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Here is a recap of Week 11 of the 2014 NFL Season with Tuesday Afternoon QB. Thanks again to the AP Sports/Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Week 11 Byes: Ravens, Cowboys, Jaguars, Jets
Bills 9, Dolphins 22
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Put simply, the Miami Dolphins were due.
They had been on a disastrous stretch against the Buffalo Bills, with one touchdown in a span of 33 possessions overlapping four games — three of which they lost, the fourth one looking like it would have the same outcome.
Then came a breakthrough, and just like that the Dolphins’ playoff chances look a whole lot more realistic.
Ryan Tannehill threw touchdown passes on back-to-back drives in a five minute span in the second half, Miami’s defense held Buffalo without a touchdown and the Dolphins beat the Bills 22-9 on Thursday night.
The Dolphins (6-4) moved into sole possession of second place in the AFC East, 1 1/2 games behind New England — a team Miami beat in Week 1.
Tannehill completed 26 of 34 passes for 240 yards and the two scores to Brandon Gibson and Jarvis Landry. Lamar Miller rushed for 86 yards on 15 carries for Miami and the Dolphins’ defense held Buffalo to 86 yards on 30 plays after halftime.
Dan Carpenter kicked three field goals against his former team, accounting for all of Buffalo’s scoring. The Bills (5-5) had beaten the Dolphins in each of the teams’ last three meetings, but left the game looking up at 10 other teams in the AFC standings. The Bills are trying to end a 14-year playoff drought, backslid yet again Thursday night. They stalled on offense, squandered a lead late in the third quarter, Kyle Orton went 22 for 39 for 193 yards, and the Bills netted only 54 yards on the ground. Their top two running backs were out with injuries.
The Bills have six games left, four of them against playoff hopefuls (Cleveland, Denver, Green Bay and New England, currently a combined 26-10), and two against struggling clubs (the New York Jets and Oakland, currently a combined 2-17). Miami’s next two games are at Denver and the Jets. Then the Dolphins finish with Baltimore, New England, Minnesota and the Jets again.
Falcons 19, Panthers 17
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Matt Ryan is as surprised as anyone that the Atlanta Falcons are tied for first in the NFC South with a 4-6 record.
He’s certainly not complaining.
“It’s been a different year, for sure,” Ryan said. “You play to be relevant in November and December. As quirky as this season’s been, we’re relevant.”
Ryan threw for 268 yards and a touchdown, Matt Bryant added four field goals and the Falcons held off a late rally by the Carolina Panthers to win 19-17 on Sunday.
Bryant’s 44-yard field goal with 2:08 left put Atlanta ahead for good. Cam Newton threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes for Carolina, but Graham Gano missed a 46-yard field goal try with 1:27 remaining and had a 63-yarder blocked as time expired.
The Falcons moved into a tie with New Orleans for the division lead after the Saints lost at home to Cincinnati 27-10.
Newton overcame two early interceptions and threw for 292 yards, but it wasn’t enough for the Panthers, who have lost five straight and are 1-7-1 since starting the season 2-0. It’d be easy to say the Panthers are done, yet they still control their playoff destiny.
When asked if the Panthers still deserve to be in the playoff hunt, Norman replied, “Does anybody in the NFC South deserve to be in it?”
The Panthers trailed 16-3 in the fourth quarter before a sluggish Newton started to heat up.
Rookie Kelvin Benjamin made a juggling 22-yard touchdown catch in the left corner of the end zone to give the Panthers some life. Then another rookie receiver, Philly Brown, got behind cornerback Robert McClain and caught a 47-yard score as he fell back into the end zone to briefly give the Panthers a 17-16 lead.
But Ryan moved the Falcons into field goal range, completing three passes for 29 yards to Harry Douglas to set up Bryant’s clutch kick.
49ers 16, Giants 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Every time the San Francisco offense opened the door for the reeling New York Giants, the 49ers’ defense closed it.
Rookie linebacker Chris Borland intercepted a fourth-down pass by Eli Manning at the 49ers 2 with 4:43 to play to cap a goal-line stand and San Francisco defeated New York 16-10 Sunday, sending the error-plagued Giants to their fifth straight loss.
