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Here is a recap of Week 12 of the 2014 NFL Season with Tuesday Afternoon QB. Thanks again to the AP Sports/Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Week 12 Byes: Panthers, Steelers
Chiefs 20, Raiders 24
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Sio Moore sacked Alex Smith and started to celebrate in the Kansas City backfield with Oakland Raiders teammate Khalil Mack.
The elaborate dance could be forgiven if the game had actually been over considering the Raiders hadn’t won a game in more than a year. The only problem was the game was still going and the Chiefs were at the line trying to run a fourth-down play.
The Raiders were forced to call a timeout to stop the clock and then got one last stop, snapping a 16-game losing streak with a 24-20 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday night.
The Raiders (1-10) were able to laugh about it because Justin Tuck alertly called timeout to prevent the Chiefs (7-4) from getting a free play off against a nine-man defense.
But Moore knows it could have been a costly mistake.
After Smith threw an incomplete pass on fourth down, Derek Carr took a knee and the Raiders celebrated their first win in 368 days since beating Houston last Nov. 17.
Carr threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to James Jones with 1:42 remaining to give the Raiders the long-awaited win.
Here are some other takeaway from the Raiders’ win:
BIG PLAY MURRAY: Third-string running back Latavius Murray got a chance early in the game and made the most of it. He scored on an 11-yard run on second drive of the game and went 90 yards for a score on his next carry for the longest run by a Raiders running back since Bo Jackson had a 92-yarder against Cincinnati in 1989. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a 93-yard TD run last season against Pittsburgh. Murray’s 112 yards rushing on four carries were the most by any player since at least 1960 with five or fewer carries. Murray left the game with a concussion.
Bengals 22, Texans 13
HOUSTON (AP) — Andy Dalton finally got a win in his hometown.
Dalton lost his first three games against the Houston Texans, including twice here in the playoffs, but threw for 233 yards and a touchdown to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to a 22-13 win on Sunday.
It was his second strong game and he again relied on A.J. Green, who is healthy after dealing with a toe injury. Green finished with a career-high 12 receptions for 121 yards against a secondary playing without cornerback Kareem Jackson (knee).
The Bengals (7-3-1) led throughout, but Houston (5-6) cut the lead to 3 late in the third quarter before Cincinnati tacked on two field goals in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Rookie Jeremy Hill scored on a 2-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter after an interception by Ryan Mallett for Cincinnati’s only touchdown of the second half.
Mallett struggled in his second career start, finishing with 189 yards passing and often overthrowing open receivers. Houston’s only touchdown came on a 60-yard interception return by Johnathan Joseph in the third quarter.
Rookie Alfred Blue ran for 46 yards filling in for Arian Foster for the second straight game. Foster, who entered the day third in the NFL in yards rushing, has a groin injury.
Giovani Bernard had 45 yards rushing after missing the past three games with an injured shoulder and hip. But Hill still got plenty of carries, running 18 times for 87 yards.
Dalton threw two incompletions in a row to bring out Mike Nugent for a 31-yard field goal to push the lead to 19-13 with about nine minutes left. Nugent added a 49-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining.
The Texans had a first down at the 8-yard line but their offense stalled after that and they settled for a 25-yard field goal by Randy Bullock to get within 16-13 late in the third.
Joseph, who played his first five seasons with the Bengals, grabbed an interception and dashed 60 yards — high-stepping the last five — for a touchdown to cut the lead to 16-10 midway through the third quarter.
Rey Maualuga intercepted Mallett on the first play of the second half to give the Bengals the ball at the Houston 22. Hill had five carries on the next drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 16-3 early in the third.
Mohamed Sanu grabbed a short pass from Dalton and dragged A.J. Bouye into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown that gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Dalton’s pass to Green on fourth down from the 1 was incomplete in the second quarter. It didn’t matter much though, as Geno Atkins tackle Blue in the end zone on the next play for a safety to make it 9-0.
The Texans had trouble getting things going on offense and they had to punt on their first two possessions before the safety on the third one.
Bengals right tackle Andre Smith injured his left arm in the first quarter and didn’t return.
Browns 26, Falcons 24
ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Gordon picked right up where he left off for Cleveland.
Fortunately for the Browns, Brian Hoyer had a short memory.
Gordon turned in a huge performance in his first game of the season, catching eight passes for 120 yards, and Hoyer shook off three interceptions to lead a drive in the final minute that set up Billy Cundiff’s 37-yard field goal as time expired Sunday, giving the Browns a 26-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Taking advantage of the last of Hoyer’s picks, the Falcons drove for Matt Bryant’s 53-yard field goal with 44 seconds remaining to seize the lead.
Turns out, they left too much time on the clock.
Hoyer completed four straight passes, including a 24-yarder to Gordon down the middle of the field. The last of the throws went to Miles Austin, who took it to the Falcons 19. The Browns (7-4) hustled to the line, spiked the ball with 5 seconds left, and sent on Cundiff for his fourth field goal of the game.
