deep passing game dwindles.
Titans OTs Taylor Lewan, Jack Conklin vs. Chargers DE Joey Bosa, OLB Melvin Ingram
A revamped running game has Tennessee at 4-4 and in the hunt for the AFC South. Though running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry deserve praise for capitalizing on their opportunities, the Titans’ offensive line might be the biggest catalyst for this season’s revival.
Lewan has been a standout in both pass protection and the run game, while Decker has held down the right side. But Bosa and Ingram might be two of their biggest tests to date.
An extended holdout didn’t slowed Bosa, who has four sacks in as many games and been a disruptive presence in opponents’ backfields. Ingram, meanwhile, has continued to establish himself as one of the best young 3-4 linebackers in the NFL today. Both can make the kind of plays that would derail Tennessee’s rushing attack, though the Titans have proven resilient with a near 50% third-down conversion rate.
Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph vs. Lions’ secondary
Minnesota’s previously resilient offense is in dire straits at midseason. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner stepped down after a nightmarish showing against the Chicago Bears on Monday night. The offensive line is in shambles, and the running game is on pace to have the lowest yards per carry (2.66) of any team since the 1953 New York Giants.
Getting Rudolph going against Detroit could be one of the best options for new coordinator Pat Shurmur to turn the offense around. The Lions have allowed eight touchdowns to tight ends in eight games so far this season.
Of course, Bradford will need improved protection to have time to find Rudolph and wide receiver Stefon Diggs downfield. Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has been held in check and backup Armonty Bryant is suspended, but Kerry Hyder has been a revelation with five sacks.
Colts QB Andrew Luck vs. Packers LB Nick Perry
Having already taken an NFL-high 31 sacks this season, Luck can’t expect any improvement from his protection. Indianapolis has put an undue burden on him given his surrounding parts, so it will be up to him to find a remedy.
The hits are already starting to take their toll on Luck, as he struggled while taking six sacks and 12 hits in last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. T.Y. Hilton’s being cleared after a hamstring injury should help, but it’s unclear how much the Colts’ top weapon will be able to contribute.
Green Bay, meanwhile, is counting on its pass rush to cover for an ailing secondary. Its top two cornerbacks are already out, with two others listed as questionable. Perry is on track for a career year with 5.5 sacks so far, and his importance could be even greater given Clay Matthews’ uncertain status for the game with a hamstring injury.
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Monday, Oct. 31
Minnesota at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. EDT. Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-1) are coming off their first loss, a 21-10 defeat against Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Jay Cutler is set to return for the Bears (1-6), who are off to their worst start since the 2000 team dropped seven of its first eight.
— Derek Carr, Raiders, threw for a franchise-record 513 yards — completing 40 of 59 passes without an interception — including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts with 1:45 remaining in overtime, leading Oakland past Tampa Bay 30-24.
— Tom Brady, Patriots, went 22 of 33 for 315 yards and threw four touchdowns in leading New England to a 41-25 win over Buffalo.
— Drew Brees, Saints, passed for 265 yards and a touchdown, and scored on a quarterback keeper in New Orleans’ 25-20 win over Seattle.
— Carson Palmer, Cardinals, was 35 of 46 for 363 yards with three touchdowns, including two to J.J. Nelson, in a losing cause as Arizona fell to Carolina 30-20.
— Matt Ryan, Falcons, tossed three touchdown passes and finished 28 of 35 for 288 yards in Atlanta’s 33-32 win over Green Bay.
— Kirk Cousins, Redskins, threw for 458 yards and two TDs on 38-of-56 passing with an INT in Washington’s 27-27 tie with Cincinnati in London.
— Dak Prescott, Cowboys, threw for 287 yards and two scores, including a winning 5-yarder to Jason Witten in overtime, to lead Dallas past Philadelphia 29-23.
— Melvin Gordon, Chargers, rushed for 111 yards on 23 carries in San Diego’s 27-19 loss at Denver.
— Tim Hightower, Saints, ran for 102 yards on 26 carries as New Orleans’ first 100-yard rusher this season after replacing the benched Mark Ingram in a 25-20 win over Seattle.
— Jonathan Stewart, Panthers, ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns in Carolina’s 30-20 victory over Arizona.
— Matt Forte, Jets, rushed for 82 yards and two second-half TDs in New York’s 31-28 win at Cleveland.
— Rob Kelley, Redskins, carried 21 times for 87 yards and his first rushing touchdown, a juking 4-yard carry up the gut on Washington’s opening drive in a 27-27 tie with Cincinnati.
— Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Raiders. Cooper had 12 catches for 173 yards and a TD in Oakland’s 30-24 overtime win at Tampa Bay, while Crabtree caught eight passes for 108 yards.
— Dez Bryant, Cowboys, caught four passes for 113 yards, including a game-tying 22-yard touchdown, in his return after missing three games with a hairline fracture of a bone in his right knee to help Dallas to a 29-23 overtime victory over Philadelphia.
— A.J. Green, Bengals, caught nine passes for 121 yards in Cincinnati’s 27-27 tie with Washington.
— Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, had five catches for 109 yards and a TD, the 69th of his career to break a franchise record previously held by Stanley Morgan, in New England’s 41-25 win over Buffalo.
— Jamison Crowder, Redskins, caught nine passes for 107 yards and a score in Washington’s 27-27 tie with Cincinnati.
— Tyler Eifert, Bengals, had seven receptions for 102 yards and a TD as Cincinnati and Washington played to a 27-27 tie.
— Wil Lutz, Saints, kicked field goals of 22, 53, 21 and 41 yards in New Orleans’ 25-20 win over Seattle.
— Graham Gano, Panthers, had field goals of 43, 52 and 21 yards in Carolina’s 30-20 win over Arizona.
— Shaq Barrett, Broncos, blocked an extra-point attempt by Josh Lambo in Denver’s 27-19 win over San Diego.
— Dee Ford, Chiefs, had 3 1/2 sacks in Kansas City’s 30-14 win at Indianapolis.
— Star Lotulelei, Panthers, had three of Carolina’s eight sacks of Carson Palmer in a 30-20 victory over Arizona.
— Bradley Roby, Broncos, scored on a 49-yard interception return in Denver’s 27-19 win over San Diego.
— Earl Thomas, Seahawks, returned a fumble forced by Cliff Avril 34 yards for a touchdown in Seattle’s 25-20 loss at New Orleans.
— Thomas Davis, Panthers, returned a fumble 46 yards for a score — the first of his 12-year career — to help Carolina top Arizona 30-20.
— Casey Hayward, Chargers, had a 24-yard interception return for a score in San Diego’s 27-19 loss at Denver.
STREAKS & STATS
New York outgained the Browns 287-133 in the second half and the Jets put together the biggest second-half road comeback in team history, winning 31-28 after trailing 20-7 at halftime in Cleveland. … Tom Brady has 20 regular-season games with four touchdowns throws or more, and six have been against Buffalo — including four TDs in a 41-25 victory Sunday. … Drew Brees has a TD pass in 58 consecutive home games, extending his NFL-record streak with one in a 25-20 win over Seattle. … Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was Green Bay’s leading rusher in a 33-32 loss at Atlanta with a career-high 60 yards on six carries. He broke his previous best of 57 yards in 2012, and posted the highest rushing total by a Packers quarterback since Don Majkowski’s 88-yard effort in 1990. … Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott ran for 96 yards on 22 carries in a 29-23 overtime win over Philadelphia, ending his NFL rookie record of four straight games with at least 130 yards rushing.
Oakland’s Derek Carr became the third player in NFL history with 500 or more yards passing, four or more TD throws and no interceptions in a game, joining Y.A. Tittle (1962) and Ben Roethlisberger (2014). Carr was 40 of 59 for a franchise-record 513 yards — surpassing Cotton Davidson’s 427 in 1964 — with four TDs in the Raiders’ 30-24 overtime win at Tampa Bay. … Rob Gronkowski’s 53-yard touchdown catch in New England’s 41-25 win at Buffalo was the 69th of his career and 68th receiving, breaking the previous marks held by Stanley Morgan. … With two TD runs in New York’s 31-28 win at Cleveland, the Jets’ Matt Forte joined Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk and Herschel Walker as the only players with at least 50 rushing TDs (51), 500 receptions (507) and 20 TD catches (20). … With 458 yards passing in Washington’s 27-27 tie with Cincinnati, Kirk Cousins tied Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen for the most games with 300 yards or more passing in franchise history with 15. … Dallas’ Jason Witten broke Ed “Too Tall” Jones’ franchise record with his 204th start in the Cowboys’ 29-23 overtime victory over Philadelphia.
Cleveland’s 31-28 loss to the New York Jets dropped the Browns to 0-8, their worst start since the 1975 team dropped its first nine games en route to going 3-11. The Browns have lost 11 straight overall dating to Week 14 of last season and are 3-26 over their last 29. Three of the losses this season have come with the Browns ahead at the break.
BRADY CORRALS BILLS
Tom Brady asserted his on-field ownership of the Buffalo Bills again Sunday, matching an NFL record in beating them for the 26th time. Brady went 22 of 33 for 315 yards and threw four touchdowns in leading New England to a 41-25 win. He improved to 26-3 against Buffalo , matching a record set by Brett Favre, who went 26-9 against Detroit.
