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Here is a recap of Week 13 of the 2015 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Packers 27, Lions 23
DETROIT (AP) — Aaron Rodgers took the shotgun snap on an untimed down with no time left, shuffled to his left, slipped a sack, rolled right and heaved a pass that seemed as high as it was long.
Richard Rodgers, drifting toward the end zone while teammates and opponents crowded behind him, leaped and made the catch on the 61-yard play to give the Green Bay Packers a stunning 27-23 victory over the Detroit Lions on Thursday night.
“I knew I was going to have to buy some time to allow them to get into the end zone,” Aaron Rodgers said. “I knew once I got outside the right that I was going to be able to set up and throw.”
The Packers got one more shot to win after Detroit defensive end Devin Taylor was called for grabbing Aaron Rodgers’ facemask on a tackle on what would’ve been the last play.
The Packers (8-4) had lost four of five.
“Unfortunately, this counts as one win,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “It feels like more.”
The Lions (4-8) had won three straight and blew a chance to sweep the season series for the first time since 1991.
“Tough one to lose,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “Those are the ones that eat at you. The guys are upset because they gave so much, but we needed one more play. It is never over in this league.”
Matthew Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson on his second touchdown pass of the first quarter to help Detroit build a 20-point lead that it couldn’t keep.
“Not an easy pill to swallow,” Stafford said.
Aaron Rodgers scored on a 17-yard run with 3:04 left, pulling the Packers within two points.
Stafford connected with TJ Jones to convert a third-and-12 from the Detroit 18 after Green Bay called its final timeout with 2:54 to go. The Lions needed one more first down to seal the victory, but Green Bay forced them to punt and got the ball back on the 21 with 23 seconds left.
Following two incompletions, including one in which Detroit appeared to get away with pass interference, Aaron Rodgers threw a pass to James Jones, who lateraled it to Richard Rodgers, who tossed it back to the quarterback with no one behind him to lateral it again to keep the play alive.
But Taylor grabbed Aaron Rodgers’ facemask, giving the Packers another play.
“I wasn’t able to get away from those guys, but luckily my facemask was grabbed,” the two-time MVP said.
Richard Rodgers Sr. had to like what he saw of his son’s winning catch on the all-University of California connection. The elder Rodgers threw two laterals on the final play of the Cal-Stanford in 1982, when the game ended with the Cardinal band on the field and the Bears winning 25-20 in 1982.
Western Michigan’s band performed at halftime of the Packers-Lions game, but it wasn’t on the field at the end of the heart-pounding finish at Ford Field.
Aaron Rodgers scrambled long enough to give his receivers time to sprint to the end zone and got to the outside. He planted his foot at about the Green Bay 36 and got it into the end zone, where his tight end found a way to get to it in front of a slew of players from both teams and leaped for the catch.
“I’ve never had a completed Hail Mary before,” Aaron Rodgers said.
He has now much to Caldwell’s chagrin.
“We weren’t in a position to get our hands on it,” Caldwell lamented.
Aaron Rodgers finished 24 of 36 for 289 yards with two TDs and an interception.
Stafford was 23 of 35 for 220 yards and two scores. He also lost a fumble.
Detroit went ahead 17-0 after its first three drives and capped the opening possession of the third quarter with a field goal to go ahead 20-0.
It wasn’t a big enough cushion.
NOTES: The Packers scored their first points with 5:44 left in the third when James Starks fumbled and Randall Cobb recovered it in the end zone. … Aaron Rodgers perfectly lofted a 17-yard pass over linebacker Josh Bynes to Davante Adams for his first TD reception this season to pull the Packers within six points late in the third. … Lost in the loss will be Johnson’s 17-yard TD catch in the first quarter in which he leaped the catch it with two hands, squeezed the ball with only his right hand as he planted his right foot and dragged his left on the side of the end zone.
Cardinals 27, Rams 3
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two running backs down, the Arizona Cardinals kept the production sky high.
Rookie David Johnson ran for 99 yards and scored a touchdown in his first career start, helping pave the way for a decisive 27-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Coach Bruce Arians said the third-round pick from Northern Iowa reminded him of a young Edgerrin James.
Johnson caught one of Palmer’s two TD passes as Arizona (10-2) rolled up 524 yards in its sixth straight win. Fellow fill-in Kerwynn Williams scored his first career TD on a 35-yard run, and the Cardinals had 175 yards rushing. They remain three games ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC West.
Johnson stepped up after injuries to Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington. He admitted to being nervous — but just the first series. The Cardinals might need Johnson again on short notice, with the next game on Thursday at home against the Vikings. Johnson entered with just 139 yards rushing on the year.