The Falcons (4-7) came in on a two-game winning streak and improbably tied for first with New Orleans in the woeful NFC South.
But, with another fourth-quarter meltdown, Atlanta dropped to 0-7 against teams outside its division.
Georgia native Isaiah Crowell scored a pair of touchdowns for the Browns, but it was Gordon who had the biggest impact.
After serving a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, he started for Cleveland and was targeted a game-high 16 times.
The longest catch was his last one, taking the Browns to the Atlanta 45. Hoyer followed with a 15-yard completion to tight end Gary Barnidge, who bounced off a couple of tacklers to pick up some extra yards. Then Austin hauled in an 11-yarder that set up Cundiff for the winning kick.
He also connected 33, 37, and 32 yards.
Jaguars 3, Colts 23
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — T.Y. Hilton delivered on the first promise to his first child, wrapping up his family’s big day with a rockin’ touchdown catch.
Just hours after Hilton’s wife gave birth to a baby girl, the third-year receiver caught four passes for 122 yards and one touchdown to spur Indianapolis’ second-half turnaround in a 23-3 victory over Jacksonville. He celebrated by cradling the ball like a baby.
Before leaving for Lucas Oil Stadium, Hilton promised to catch a touchdown pass for his new daughter.
But it sure wasn’t easy on a day the Colts offense was mostly out of sync.
Andrew Luck was sacked a season-high five times, fumbled three times and lost two of those — just in the first half. The Colts (7-4) wound up losing three of six fumbles in the game, still not enough to derail the AFC South leaders, who have won seven of nine and 11 straight against division foes.
Luck finished 21 of 32 with 253 yards and the one score, though his streak of eight consecutive 300-yard games ended one game short Drew Brees’ NFL record (nine).
All Jacksonville (1-10) could muster on an even worse day was a 28-yard field goal from Josh Scobee. That capped a 2-yard drive after Luck fumbled at his own 12-yard line. Bortles was 15 of 27 for 146 yards with one interception and Jacksonville managed just 194 total yards.
But the Colts struggled mightily early with two key blockers out because of injuries, right tackle Gosder Cherilus (shoulder) and tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle).
While Luck spent most of the first half dodging the Jaguars’ pass rushers, the Colts did just enough to take a 6-3 halftime lead.
After Blake Bortles was picked off by Vontae Davis, Indy settled for a 46-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri to make it 3-0. Scobee’s field goal made it 3-3, and the Colts didn’t score again until Luck took them on a 52-yard march that ended with Vinatieri’s second field goal, a 20-yarder, with 12 seconds left in the half.
Indy righted itself quickly in the second half. Trent Richardson scored on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter to make it 13-3. Less than two minutes later, Hilton beat Dwayne Gratz for the 73-yard catch-and-run to make it 20-3.
Vinatieri added a 32-yard field goal early in the fourth to make it 23-3, breaking a tie with Matt Stover for fifth place on the NFL’s career field goal list (472).
But Indy still led 6-3 at the half and 13-3 after Trent Richardson’s 1-yard TD run in the third quarter. Hilton’s long catch made it 20-3. Adam Vinatieri’s third field goal capped the scoring.
Titans 24, Eagles 43
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Josh Huff got the Philadelphia Eagles started and LeSean McCoy kept them going.
Huff returned the opening kickoff 107 yards, McCoy ran for 130 yards and the Eagles beat the Tennessee Titans 43-24 on Sunday.
Mark Sanchez threw for 307 yards and one touchdown in his third start for the injured Nick Foles. He has 300 yards passing in three straight games, tying a team record.
Rookie Zach Mettenberger had 345 yards passing and two TDs and Delanie Walker had 155 yards receiving for the Titans (2-9).
Now, the Eagles (8-3) can shift their focus to the Cowboys (7-3) for a first-place showdown on Thanksgiving. The top two teams in the NFC East will play twice in 18 days, starting with Thursday’s game at Dallas.
Coming off a 53-20 loss at Green Bay, the Eagles jumped ahead of the lowly Titans immediately and never let up.
Huff ran up the right side, broke a tackle inside the 30, cut to the right sideline and stiff-armed a defender at the Titans 20 on his way to the end zone for his first career TD.
His return was the longest in franchise history and the 10th non-offensive touchdown for Philadelphia this season.
After the first of four straight three-and-outs to start the game by the Titans, the Eagles went up 14-0 on a 4-yard TD run by Darren Sproles.
McCoy had a 2-yard TD run in the second quarter. Sanchez fired a 14-yard TD pass to James Casey in the third quarter.
The Titans didn’t get a first down until Mettenberger threw a 40-yard TD pass to Justin Hunter on their fifth offensive series. Brandon Ghee intercepted Sanchez at the Eagles 30 to set up the score that cut it to 17-7.
Mettenberger tossed a 68-yard pass to Delanie Walker to start the next drive to set up Shonn Greene’s 2-yard TD run, cutting the deficit to 20-14.