“There’s no give-up in our guys,” said Borland, who had two of the five interceptions by the 49ers (6-4). Borland is the first 49ers rookie with two picks in a game. He joined Ken Norton Jr. in 1995 as the only 49ers linebackers with two interceptions in a game over the past 40 years.
It should have been a lot easier. San Francisco had almost 35 minutes in time of possession and five takeaways, but it had to sweat out a first-and-goal from its 4 to win.
Blame that on the 49ers’ offense. Its contribution against a Giants defense that had given up 136 points in its last four games was a 48-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree and three first-half field goals by Phil Dawson.
A possible fourth field goal was lost when holder Andy Lee could not catch a snap on a day that 49ers special teams also allowed New York to recover an onside kick.
The game also marked the return of 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who was active for the first time after missing the first nine games because of a suspension.
Manning threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Larry Donnell on New York’s opening possession, but the Giants (3-7) only got a field goal from Josh Brown the rest of the way. After throwing six interceptions in the Giants’ first nine games, Manning nearly equaled that number while tying a single-game career high against the 49ers.
The game was decided in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter when Manning drove the Giants from their 35 to the San Francisco 4, where they had a first-and-goal following a spectacular 37-yard leaping catch by rookie Odell Beckham Jr. over Perrish Cox.
Three fade patterns to Beckham, Rueben Randle and Donnell fell incomplete. Manning tried to force a pass to Preston Parker on fourth down, but Dontae Johnson tipped the ball and Borland came up with his second pick.
New York had a chance to take the lead earlier in the quarter, driving to the San Francisco 32. On a second-and-5, Manning and his receiver seemed a little out of synch and Chris Culliver intercepted the pass near the 10.
“I have to make better throws,” said Manning, who finished 22 of 45 for 280 yards. “It’s no one else’s fault. I’ve got to protect the ball and not turn it over. I turned it over close a couple of times and that can’t happen.”
Michael Wilhoite and Eric Reid also intercepted Manning.
The Giants’ opening drive kept them in the game. After recovering a fumble by Frank Gore (19 rushes for 95 yards) at the Giants 37, Manning capped a five-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Donnell. It marked the first time in 20 games that New York scored a touchdown on its opening drive.
After three field goals by Dawson, San Francisco stretched the lead to 16-7 early in the third quarter when Kaepernick (15 of 29 for 193 yards) found Crabtree across the middle and the receiver outran five defenders for a 48-yard catch-and-run.
Brown narrowed the gap to 16-10 with a 43-yard field goal midway through the third quarter and New York seemingly got a boost when it recovered the ensuing onside kick. However, the offense faltered and New York did not make the plays down the stretch.
Seahawks 20, Chiefs 24
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The old offensive line coach in Andy Reid could appreciate the way the Kansas City Chiefs pried open holes for Jamaal Charles to run free against Seattle on Sunday.
He could appreciate the way their defensive front stepped up, too.
Given a lead thanks largely to the legs of their dazzling running back, the Chiefs held the Seahawks on fourth down three times in the final quarter. The result was a tense 24-20 victory that pushed Kansas City into a first-place tie with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
As for Charles, who finished with 159 yards and two touchdowns?
“He’s Jamaal Charles,” Reid said. “He’s a special player.”
Russell Wilson threw for 178 yards and two TDs for the Seahawks, and Marshawn Lynch had 124 yards rushing. But Lynch, fresh off a four-touchdown game, was stuffed twice by the Kansas City defense with the outcome hanging in the balance.
The Seahawks’ last-chance drive ended when Wilson threw incomplete on fourth-and-18 at their 20-yard line with 1:13 left.
The Chiefs’ first fourth-down stop came with about 6 minutes to go. Lynch was tackled after a 2-yard gain on third down, and coach Pete Carroll elected to gamble at the Chiefs 2. Wilson saw Doug Baldwin in the corner of the end zone but badly overthrew him.
Seattle (6-4) held to get the ball back and appeared to convert a third down with a completion at the Chiefs 35. Reid wisely challenged the spot, though, and replays showed wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was a full yard short. The Seahawks again went for it, and Lynch was stuffed for no gain with less than 4 minutes to go.