LOTS OF LAUNDRY
Oakland overcame an NFL-record 23 penalties for 200 yards to remain unbeaten on the road with a 30-24 overtime win at Tampa Bay. The Raiders hurt themselves repeatedly with penalties, including a delay of game on first-and-goal and an offensive pass interference call against WR Michael Crabtree that nullified a touchdown. They wound up settling for Sebastian Janikowski’s 31-yard field goal that trimmed a second-quarter deficit to 10-3. Oakland was penalized four times, twice on third-and-1 for lining up with 12 men on defense, during the fourth-quarter drive Jameis Winston used to put Tampa Bay up 24-17.
Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes in relief of the injured Alex Smith to help the Kansas City Chiefs hold off Indianapolis 30-14 on Sunday. Smith was checked for a concussion in the first half and cleared to return, which he did in the second quarter. He left again early in the third quarter after Clayton Geathers shoved Smith’s head to the turf as the quarterback tried to slide underneath the tackle. Smith was then diagnosed with a concussion and did not return. Foles was 16 of 22 for 223 yards with no interceptions.
ALL TIED UP
The Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals played to a 27-27 draw Sunday in London as the NFL got its second tie game in a season for the first time since 1997. Washington (4-3-1) appeared to have the game won with 2:13 left in overtime, but Dustin Hopkins hooked his 34-yard field goal attempt wide left. Seattle and Arizona tied 6-6 last Sunday. Oddly, the last time the NFL had two ties in a season also happened in back-to-back weeks. In Weeks 12 and 13 of the 1997 season, Baltimore and Philadelphia tied 10-10, followed seven days later by Washington and the New York Giants’ 7-7 draw.
Oakland offensive lineman Donald Penn, who was with Tampa Bay for eight years before being released after the 2013 season, caught a 1-yard TD pass that made it 10-10 early in the third quarter of the Raiders’ 30-24 overtime win at Tampa Bay. The 315-pound tackle crossed his arms and struck a pose for the announced crowd of 61,058. “I had to let them know they made a big mistake in cutting me,” Penn said. “I had to let them know I’m back.”
Washington and Cincinnati’s 27-27 tie in London was marred by penalties, particularly by the Redskins. Washington was flagged 15 times for 106 yards, leading to eight Bengals first downs and damaging Washington’s overtime drives into Bengals turf. Cincinnati had seven penalties for 85 yards.
Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was carted off the field and taken to the hospital for observation Sunday after being upended by a San Diego player who was blocked into the Denver sideline. The team said the 69-year-old coach had movement in all his extremities. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was blocked into Phillips while trying to catch Bradley Roby during an interception return. … Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith was twice forced out of the game by hits to the head, leaving for good early in the third quarter with a concussion. Running back Spencer Ware was also concussed during the 30-14 victory over the Colts on Sunday. Left guard Parker Ehinger also left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right knee. … The Colts didn’t go unscathed. Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis and right tackle Joe Reitz both left the game with concussions and did not return. … In Buffalo, NFL sack leader Lorenzo Alexander hurt his hamstring during a punt return early in the second quarter and was ruled out for the remainder of the loss to New England. … The NFC championship game rematch won by Carolina over Arizona included the departure of two stars. Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu left in the first half with a shoulder injury, and Panthers center Ryan Kalil also hurt his shoulder.
“Enough is enough. I don’t think there’s a person that can go through what I go through and keep their head, you know what I’m saying? Hits to the head, that’s one thing, but when you’re not protected in the pocket, that’s another thing. It became the story of my life ever since I came in (to the league). It’s always, ‘Oh, we missed that, I’m sorry.’ That’s bull c—.” — Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, criticizing NFL officials for their lack of calls and his perception that he is treated differently from other QBs, after the Panthers’ 30-20 win over Arizona.
“It’s weird. On one hand, you’re mad, because there’s a couple plays that if we make, we can win. But at the same time, we didn’t lose. It’s bittersweet, you know? I’m glad we didn’t take the ‘L,’ but I’m upset we didn’t win.” — Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson after Cincinnati and Washington tied 27-27 in London on Sunday.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- With Tom Brady back at quarterback, the New England Patriots once again lead the NFL in wins.
And because of that, they also lead the latest AP Pro32 poll , which was released Tuesday.
The Patriots received all 12 first-place votes for 384 points from balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.
“Best record in the league, best point differential in the league and the best coach-quarterback tandem in the history of the league. Any questions?” said Ira Kaufman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Patriots (6-1) have won all three games since Brady’s return from his “Deflategate” suspension to start the season.