Cody Parkey kicked field goals of 36, 26, 35, 40 and 50 yards but his 49-yard attempt hit the post at the end of the first half to snap his successful streak at 17.
The Eagles sacked Mettenberger five times, including 2 1/2 by Connor Barwin and two for Trent Cole.
McCoy, the reigning NFL rushing champion, hasn’t looked the same this year with his yards-per-carry average down more than one yard. He was irritated this week by questions from reporters suggesting he lost a step. So, McCoy responded with his third 100-yard performance in the past six games. He had a season-best 53-yard run.
The Eagles beat the Titans for the first time. They were 0-4 against them after their move from Houston to Tennessee.
Bucs 13, Bears 21
CHICAGO (AP) — Matt Forte and the Bears used a big rally to hand their former coach a loss in his return to Chicago.
Forte rushed for two touchdowns in the third quarter, and the Bears beat Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-13 on Sunday.
Jay Cutler threw a 2-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery as the Bears (5-6) scored 21 straight points to erase a 10-0 halftime deficit. Forte had a 13-yard run that put Chicago ahead to stay, and then added a 1-yard plunge that made it 21-10.
Smith coached the Bears to three playoff appearances and a trip to the 2007 Super Bowl during his successful nine-year run in Chicago. He was hired by Tampa Bay in January, and his first game back at Soldier Field showed just how far he has to go to get the lowly Bucs (2-9) back on track.
Tampa Bay had three turnovers in the third. Josh McCown, who played for the Bears for the previous three seasons, lost a fumble and threw an interception. Vincent Jackson also lost a fumble at the end of a 24-yard reception that would have resulted in a first-and-goal.
Each of Forte’s touchdowns came after a Buccaneers turnover. McCown also threw an interception in the first quarter that ended another promising drive.
Forte had 23 carries for 89 yards as Chicago won consecutive games for the first time since September. Cutler was 17 for 27 for 130 yards.
McCown was 25 for 48 for 341 yards for Tampa Bay, which has dropped six of seven. Rookie Mike Evans had a touchdown reception for the fourth consecutive game, and Jackson had five catches for 117 yards.
The Buccaneers, who were coming off a 27-7 win at Washington, managed just 156 yards and six first downs in the second half after getting off to a fast start on a warm, rainy day in Chicago.
Smith was let go by the Bears after they failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season in 2012 despite a 10-6 record. He was 81-63 in his first stint as a head coach in the NFL.
Most of Smith’s tenure in Chicago featured a stout defense and an ineffective offense, and general manager Phil Emery replaced him with a coach with an offensive background when he hired Marc Trestman last January. It has been a rocky start so far for Trestman, and Smith’s return seemed to increase the pressure on the former CFL coach with Montreal.
It got even worse for Trestman when Tampa Bay controlled most of the first half, with the lowly Buccaneers playing like some of Smith’s winning teams in Chicago.
Gerald McCoy knocked the ball loose when he had a big hit on Cutler in the first quarter and Clinton McDonald recovered for the Buccaneers. McCown then capped a six-play, 46-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Evans for a 7-0 lead.
Tampa Bay scored again right before halftime, making it 10-0 on rookie Patrick Murray’s 32-yard field goal. Louis Murphy helped set up Murray’s 12th field goal with a 54-yard reception when he spun out of a tackle attempt by Tim Jennings, and Jackson had a 27-yard grab on a third-and-23 on the drive.
The crowd of 54,706 booed as the Bears ran off the field after they had just three first downs and 68 yards of offense in the first half. Forte had 16 yards rushing at the break.
Lions 9, Patriots 34
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady marched the New England Patriots up and down the field where they rarely lose, and they dominated the stingiest defense in the NFL.
Brady threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns in a pass-heavy offense against the league’s top run defense and the Patriots stretched their winning streak to seven games with a 34-9 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Patriots led 24-6 at halftime as Brady repeatedly found wide-open receivers while the Lions struggled on offense again. For the second straight game, Detroit failed to score a touchdown.
New England (9-2) routed a division leader for the third straight week, following wins over Denver and Indianapolis, and improved to 44-3 in their last 47 regular-season home games.
Detroit (7-4) lost for the second straight week against a conference leader. It fell to Arizona 14-6 a week earlier.
The Patriots, the NFL’s highest-scoring team going in, showed once again they could do whatever it takes to exploit a defense.
In the 42-20 win over the Colts, they stuck with the running game as Jonas Gray rushed 37 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns. After being sent home from Friday’s practice for reporting late, he didn’t play at all on Sunday. The Patriots ran more in the fourth quarter, culminating with LeGarrette Blount’s second touchdown, a 1-yarder just three days after signing following his release by Pittsburgh.
The Lions bore little resemblance to the team that had allowed the fewest points in the NFL. They had given up just 68.6 yards rushing per game, so Brady threw frequently — and quickly to avoid the rush.
He finished with 38 completions in 53 attempts with one interception, with Julian Edelman catching 11 passes.