Bucs 27, Redskins 7
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — So here is this rookie, going in motion and telling a 35-year-old quarterback what to do.
The way Mike Evans is playing, no one’s going to argue. The big receiver streaked down the left sideline and was open for the 36-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown. It was part of a milestone, 209-yard game Sunday for the No. 7 overall draft pick in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 27-7 win over the Washington Redskins.
The 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver caught seven passes and scored two touchdowns as the Buccaneers (2-8) snapped a five-game losing streak. The second TD went for 56 yards when the Redskins had a linebacker trail him down the middle of the field in the fourth quarter, the biggest no-contest in a game that turned into, well, a no-contest.
“When I have a game like that — I had a couple of those in college — it feels like getting hot in basketball,” Evans said.
Evans said he watched the Randy Moss “30 for 30” ESPN special Saturday night, so it was only fitting that he is now the first rookie to post three consecutive 100-yard games with at least one touchdown in each since Moss in 1998. According to STATS, he’s also the first rookie with 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns since Anquan Boldin in 2003. Evans finished 7 yards shy of Vincent Jackson’s franchise record of 216.
Evans is the youngest player in NFL history with a 200-yard receiving game. It was his third consecutive game with at least seven catches, 100 yards receiving and a touchdown catch. He is the first rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
Evans accounted for 73 percent of McCown’s 288 yards passing. After the previous week’s loss, McCown broke down at his postgame news conference. This time, when he saw reporters making room for him to get to the dais, he deadpanned: “Last week, y’all get wet?”
By the way, McCown said that Evans really did make a route change while in motion on the first touchdown pass.
Tampa Bay’s defense also showed up, forcing three turnovers and sacking Robert Griffin III six times on the latest embarrassing day for the Redskins (3-7), who were booed early and often.
Washington also lost two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams to knee and ankle injuries and left guard Shawn Lauvao to a concussion. Kai Forbath — who had made 15 of 16 field goal attempts coming in — was wide right from 47 and 50 yards.
Bengals 27, Saints 10
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green counted himself among the least surprised to see a pair of long Andy Dalton passes hit him in stride during a pivotal fourth-quarter drive against the New Orleans Saints.
Dalton rebounded from one of the worst outings of his career with a composed, ruthlessly efficient performance, completing 73 percent of his throws for three touchdowns in a 27-10 victory over New Orleans on Sunday.
For Dalton, the game represented a dramatic reversal from a week ago, when he completed only 10 passes for 86 yards and had a passer rating of 2.0 in a 24-3 loss to Cleveland.
Against New Orleans (4-6), Dalton was 16 of 22 for 220 yards, did not throw an interception and finished with a passer rating of 143.9 as he helped lift Cincinnati (6-3-1) back into first place in the AFC North.
Two of Dalton’s touchdown passes went to tight end Jermaine Gresham. The other was a pinpoint 24-yard pass along the left sideline to Green, who had six catches for 127 yards. Gresham’s first touchdown required some extra effort after he fumbled while trying to stretch for the goal line.
Saints cornerback Brian Dixon tried to scoop up the ball, but it slipped through his hands and into the end zone, where Gresham recovered.
That gave Cincinnati the lead for good at 7-3 in the first quarter.
Drew Brees passed for 255 yards, including a 9-yard TD to Kenny Stills on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, the Saints remained tied with Atlanta for first place in the anemic NFC South after the Falcons (4-6) defeated Carolina (3-6-1).
“I feel good about our chances and our opportunity that we have,” Brees added, apologizing for his optimism. “We’re learning a lot about how to win. Unfortunately, it’s because of failure, but failure can be the best teacher at times.”
The Saints’ most recent failure represented one of their worst losses in the Superdome in a decade. They haven’t lost by more than 17 points in the dome since a 34-13 defeat to Denver in 2004.
Broncos 22, Rams 7
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Shaun Hill got his job back, finally. Then he got the best of Peyton Manning.
After eight weeks on the bench, the journeyman was ready.
“Obviously, we were facing one of the best teams in the league,” Hill said after the Rams surprised Denver 22-7 on Sunday. “Everybody stepped up, for sure.”
