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Here is a recap of Week 14 of the 2014 NFL Season with Tuesday Afternoon QB. Thanks again to the AP Sports/Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Cowboys 41, Bears 28
CHICAGO (AP) — Tony Romo didn’t need much time to turn his attention toward next week’s showdown. He was planning to do that on the flight home.
“I’ll probably start on Philly tonight on the way back when we’re on the plane,” Romo said after the Dallas Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 41-28 on Thursday night.
DeMarco Murray ran for a season-high 179 yards and a touchdown and Romo threw for three scores to lead Dallas past the Bears.
The Cowboys (9-4) made it look easy for most of the night against a struggling team that lost star receiver Brandon Marshall to a rib injury. Dallas clinched its first winning season since 2009 and guaranteed it will finish above .500 after three straight 8-8 finishes. But the Cowboys are looking for more, with an NFC East title and first playoff appearance in five years in sight.
Led by Romo and Murray, Dallas rebounded from a blowout loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving and pulled within a half-game of them with another showdown in Philadelphia next week.
The Cowboys took a 14-7 halftime lead and scored 21 consecutive points in the third quarter before the Bears (5-8) rallied in the fourth.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to a league-best 6-0 on the road, where they have won seven straight since a blowout loss at Soldier Field on a bone-chilling night last December.
Here are some things we learned in this game:
TUNING UP: Romo, who has been bothered by a bad back, rebounded from a rough game against Philadelphia, completing 21 of 26 passes for 205 yards. He was patient, consistently checked down and posted a 138 rating for the game.
Having the league’s leading rusher doesn’t hurt him.
Murray carried 32 times. He also had 49 yards receiving on nine catches.
RUNNING NOWHERE: The Bears vowed to be more balanced on offense after running eight times for 13 yards a week earlier in a loss at Detroit.
They made more of an effort this time but didn’t get anywhere, running 15 times for 35 yards.
Matt Forte had 13 carries for 26 yards after tying a career low with five rushes against the Lions. The rest came from Jay Cutler, who ran two times for nine yards.
Panthers 41, Saints 10
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton drew a personal foul for shoving Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and didn’t regret it.
New Orleans’ defensive captain may have succeeded in standing up to behavior he viewed as disrespectful. As for stopping Newton and the Panthers from piling up yards and points, there didn’t seem to be much Lofton or any of his teammates could do.
Newton passed for three touchdowns, appeared to incite a scuffle when he dived over the pile for another score, and Carolina ended a six-game skid with a 41-10 rout of the Saints on Sunday.
“We were embarrassed,” Lofton said. “We apologize to our fans and coaches.
“It was bad, bad football today,” he added.
Jonathan Stewart added a 69-yard touchdown run as the Panthers (4-8-1) pulled closer to NFC South leader Atlanta (5-7), which plays at Green Bay on Monday night.
Newton’s jawing and “Superman” celebration after his 2-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter drew Lofton’s shove, igniting a scrum that burst through a closed gate behind the goal post and into a tunnel.
Newton chalked up the extracurricular roughness to nothing more than “a lot of testosterone on that field at one time.”
Panthers tight end Brandon Williams was ejected for punching defensive end Cam Jordan. Although Lofton was flagged, he was allowed to stay in the game and said he’d respond to Newton’s actions the same way “100 times out of 100.”
Newton’s scoring passes went for 9 yards to Kelvin Benjamin, 16 yards to tight end Greg Olsen and 26 yards to running back Fozzy Whitaker.
New Orleans (5-8) lost its fourth straight home game and dropped a half-game behind Atlanta.
Saints coach Sean Payton called the loss “embarrassing,” and emphasized that he’ll be eager to review the coaches’ film of the game.
The Saints turned the ball over on two of their first three offensive plays. Mark Ingram’s fumble on the New Orleans 25 — forced by Josh Norman and recovered by Colin Cole — led to a field goal. Bene Benwikere’s interception of Drew Brees led to Newton’s rushing TD.
The Panthers, who entered with a league-low 30 first-quarter points all season, scored 17 points inside the first nine minutes.
Brees was 29 of 49 for 235 yards and one late TD to tight end Ben Watson. Afterward, Brees said the Saints haven’t responded well to adversity this season.
Newton was 21 of 33 for 226 yards, was not sacked and was not intercepted. Newton also rushed for 83 yards, but downplayed the part he played in those gains, saying the Saints left him wide open rushing lanes.
Stewart finished with 155 yards rushing on 20 carries as the Panthers piled up 271 yards on the ground.
The Panthers’ points total was their highest of the season, surpassing the 37 they scored in an overtime tie at Cincinnati.
Carolina’s 497 total yards also were easily a season high, albeit against a Saints defense that entered the game ranked second-to-last in the NFL.
Carolina scored on its opening possession for only the second time all season, driving 80 yards on seven plays, capped by Benjamin’s touchdown.
Olsen’s TD gave the Panthers a 24-3 lead that stood at halftime. Boos rained down on the Saints as they trotted to the locker room, and again when they began the second half by punting after three plays.
When Whittaker turned a screen pass into a touchdown to make it 38-3 with a little more than five minutes left in the third quarter, much of the Superdome emptied out.
Rams 24, Redskins 0
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — On a day in which the St. Louis Rams finished off their first back-to-back set of shutouts since 1945 — and made a not-so-subtle statement about getting the better of the Robert Griffin III trade — they again sent a message that’s bigger than football.
Several Rams players wrote the words “I Can’t Breathe” on their equipment Sunday, displaying the message before and during a 24-0 win over the Washington Redskins.