The Lions managed just three field goals by Matt Prater as quarterback Matthew Stafford struggled. He completed 18 of 46 passes for264 yards and one interception while the Patriots shut down his two star receivers. Golden Tate had just four catches after entering the game third in the NFL with 68. And Calvin Johnson was held to four receptions for 58 yards.
Special teams gave the Patriots a huge boost in the first half when Ryan Allen boomed a 66-yard punt and Danny Amendola returned a kickoff 81 yards.
Detroit lost 6 yards on the series after the punt. Then, New England took a 7-3 lead on the next possession on Brady’s 4-yard pass to Tim Wright.
The Lions came back to get a first-and-goal at the 3 but managed just a 20-yard field goal by Prater.
Amendola’s long return on the subsequent kickoff set the Patriots up at the Detroit 22. And when they also got a first-and-goal at the 3, they took full advantage on the next play with a touchdown run by Blount less than a minute after Prater’s field goal.
Even when Detroit put New England in poor field position, a punt by Sam Martin that went out of bounds at the 7, the Patriots couldn’t be stopped. They marched 93 yards, scoring on an 8-yard pass from Brady to Wright for a 21-6 lead.
And when Prater’s 53-yard field-goal attempt went wide to the left with 35 seconds left in the half, consecutive completions to Rob Gronkowski of 24 and 23 yards set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal for a 24-6 halftime lead.
Packers 24, Vikings 21
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Aaron Rodgers gave the Green Bay Packers his usual confident, accurate, productive game.
The biggest lift, powerful carry after powerful carry, came from Eddie Lacy.
Lacy had 125 yards on 25 rushes, both season highs to help Rodgers and the Packers hang on for a 24-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Lacy scored twice, on a run in the first quarter and a catch in the fourth quarter. Then he rumbled through the line for two first downs to drain the clock after the Vikings (4-7) cut the lead to three with 3:23 remaining.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and again avoided a turnover for the Packers (8-3), who stayed out of a potential trap against a struggling team with a game next week against surging New England. They also moved past Detroit into sole possession of first place in the NFC North when the Lions lost to the Patriots.
Green Bay beat Philadelphia 53-20 and Chicago 55-14 the last two games.
Rodgers engineered an 87-yard, 11-play drive he finished on a shovel pass to Lacy for a 10-yard score to give Green Bay a 24-13 lead with 8:34 left. Rodgers kept that moving with an 18-yard scramble on third-and-6, another reminder for the Vikings of how difficult he is to defend.
Charles Johnson and Greg Jennings caught touchdown passes from Teddy Bridgewater, who finished 21 for 37 for 210 yards and an interception. He ran for 32 yards on five attempts, too, but far too many of his passes were off the mark. Bridgewater hit Jennings on a crossing pattern and Johnson on the same play for the 2-point conversion, but even if the Vikings had been able to contain Lacy and force a punt there would have been little time for them to come back.
The Packers improved to 14-4-1 with five season sweeps against the Vikings under coach Mike McCarthy, including 9-1-1 in the last 11 games. Rodgers has 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 14 career starts.
The Packers put up halftime scores the last two weeks found more often in video games, 30-6 over the Eagles and 42-0 against the Bears, so the Vikings had to be satisfied with a 14-10 deficit and the ball to start the third quarter. Despite all the overthrows by Bridgewater, he had only 5 fewer yards passing than Rodgers in the first half.
The reality for the Vikings, though, was that with better quarterback play they probably would have had a comfortable lead by that point. Bridgewater, for all the poise he has shown, remains a rookie who has yet to prove he can be consistently accurate enough to win.
His receivers were open plenty, more than the Packers were for Rodgers, and Bridgewater made a timely count by hitting Johnson in stride in the back of the end zone from 22 yards out to tie the game at 7 early in the second quarter.
Bridgewater tried to go to Jennings on first down on the next drive, but the ball sailed again into traffic where Micah Hyde made a leaping interception before landing hard on his back at his own 47. Rodgers needed only four plays to put the Packers back in the end zone. He rolled to his right and heaved a high-arching throw across the entire width of the field to tight end Richard Rodgers standing alone in the far corner.
Vikings cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Robinson and Xavier Rhodes covered the Packers well, holding Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson each under 100 yards for the fourth time this season. They did that at Lambeau Field in their earlier matchup, too.
This was the first time these rivals played outside in Minnesota since 1981, with the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium temporarily after 32 seasons at the Metrodome. The weather, 49 degrees at kickoff, was a nonfactor. The hordes of green-clad fans provided the Packers plenty of support.
Cardinals 3, Seahawks 19
SEATTLE (AP) — Russell Wilson found backup tight end Cooper Helfet for a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the third quarter, Steven Hauschka kicked four field goals and the Seattle Seahawks handed the Arizona Cardinals their second loss of the season, 19-3 on Sunday.
Wilson was sacked a season-high seven times by Arizona’s ultra-aggressive defense and the assortment of blitzes they called to confuse and fluster the Seahawks quarterback. But when Seattle (7-4) needed a scoring drive, after squandering advantageous field position throughout the game, Wilson delivered.