And on Sunday, the Patriots face the Buffalo Bills on the road in a rematch of their only loss of the season, a 16-0 shutout in Week 4.
The Dallas Cowboys moved up two spots to No. 2 despite having a bye last week.
And the Seattle Seahawks remained at No. 3 after their 6-6 tie against Arizona on Sunday night.
“They have not averaged under 100 yards rushing per game since Pete Carroll’s first season in Seattle in 2010,” said Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The defending champion Denver Broncos also moved up two spots to No. 4 after their 27-9 win over former teammate Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans.
“John Elway is right. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. Case in point: Brock Osweiler turning down Denver’s offer to take the cash in Houston,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.
“The Broncos’ GM watches bargain-basement QB Trevor Siemian get the best of Osweiler in a resounding Monday night win.”
The Minnesota Vikings dropped four spots to No. 5 after suffering their first loss, which came against the Philadelphia Eagles, who jumped six spots to No. 6 after the 21-10 win.
The Eagles face the Cowboys on Sunday night in a key NFC East matchup.
“Dak Prescott vs. Carson Wentz for control of the NFC East, just like the schedule-makers drew it up,” said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback.
The Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West) and Green Bay Packers (NFC North) each moved up three spots, to No. 7 and No. 8, after wins last week.
The Oakland Raiders, tied for first place with Denver in the division, jumped four spots to No. 9 to give the AFC West three teams in the top 10.
New England Patriots (12)
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Monday, Oct. 24
Houston at Denver, 8:30 p.m. EDT. Brock Osweiler returns to Denver for the first time since leaving the Super Bowl champs for a four-year, $72 million offer from Houston in the offseason. Osweiler went 5-2 as the starter last season in replacing Peyton Manning. And Osweiler’s coming off his best game as a Texan, leading Houston back from a 14-point deficit for a 26-23 overtime victory over the Colts last week.
—Andrew Luck, Colts, finished 27 for 39 for 353 yards and three touchdown passes in Indianapolis’ 34-26 win over Tennessee.
—Drew Brees, Saints, was 37 for 48 for 367 yards and three touchdown passes and an interception in New Orleans’ 27-21 loss to Kansas City. Brees is the first player in NFL history with 100 300-yard passing games.
—Andy Dalton, Bengals, finished 19 for 28 for 308 yards and two touchdown passes in Cincinnati’s 31-17 win over Cleveland.
—Jameis Winston, Buccaneers, finished 21 for 30 for 269 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception in Tampa Bay’s 34-17 win over San Francisco.
—Philip Rivers, Chargers, was 27 for 44 for 371 yards with a touchdown and an interception in San Diego’s 33-30 overtime win over Atlanta.
—Jay Ajayi, Dolphins, finished with 29 carries for 214 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s 28-25 win over Buffalo. Ajayi totaled 204 yards a week earlier in a win over Pittsburgh and tied the NFL record for consecutive 200-yard games held by O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.
— Jeremy Hill, Bengals, had nine carries for a career-high 168 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown, in Cincinnati’s 31-17 win over Cleveland. It was also the best by a Bengals running back in seven years.
—Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers, had 26 carries for 154 yards in Tampa Bay’s 34-17 win over San Francisco.
—LeGarrette Blount, Patriots, had 24 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns in New England’s 27-16 win over Pittsburgh.
—DeMarco Murray, Titans, had 25 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee’s 34-26 loss to Indianapolis.
—Kevin Hogan, Browns, replaced the injured Cody Kessler at quarterback and had seven carries for 104 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown in Cleveland’s 31-17 loss to Cincinnati. It was the longest TD run by a quarterback in Browns history.
—Matt Forte, Jets, had 30 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown in New York’s 24-16 win over Baltimore. He also joined Marshall Faulk, Marcus Allen, Thurman Thomas and Herschel Walker as the only players with 8,000 yards rushing, 4,000 yards receiving and 20 TD receptions.
—Melvin Gordon, Chargers, had 22 carries for 68 yards and two touchdowns, and added six receptions for 53 yards and another touchdown in San Diego’s 33-30 win over Atlanta.
— A.J. Green, Bengals, had eight catches for 169 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown on a desperation pass on the last play of the first half, in Cincinnati’s 31-17 win over Cleveland. Green has nine games with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch, the fourth-most among players in their first six seasons. Only Hall of Famers Lance Alworth (13) and Jerry Rice (11), and Randy Moss (10) had more such games in their first six NFL seasons.
—Julio Jones, Falcons, had nine catches for 174 yards in Atlanta’s 33-30 loss to San Diego.