The 34-year-old Hill got a game ball from coach Jeff Fisher after the Rams (4-6) beat an elite team for the third time this season. Hill kept it clean with a turnover-free outing that complemented a defense that had two interceptions and made the stops that counted.
Critical mistakes landed Austin Davis a spot on the bench. Hill needed two weeks to recover from a thigh injury that sidelined him in the opener, but after that he needed lots of patience.
The Rams had already beaten the past two NFC champs — Seattle and San Francisco. And they had blown big leads at home against the Cowboys and the first time they played the 49ers.
This time, they finished the job against the NFL’s No. 2 offense, which hadn’t scored fewer than 21 points and had scored 30 or more five of the previous six.
Rookie Tre Mason had 29 carries for 113 yards, the most against the Broncos’ top-ranked run defense.
Kenny Britt had four catches for 128 yards with a 63-yard score and Greg Zuerlein was a career-best 5 for 5 on field goals for the Rams (4-6).
Manning was 34 for 54 for 389 yards with two interceptions, but was held to a 42-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders, ending a streak of 15 consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes. He refused to lean on injuries that sidelined Julius Thomas, Montee Ball and Sanders.
“We didn’t execute very well and I just think I didn’t play very well,” Manning said. “No excuses. I have to play better and we have to score more points than seven.”
Demaryius Thomas had seven receptions for 103 yards, his seventh consecutive 100-yard game to match the Cowboys’ Michael Irvin (1995) for second-longest single-season streak in NFL history. Calvin Johnson holds the record with eight straight.
Texans 23, Browns 7
CLEVELAND (AP) — Once he finished ransacking Cleveland’s offense, J.J. Watt met Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer near midfield and gave him a hug.
They became close Sunday. Too close for Hoyer.
Watt nearly beat Cleveland himself, catching a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Mallett, dominating on defense and leading the Houston Texans to a 23-7 win over the Browns on Sunday.
Houston’s indomitable No. 99 was everywhere. Along with scoring his fourth TD this season, he recorded a strip sack, made five tackles — three for a loss — recovered a fumble and hurried Hoyer into several bad throws. Watt was unstoppable, providing more proof he’s the NFL’s best defensive player.
Browns coach Mike Pettine couldn’t say enough about Watt.
“He’s a special player,” he said. “You run to him. You run away from him. You try to do different things. He’s an excellent player.”
Mallett threw a pair of TD passes and finished with 211 yards in his first career start. The four-year veteran was promoted during the bye week after the Texans (5-5) benched Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Mallett delivered a needed spark.
So did rookie running back Alfred Blue. He filled in for injured star Arian Foster (groin) and gained 156 yards on a franchise-record 36 carries.
“It feels good,” said Mallett, a former third-round pick in 2011 who spent three seasons backing up Tom Brady in New England. “It made the four years worth it.”
The Browns (6-4) won’t spend a second straight week atop the AFC North. They lost for just the second time in seven games, and Watt is the main reason why.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pounder scored Houston’s first TD, grabbing Mallett’s first career scoring pass for his fourth TD in 2014. He’s the first defensive lineman to score four times in a season since 1948. He wasn’t perfect, getting called for two roughing-the-punter penalties, but Watt more than made up for his mistakes by wreaking havoc along Cleveland’s offensive front.
Watt wasn’t aware that it’s been 66 years since a defensive lineman scored four TDs. Randy Bullock kicked field goals of 46, 37 and 50 yards for the Texans. Mallett finished 20 of 30 and outdueled Hoyer in a battle of former Brady backups.
Hoyer spent the afternoon ducking and dodging Houston’s relentless defensive front led by Watt. Linebacker Brian Cushing delivered a monstrous hit in the fourth quarter on Hoyer, who struggled to get up, dropped to his knees and barely composed himself as backup Johnny Manziel scrambled for his helmet.
“It’s disappointing,” said Hoyer, who completed just 20 of 50 passes with a TD.
Vikings 13, Bears 21
CHICAGO (AP) — Jared Allen figured the Chicago Bears were bound to retaliate, that they could only take so much after getting knocked around.