The victory was a must for Seattle if it had any hopes of getting back into the division race. The Seahawks entered the day trailing Arizona (9-2) by three games in the NFC West.
Wilson finished 17 of 22 for 211 yards and added 73 yards rushing. He was at his best on the lone touchdown drive going 6 of 6 for 70 yards as Seattle moved the pocket and made him less vulnerable to the Arizona rush. He escaped the arms of Lorenzo Alexander for a possible sack and found Marshawn Lynch open for 23 yards. Wilson also ran for 15 yards on third-and-11 to get Seattle inside the Arizona 20.
Helping out Wilson was Seattle’s defense that was finally healthy with the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Arizona was held to a season-low 204 total yards. A week after throwing for a career-high 306 yards, Drew Stanton was 14 of 26 for 149 and one interception.
Stanton was minus a weapon with Larry Fitzgerald inactive due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and wasn’t helped when Jaron Brown dropped a touchdown late in the first half.
Fitzgerald sat for the first time in 110 games and for just the fifth time in his career due to the knee injury suffered last week against Detroit. John Brown continued his stellar rookie season with three catches for 61 yards, but Michael Floyd was shut out, defended much of the game by Richard Sherman.
Arizona saw its six-game win streak snapped.
Rams 24, Chargers 27
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The St. Louis Rams were 4 yards away from another upset.
Journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill dropped back to pass and Kenny Britt flashed across the middle.
Strong safety Marcus Gilchrist swooped in and it was game over.
Gilchrist intercepted journeyman Shaun Hill at the goal line with 56 seconds left to preserve the Chargers’ 27-24 victory against the Rams that helped tighten the AFC West race.
Gilchrist jumped the route as Hill tried to force a pass to Kenny Britt, who also was covered by Shareece Wright, on second-and-goal from the 4.
Hill had beaten Gilchrist on a 7-yard TD pass to Stedman Bailey with 2:04 left that pulled the Rams within three points.
St. Louis got the ball back at the Chargers 40 after a long punt return by Tavon Austin and a 27-yard pass from Hill to Britt gave the Rams the ball at the 6. Benny Cunningham gained 2 yards before Hill was intercepted.
The Rams (4-7) were trying for consecutive wins for the first time this season, having upset Denver a week earlier.
Ryan Mathews had a 32-yard touchdown run and linebacker Andrew Gachkar scored on a 13-yard fumble recovery 21 seconds later for the Chargers (7-4).
Philip Rivers shook off a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins and threw a 29-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Keenan Allen, who earlier had two turnovers.
The Chargers’ third-quarter outburst started when Mathews took a delayed handoff and picked his way up the middle to cap their first possession of the second half for a 13-10 lead. It was his first touchdown since opening night. Mathews sprained his right knee in Week 2 and missed the next seven games.
On the second play of the ensuing Rams drive, Chargers end Corey Liuget hit Hill as he was trying to pass, knocking the ball loose. Gachkar alertly swooped in, picked up the ball and scored for a 20-10 lead.
The Rams benefited from a fumbled punt when Chargers returners Allen and Chris Davis collided after Allen called for a fair catch, with Alex Bayer recovering. Tavon Austin scored on a 6-yard score on an end-around to pull the Rams to 20-17.
Allen then fumbled after a reception and long run, with St. Louis’ Rodney McLeod recovering.
Allen caught a screen pass from Rivers and picked his way through the defense to give San Diego a 27-17 lead with 8:09 to play.
Rivers was playing a week after teammate Antonio Gates revealed the QB had “a very severe rib injury” that coach Mike McCoy later denied.
The Chargers had a third-and-goal from the Rams 8 early in the second quarter when Jenkins outmuscled Allen for the ball and outraced everyone down the field to give the Rams a 10-3 lead.
The Rams blew the chance to score 10 more points in the half as Greg Zuerlein’s 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Darrell Stuckey, and a 51-yard TD pass from Hill to Britt was negated by a facemask penalty against left tackle Greg Robinson.
The Rams had to punt and the Chargers had enough time to move downfield for a 48-yard field goal by Nick Novak to pull to 10-6 at halftime.
Dolphins 36, Broncos 39
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Broncos’ much maligned offensive line broke their silence last week. They made an earsplitting statement Sunday.
Behind blockers angry over being scapegoated for the team’s myriad problems, the Broncos found the balance, ground game and pocket of protection that had eluded them during their recent slide.
Capitalizing on this newfound nastiness, Peyton Manning threw four TD passes, including three to Demaryius Thomas, and C.J. Anderson ran for 167 yards and the go-ahead score in Denver’s 39-36 win over Miami on Sunday.
With perfect balance — 35 runs and 35 throws — the Broncos (8-3) overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to stay atop the highly competitive AFC West.
They put the hurt on the Dolphins to the tune of 201 yards, but the Broncos’ first lead didn’t come until Anderson’s 6-yard run up the middle with 5:01 left put Denver ahead 32-28.