“I feel like we should support what we feel is right,” said guard Davin Joseph, who had the words on his cleats during the pregame warmup.
Some were among the group that performed a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” show of solidarity — and were criticized for their activism — before a home game a week earlier in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indictment the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The “I Can’t Breathe” message references Eric Garner, who died at the hands of a New York police officer in a case that also did not get an indictment from a grand jury.
“Every life in this world is worth something, and when you lose one, it hurts, no matter who it is,” Joseph said.
As football players, the Rams are doing a good job separating their protests from the work they’re doing between the white lines, taking advantage of a plummeting franchise for the second straight week. They routed the Oakland Raiders 52-0 a week earlier and now stand at 6-7, a decent showing for a season that could have fallen apart after Sam Bradford’s knee injury in August.
The Rams hadn’t blanked two opponents in a row in 69 years, since the Cleveland Rams beat the Chicago Cardinals 21-0 and the Chicago Bears 17-0.
“1945? We’re about to shut out three!” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “When’s the last time we shut out three?”
That would be never. Brockers will get a chance to back up the guarantee at home against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.
Brockers also proclaimed a boastful victory in the RG3 trade. He was one of six Rams in Sunday’s game — all of whom took part in the coin toss — who were part of St. Louis’ three-year haul stemming from the mega-deal that allowed the Redskins to select Griffin at No. 2 overall in the 2012 draft.
“I will always be remembered as (being a part of) that blockbuster trade,” Brockers said. “And, you know, the Rams won. The Rams won that one.”
Griffin was benched two weeks ago by coach Jay Gruden, but he made an appearance Sunday in the final two minutes after starter Colt McCoy suffered a sprained neck while getting sacked for the sixth time. McCoy was taken to a hospital for X-rays.
Griffin was sacked once during his brief appearance, making the Rams’ total seven for the game and 29 in their last six games. St. Louis limited Washington to 206 total yards. Jared Cook caught a pair of touchdown passes, and Tavon Austin returned a punt 78 yards for a score.
The Redskins (3-10) dropped their fifth straight and clinched their fifth double-digit loss season in six years as they head into another December of turmoil that will focus on the futures of coaches and quarterbacks. The offense was booed again in a half-empty stadium.
McCoy completed 20 of 32 passes for 199 yards with two interceptions. He’s been sacked 12 times in two weeks. Gruden said he’ll have to learn more about McCoy’s neck injury before deciding on a starter for next week.
The Redskins played without their principle downfield threat, DeSean Jackson, who sat out with a bruised left shin after not practicing all week. Alfred Morris rushed for a meager six yards on eight carries.
“It’s just the same story — different Sunday,” Washington nose tackle Chris Baker said.
NOTES: The Rams from the Griffin trade who played were Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, Greg Robinson, Stedman Bailey and Zac Stacy.
Bucs 17, Lions 34
DETROIT (AP) — Not even the mediocre NFC South can keep the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in playoff contention any longer.
The Bucs were officially eliminated Sunday when they lost 34-17 to the Detroit Lions. Tampa Bay turned the ball over three times in the second quarter of a game it never led.
Tampa Bay (2-11) lost eight of its first nine games this season, but the Bucs were only three games out of first place heading into Sunday’s matchup.
Mike Evans caught two touchdown passes, but Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown was under pressure all day, and the Bucs managed only 26 yards rushing against Detroit’s stout defensive front.
Matthew Stafford threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns for the Lions — including one off a fluky deflection late in the game. Detroit (9-4) trails first-place Green Bay by a half-game in the NFC North, with the Packers hosting Atlanta on Monday night.
Calvin Johnson had eight catches for 158 yards and a touchdown for the Lions, who snapped a nine-game losing streak in December.
Stafford went 26 of 34 without an interception, and he and Johnson seem to be clicking again at the right time. The Detroit quarterback was also a bit fortunate on his fourth-quarter scoring pass to Joique Bell.
Stafford had a pass bounce off someone at the line of scrimmage — Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy was in the area — and it bounced back toward Bell, who alertly grabbed it out of midair and ran into the end zone for the game’s final score.
Detroit opened the scoring on Stafford’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, and Patrick Murray answered with a 54-yard field goal for the Bucs.
The Bucs’ first turnover came when McCown’s pass deflected off Evans and was picked off by a sliding Glover Quin, who reached out with his left hand to secure the ball at the Tampa Bay 34. Bell’s 1-yard scoring run made it 14-3.
A fumble on a snap gave the Lions the ball at the Tampa Bay 32 moments later, and Detroit managed a field goal off that turnover.
Late in the half, the Bucs caught a break after McCown’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by James Ihedigbo. The Detroit safety tried to run the ball out, but he ended up fumbling it back to Tampa Bay.
The Bucs took over at the Detroit 10 and scored a touchdown with 5 seconds left on McCown’s 5-yard pass to Evans.
Stafford threw a 53-yard pass to Johnson to set up a third-quarter field goal, and his 10-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Fauria made it 27-10.
Evans caught a 26-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth, using one arm to secure the ball in the back of the end zone. Bell broke free for a 57-yard run in the final minutes. That helped set up his 5-yard touchdown catch off the bizarre deflection. McCown went 20 of 39 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Vincent Jackson caught 10 passes for 159 yards for Tampa Bay.
Colts 25, Browns 24
CLEVELAND (AP) — Andrew Luck was indecisive, unsteady and inaccurate. For 57 minutes, he looked nothing like a franchise quarterback or one of the NFL’s biggest stars.