They didn’t exactly treat his former team as a punching bag. They just played well enough to put their implosion on hold.
Jay Cutler threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns, and the Bears won for just the second time in seven games by beating the Minnesota Vikings 21-13 on Sunday.
Ryan Mundy intercepted Teddy Bridgewater’s 29-yard pass in the end zone in the closing minute, and the Bears hung on for the win after suffering two of the worst blowout losses in franchise history.
Alshon Jeffery had 135 yards receiving and a touchdown catch. Brandon Marshall added 90 yards and two TD receptions, including a 4-yarder in the fourth quarter that made it an 11-point game. Matt Forte ran for 117 yards.
Allen had a sack against his former team, and the Bears (4-6) prevailed after joining the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons as the only teams to give up 50 or more points in consecutive games with blowouts at New England and Green Bay. But it was a different story against the Vikings (4-6).
The Bears gave up a season-low 243 yards while racking up 468, and they picked up their first win at Soldier Field after dropping their first three there.
Minnesota got a 48-yard end-around by Andrew Sendejo on a fake punt to set up an early touchdown but little else on the way to its seventh straight loss in Chicago.
Bridgewater threw for just 158 yards and touchdown, and the Vikings came up short after winning two in a row.
Raiders 6, Chargers 13
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Philip Rivers gingerly eased himself onto the stool at his locker, clearly sore after injuring his leg and then having the wind knocked out of him.
While beat up, at least Rivers and the San Diego Chargers weren’t beaten as they had been in their previous three games.
Rivers threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd on the game’s third play from scrimmage, and the Chargers held on for a lackluster 13-6 victory against winless Oakland on Sunday, extending the Raiders’ losing streak to 16.
The Chargers (6-4) snapped a three-game skid and welcomed back Ryan Mathews, Manti Te’o and Melvin Ingram, who had been out since September.
The losing streak by the Raiders (0-10) is the equivalent of a full season. Monday is the one-year anniversary of their last win, 28-23 at Houston.
Rivers was hurt after a 28-yard completion to Floyd was negated by a holding call against left tackle King Dunlap midway through the third quarter. The Chargers had to settle for Nick Novak’s 52-yard field goal that made it 13-3.
He had the wind knocked out of him in the fourth quarter and was walking gingerly on the sideline as backup Kellen Clemens warmed up.
In a revelation sure to make coach Mike McCoy blanch, tight end Antonio Gates let it slip that Rivers has been playing with a rib injury.
McCoy does whatever he can to keep injury information from the outside world.
Rivers went back in after Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 25-yard field goal to pull the Raiders within a touchdown with four minutes to play.
The Chargers were coming off their bye, which was preceded by a 37-0 loss at Miami on Nov. 2, their worst in 18 seasons.
Rivers was 22 of 34 for 193 yards.
The Chargers came up with a huge play on third-and-3 after the Raiders closed within a touchdown when Gates tipped a pass to himself between safeties Charles Woodson and Brandian Ross for a 15-yard gain to the Oakland 45. Woodson was in position to break it up or intercept it.
Oakland got to the San Diego 7 with 4:10 left, but the drive stalled and Janikowski kicked his 25-yarder. A desperation pass by Raiders rookie Derek Carr fell incomplete short of the end zone as time expired. Carr was 16 of 34 for 172 yards.
Lions 6, Cardinals 14
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A new starting quarterback, the same result for Arizona.
The Cardinals win again.
Drew Stanton was good enough, Arizona’s defense was excellent and the Cardinals beat the Detroit Lions 14-6 on Sunday to improve to an NFL-best 9-1.
Stanton threw touchdown passes to Michael Floyd on Arizona’s first two possessions and the Cardinals held the Lions without a touchdown, the first time that’s happened to Detroit since 2009, in a matchup of teams with two of the best records in the league.
Detroit got inside the Arizona 20-yard line only once, and that was after one of Stanton’s two interceptions. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Detroit (7-3).
Stanton, starting after Carson Palmer was lost for the season with a knee injury, threw TD passes of 42 and 12 yards. After that, Arizona’s offense stalled and Stanton threw two interceptions. But the Lions couldn’t convert either turnover into a touchdown.