Then, Ryan Tannehill’s pass skipped off Jarvis Landry’s left hand to T.J. Ward, whose 37-yard return set up Wes Welker’s insurance TD catch.
The Broncos needed it after Tannehill drove the Dolphins (6-5) on another scoring drive, hitting Landry from a yard out with 1:34 left. Lamar Miller’s 2-point dive made it a three-point game.
The Dolphins’ onside kick was recovered by — who else? — Anderson, who sealed the game with a 26-yard run that could have been longer had he not slid so the Broncos could get in victory formation.
Manning became the third player in NFL history with touchdown passes in 50 consecutive games, joining Drew Brees (54) and Tom Brady (52). He threw for 257 yards on 28-of-35 passing.
Emmanuel Sanders led the way with nine catches for 125 yards, and Thomas finished with 10 catches for 87 yards, failing to match Calvin “Megatron” Johnson’s NFL record of eight straight 100-yard games.
His consolation was three touchdowns.
Tannehill (26 of 36 for 227 yards with three TDs) kept the Dolphins a step ahead much of the afternoon.
Redskins 13, 49ers 17
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Anquan Boldin knew it would take one big play by San Francisco’s offense, and he delivered it — along with a helmet-cracking hit that left his defender down.
Boldin has been speaking for weeks about this one-game season, and boy did the 49ers need this win against lowly Washington to keep their playoff hopes alive. No matter how they got it done.
Carlos Hyde ran for a go-ahead 4-yard touchdown with 2:59 remaining after Boldin’s big gain, and San Francisco barely squeaked by the Redskins with a 17-13 win Sunday that kept them in the thick of the playoff chase.
San Francisco’s first-team offense that had failed to convert a fourth-quarter touchdown all season finally did so when the 49ers’ playoff hopes depended on it.
A fourth-down conversion in their own territory away from losing, the Niners finally capitalized with a rare TD in the final period on the way to their third straight victory.
San Francisco (7-4) overcame three turnovers.
Washington coach Jay Gruden won a challenge with 5:36 left that Vernon Davis hadn’t made a first down. San Francisco went for it and Frank Gore converted the fourth-and-1. On the next play, Colin Kaepernick hit Boldin for a 29-yard gain and safety Ryan Clark was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for his hit on Boldin.
As the play developed, Boldin just reminded himself “catch the ball and protect yourself.”
Boldin made a 10-yard reception two plays later, leading to Hyde’s score — the first TD by San Francisco’s first-team offense in the fourth quarter this season.
Kaepernick threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Boldin on San Francisco’s initial series but did little else offensively to break open what was expected to be a lopsided game. San Francisco was a nine-point favorite in the opening betting line.
Boldin, who caught a pair of touchdown passes in a win at Washington last November, finished with nine catches for a season-high 137 yards.
Now, the Niners have a quick turnaround before facing the rival and defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks (7-4) at home Thursday night. Seattle won at home against Arizona on Sunday.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh planned to get back to work right away preparing.
Kai Forbath kicked a 46-yard field goal with 7:42 to go that put Washington ahead. Alfred Morris ran for a season-best 125 yards and a 1-yard touchdown for the Redskins (3-8), who lost their third in a row and fourth straight to the 49ers.
Gruden didn’t appreciate quarterback Robert Griffin III’s comments he considered critical of teammates in the wake of a 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay, but everybody seemed to move forward from the franchise turmoil.
These up-and-down 49ers struggled to put away a losing team at home. Again. They already lost to St. Louis at new $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium in their last home game, 13-10 on Nov. 2.
Gore fumbled with just more than 10 minutes left and Phillip Thomas recovered to give the Redskins first and 10 at the 49ers’ 37.
The Niners seemed to have gained some nice momentum from road wins at New Orleans and at the Giants the past two weeks only to nearly squander it with sloppy play.
Hyde redeemed himself with the late TD after fumbling the first play of the second quarter. Kaepernick also threw an interception as Washington’s Greg Ducre made his first pick midway through the third quarter.
Forbath kicked a tying 27-yard field goal in the final minute of the third quarter. The Redskins got a big break on that scoring drive.
Griffin got sacked and rookie Aaron Lynch was flagged for roughing the passer for a helmet-to-helmet hit. That gave Washington first down on the 49ers’ 16 and set up Forbath’s field goal.
Aldon Smith exploited Washington rookie left tackle Morgan Moses and sacked Griffin III twice. San Francisco had five total sacks after getting six against him in a win last November.
Cowboys 31, Giants 28
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — For awesomeness, Odell Beckham Jr.’s catch couldn’t be topped.
For timely rallies, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant trumped it.
The Cowboys momentarily might have been in awe of Beckham’s one-handed stab as he fell backward into the end zone while he was interfered with by cornerback Brandon Carr. When it came to making the critical plays to beat the New York Giants on Sunday night, though, Dallas had all it needed in Romo and Bryant.