Palmer was 26 of 40 for 356 yards with no interceptions and — unlike the previous three games in the streak — he did not need to lead a late scoring drive to win. Arizona led 10-0 at the half and never let the Rams into the game.
Larry Fitzgerald made his 1,000th reception and topped 1,000 yards receiving for the seventh time. The Cardinals (10-2) have won seven of eight since losing 24-22 at home to St. Louis in Week 4.
At 32 years, 97 days, Fitzgerald is the youngest player to reach 1,000 catches and is tied for 10th on the career list with Hines Ward. He caught eight passes for 55 yards.
Coach Jeff Fisher said Case Keenum, symptom-free from a concussion and the backup on Sunday, would start next week against Detroit.
“It’s kind of a broken record thing with the offense,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to get it fixed.”
The Cardinals drove 80 yards on the opening drive capped by rookie J.J. Nelson’s 22-yard scoring catch. They dominated in time of possession, hold the ball for 39 minutes and 47 seconds.
Williams replaced David Johnson on kickoffs and fumbled out of bounds, but redeemed himself on the scoring run that put Arizona up 24-3 late in the third.
Williams’ TD was the third long play on that drive, with a 31-yard catch by Michael Floyd and 23-yard run by David Johnson coming on successive plays.
The Rams were shut out in the first half for the second time this season. They finished with 212 yards and nine first downs, going 1 for 12 on third down.
Two Rams, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and tight end Lance Kendricks, were ruled out with concussions late in the game. Jenkins was evaluated twice, both times on hits from teammates, and didn’t recover from blow delivered by Mark Barron on Johnson’s 10-yard TD catch with 5:51 to go in the third.
Notes: Palmer has 29 touchdown passes, one shy of the franchise record set by Kurt Warner in 2008. … Sixteen Cardinals have scored, most in the NFL. … Johnson and Hall of Famer Gale Sayers are the only rookies in NFL history with four rushing TDs, four receiving TDs and a kickoff return TD. … Rams replacement K Zach Hocker strained a quad before kickoff so P Johnny Hekker handled kickoffs for the first time since high school. Hocker made a 35-yard field goal.
The Rams (4-8) have lost five in a row and have been outscored 58-10 the last two. The team announced 51,115 tickets distributed, a season low and about 15,000 shy of a sellout, and the dome looked half empty.
Falcons 19, Buccaneers 23
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston is quickly building an impressive NFL resume and helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become relevant again.
The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft led the third game-winning drive of his career Sunday, using his arm and — surprise — his legs to beat the reeling Atlanta Falcons 23-19 and keep the surging Bucs in the middle of the race for a NFC playoff berth.
“Our guys kind of refused to lose,” coach Lovie Smith said.
With Winston leading the way, the Bucs believe anything is possible with four games remaining in the season.
“As we see it, the playoffs started and we feel like we have to win out,” Smith said. “There’s no doubt in that locker room We believe we can do it.”
Winston, coming off being named NFL offensive rookie of the month for November, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 1:39 remaining to put Tampa Bay ahead for good.
And while 2013 Heisman Trophy wasn’t known for his running ability in college at Florida State, he’s proving to be an effective ball carrier as a pro. He scored his fourth rushing TD on a 5-yard run in the first quarter, then scrambled up the middle of the field 20 yards on third-and-19 to extend the game-winning drive.
“I don’t like judging myself on individual things. But as a team, we’re coming around,” Winston said. “It’s living testimony that you can do anything you put your mind to. If you want it badly enough, you can get it.”
Lavonte David sealed the fourth victory in six games for the Bucs (6-6), intercepting Matt Ryan’s pass intended for Julio Jones on the first play of Atlanta’s final possession. The Falcons (6-6) have lost five straight, six of seven overall, after starting the season 5-0.
“That’s as tough as it gets for us,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “The finish was at hand. For us, finishing is about doing right longer, and we didn’t get that done.”
Winston completed 18 of 27 passes for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
But it was his timely run and ability to break three tackles and gain another 10 yards after appearing to be stopped at the Atlanta 33 that typified what the rookie has meant to Tampa Bay, which has overcome a slow start to contend for a playoff berth.
Doug Martin rushed for 95 yards and one TD for Tampa Bay, which drove 80 yards in 12 plays to take the lead for good. Evans finished with five receptions for 61 yards.
Meanwhile, Ryan was 30 of 45 for 269 yards, including a 5-yard TD throw to Nick Williams that put the Falcons up 19-16 early in the fourth quarter. His interception was Atlanta’s only turnover of the game.