Given a final chance by the Browns, Luck redeemed himself and rescued the Colts.
Bottled up all afternoon by Cleveland’s swarming defense, Luck threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton with 32 seconds left, rallying Indianapolis to a 25-24 win on Sunday.
Luck had helped the Browns build a 14-point lead with his fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, and by throwing an interception returned by rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert for a TD. Starting at his own 10 with 3:46 left, Luck took the Colts (9-4) on an 11-play, 90-yard drive.
Before Luck, who threw two picks and was sacked three times, connected on his second TD pass to Hilton, Herron picked up 2 yards on a critical fourth down to keep the drive going.
Luck finished with 294 yards passing, picking up 208 in the second half. He has 12,501 yards for his career, surpassing Peyton Manning’s mark for the first three seasons.
The Browns (7-6) got two defensive TDs, but Cleveland’s offense, led by struggling quarterback Brian Hoyer, couldn’t do enough to keep the team’s playoff hopes from fading. The Browns picked up only three first-downs after halftime and missed a chance to host Cincinnati next week with the AFC North lead on the line.
Hoyer’s hold on his starting job over rookie Johnny Manziel has never been more tenuous. He completed 14 of 31 passes for 140 yards and threw two interceptions, a performance that did nothing to solidify Hoyer’s standing on the depth chart. Pettine said he did not consider switching to Manziel during the game like he did last week in Buffalo, but would not commit to Hoyer for next week.
Down 24-19 and time running out, Luck completed a 27-yard pass to rookie Donte Moncrief on third down, and the Colts got 35 yards when Browns cornerback Buster Skrine was called for interference on the next play.
Herron, though, made the drive’s biggest play. On fourth down at the 3, he ran right and was initially stopped at the line. But Herron spun away from the pile and cut inside safety Donte Whitner for the first down.
Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals for Indianapolis, which trailed 14-7 at halftime and by 14 early in the third.
The Colts were reeling, but Luck found a way.
He moved Indianapolis into position for Vinatieri’s 51-yard field goal to make it 21-10. After Cleveland’s offense went three-and-out, Luck connected with Hilton on a 42-yard TD pass to make it 21-16.
The Colts’ 2-point conversion attempt was intercepted by safety Jim Leonhard, but the Browns gave the ball right back with another unproductive series. Vinatieri’s 33-yard field got the Colts within two, but the Browns went up 24-19 on Billy Cundiff’s 39-yarder with 8:34 left.
Cleveland’s Isaiah Crowell scored on a 9-yard run with 1:14 left in the half, completing a 77-yard drive that may have saved Hoyer from being benched in the second half.
Hoyer had badly overthrown wide-open Taylor Gabriel on the second play of the drive, triggering more boos and louder cries for Manziel. Hoyer bounced back on the next play, rifling a 27-yard pass over the middle to Travis Benjamin.
Cleveland’s defense manhandled the NFL’s top offense in the first half, holding the Colts to 117 total yards and harassing Luck on nearly every throw.
Giants 36, Titans 7
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tom Coughlin is proud his Giants finally ended their painful skid by finishing off a big lead.
Even if their win came at the expense of a Tennessee team with more problems than New York.
Eli Manning threw for 260 yards and a touchdown, and New York snapped a seven-game losing streak by routing the Titans 36-7 Sunday.
The Giants (4-9) won for the first time since Oct. 5 with two rookies having big games. Odell Beckham Jr. set a team rookie record with his fourth game with 100 yards receiving this season: 11 catches for 130 yards and a TD. Andre Williams ran for a season-high 131 yards, including a 50-yard TD.
Tennessee (2-11) lost its seventh straight and for the 11th time in 12 games with a performance that had fans booing and even a handful wearing paper bags over their heads. This is the franchise’s longest slide since losing 11 straight in 1994 as the then-Houston Oilers.
The Titans’ loss became even more painful with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger hurting his sprained right shoulder in the fourth quarter, and he did not return. Mettenberger said his shoulder hurt after the game, and he will have an MRI exam Monday.
The Giants came in with an NFL-high 19 players on injured reserve but relatively healthy on offense, even with running back Rashad Jennings not starting because of a sore ankle that kept him out of practice. With Manning and Beckham connecting early and often, they helped the Giants dominate with a 402-207 edge in total offense.
Manning was excited they got the win a week after blowing a 21-0 lead in losing to the Jaguars.
Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who played on this field in college at Tennessee State, had a 36-yard TD off an interception wiped out by a personal foul on Damontre Moore for a hit on Mettenberger. Josh Brown kicked his fifth field goal for a 36-7 lead.
With plenty of fans in New York blue on hand, the Giants dominated the first quarter, taking a 17-0 lead with a 151-6 edge in total offense. Beckham notched his seventh game with at least 90 yards receiving and a TD in the first 11 minutes. Devon Kennard sacked Mettenberger, with the rookie fumbling, and Markus Kuhn ran the recovery 26 yards for a TD.
Beckham also got to throw his first pass attempt, a heave that went about 60 yards, falling incomplete in the end zone after a handoff from Manning.
The Giants were up 23-0 at halftime. The lead that would have been even bigger if not for the Titans at least forcing them to settle for three field goals from Brown, two when New York had first-and-goal.
For Tennessee, the patchwork effect on offense showed. The Titans had only four players that started the season at their positions with left tackle Taylor Lewan and right tackle Michael Oher missing their second straight starts because of injuries. When right tackle Byron Stingily went down, Tennessee finished with a tackle signed Tuesday.