Romo threw two touchdown passes to Bryant, the winner from 13 yards with 1:01 remaining, lifting the Cowboys to a comeback 31-28 victory.
Romo could have written a book on winning drives while staging this one; he never was pressured in leading the Cowboys 80 yards to the winning score.
Romo threw for two TDs in the third quarter and Barry Church’s interception helped turn things in the Cowboys’ favor. But the Giants (3-8), trailing 24-21, staged a 93-yard drive capped by Adrien Robinson’s first career TD catch. That 1-yard score with 3 minutes remaining could have snapped New York’s slide that now is at six losses.
Back came Dallas (8-3). Romo found Bryant in the back of the end zone to win it, setting up an NFC East showdown with Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day for first place.
Dallas, which was treated to chants of “Let’s Go Cowboys!” in the second half from hundreds of fans in Cowboys garb, is 5-0 on the road. New York was eliminated from division contention.
Thanks to Beckham’s incredible one-handed catch, one of the rookie’s two first-half touchdowns, New York built a 21-10 halftime lead.
But Romo hit Cole Beasley with a short pass that he turned into a 45-yard score, and the quarterback’s 31-yarder to an uncovered Bryant put Dallas on top for the first time.
Beckham left briefly in the fourth quarter with a back problem, but returned for the next series. He finished with 10 receptions for 146 yards.
League rushing leader DeMarco Murray managed his 10th 100-yard game this season with 121 on 24 carries for Dallas.
The Cowboys didn’t get much going after falling behind 21-10 until reserve receiver Beasley took a short pass, eluded a tackle by Zack Bowman and sped untouched to the end zone midway in the third quarter.
When Manning overthrew a wide-open Preston Parker deep in Dallas territory, Church ran back the interception 45 yards. Four plays later, Romo hit an open Bryant and he squeezed into the end zone for the Cowboys’ first lead.
Beckham’s right-handed stab of Manning’s 43-yard rainbow pass could be the catch of the year. The rookie, who regularly practices such receptions, outreached Carr at the goal line and tumbled backward into the end zone to make it 14-3.
Beckham wants there to be plenty more of those. That catch already was dominating highlight reels by halftime and was his second TD of the game. The 80-yard drive to Beckham’s first touchdown marked the second straight week the Giants got into the end zone on their opening possession after going 20 games without doing so.
Dallas’ offense hardly sat still following Beckham’s one-hander. Romo guided the Cowboys 77 yards and used a shovel pass to Jason Witten — yes, the tight end used two hands — from the 4 immediately after Beckham’s stunner.
So the kid from LSU went right back to overwhelming the Cowboys. He made three catches for 32 yards on New York’s next series, including a spin move that would make a figure skater proud. Andre Williams concluded that 80-yard march with a 3-yard run for a 21-10 lead.
In the first half alone, Beckham had eight catches for 125 yards, while Manning went 14 of 16 for 191 yards. But the second half belonged to Dallas.
NOTES: Manning threw five interceptions last week in a loss to San Francisco, but Church’s pick was the only one Sunday night. He finished 29 for 40 for 338 yards. … Murray has rushed for 1,354 yards. … Romo was 18 of 26 for 275 yards and never appeared bothered by back problems that sidelined him for one of the Cowboys’ defeats this year.
Jets 3, Bills 38 @ Detroit
DETROIT (AP) — Scott Chandler capped an emotionally draining week with a celebration for the folks back home in Buffalo.
After catching a touchdown pass shortly before halftime, he began mimicking a shoveling motion, a nod to Bills fans who have spent the last few days digging out of several feet of snow.
“It was a little bit of a tribute to the people of Buffalo,” Chandler said. “You want to do something special for our fans. They did a great job showing up for us tonight, and for the people back there, we’re behind you.”
After a week of frightening weather and an abbreviated practice schedule, Buffalo played one of its best games of the season in a 38-3 victory over the New York Jets on Monday night. Kyle Orton threw two touchdown passes, and the Bills also had a key play on specials teams in the runaway win.
Heavy snow in the Buffalo area moved the game to Detroit, but there were plenty of Bills fans in attendance at Ford Field. Buffalo (6-5) couldn’t even practice before arriving in Michigan on Friday, but it was the Jets (2-9) who looked out of sorts all night.
Orton threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods in the first quarter, and the second-year receiver’s one-handed catch set up another touchdown in the second. Chandler caught a 19-yard scoring pass from Orton to make it 14-3 late in the half.
Chandler needed a snowmobile to get out of his neighborhood before the team traveled to the Detroit area, and the Bills faced logistical issues for several days. Tickets to the game were given out for free, and although Ford Field wasn’t quite full, the crowd of 56,044 created a decent atmosphere in prime time.
“Our fans are phenomenal,” Buffalo coach Doug Marrone said. “When I first came out there, you don’t know what to expect. … Obviously, you get concerned whether is it going to be a home field or things like that, or be ready for a silent count. Then all of a sudden when I came out and looked to the right, and I saw all of those blue jerseys, I was like, ‘Holy cow, baby. Here we go. We’ve got the crowd.'”