“It’s obviously a disappointing loss. We had opportunities, I thought, throughout the game to score more points,” Ryan said. “We didn’t come away with enough touchdowns. At the end of the game, obviously, you don’t what to turn it over on the first play of the drive. That was disappointing as well.”
Shayne Graham kicked four field goals, two of them in the final 1:01 of the opening half to give the Falcons a 9-6 halftime lead. Jones had eight catches for 93 yards, going over 100 receptions in a season for the second straight year. The league’s receiving leader has 102 for 1,338 yards through 12 games.
NOTES: Tampa Bay spent the season series between the NFC South rivals for the first time since 2007. … Falcons RB Devonta Freeman played after sitting out the previous week with a concussion. He rushed for 47 yards on 14 carries and had 10 receptions for 56 yards. … The Bucs played without three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who sat out after injuring his left hand injury last week against Indianapolis. … Former Bucs QB Doug Williams was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony.
Bengals 37, Browns 3
CLEVELAND (AP) — Clobbering a rival isn’t enough. Winning the division and clinching a playoff spot isn’t satisfying.
Not for these Cincinnati Bengals. Not anymore.
Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score as the Bengals moved closer to a playoff berth and the AFC North title with a 37-3 win Sunday over the woeful Cleveland Browns, who dropped their seventh straight and have four more weeks to play in this dismal season.
Dalton connected with A.J. Green for a 23-yard TD pass in the second quarter and the Bengals moved to 10-2 for just the second time in team history. The Bengals were also 10-2 in 1975, but making history is not what Dalton and his teammates are after.
“It’s a new year,” said the quarterback, who notched his 50th career win. “It’s a new mentality for us. We’ve been playing really well and there’s some new pieces. For us, we have bigger goals than just making the playoffs. ”
Cincinnati needed a complex scenario to clinch a playoff berth this week, and even if that doesn’t happen, the Bengals are still poised to make the postseason for the fifth season in a row.
They’ve yet to win a playoff game with Dalton, their red-haired, rifle-armed QB, but Cincinnati is determined to end that streak and appear to have all the ingredients to make a Super Bowl run.
And as for being 10-2, Dalton quipped that only means one thing.
“It gives us a chance to be 11-2,” he said.
The Browns (2-10) lost for the second time in six days and had two more starters go down with injuries in a season that can’t end soon enough. Cleveland QB Austin Davis passed for 231 yards in his first start this season.
Green finished with 128 yards on five catches as the Bengals completed a season sweep of their northern Ohio neighbors. Cleveland has been outscored 98-13 in its past three games with Cincinnati.
Dalton finished 14 of 19 for 220 yards. He eclipsed 3,000 yards this season, joining Peyton Manning as the only QBs in league history to pass for at least 3,000 yards in each of their first five seasons.
Dalton’s 21-yard TD pass to Marvin Jones late in the third quarter made it 34-3, and sent the few Browns fans who bothered staying for the second half heading toward the exits.
Cleveland’s having another disastrous season, and coach Mike Pettine’s future is in serious doubt. The Browns are 2-15 in their past 17 games under Pettine, who earlier this week expressed disappointment at his team’s status and said he may soon have discussions about what’s next with owner Jimmy Haslam.
Following the game, Pettine’s office door remained closed long after the players had left. Pettine stopped to sign a few autographs and talked to some friends before climbing into the passenger seat of his pickup truck for the drive home.
Davis was the Browns’ 24th starting quarterback since 1999, and he suffered the same fate as so many before him. He completed 25 of 37 passes, but lost wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Marlon Moore to injuries and was continuously harassed by Bengals defensive linemen.
Pettine picked Davis to play ahead over demoted QB Johnny Manziel, who could get a start next week against San Francisco. Pettine said he’d wait before deciding who will play against the 49ers.
It was Cleveland’s most lopsided loss since a 41-0 drubbing by Pittsburgh on Dec. 24, 2005.
Dalton’s 3-yard sneak capped an 84-yard drive, which started with his 57-yard pass to Green, to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Cincinnati went up 14-0 on Dalton’s strike to Green.
Jeremy Hill’s 1-yard TD run made it 27-3, and the Bengals back celebrated by leaping into Cleveland’s stands. That move irritated Browns linebacker Chris Kirksey, who confronted Hill and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct — one of the few times the Browns showed any fight.
This season, the Bengals are winning everything.
NOTES: Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, who leads the league with 12 TD catches, sat out with a neck injury. … Bengals S Reggie Nelson recorded his league-leading seventh interception. … Green joined Randy Moss as the only receivers to have 1,000 yards in each of their first five seasons.