—T.Y. Hilton, Colts, had seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in Indianapolis’ 34-26 win over Tennessee.
—Tyrell Williams, Chargers, had seven receptions for 140 yards in San Diego’s 33-30 win over Atlanta.
—Michael Thomas, Saints, had 10 catches for 130 yards in New Orleans’ 27-21 loss to Kansas City.
—Mike Wallace, Ravens, had 10 catches for 120 yards in Baltimore’s 24-16 loss to the New York Jets.
—Josh Huff, Eagles, returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in Philadelphia’s 21-10 win over Minnesota. It was the first time the Eagles have returned kickoffs for touchdowns in consecutive games.
—Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders, was 4 for 4 on field goals in Oakland’s 33-16 win over Jacksonville.
—Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Giants. Collins and Rodgers-Cromartie each had two interceptions in New York’s 17-10 win over Los Angeles in London. Collins returned one 44 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. They are the first pair of teammates with multiple interceptions each in a game since 2013 (Seattle’s Byron Maxwell and Richard Sherman) and the first Giants duo to accomplish the feat since Kenny Hill and Terry Kinard on Sept. 14, 1986, against San Diego.
—Chris Moore and Matt Judon, Ravens. Moore recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and Judon had two sacks in Baltimore’s 24-16 loss to the New York Jets.
—Daniel Sorensen, Chiefs, returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown in Kansas City’s 27-21 win over New Orleans.
—Robert Mathis, Colts, returned a fumble 14 yards for a touchdown in Indianapolis’ 34-26 victory over Tennessee.
—Adrian Clayborn, Falcons, returned a fumble 5 yards for a touchdown in Atlanta’s 33-30 loss to San Diego.
—Emmanuel Ogbah, Browns, had two sacks in Cleveland’s 31-17 loss to Cincinnati.
STREAKS & STATS
After failing to score more than 23 points in any of the first six games, the Bengals got their act together against one of the league’s worst defenses, piling up 559 yards — their most since 1990 in a 31-17 win over the Browns. The Bengals have won the past four in the series by scores of 30-0, 31-10, 37-3 and 31-17. … After giving up 171 yards rushing, including 111 to David Johnson, last Monday night at Arizona, the Jets held Baltimore to a franchise-low 6 yards on the ground. … The Dolphins outgained Buffalo 454 yards to 267 and had a 14-minute edge in time of possession, but were hurt by 13 penalties for 116 yards. Miami overcame an 11-point deficit with 16 minutes left to end a four-game winning streak by the Bills and beat them for only the second time in their past seven meetings. … The Raiders pounded the Jaguars 33-16 and improved to 4-0 on the road and moved to 5-2 for the first time since 2001. … The Chiefs won their ninth consecutive home game with a 27-21 victory over the Saints. … The Colts rallied to beat the Titans 34-26 for their 10th straight win against their AFC South rival. … The 49ers’ 34-17 loss to Tampa Bay was their sixth straight loss and their longest losing streak since 2008. … The Seahawks and Cardinals played to a 6-6 tie after Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro and Seattle’s Stephen Hauschka both missed short field goals in overtime. The tie was the Cardinals’ first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976. The last tie in the NFL came in 2014, when Carolina and Cincinnati tied 37-37.
The Colts’ Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals, and the second, a 33-yarder with 3:46 left in the third quarter, gave him an NFL-record 43 consecutive field goals made. His first tied him with former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who made 42 straight between 2002 and 2004. … The Chiefs’ Andy Reid coached his 300th game Sunday. Most of those were over his 14 seasons in Philadelphia, where he was 140-102-1. He is 36-21 in his fourth season in Kansas City. Playing in his 100th game, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has 27,890 passing yards, the most by any player in his first 100 games to begin a career.
The Jets honored the late Dennis Byrd with a pregame video tribute after he was killed last weekend in a car accident in Oklahoma.
Byrd was an inspiration to many after he overcame brief paralysis and walked again just a few months after injuring his neck during a play in 1992. The defensive lineman, who played for the Jets for four seasons, died in a two-vehicle collision last Saturday. He was 50.