Arizona won its sixth in a row and has its best record through 10 games since 1948. The Cardinals, 6-0 at home, also have a three-game lead over Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West.
Arizona held an opponent without a TD for the first time this season.
Stanton, 3-1 as a starter this season, finished 21 of 32 for 306 yards. Stafford was 18 of 30 for 183 yards with one interception. He was sacked four times, while Stanton, facing the No. 1-rated defense in the NFL, was not sacked.
Stanton, whose wife delivered the couple’s second child on Monday, sent Palmer a text right before the game.
Eagles 20, Packers 53
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers handed off to Eddie Lacy, turned and started jogging to the sideline before his running back had crossed the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown. It was as if the Green Bay quarterback knew what was going to happen.
Just another first-half score and big early lead for the Packers at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns, Lacy accounted for two scores, and the Packers defense stuffed the high-octane Philadelphia Eagles for a 53-20 win Sunday.
It sure looks that way, though. The Packers (7-3) blew out another opponent in the cold comfort of home after a fast start.
The matchup of NFC contenders quickly turned lopsided after Green Bay took a 30-6 halftime lead. Rodgers threw for two touchdowns in the first half, while Micah Hyde scored on a 75-yard punt return.
Julius Peppers finished off the Eagles by returning Mark Sanchez’s pass 52 yards for a 39-6 lead in the third quarter, the second interception return for a score this season for the veteran.
“It’s good to see that. He pretty much got a gift,” linebacker Clay Matthews said with a smile.
Philadelphia (7-3) was held to 11 points below its NFC-leading scoring average by a Packers defense rejuvenated since Matthews started getting more time at inside linebacker. Matthews finished with five tackles and a sack after rushing from his traditional outside spot unabated to Sanchez.
Green Bay’s offense was in good hands again with Rodgers, who broke Tom Brady’s NFL record of 288 straight passes at home without an interception. Rodgers finished 22 of 36.
The Packers set another record by putting up at least 28 points in a first half for the fourth straight home game. They’ve outscored opponents 128-9 before halftime during that stretch.
Playing with big leads allows the Packers defense to focus on the pass and hone in on opposing quarterbacks.
Sanchez flopped in his second start since taking over for the injured Nick Foles. He was 26 of 44 for 346 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
To make things worse, Sanchez couldn’t corral a high snap out of the shotgun with an empty backfield in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Casey Hayward scooped up the loose ball and jogged 49 yards into the end zone with an escort of two blockers to make it 53-13. It was the Eagles’ worst loss under second-year coach Chip Kelly. The previous low was a 52-20 thrashing at Denver in Week 4 last season, and Kelly is now the only coach in team history to allow 50 points twice.
Patriots 42, Colts 20
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New England keeps finding new ways to beat Indianapolis.
On Sunday night, it was Jonas Gray.
The third-string running back rushed for a career-high 199 yards and a franchise-record four touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 42-20 victory over the Colts.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the second half of New England’s sixth consecutive victory, the last to Rob Gronkowski with 6:46 left. He was 19 of 30 for 257 yards with two interceptions as the Patriots earned their fifth consecutive win in the series.
Gray began the day with 32 carries, 131 yards and no touchdowns in his first three NFL games this season.
He wound up with as many rushing TDs as the rest of the league combined Sunday — shocking numbers from a player coach Bill Belichick acknowledged was on the verge of being cut in training camp.
Gray’s performance overshadowed a somewhat shaky first half from Brady, who was picked off twice, including deep in his own territory with 1:16 left in the second quarter.
The result could have major playoff implications for the Colts (6-4), who have now lost head-to-head matchups with Denver and AFC-best New England (8-2).
Andrew Luck was 23 of 39 for 303 yards and two TDs, running Colts’ franchise record for consecutive 300-yard games to eight. He needs one more to match Drew Brees’ NFL record.
Unlike Luck’s previous two losses in the series, when he accounted for eight turnovers by himself, he minimized the mistakes Sunday. The third-year quarterback threw one interception — costing the Colts a scoring chance when Darrelle Revis deflected a pass that was picked off by Devin McCourty. It still wasn’t enough.