49ers 26, Bears 20 OT
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears had just taken a late lead when San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula delivered the message to Blaine Gabbert.
He told his quarterback to enjoy the moment. Gabbert owned it, instead.
Gabbert threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in overtime after running for the tying TD late in regulation, lifting the struggling 49ers to a 26-20 victory over the Bears on Sunday.
Tomsula’s pep talk came right after Chicago’s Ka’Deem Carey ran for a touchdown in the closing minutes of regulation.
Gabbert answered with a big TD run and then won it with that long pass in OT after the Bears’ Robbie Gould missed a field goal at the end of regulation.
The Bears (5-7) had just gone three-and-out after forcing a punt by San Francisco to start the extra period.
On the first play of the 49ers’ second possession, Gabbert found a wide-open Smith along the left sideline, giving San Francisco (4-8) a surprising win over a team that had jumped into playoff contention.
All that happened after a wild finish in regulation.
The Bears took a 20-13 lead on Carey’s 4-yard run with 3:32 left, only to let it disappear and then blow a chance to win the game as time expired.
Gabbert scrambled 44 yards untouched through the middle for his first career touchdown run with 1:42 left, after some encouragement from Tomsula.
If that wasn’t bad enough for Chicago, the Bears wasted a huge opportunity after Deonte Thompson returned the kickoff 74 yards to the 28. The Bears had the ball at the 17 when they called on the usually reliable Gould, and at that point, linebacker NaVorro Bowman could sense the dread on the sideline. Gould, who missed a 40-yard attempt in the third quarter, booted a 36-yarder wide left as time expired.
Gabbert, who took over for Colin Kaepernick last month, completed 18 of 32 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 75 yards and his score.
Smith had two catches for 76 yards, and Jimmie Ward returned his first career interception for a touchdown, helping the 49ers snap a two-game losing streak and secure their first road win. They were 0-5 away from home.
Chicago’s Jay Cutler was 18 of 31 for 202 yards with that interception. Alshon Jeffery had 85 yards receiving and Matt Forte ran for 84 and a touchdown, but for the second time in three games, the Bears missed a chance to reach .500. They also fell to 1-5 at home.
Chicago followed up a rare win at Green Bay on Thanksgiving with a gut-wrenching loss against a team both coordinators probably would have loved to beat.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Adam Gase interviewed for the 49ers’ head coaching job that went to Tomsula following Jim Harbaugh’s departure after last season. Gase wound up following Fox from Denver, and Fangio moved to Chicago after overseeing one of the league’s top defenses the past four years in San Francisco.
NOTES: 49ers LB Aaron Lynch left the game with a concussion in the third quarter. … This was San Francisco’s first regular-season win at Chicago since 1974. The 49ers did beat the Bears at Soldier Field in the conference championship game at the end of the 1988 season. … The 49ers were 7 of 16 on third downs after going 0 for 9 against Arizona.
Seahawks 38, Vikings 7
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With Seattle well in control at Minnesota, Russell Wilson raced around left end for 53 yards.
Holding by the Seahawks wiped out the touchdown, so he passed for a score on the next play.
At just the right time, Wilson and the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks have found their rhythm.
Wilson threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another, Seattle’s defense didn’t allow a score, and the surging Seahawks won their third straight game Sunday with a 38-7 romp over the Vikings.
Doug Baldwin had two touchdowns and 94 yards receiving and Thomas Rawls rushed for 101 yards and a score as the Seahawks (7-5) did whatever they wanted against an injury-depleted Vikings defense. Rawls, who has 712 yards, has the most rushing yards by an undrafted player in his first six career starts since the 1970 merger.
Seattle had 433 yards to Minnesota’s 125, the lowest total by any NFL team this season, according to STATS.
That all starts with Wilson. Following a 2-4 start, with losses by a total of 17 points all to teams that were undefeated at the time, the Seahawks have climbed deeper into the playoffs picture.
League rushing leader Adrian Peterson was limited to 18 yards on eight carries, the third-lowest single-game total of his career, and the Vikings (8-4) needed a 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Peterson in the third quarter to keep from being blanked.
The Vikings fell back into a first-place tie with Green Bay for the NFC North lead three days after the Packers beat Detroit on a desperation pass on the last play. The Vikings, who lost 30-13 to Green Bay in their previous home game, took their most lopsided loss in Minnesota since a 34-3 defeat by Chicago on Nov. 25, 1984.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer hinted he saw signs of a clunker coming in practice during the week.
“We’re not quite as good as we think we are,” Zimmer said.