And that familiar Bills version of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” was played periodically over the loudspeakers.
Woods made a nice twisting catch in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown, and his one-handed grab was even more impressive. It wasn’t on the same level as Odell Beckham Jr.’s touchdown the previous night for the New York Giants, but Woods was able to secure a 27-yard pass along the sideline with his right hand, helping set up Chandler’s TD.
Woods caught nine passes for a career-high 118 yards.
“It was a busy week, sitting in the house wondering if we were even going to play a game, if we were even going to practice for a game,” Woods said. “Getting stuck in the house it doesn’t seem likely, but the people of Buffalo made it happen. They cleared the roads for us, for some of the players to get out. This win was really for them, the city of Buffalo.”
Buffalo broke the game open in the third with 17 points. Boobie Dixon blocked a punt and Manny Lawson recovered it in the end zone, and Fred Jackson added a 5-yard touchdown run.
Michael Vick went 7 of 19 for 76 yards for the Jets before being replaced by Geno Smith in the third quarter. The Jets missed a great chance at the end of the first half, when the Bills inexplicably let Eric Decker slip behind the defense with only a few seconds left, and Vick’s pass sailed inches beyond the receiver’s grasp.
New York’s night was summed up in the second half when Buffalo linebacker Nigel Bradham dragged Jets running back Chris Ivory to the ground by his hair.
“That was a horrible performance,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “We didn’t block, we didn’t tackle, we didn’t do anything.” Ryan went 20-12 in his first two years with the Jets, but they have not had a winning season since 2010.
Buffalo, which has not made the playoffs since the 1999 season, is a game out of a wild card in the AFC.
Orton went 24 of 32 for 230 yards. Dixon’s 30-yard run in the fourth made it 38-3.
The Bills came in with an NFL-high 39 sacks, and they added seven more Monday, including two each by Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes. It was Buffalo’s most lopsided victory over the Jets since a 37-0 win Dec. 23, 1989.
Ravens 34, Saints 27
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With a stutter step and shoulder fake to his right, Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett seemed to throw New Orleans’ defense off balance for a moment.
That was all he needed to burst through a hole to his left and sprint 20 yards untouched for a game-sealing touchdown.
Forsett rushed for a career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns, and Baltimore beat New Orleans 34-27 on Monday night to hand the Saints their third consecutive loss.
Will Hill had a 44-yard interception return for a go-ahead score in the third quarter. Steve Smith caught four passes for 89 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown, and the Ravens (7-4) stayed within a half-game of AFC North leader Cincinnati (7-3-1).
Forsett, whose 5.4 yards per carry coming into the game led all NFL running backs, averaged 8.3 yards per rush. His first scoring run went for 13 yards in the second quarter. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who passed for 243 yards and a touchdown.
Drew Brees passed for 420 yards and three touchdowns for New Orleans (4-7), which remained tied for first in its anemic division with Atlanta, a loser against Cleveland a day earlier. Now, the Saints and Falcons have the dubious distinction of being the first teams in NFL history to occupy first place in a division while three games under .500.
Jimmy Graham had two TD catches for the Saints, who had won 14 straight home night games.
Brees was sacked four times, and his pivotal interception came as he threw under pressure from Terrell Suggs. The pass was behind Graham, allowing Hill to snag it with nothing but open field in front of him. The play broke a 17-all tie, and New Orleans never recovered.
By the end of the game, the chants of “Who-Dat,” for which Saints fans are known were replaced by the opening riff to the White Stripes song, “Seven Nation Army,” which Ravens fans also sang in the Superdome after their 2013 Super Bowl triumph over San Francisco.
The Saints carried a 17-14 lead into halftime on Brees’ 26-yard scoring pass to Marques Colston, who brought it in while leaping between two defensive backs.
Smith, a Saints nemesis during 13 seasons in Carolina, gave New Orleans fits again. His first-down catch in the third quarter precipitated a scuffle for which Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro was assessed a personal foul.
Baltimore’s Elvis Dumervil had two sacks, and Suggs and C.J. Mosley each had one. With that Sack, Suggs has 100 for his career.
Brees’ first scoring pass went for 10 yards to Graham. Brees also hit Graham for a 2-yard score with 40 seconds left, but an ensuing onside kick failed.
The Saints were in position to take an early lead after Joe Morgan’s 67-yard run on an end around. It took defensive back Lardarius Webb’s horse-collar tackle at the 2 to prevent Morgan from scoring.
The play gave New Orleans first-and-goal on the 1, but the Ravens stopped two runs by Mark Ingram and a scramble by Brees before stuffing Ingram again on fourth-and-goal.
Forsett then broke loose for a 38-yard gain to start a drive that culminated with Smith’s touchdown catch as he crashed down backward at the left edge of the end zone.
That gave Smith 11 career touchdown catches against New Orleans, more than he has against any other team. Baltimore improved to 4-0 against the NFC South & Baltimore finished with 215 yards rushing.