The Titans’ only points came when Marqueston Huff returned an interception 23 yards for a TD. The Titans couldn’t even run out the final seconds of the first half properly, drawing a penalty for an illegal snap that prompted boos from fans still paying attention.
NOTES: Beckham’s club record topped the mark set by Byron Williams in 1983. … This was only the second time a Giants running back topped 100 yards this season. Jennings had 176 on Sept. 21 vs Houston. … Williams’ TD run was the longest this season for the Giants, topping a 23-yarder by Jennings. … New York snapped a five-game skid in this series vs. the Titans.
Ravens 28, Dolphins 13
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Down by 10 points in the second quarter, their playoff chances fading, the Baltimore Ravens finally picked up a first down.
After that, the Miami Dolphins couldn’t stop them.
The Ravens rallied with consecutive touchdown drives of 97 and 75 yards, then added the clinching score after a favorable replay reversal to beat Miami 28-13 Sunday.
A gamble by coach John Harbaugh in the third quarter helped. The Ravens made a first down on fourth-and-1 in their own territory, jump-starting the TD drive that put them ahead.
The victory gave Baltimore (8-5) a significant edge over Miami (7-6) in the AFC’s scramble for a wild-card playoff berth. The Ravens also tightened the race for the AFC North title, helped by a loss by first-place Cincinnati (8-4-1) to Pittsburgh.
The Dolphins, who haven’t been to the postseason since 2008, are now a long shot with three games to go. Their frustration boiled over in the final minutes, when defensive tackle Jared Odrick yelled at coach Joe Philbin on the sideline after a long Ravens gain.
But the Dolphins showed little fire in the final three quarters, when they were outgained 425-161. The Ravens played 17 minutes before they made a first down and still finished with 26 first downs and 447 yards.
Elvis Dumervil led Baltimore’s defensive charge with 3½ sacks, increasing his season total to a franchise-record 16. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill threw for 227 yards and a score, but was sacked six times.
Baltimore allowed the Dolphins only 249 yards.
The Ravens’ Joe Flacco went 25 for 33 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and overcame an interception in the end zone. He also ran for a score.
Flacco and Harbaugh improved to 5-0 against the Dolphins, including four wins in Miami. The Ravens won without defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, suspended during the week for a performance-enhancing substance violation, and they bounced back from a last-minute loss last week at home to San Diego.
Leading 14-13, the Ravens were helped by a replay reversal midway through the fourth quarter. Flacco fumbled attempting to throw and Miami recovered, but a review determined his arm was moving forward when he lost the ball, and the play was ruled an incomplete pass.
On the next play, Justin Forsett scored on a 2-yard run.
The Dolphins gave up 183 yards rushing and have allowed 661 in the past three games.
The Ravens went three-and-out on their first three possessions, but drove the length of the field in the final 3:08 of the first half, capped by Flacco’s 1-yard pass to Steve Smith on third down with two seconds left. That cut their deficit to 10-7.
When Baltimore went for a first down on fourth-and-1 at their 34 in the third quarter, Flacco gained 2 yards on a sneak. Flacco went on to hit Kamar Aiken with a 13-yard pass for the score and the lead.
Miami was up 10-0 in the second quarter when a long completion and scoring threat were negated by a penalty on guard Mike Pouncey for being downfield on the play. That infraction seemed to deflate the Dolphins.
Jets 24, Vikings 30 OT
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Percy Harvin was hurting on the sideline, unable to help the New York Jets.
Jarius Wright ended the game with the kind of electrifying play Harvin used to make in Minnesota.
Wright’s 87-yard reception from Teddy Bridgewater, the second-longest overtime passing touchdown in NFL history, gave the Vikings a 30-24 victory over Harvin and the Jets on Sunday.
Bridgewater saw the Jets ready to bring heavy pressure on third-and-5, so he used a check to call for the bubble screen pass. Jets coach Rex Ryan, who moved one loss closer to a possible firing after the season, second-guessed himself for the blitz.
Bridgewater threw a bit high, but Wright jumped for the off-balance grab, slipped by Jaiquawn Jarrett and outran defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson the rest of the way with a block by John Sullivan to help spring the sprint.
Booed every time his name was announced, Harvin hobbled off the field after taking a hard hit from Josh Robinson as he neared the sideline late in the fourth quarter. Harvin had a 35-yard touchdown reception and a 47-yard kickoff return. He finished with 124 yards on six catches in his first game in Minnesota in more than two years after playing his first 3 1/2 seasons with the Vikings (6-7), who beat the Jets for the first time in eight matchups since Oct. 12, 1975.
Cordarrelle Patterson, the player the Vikings drafted last year to take Harvin’s place, was again a nonfactor with the offense and lost a fumble on a kickoff that led to one of five field goals by Nick Folk, who tied the game at 24 with 23 seconds left in regulation.
Gerald Hodges returned an interception thrown by Geno Smith for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, but the much-maligned second-year quarterback bounced back for the Jets (2-11) by going 18 for 29 for 254 yards and tallying 33 yards rushing on six attempts. Smith was just 7 of 13 for 49 yards against Miami in the last game.
The Jets totaled 410 yards of offense, their second-highest output this season.
Richardson had a safety among his three sacks, but Bridgewater wasn’t rattled by that big hit he took in his own end zone in the first quarter. He finished 19 of 27 for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Charles Johnson caught the first one for 56 yards and totaled 103 yards on four receptions.