Wilson, who finished 21 for 27 for 274 yards, was in command in the pocket and at his elusive best when the rush came. He netted 51 yards on nine rushes.
The Seahawks had touchdown drives of 81 and 98 yards in the first half, fueled by penalties, missed tackles and overruns by the Vikings.
On the first march, holding call on Terence Newman that saved the Seahawks from a punt. Linebacker Anthony Barr (groin) and safety Harrison Smith (hamstring) limped off with injuries, too. With nose tackle Linval Joseph (foot) already ruled out, the Vikings were suddenly without their most indispensable player at each level of the defense.
It sure showed.
The Seahawks’ star-laden lineup on defense, vulnerable at times this season, backed Wilson with a clutch performance. Teddy Bridgewater’s overthrown pass for Stefon Diggs late in the second quarter was intercepted and returned 25 yards by Earl Thomas, Diggs took a facemask penalty and the Seahawks had the ball at the 20 with 68 seconds remaining before halftime.
Wilson dropped back, saw Baldwin open and, boom, put the Seahawks up 21-0 with another crisply thrown pass.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said Wilson should be in the mix for the NFL MVP award if he keeps on this track.
“When he plays like that we’re a very difficult team to beat,” Sherman said.
NOTES: This was the lowest yardage total for the Vikings since they had 104 on Dec. 21, 2006 at Green Bay. … During the winning streak, all with starter Marshawn Lynch out, Rawls has 459 total yards and four TDs. … Bridgewater went 17 for 28 for 118 yards.
Ravens 13, Dolphins 15
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami defensive end Derrick Shelby batted the pass in the air, caught it and sprinted to the end zone with quarterback Matt Schaub chasing him in vain.
Once Shelby and the Dolphins built a 15-point lead, the Baltimore Ravens couldn’t quite catch them, either.
Miami intercepted a pair of deflected Schaub passes to score two touchdowns 20 seconds apart late in the first half, and held on to win 15-13 Sunday. The Ravens had the ball in Miami territory twice in the final six minutes, but the Dolphins turned them away.
“We had to grind it out today,” Shelby said.
Miami (5-7) managed only eight first downs but improved to 4-4 under interim coach Dan Campbell, and ended a streak of five consecutive losses to the Ravens (4-8).
The score was 0-0 when Reshad Jones intercepted a pass batted by defensive tackle Jordan Phillips to set up the game’s first score. On the next play, Ryan Tannehill hit a leaping DeVante Parker at the goal line for a 38-yard touchdown.
Three snaps later, the 280-pound Shelby batted a pass in the air, caught it and ran 22 yards to the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
“I got free. I got my hands up. I got the tip,” Shelby said. “Touchdown.”
The pick-six was the second in as many games for Schaub since he replaced Joe Flacco, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
“It’s part of the game, it happens, and that was the difference in the game,” Schaub said.
After Miami’s second touchdown, the Ravens committed consecutive penalties on the ensuing extra point to put the ball at the 1, and Jay Ajayi ran for a 2-point conversion. That became the margin of victory.
The Ravens’ eight losses have been by a total of 34 points.
Miami mounted a goal-line stand in the second quarter, and repeatedly stopped the Ravens down the stretch. Olivier Vernon totaled 2 1/2 sacks, one on third down with the Ravens nearing field goal range and five minutes left.
Baltimore recovered a fumble to get the ball back but failed to pick up a first down, and Justin Tucker was wide right on a 55-yard field goal try. Tucker is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history.
The Ravens again took over at their 20 with 20 seconds left and were unable to reach midfield.
Injury-plagued Baltimore lost despite outgaining Miami 375-219 and controlling the ball for nearly 38 minutes. Schaub threw for 308 yards — and the two interceptions.
“Those are the two plays in the game that made the difference,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
Schaub appeared to be shaken up several times but didn’t miss a snap.
The Dolphins’ two scores off turnovers were the extent of their point production, and new play-caller Zac Taylor couldn’t get the offense going.
Miami ran more than in recent games, and Lamar Miller rushed for 113 yards. But Tannehill went 9 for 19 for just 86 yards.
“We’ve got to be more productive,” Campbell said. “But we did what we had to do to win the game. Our defense played lights out.”
The biggest lapse came when Javorius Allen turned a screen pass from Schaub into a 41-yard play for the Ravens’ touchdown. Baltimore drove 60 yards in the final minute of the first half to kick a field goal, and added another field goal early in the fourth quarter.
A disputed penalty against the Ravens cost them a touchdown in the first quarter. Schaub threw long to Daniel Brown for a 52-yard score, but it was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty on Brown, who had only minimal contact with the defender.