Geno Smith’s return to the starting lineup came to a premature end on Sunday, with the New York Jets quarterback exiting a 24-16 win over Baltimore with a right knee injury in the second quarter. Smith was hurt while taking a sack from Baltimore’s Matthew Judon. He was taken to the locker room and later returned to the field in street clothes, and he’ll have an MRI this week. … Cleveland’s quarterback woes continued with Cody Kessler suffering a concussion. Kessler was hit hard while throwing a shovel pass on a scramble, and he was replaced by rookie Kevin Hogan. … In Buffalo, LeSean McCoy’s nagging left hamstring issue flared up, with the NFL’s second-leading rusher being forced to leave the Bills’ game at Miami in the third quarter. Bills safety Aaron Williams suffered a head and neck injury when Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a block in the second quarter. … Washington cornerback Josh Norman was forced to leave the Redskins’ game against Detroit, suffering a concussion and appearing to injure his left shoulder while defending a catch by the Lions’ Marvin Jones. … In Philadelphia, Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks was carted off the field after suffering a right knee injury late while making a tackle in the first quarter.
“With (Matthew) Stafford, it’s never in the bag if it’s close. I call him (Brett) Farve Jr. because those are the kind of attributes and intangibles he has.” — Redskins safety Will Blackmon on quarterback Matthew Stafford after the Lions quarterback threw a last-minute TD pass in Detroit’s 20-17 win over Washington.
“We got outplayed, we got outcoached, we got out-everythinged. They were the more physical team today, there’s no doubt about that. They controlled the game.” Buffalo coach Rex Ryan — on his team’s performance in a 28-25 loss to Miami.
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Their momentum gone and the Pittsburgh Steelers surging behind backup quarterback Landry Jones, the New England Patriots needed something to get them going.
They found inspiration in the usual places: LeGarrette Blount’s churning legs, Tom Brady’s accurate right arm and Rob Gronkowski’s massive hands.
Twice the undermanned Steelers needed one stop to give their offense the ball with a chance to take the lead on Sunday afternoon.
And twice the Patriots instead went right down the field instead, pulling away for a 27-16 victory that left little doubt as to where the balance of power in the AFC sits as the season reaches its halfway point.
The Steelers were within 14-13 when Blount broke runs of 11 and 25 yards to set up a 36-yard touchdown from Brady to Gronkowski early in the third quarter.
When another Pittsburgh field goal brought Pittsburgh within four, the Patriots responded with another long touchdown drive fueled by a 37-yard catch-and-run by Gronkowski that set up Blount’s second touchdown of the game.
“It was good to score like that and good to make plays in the second half that we needed to,” Brady said. “They certainly made it tough on us.”
Maybe, but the Steelers (4-3) also made it tough on themselves. Pittsburgh scored one touchdown in four trips to the red zone and was flagged 10 times for 85 yards, including a holding call in the second quarter that wiped out a touchdown pass that would have tied the game.
Instead, Chris Boswell missed a 42-yard field goal and Pittsburgh never legitimately came close to evening the score again.
“You can’t waste red zone trips, you have to come off blocks and make tackles in the run game, you can’t give up explosion plays, we did,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “That’s why we lost.”
Brady, Blount and Gronkowski had plenty to do with it too. Brady completed 19 of 26 for 222 yards and two touchdowns to improve to 9-2 against Pittsburgh. Gronkowski caught four passes for 93 yards and his 68th touchdown catch, tying Stanley Morgan for the most in club history. Blount finished with 127 yards rushing and two scores against the team he walked away from 2014 .
“His runs were able to settle us down,” New England coach Bill Belichick said of Blount.
New England (6-1) remained perfect since Brady returned from his four-game “Deflategate” suspension and while the Patriots lost a pair of fumbles they also didn’t throw an interception, making them the third team since 1960 to get through the first seven weeks of the season without throwing it to the other team, joining the 1960 Browns and 2008 Redskins.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley hardly limited the playbook with Jones under center. The fourth-year quarterback did what Roethlisberger likes to do, particularly getting the ball to running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Bell finished with 149 yards of total offense and Brown caught seven passes for 106 yards, but too often Pittsburgh settled for field goals (or field goal attempts) when touchdowns were required.
“We just got to the red zone a lot of times and turned the ball over, you can’t have that,” Bell said. “I mean, it is a small margin for error against a team like that.”
The 39-year-old quarterback who once ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in a not-so fleet 5.28 seconds can still run away from the bad guys. Brady ran for three first downs in the first half, mashing his way on a quarterback sneak and twice escaping pressure and outrunning defenders a decade or more younger for the necessary yardage.
New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a regular season extra point during his rookie year in 2006 and then didn’t miss another one until last week against Cincinnati, an NFL record streak of 479 attempts between misfires (though there was that costly missed kick in last year’s AFC championship game ). Gostkowski didn’t have to wait nearly as long until watching a second one go astray. Gostkowski misfired on a third-quarter extra point that kept the Steelers within seven.
“This is a tough place to kick,” Belichick said. “I’m not making any excuses. The kicker on the other side of the field had trouble too.”