Belichick followed the same tack he used in last season’s 21-point playoff victory over Indy — overpowering the Colts with the run. New England rushed for 244 yards, compared to 19 yards on 17 carries for the Colts.
Primarily because Brady stuck to the plan.
He drove the Patriots 89 yards on their first possession, and Gray finished the drive with a 4-yard TD run. Brady and New England went 68 yards after Luck’s interception for a 2-yard run by Gray that made it 14-3.
After Brady’s second interception, Luck hooked up with Hakeem Nicks on a 10-yard TD pass to cut the halftime deficit to 14-10.
But it was all Brady and Gray after that. Gray added two more short TD runs in the second half, Brady threw TD passes to Tim Wright and Gronkowski and the Colts never seriously challenged again.
Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri reached two milestones against his former team — scoring eight points for his 17th 100-point season, breaking a tie with Jason Elam for the most in NFL history, and becoming the fourth member of the 2,100-point club. He finished the game with 2,106 points.
Steelers 27, Titans 24
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — This time, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat their struggling opponent.
Ben Roethlisberger threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with 9:01 left, and the Steelers edged the Tennessee Titans 27-24 on Monday night.
The Steelers (7-4) staged an impressive rally in the second half to take sole possession of second in the successful AFC North heading into their bye. Le’Veon Bell ran for 204 yards and a TD, and William Gay returned an interception 28 yards for a score. Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals.
Roethlisberger had never beaten the Titans at LP Field, missing the Steelers’ win here in 2010. With Bell running through and over the Titans, the Steelers took the pressure off Big Ben by holding the ball for 39 minutes, 49 seconds with a 386-312 edge in total offense.
The Titans (2-8) blew a 24-13 lead in their fourth consecutive loss. They sacked Roethlisberger five times and intercepted a pass in the end zone. Zach Mettenberger threw for 263 yards and two touchdown passes, and fellow rookie Bishop Sankey ran for another score.
But Tennessee’s offense fizzled in the fourth quarter. When Pittsburgh got the ball back with 6:58 left, the Steelers didn’t give it back and knelt out for the win.
Mettenberger and the Titans got off to an awful start, and then erased a 10-0 deficit with an impressive flurry.
Suisham also had a 49-yarder for the first score of the game, and Gay picked off Mettenberger on the Titans’ first offensive play and returned it for the TD.
Roethlisberger had been intercepted only five times this season. But the Titans sacked him three times in the second quarter, and Jason McCourty picked off a pass intended for Brown in the end zone with 44 seconds left in the first half.
The Titans called timeout, and then Mettenberger threw to a wide-open Nate Washington, who beat Gay with a stutter-step on his way to a career-best 80-yard touchdown reception. Washington, who won two Super Bowl rings in Pittsburgh, wagged his finger at the crowd once he got to the 25.
Mettenberger added a 4-yard TD pass to Chase Coffman in the third quarter, capping an 11-play drive for a 24-13 lead.
The Steelers responded with Bell’s 5-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth, and Roethlisberger’s TD to Brown was enough for the win. Brown had nine receptions for 91 yards in another solid performance.
Two of Pittsburgh’s losses this season have come against Tampa Bay and the Jets, teams with a combined four wins, and coach Mike Tomlin is 1-8 all-time against teams with a winning percentage of .200 or worse.
Former Titans veteran Mike Munchak coached the Steelers’ offensive line in his first game in his NFL career against the franchise he spent 32 seasons with as a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and coach. The Titans let Munchak go in January after going 22-26 in three seasons as head coach, and Munchak’s offensive line opened big holes for Bell.
Whisenhunt, who won a Super Bowl ring as offensive coordinator with Pittsburgh, took over the Titans in January, trying to turn around a franchise that last won a playoff game in January 2004. Whisenhunt already is on his third quarterback in Tennessee in Mettenberger.
Tennessee was without tight end Delanie Walker, who wasn’t cleared after he suffered a concussion last week in Baltimore. That left the Titans with three tight ends not on the roster at the start of the season, including Coffman who was here during the preseason. The Steelers were without four defensive starters, including Troy Polamalu.
It was the coldest game at LP Field with the temperature at kickoff at 25 degrees.