Harbaugh contended the defender was guilty of interference, and said a first-year official made the call.
“I think he got it backward,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a rookie, and he messed it up.”
NOTES: Ravens TE Crockett Gilmore left In the second quarter with a back injury. … Miami reserve DT Robert Thomas left in the fourth quarter with an elbow injury. … Harbaugh’s brother, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, watched the game from the Ravens’ sideline and was in the locker room afterward.
Texans 21, Bills 30
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — When it came time to pick his starting quarterback last summer, Bills coach Rex Ryan insisted Tyrod Taylor was just as effective a passer as he was a runner.
Some three months later, and with Buffalo in jeopardy of fading out of the AFC playoff race, Taylor put his dual-threat ability on display by staring down the Houston Texans and their J.J. Watt-led defense. The first-year starter threw three touchdown passes — including a 40-yarder to Charles Clay with 1:53 left — and scored another rushing to secure a 30-21 victory Sunday.
Taylor completed 11 of 21 attempts for 211 yards, was sacked just once and added 28 yards rushing. He showed little fear in throwing into double coverage, completing a pair of 53-yard passes to Sammy Watkins. And Taylor played with poise in finding Clay running down the field wide open for the game-deciding touchdown.
That score came after the Bills’ offense sputtered — five punts and Dan Carpenter’s missed field goal — on its first six drives of the second half.
Facing second-and-7, Taylor found Clay running alone over the middle as both Texans defenders shaded their coverage toward backup tight end Matthew Mulligan along the right sideline.
The Bills (6-6), who never trailed, snapped a two-game skid and gained ground in the playoff picture by beating a Texans team that entered ahead of them in the standings.
Houston dropped to 6-6 and had a four-game winning streak snapped.
The Texans defense sagged and its Watt-led pass rush was rendered ineffective by several misdirections and running back LeSean McCoy’s ability to beat defenders to the sideline.
The Bills managed 390 yards against a defense that had given up an average of 250 over its past four games.
And Watt was essentially left grabbing at air. Entering the game with an NFL-leading 13 1/2 sacks, Watt was limited to four tackles, and had his one sack negated by offsetting penalties.
Watt acknowledged Taylor’s scrambling ability made it difficult to catch him.
“A little bit,” Watt said. “We just need to play better. We need to execute better. We need to do our jobs better.”
The Texans’ offense also lacked consistency.
Brian Hoyer finished 26 of 44 for 293 yards with three touchdowns but was unable to deliver in the clutch. Hoyer threw four consecutive incompletions on the Texans’ drive after Clay’s touchdown.
The Bills took over and Carpenter secured the win with a 36-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining. Carpenter otherwise struggled, missing a 50-yard field goal attempt and an extra point.
McCoy had 112 yards rushing. Watkins had 109 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Taylor signed with the Bills as a free agent in March after spending his first four NFL seasons as Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore. Taylor is 6-4 and already holds several team records.
He set a single-game mark for quarterbacks with 76 yards rushing in a 14-13 win over Tennessee on Oct. 11.
Against the Texans, Taylor extended his streak to 187 attempts without an interception and broke the franchise record of 175 that was set by Drew Bledsoe in 2002. He has combined for 15 touchdowns — including two rushing — with one interception and one last fumble in his past eight starts.
“He is our leader. He is our quarterback,” Watkins said. “He is just getting better every week with leading this team.”
NOTES: Bills CBs Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks did not return after hurting their shoulders. Ryan had no immediate update on their status. … Texans RG Brandon Brooks was expected to rejoin the team for its flight home after spending much of the day in the hospital. O’Brien said Brooks was transported to the hospital after feeling ill. … Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins had five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Jaguars 39, Titans 42
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are grateful they play the Jacksonville Jaguars at least once a year in Music City.
Marcus Mariota scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 87-yard run midway through a wild fourth quarter, and the Titans edged the Jaguars 42-39 on Sunday to snap the NFL’s longest home skid at 11 games.
The Titans (3-9) had not won on their own field since Oct. 12, 2014, when a blocked field goal helped them beat these very same Jaguars, 16-14. That was their lone home victory last season.
The teams combined for many more points Sunday, scoring six touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone, tying for the second-most TDs in a fourth quarter since 1940, according to STATS.
The Jaguars (4-8) failed to sweep Tennessee yet again, something they haven’t managed in this AFC South rivalry since 2005. Blake Bortles threw for 322 yards and five touchdowns — three to Allen Robinson, who had 10 catches for 153 yards. Bortles set a franchise record for most TD passes in a season in the loss.