In addition to the 42-yarder he missed, Boswell misfired on a 54-yarder with the Steelers down two scores in the fourth quarter.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Seattle’s Stephen Hauschka and Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won it in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals tied 6-6 on Sunday night.
Hauschka’s 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro’s 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.
The last tie in the NFL came in 2014, when Carolina and Cincinnati tied 37-37. The tie was the Cardinals’ first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.
The Cardinals (3-3-1) dominated the game statistically and looked to be in shape to win it after Carson Palmer’s 40-yard pass to J.J. Nelson set up Catanzaro’s short kick.
The Seahawks (4-1-1), stuffed throughout regulation by the Arizona defense, took over and Russell Wilson completed passes of 31 yards to Jermaine Kearse and 27 yards to Doug Baldwin to give Houschka his short attempt. Both kickers made field goals on their teams’ first possession of overtime.
Catanzaro, who kicked field goals of 46 and 45 yards, also had a 39-yard field goal blocked by a stunning play by Bobby Wagner when he hurdled Arizona long snapper Aaron Brewer.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians argued loudly for a penalty and was charged with a timeout when he challenged a play that is not reviewable. That proved significant when the Cardinals couldn’t stop the clock to get off a short field goal attempt as the first half ended.
EAGLES 21, VIKINGS 10
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Josh Huff returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, Carson Wentz outplayed Sam Bradford and Philadelphia handed Minnesota its first loss of the season.
The Eagles (4-2) snapped a two-game slide while the rested Vikings (5-1) hardly looked like an unbeaten team after having a bye.
Bradford returned to Philadelphia for the first time since his trade to Minnesota eight days before the season opener paved the way for Wentz to start. Bradford was 7-7 in his only season with the Eagles and won his first four starts for the Vikings.
But the Eagles pressured and harassed their former quarterback all game, sacked him six times, and forced his first three turnovers this season.
DOLPHINS 28, BILLS 25
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Jay Ajayi tied an NFL record by surpassing 200 yards rushing for the second game in a row. Ajayi rushed for 214 yards in 29 carries after totaling 204 yards a week earlier in a win over Pittsburgh. He scored on a 4-yard run , and busted a 53-yarder when the Dolphins were pinned at their 3 and trailing in the fourth quarter.
The Dolphins (3-4) used an extra lineman much of the time to clear big holes for Ajayi, who tied the NFL record for consecutive 200-yard games held by O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.
Miami overcame an 11-point deficit with 16 minutes left to end a four-game winning streak by the Bills (4-3) and beat them for only the second time in their past seven meetings.
Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy, ranked second in the NFL in rushing, started, but totaled only 11 yards in eight carries before departing with a hamstring problem.
CHARGERS 33, FLACONS 30
ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Lambo’s 42-yard field goal in overtime gave San Diego its first road win of the year as the Chargers rallied from a 17-point deficit.
The Chargers (3-4) trailed 27-10 in the second quarter. They had lost 11 of their past 12 road games.
Linebacker Denzel Perryman delivered two key plays late in the game. Perryman’s interception of Matt Ryan’s pass for Julio Jones set up Lambo’s tying 33-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation.
Perryman’s fourth-and-1 stop on running back Devonta Freeman gave San Diego the ball at Atlanta’s 43 for the Chargers’ winning drive. Perryman grabbed Freeman’s feet behind the line for the key tackle on the Falcons’ gamble.
CHIEFS 27, SAINTS 21
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes in another efficient outing, and Daniel Sorensen returned an interception of Drew Brees for another touchdown.
Spencer Ware ran for 77 yards to go with his 46-yard touchdown reception, and Tyreek Hill made an acrobatic 38-yard TD catch to help the Chiefs (4-2) win their ninth straight at home.
Brees got the Saints (2-4) within 24-21 with his touchdown pass to Brandon Coleman with 2:33 left, but the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds. Kansas City added a 41-yard field goal, and the Saints could do nothing in the final 28 seconds.
Brees finished with 367 yards and three TD passes.
RAIDERS 33, JAGUARS 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Latavius Murray scored twice in his return from turf toe, and the Raiders gave coach Jack Del Rio a victory against his former team.
Murray, who missed the past two games, finished with 59 yards on 18 carries. Michael Crabtree caught eight passes for 96 yards and a touchdown from Derek Carr, Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, and the Raiders played the kind of defense they’ve been looking for all season.
The result was the team’s most complete win of the season. Oakland improved to 4-0 on the road and moved to 5-2 for the first time since 2001.