Johnson almost scored again in the second quarter, when Bridgewater connected as he was hit for a 22-yard gain to the goal line. Johnson fumbled as he tried to reach across, but Jerome Felton dived between two Jets to recover it in the end zone for his first career score and a 21-12 lead for the Vikings.
Steelers 42, Bengals 21
CINCINNATI (AP) — With a second straight meltdown at home, the Bengals find themselves in deep trouble.
Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell came up big in a game that Pittsburgh had to win Sunday, leading the Steelers to a 42-21 drubbing of Cincinnati that left the AFC North race wide open — much to the Bengals’ chagrin.
The Bengals (8-4-1) had been in control, up by a game and a half over everyone else. Another loss at home against a division rival left it a four-way race all over again.
And the defending division champs are staggering.
In their last two home games, the Bengals have lost to Cleveland and Pittsburgh by 21 points apiece. It’s the first time they’ve dropped consecutive home games by 21 points since 2002 under Dick LeBeau, who is Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator.
It was Pittsburgh’s most lopsided win at Paul Brown Stadium since a 38-10 victory in 2008. The Bengals play at Cleveland next Sunday, host Denver in a Monday night game, and then finish at Pittsburgh.
The Bengals had a chance to essentially knock Pittsburgh (8-5) out of title contention. Instead, they opened the door for everyone else.
The Bengals collapsed at the end, giving up 25 points in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger threw three touchdown passes, including a 94-yarder to rookie Martavis Bryant that put the Steelers in control.
Bell steadied Pittsburgh’s offense by running for 185 yards, catching six passes for 50 yards and scoring three touchdowns in the second half. He became the sixth player in NFL history to have 200 all-purpose yards in three straight games.
The Steelers ran for 193 yards and piled up 543 overall — 229 of them in the fourth quarter.
Roethlisberger emerged from a three-game funk by making big plays as well, including the longest touchdown pass in the NFL this season. Up by eight points and backed up on its 6-yard line, Pittsburgh decided to fake a handoff and let Roethlisberger drop into his end zone and throw deep.
Bryant ran past cornerback Leon Hall and caught the ball in stride along the right sideline, reaching the end zone untouched. Roethlisberger finished 25 of 39 for 350 yards.
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green combined on an impressive pass-and-catch performance for Cincinnati. The receiver had 11 catches for a career-high 224 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter that put the Bengals ahead 21-17.
Dalton made Bengals history when he faked a handoff to Jeremy Hill and ran 20 yards untouched for a touchdown, the longest scoring run by a quarterback in franchise history.
He also made the game-turning mistake.
Dalton fumbled while faking another handoff to Hill, giving Pittsburgh possession at the Cincinnati 24. Bell ran 13 yards for the touchdown, and Roethlisberger’s completion for the conversion gave Pittsburgh a 28-21 lead.
“The turnover hurt us, and they started rolling,” said Dalton, who was 21 of 29 for 302 yards with two touchdowns. “You can’t have that at that point in the game. We were still leading in the fourth quarter, and so we just needed to put a drive together.”
Texans 27, Jaguars 13
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Arian Foster started right, found nothing but defenders between him and the goal line, then headed the other way.
It was his best decision of the day.
Foster ran for 127 yards and a touchdown, which came on a nifty cutback move, and the Houston Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-13 on Sunday to stay in the muddled AFC playoff picture.
It gave the Texans (7-6) consecutive wins for the first time in nearly three months.
Foster’s 1-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter was the play of the game. After quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got stuffed on third down, the Texans lined up for a field goal before calling time out and opting to go for it. Foster emphatically told coach Bill O’Brien he wanted the ball.
Foster initially looked he would be stopped for a loss, but he eluded a tackle, headed in the other turned the other way and high-stepped into the end zone.
The Texans didn’t gain any ground on AFC South-leading Indianapolis, which edged Cleveland, but they kept pace in the crowded wild-card race.
The Jaguars (2-11) led 13-10 at halftime, but did little after the break.
Jacksonville managed just 4 yards in the third quarter, and Blake Bortles threw his NFL-leading 16th interception of the season. The turnover gave Houston its best field position of the day and led to Foster’s TD run.
With a chilly, misty rain falling and Jacksonville trailing, fans didn’t bother returning to the stands. EverBank Field was mostly empty during the second half, an embarrassing sight for a franchise fighting to overcome attendance problems.
Jacksonville managed 73 yards in the second half, holding the ball for just nine-plus minutes, and Bortles nearly threw three more picks.
J.J. Watt created major problems, finishing with three sacks and five quarterback hits. The Jaguars lost starting right tackle Austin Pasztor last week and went with unproven veteran Sam Young. Not surprisingly, Watt dominated the matchup. He was most disruptive once the Texans took a double-digit lead.
Watt interrupted a reporter who asked about his “two sacks.”
“How many? Three. Just checking,” Watt said. “Those suckers are hard to get.”
Fitzpatrick completed 13 of 19 passes for 135 yards. He had a 4-yard run in the second quarter that put the Texans up 10-7.
Jacksonville retook the lead on Josh Scobee’s two field goals, the first coming on a fourth-and-inches play at the Houston 16. Coach Gus Bradley, with nothing to lose in another losing season, opted to play safe.
It ultimately backfired.
And the Texans eventually took advantage. They had 124 yards, six first downs and no third-down conversions in the first half. Making matters worse, they lost receiver Andre Johnson because of a concussion.
Johnson left early in the second quarter after being hit in the head by Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith. Teammates rushed to his side and motioned for trainers. Johnson eventually walked off the field under his own power, but later headed to the locker room for good. He ended the day with four receptions for 17 yards.