Even with the high-scoring final quarter, the Jaguars cost themselves when Jason Myers missed two extra points. They also had a pass batted down on a 2-point conversion attempt.
Jacksonville had one last chance. But Da’Norris Searcy and Karl Klug sacked Bortles on fourth-and-4 with 2:02 left at the Tennessee 6.
Mariota kneeled down to end the game and start a long-awaited celebration as the Titans topped their win total of last season, when going 2-14 earned them the right to draft Mariota out of Oregon.
The rookie quarterback finished with 112 yards rushing, becoming the first Tennessee player to run for at least 100 yards since Chris Johnson on Dec. 29, 2013. The Heisman Trophy winner also threw for three touchdowns and 268 yards, becoming the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 250 yards, run for more than 100 and throw TD passes in a game.
Titans rookie wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham had his best day as a pro with five catches for 119 yards.
Mariota completed the only pass he threw in the third quarter but was sacked three times, including once when he tripped. Yet he opened the fourth period with a 47-yard TD pass to Green-Beckham, who bounced off Jaguars safety Sergio Brown and ran for the score.
That was just the first in a crazy stretch when these teams traded TDs; only Chicago and Detroit combined for more fourth-quarter TDs with seven on Sept. 30, 2007.
Bortles threw for three himself in the quarter. Jacksonville went up 32-28 on his 9-yard pass to Julius Thomas after Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith sacked Mariota and stripped the rookie of the ball.
The Titans, who had lost three of four games they led in the fourth quarter this season, answered by scoring twice in a 44-second span to take back the lead for good.
Mariota broke loose on third-and-7 with the Titans backed up at their 13. He weaved his way upfield with Wright delivering the final block. Then when a snap sailed over Bortles’ head, Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard recovered and ran 3 yards for a TD.
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said they brought seven trying to disrupt Mariota, who found a seam.
“Then it was a foot race,” Bradley said.
NOTES: Mariota’s 87-yard TD run was the third longest by a quarterback dating back to 1940. Terrelle Pryor had a 93-yard run in 2013 for Oakland against Pittsburgh and Colin Kaepernick had a 90-yarder for San Francisco against San Diego in 2014. … Mariota also matched Peyton Manning as the only NFL rookies to throw three TD passes in four games. … Robinson became the Jaguars’ first 1,000-yard receiver in a season since Jimmy Smith in 2005. … Jaguars CB Davon House set a career high with his third interception this season.
Jets 23, Giants 20 OT
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Brandon Marshall had a good feeling as he sat on a bench on the New York Jets’ sideline, so he leaned over and told Ryan Fitzpatrick they were about to win.
A few seconds later, Josh Brown’s 48-yard field goal sailed wide left, giving the Jets a 23-20 overtime victory over the Giants on Sunday.
“He was right,” Fitzpatrick said. “They missed it and it was a good feeling.”
The players embraced, and so did several coaches, knowing that the Jets (7-5) overcame a sloppy performance in which they gave up a few big plays and had some costly penalties — and still managed to help themselves in the AFC playoff hunt.
Fitzpatrick rallied the Jets from a late 10-point deficit after Tom Coughlin’s decision to go on fourth down went awry. Randy Bullock kicked a 31-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime, giving the Jets the stunning win that sent the Giants (5-7) to their third straight loss.
The Jets didn’t seal it until Brown missed his first attempt in 26 tries this season. A visibly frustrated Coughlin didn’t back down from his decision to go on fourth-and-2 from the Jets 4 with his team ahead 20-10 with under nine minutes to play. The play failed when Rontez Miles intercepted Eli Manning’s pass and returned it to the Jets 14, starting the Giants on the road to a fifth loss in a game they squandered a fourth-quarter lead. The interception by Miles sparked the Jets, who are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season.
Added defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson: “They drove the ball the length of the field and we bowed up and got a good stop and got the turnover, and you can’t ask for anything better than that as a defense.”
Bullock cut the deficit to seven on the next series and Fitzpatrick hit Marshall for a 9-yard touchdown with 27 seconds remaining to tie it, capping a 71-yard drive. Fitzpatrick finished 36 for 50 for 390 yards, while Marshall had 12 catches for 131 yards. Marshall, who leads the Jets with 1,062 receiving yards this season, is the first player in NFL history with a 1,000-yard receiving season with four different teams (Denver, Miami, Chicago and the Jets).
Fitzpatrick combined with Bilal Powell, who had eight catches for 91 yards, on a 25-yard TD pass for the Jets’ other touchdown. Bullock had three short field goals, the last capping a drive Fitzpatrick kept alive with an 11-yard pass to Eric Decker and passes of 13 and 10 to Marshall and 17 to Decker late.