The Jaguars (2-4), meanwhile, dropped a third straight at EverBank Field and added more speculation about the future of coach Gus Bradley. Jacksonville fell to 14-40 during Bradley’s four seasons, and the latest loss was filled with poor execution on both sides of the ball and a lack of discipline down the stretch.
LIONS 20, REDSKINS 17
DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford threw a go-ahead, 18-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin with 16 seconds left.
The Lions (4-3) extended their winning streak to three games. The Redskins (4-3) had won four straight.
Stafford, who set up game-winning kicks in the previous two games, led his team to another win in the 100th game of his career. He was 18 of 29 for 266 yards, one TD and no turnovers.
Kirk Cousins scored a go-ahead TD on a 19-yard run with 1:05 left.
The Redskins, though, failed to stop Stafford from throwing or running on his last possession and could not overcome mistakes that included turnovers, a missed field goal and penalties.
GIANTS 17, RAMS 10
LONDON (AP) — The Giants capitalized on four interceptions of Case Keenum in the first NFL game played at London’s home of English rugby, a sold-out and raucous Twickenham Stadium.
Keenum, coming off the best start of his career, had the Rams at the Giants’ 15-yard line with 50 seconds left when he lobbed a pass in the left corner of the end zone that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie easily picked off. Keenum’s intended target, Brian Quick, failed to get the quarterback’s audible and cut off his route early.
Keenum, who finished 32 of 53 for 291 yards and one touchdown, has thrown an interception on the Rams’ final offensive play of the last three games. That likely will fuel debate on a potential quarterback change to overall No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff.
Landon Collins returned his first of two picks 44 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also had two interceptions.
BENGALS 31, BROWNS 17
CINCINNATI (AP) — A.J. Green’s one-handed catch in the middle of an end zone scrum highlighted Cincinnati’s day full of big plays.
Green’s 48-yard touchdown catch on the final play of the first half helped the Bengals (3-4) regain their footing in the injury-depleted AFC North. The defending division champions piled up their most points since they beat the Browns 37-3 last December. Jeremy Hill had a 74-yard touchdown run as part of his 168-yard effort, the best by a Bengals running back in seven years.
The Browns (0-7) extended their worst start since 1999, when they were a first-year expansion team. The NFL’s only winless team also lost yet another quarterback — the theme of their season. Cody Kessler got hit hard while throwing a shovel pass in the second quarter, then went to the locker for a concussion evaluation and was ruled out. That left the offense in the hands of undrafted rookie Kevin Hogan, the Browns’ sixth quarterback of the season.
COLTS 34, TITANS 26
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Andrew Luck threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle with 1:55 left to put Indianapolis ahead to stay, and the Colts rallied to beat the Titans for their 10th straight win against their AFC South rival.
The Colts (3-4) came in having lost two of three, including blowing a 14-point lead in an overtime loss last week at Houston. But Luck he improved to 8-0 against the Titans with yet another comeback win. He finished with 353 yards passing and three TDs, the last after Tennessee went up 23-20.
T.Y. Hilton caught seven passes for 133 yards, including a 37-yard TD. The Colts shook off 12 penalties for 131 yards in pulling out their 15th win in 16 games against Tennessee.
The Titans (3-4) saw their two-game winning string end.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals, and the second, a 33-yarder with 3:46 left in the third quarter gave him an NFL record 43 consecutive field goals made.
JETS 24, RAVENS 16
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced an injured Geno Smith and led the Jets on three scoring drives, and a rejuvenated defense came up with two rare interceptions.
Fitzpatrick came in for Smith in the second quarter and led the Jets on a go-ahead drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown catch by Matt Forte. Fitzpatrick finished 9 of 14 for 120 yards and a touchdown as the Jets (2-5) snapped a four-game losing streak.
Smith injured his right knee while taking a sack from Baltimore’s Matthew Judon. Fitzpatrick was efficient after losing his job earlier in the week.
Joe Flacco started for Baltimore (3-4), loser of four in a row, after being questionable with a sore shoulder. He went a team-record 176 consecutive throws without an interception before Buster Skrine picked off his pass in the third quarter.
BUCCANEERS 34, 49ERS 17
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes and Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 154 yards.
The Bucs (3-3) fell behind by 14 points early before scoring 27 straight to deal the Niners (1-6) their sixth straight loss for San Francisco’s longest losing streak since 2008.
Mike Evans caught eight passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, Russell Shepard scored on a 19-yard pass from Winston, and Peyton Barber iced the game with a 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help Tampa Bay win its second straight game around its bye week.
Colin Kaepernick struggled in his second start of the season for the 49ers, going 16 for 34 for 143 yards and turning the ball over twice after kneeling once again for the national anthem.