The Texans regrouped in the locker room — and it showed it the second half.
Bills 17, Broncos 24
DENVER (AP) — These Denver Broncos aren’t as slick as last year’s high-flying, record-breaking bunch, the one that was stopped cold in the Super Bowl.
“We’re much more complete and we’ve got an identity now,” Chris Harris Jr. said after the Broncos overcame a rare unsteady outing by Peyton Manning to beat the Buffalo Bills 24-17 Sunday behind C.J. Anderson’s three touchdown runs.
Manning’s streak of 51 games with a touchdown throw — three shy of Drew Brees’ NFL record — ended on a sun-splashed, almost still afternoon with the game-time temperature a balmy 63 degrees. Despite three turnovers, the Broncos (10-3) won their third straight game since changing from a pass-oriented attack to a run-heavy approach.
“I hope fans will still keep coming to the games,” Manning deadpanned.
The five-time MVP who’s made a living throwing the ball insisted he’s fine with handing it off.
“I’m comfortable with winning,” Manning said. “That’s what I’m comfortable with.”
And he said he’s enjoying watching Anderson, who contributed a tough 58 yards on 21 carries, as much as the fans are.
Manning finished 14 of 20 for 173 yards with two interceptions. His top receiver, Demaryius Thomas, was hobbled by bruised right ankle and held to two catches for 11 yards, and tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) didn’t play for the third straight week.
Any week, he said, Manning “can go out there and throw eight touchdowns. We all sat here and saw him throw seven touchdowns (against Baltimore last year). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with 18, I think he’s completely fine. It’s up to us to help him.”
Wes Welker did, awakening from a season-long slumber to lead the Broncos with six catches for 82 yards.
Former Broncos QB Kyle Orton had a day like Manning usually does: 38 of 57 for 355 yards. He led the Bills (7-6) on two long TD drives in the fourth quarter after they’d fallen behind 21-3.
His 38 completions tied a team record and his 58 attempts is a franchise high.
Manning threw two interceptions deep in Buffalo territory and tight end Jacob Tamme fumbled at the Bills 10-yard line. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have come down to David Bruton Jr.’s recovery of an onside kick in the final minute.
With Manning out of sorts, Anderson bailed out the Broncos with TD runs of 6, 1 and 3 yards. The latter score followed a 47-yard burst by fellow undrafted tailback Juwan Thompson.
The Broncos had three takeaways for the second straight week, including a goal line interception by Harris in the third quarter that led to a 50-yard field goal by Connor Barth.
A month ago, Denver’s offense was a mess, with the line taking heavy heat after Manning threw 54 passes and handed off just nine times in a decisive loss at St. Louis. After holding Buffalo without a sack for the first time in more than a year, Denver’s line is being praised, not pilloried.
Chiefs 14, Cardinals 17
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kerwynn Williams went from pretending to be Jamaal Charles on the Arizona scout team this week to outgaining Charles in the Cardinals’ 17-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
“That’s storybook stuff,” teammate Larry Fitzgerald said.
With starting tailback Andre Ellington out for the season, the Cardinals turned to a guy who had been called up two days earlier from the practice squad. Williams delivered, rushing for 100 yards, 9 more than Charles.
The NFC West-leading Cardinals (10-3) took the lead when Drew Stanton threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown on third-and-18 in the third quarter.
The Cardinals’ seven wins are the most at home for the franchise since when the Chicago Cardinals won 11 of 13 in 1925.
Arizona held on after winning a crucial reversal. Kansas City was driving with five minutes remaining when Arians challenged that tight end Travis Kelce fumbled after a 19-yard reception to the Arizona 22. The officials ruled that Kelce lost the ball before he rolled on his back and got to his feet. Kelce grabbed the ball back, but apparently not soon enough.
Coach Andy Reid said “from my vision, I thought he regained possession of the ball, but I’m not making the call.”
Justin Bethel recovered at the Arizona 15, ending the last serious Kansas City threat.
The Chiefs (7-6) are tied with four other AFC wild-card hopefuls looking up at San Diego, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The Cardinals have a one-game lead over Seattle, and the Seahawks travel to Arizona in two weeks.
Jamaal Charles scored two first-half touchdowns on a 63-yard run and 18-yard pass from Alex Smith, but the Chiefs were shut out in the second half.
Reid said after the game that Charles had a slight ankle sprain and back spasms.
An offensive pass interference penalty against Anthony Fasano negated a Kansas City touchdown. Two plays later, Alex Okafor intercepted Smith.
The Cardinals drove to the Chiefs 26, and on third-and-18 Stanton threw over the middle to hit Jaron Brown in stride for the winning score. The 2-point conversion pass to John Carlson was good and, for the first time in the game, Arizona had the lead, 17-14.
Arizona rookie Chandler Catanzaro kicked three field goals but missed two, the first off the right upright, the second off the left with 1:09 to play.
That gave Kansas City a chance, but the Chiefs never got to midfield before turning it over on downs.
Arizona’s injury-riddled team got another when cornerback Antonio Cromartie left in the fourth quarter with what the Cardinals first termed an Achilles tendon injury, although Arians later said the Achilles was “stable.”
Ellington is out for the season with what Arians said after the game is some sort of hernia. He also had lingering hip and foot problems.
That led Arizona to bring up Williams for the second time this season. He had been released from the San Diego practice squad and never had carried the ball from scrimmage in an NFL game until Sunday.
Williams said the plan was for it to be “running back by committee.”
But there was no doubt who was the main man as the afternoon wore on.
The seventh-round draft pick of Indianapolis in 2013 revved up what has been a sluggish Arizona running game. He carried 19 times, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The Cardinals had rushed for 99 yards in the last two games combined. They got 141 on Sunday.
In the first half, Smith completed 12 of 13 passes for 109 yards and a score. In the second half, he was 11 of 23 for it 182 yards and an interception.
Charles gained 91 on 10 carries, 63 of them in one attempt. Chiefs still don’t have a touchdown completion to a wide receiver this season.
49ers 13, Raiders 24
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers are playing themselves right out of the playoff picture.
Two duds in 11 days. A faltering quarterback and offense. A nonexistent pass rush against a rookie quarterback.
Colin Kaepernick followed one of his worst outings as a pro with another surprising flop, and Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers were stunned by the Oakland Raiders franchise that gave him his coaching start in a 24-13 defeat Sunday.
Now, will the Raiders give him his next job?
Harbaugh sparked further chatter about where he might wind up next season when he walked out of the tunnel and straight to Raiders owner Mark Davis for a quick chat. Harbaugh worked as an offensive assistant with the Raiders in 2002-03 under late owner Al Davis.
“My priorities are No. 1 winning football games, No. 2, with the welfare of our players, coaches and our staff, and lastly is what my personal and professional future is,” said Harbaugh, who was later asked if he even wanted to be back, “My priorities are winning games.”
Kaepernick threw an interception on the first play, and found himself on his backside following a fifth sack when it finally ended with the Raiders (2-11) celebrating on their home field a week after a 52-0 loss at St. Louis.
These Niners (7-6) hardly look like a team that entered the season with the swagger of a franchise that has reached three straight NFC championship games and had a Super Bowl-or-bust mentality for 2014. That “Who’s got it better than us? No-body!” has quickly turned to a mantra of playing to stave off elimination each week. They’re not doing it. From dominant to dumbfounded.
Kaepernick went 18 for 33 for 174 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The five sacks gave him a league-high 43 this year.
Phil Dawson’s 20-yard field goal midway through the third gave the 49ers a brief lead. But he missed wide left from 47 yards with about five minutes left and had an earlier 54-yarder negated by a holding penalty.
Rookie Derek Carr produced one of his best performances and completely outclassed Kaepernick, who said a cameraman got too close to his face at halftime and, “If I put something real close to your face you’re going to try to move out of the way, too.”
A defense that has carried San Francisco in recent weeks when the offense couldn’t find a groove showed its flaws against the NFL’s biggest loser.
Carr rarely faced any pressure, giving him plenty of time to find open receivers downfield. He hit Mychal Rivera down the middle for a 27-yard gain and completed all five of his passes for 73 yards on the go-ahead drive.
Carr threw three touchdown passes, including a 9-yarder to Marcel Reece late in the third quarter that gave the Raiders the lead for good. The Raiders and 49ers renewed their rivalry at the Coliseum for the first time since 2002.
The 49ers surrendered the first back-to-back touchdown drives for the Raiders all season.
Offensive lineman Donald Penn even got into the action for Oakland, catching a 3-yard TD pass from Carr. It was the 330-pound offensive lineman’s third career touchdown and second against San Francisco.
49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks was benched for missing a defensive meeting Tuesday morning, though he made it to a domestic violence meeting an hour later. He said he wasn’t told he wouldn’t start or not play at all.
Seahawks 24, Eagles 14
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A dominant defensive performance against Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense even had Earl Thomas showing off his dance moves.
Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes, ran for another score and the Seattle Seahawks stifled Philadelphia in a 24-14 victory over the Eagles on Sunday.
Thomas, Richard Sherman and the rest of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense held the Eagles to 139 total yards, the fewest under Kelly. Seattle held the ball for a franchise-record 41:56 and Philadelphia ran just 45 plays.
Wilson had 263 yards passing and ran for 48 to help the Seahawks (9-4) win their third straight game. The defending Super Bowl champions have victories over NFC West-leading Arizona (10-3), San Francisco (7-6) and Philadelphia (9-4) in the last three weeks.
The Eagles host Dallas (9-4) with first place in the NFC East at stake next week. They had won 10 straight regular-season home games.
Pete Carroll was the winner in his first NFL matchup against Kelly. In the coaches’ only other meeting, Kelly’s Oregon Ducks beat Carroll and USC 47-20 on Oct. 31, 2009.
Sanchez, who played for Carroll in college, threw for 96 yards, two TD passes and one interception. LeSean McCoy set the franchise record for career yards rushing, but also had a costly fumble that led to Marshawn Lynch’s 15-yard TD catch in the third quarter.
Lynch had 86 yards rushing. McCoy had 50. McCoy’s 4-yard run in the third quarter moved him past Wilbert Montgomery into first place on the Eagles’ career rushing list. McCoy has 6,540 yards.
The Seahawks were leading 10-7 when K.J. Wright forced McCoy to fumble on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Earl Thomas recovered at the Eagles 19 and Wilson connected with Lynch two plays later.
Wilson tossed a 23-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin to make it 24-14 later in the quarter after the Eagles got within a field goal on Sanchez’s 35-yard TD pass to Zach Ertz.
A 44-yard pass interference penalty on Bradley Fletcher against Baldwin moved the ball to Philadelphia’s 35 to set up the score.
One play after Lynch fumbled at the Eagles 30 in the fourth quarter, Sanchez threw an interception to Tharold Simon to end Philadelphia’s hopes of a comeback.
Seattle hosts the 49ers next week and has a first-place showdown at Arizona on Dec. 21.
The Seahawks dominated the Eagles statistically in the first half and took a 10-7 lead on Steven Hauschka’s 44-yard field goal. Wilson’s 20-yard completion to Paul Richardson on third-and-15 kept the drive going.
Seattle outgained Philadelphia 242-67 and had the ball for 21:56 in the first half yet only led by a field goal.
The Eagles started their second drive at the Seahawks 14 after punter Jon Ryan dropped the snap and Ertz recovered for Philadelphia.
After McCoy ran for a first down on fourth-and-1 from the 5, Sanchez tossed a 1-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
The Seahawks hadn’t allowed a touchdown since a 24-20 loss at Kansas City on Nov. 16. They beat division rivals Arizona and San Francisco by the same score, 19-3, in the previous two games.
Seattle tied it at 7 on Wilson’s 26-yard TD run. Wilson faked an inside handoff to Lynch, saw linebacker Trent Cole commit and ran around the left side untouched for the score.
Patriots 23, Chargers 14
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Their week in San Diego over, the New England Patriots headed home with a big win and a 10-3 record.
Brady threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman midway through the fourth quarter, and New England beat the San Diego Chargers 23-14 for its eighth win in nine games.
The Patriots clinched their 12th straight 10-win season for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. They spent the week in San Diego following a loss at Green Bay in order to cut down on late-season travel.
The Chargers (8-5) looked almost like a road team, getting shut out in the second half as a large portion of the crowd cheered for the Patriots.
New England went ahead 16-14 on Stephen Gostkowski’s 38-yard field goal with 10:34 left.
After forcing the Chargers to punt, the Patriots started on their 31. Brady faked a handoff and hit Edelman on a slant at about the 45. He broke two tackles and was gone.
Brady completed 28 of 44 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Edelman caught eight passes for 141 yards.
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
JUST OFFENSIVE: San Diego’s offense scored one touchdown.
Rivers completed 20 of 33 passes for only 189 yards.
Brady said the Patriots’ defense “was unbelievable. They kept us in it all night. That was a defensive win right there. I love the way those guys played on defense.”
MOMENTUM SWINGS: After Gostkowski kicked his second 22-yard field goal of the first half, Brandon Bolden blocked a punt by Mike Scifres to give New England the ball on the San Diego 28. Scifres hurt his left shoulder on the play and was carted off the field.
Four plays into the drive, Rob Gronkowski caught a 14-yard touchdown pass to pull the Patriots to 14-13.
Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history with four seasons of 10 or more scoring receptions.
The Chargers scored twice in 2 minutes, 33 seconds in the second quarter.
Safety Darrell Stuckey returned a fumble 53 yards for a touchdown and Malcom Floyd made a diving catch of a 15-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers.
Falcons 37, Packers 43
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Another big first half helped the Green Bay Packers withstand a furious rally by the desperate Atlanta Falcons.
Eddie Lacy ran for a touchdown and caught one of Aaron Rodgers’ three TD passes, and Green Bay built a 24-point lead before holding on for a 43-37 victory Monday night.
The Packers (10-3) earned their fifth consecutive victory to stay a game up on Detroit in the NFC North. Atlanta dropped to 5-8, but remained in a first-place tie with New Orleans in the woeful NFC South.
Julio Jones had a career-best 259 yards receiving for the Falcons before leaving with a hip injury. Jones had a 22-yard touchdown catch in a 20-point fourth quarter that helped Atlanta cut into Green Bay’s big lead.
Matt Ryan’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas with 2:15 left got Atlanta within six.
But the Packers recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Lacy left in the fourth quarter with bruised hip. Backup running back James Starks effectively ended Atlanta’s upset hopes with a 41-yard run to the Falcons 6 with 1:37 left.
Atlanta came frustratingly close to a rare victory in Titletown. Green Bay held on for its seventh home win, but the porous pass defense may have given potential playoff foes some hope that Lambeau Field may not be that impenetrable after all.
The Falcons did damage even with Jones hobbling on the sideline, appearing to favor his left side.
Ryan threw for 375 yards and four scores, including a 1-yard touchdown catch by Roddy White with 6:20 left that trimmed Green Bay’s lead to 40-30.
Mason Crosby kicked a 53-yard field goal with 4:37 left, helping the Packers withstand Atlanta’s final punch.
Rodgers finished 24 of 36 for 327 yards. Lacy had 73 yards on 13 carries, and 33 yards on five catches.
The tough running back wiggled from side to side to celebrate his 1-yard touchdown reception with 4:20 left in second quarter. The score was set up by safety Morgan Burnett’s interception of Ryan.
The Packers defense nearly got a second pick later in the quarter after tackle Letroy Guion tipped a Ryan pass while being double-teamed. The 315-pound Guion jumped back to try to get the ball off the rebound, but couldn’t control it before it hit the ground.
The Falcons then punted two plays later, and the Packers were on their way to a 31-7 halftime lead.
Rodgers sidestepped his way out of a late blitz by Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann, and then found Jordy Nelson in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left.
Green Bay had outscored foes 167-44 before halftime coming into the night.
The Falcons got off to a fast start in the third, with Ryan finding Jones for a 79-yard catch-and-run to the Packers 3. Ryan later hit Eric Weems over the middle on fourth down for a 5-yard touchdown pass.
It was a sign of things to come in the second half before Green Bay was able to hang on at the end.