Odell Beckham Jr. sprinted 72 yards for a touchdown and Dwayne Harris weaved 80 yards for another on a punt return for the Giants.
“This is a statement game for us as far as coming from behind and winning one,” Decker said.
The Jets also dealt with some controversy before the game, with Wilkerson being benched for the first quarter. Both Bowles and Wilkerson said it was “a coach’s decision,” and they insisted they would keep the reason “in house.” Wilkerson ended up with his team-leading ninth sack.
Manning finished 18 of 34 for 297 yards for the Giants. Jason Pierre-Paul had a fumble recovery to set up one of two field goals by Brown, whose miss was his first since Dec. 21. A 43-yard kickoff return by Harris and a 20-yard pass to Beckham on fourth down from the Giants 46 set up Brown’s missed attempt.
NOTES: Jets DE Mike Catapano was carted from the sideline with a right foot injury and didn’t return. S Calvin Pryor had a stinger, according to Bowles, and WR Jeremy Kerley left with a migraine. … Harris became the third Giants player to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in the same season, joining Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell (1951) & Jimmy Patton (1955).
Broncos 17, Chargers 3
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos felt right at home in San Diego from the minute they came out for pregame warmups and saw all the orange-clad fans.
Then they got a remarkably easy victory against the hapless San Diego Chargers.
Osweiler threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the game’s opening drive and Danny Trevathan intercepted Philip Rivers and returned it 25 yards for a score to lead the Broncos to a 17-3 victory.
“Oh my gosh it was unbelievable how much orange,” said Osweiler, who was 16 of 26 for 166 yards as he moved to 3-0 since he took over for the injured Peyton Manning. “They have no idea how much that means to us.
The Broncos improved to 10-2 as they close in on their fifth straight AFC West crown.
With about five minutes left, Broncos fans cheered a scoreboard update showing Philadelphia leading New England. The Patriots, lost, leaving the Broncos in position to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs if they win out.
Osweiler helped lead the Broncos to a 30-24 overtime victory against New England last Sunday night. The Broncos host Cincinnati (10-2) on Dec. 28.
San Diego fell to 3-9, taking its fifth straight home loss and its fifth straight against division foes. It was the Chargers’ second consecutive home game without a touchdown; they lost to AFC West rival Kansas City 33-3 on Nov. 22. It’s been more than a year since they’ve beaten a division foe.
This isn’t the first time the Chargers have felt like the road team in their own stadium.
This might have been the penultimate Chargers game in San Diego. Chairman Dean Spanos wants to move to an industrial suburb of Los Angeles, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week warned San Diego that it had until the end of the month to come up with a solid plan for a new stadium.
The Chargers walked away from stadium talks in mid-June.
The Broncos had no trouble moving 76 yards in eight plays on the opening drive, including a 22-yard run by C.J. Anderson and a 21-yard pass to Thomas. Osweiler then found Thomas wide open in the end zone for the score.
Thomas was coming off the worst game of his career, when he caught just one of 13 passes thrown his way.
On San Diego’s third possession, Rivers was hit and the ball went straight to Trevathan. He rumbled in to make it 14-0. It was his first NFL score and the fifth defensive touchdown for the Broncos this season. He later left with a concussion.
It was Rivers’ fifth pick-six of the year. Rivers was 18 of 35 for 202 yards and was sacked four times. It was his second-lowest yardage of the season.
The Broncos pushed it to 17-0 on Brandon McManus’ 23-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
San Diego rookie Josh Lambo kicked a 51-yard field goal just before halftime to avoid a shutout. He missed a 48-yarder in the first quarter.
Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman suffered a scary injury in the first quarter. He was immobilized on a backboard and taken off the field on a cart after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Denver safety David Bruton Jr. Inman was hit after making a 15-yard catch for a first down.
An initial evaluation was negative and Inman was able to move his hands and feet, the team said.
A few plays later, cornerback Brandon Flowers was hurt. He too was taken off the field on a cart.
Running back Melvin Gordon, the Chargers’ first-round draft pick, lost another fumble and was benched. He has lost four of his five fumbles and has yet to score a touchdown.
NOTES: Broncos TE Vernon Davis also suffered a concussion. Others on the Broncos’ injury list were Anderson (ankle), S Omar Bolden (hamstring) and Bruton (knee). … The Chargers reluctantly confirmed reports they extended general manager Tom Telesco’s contract during the summer. The team didn’t say why it tried to keep the news quiet. … Coach Mike McCoy, 21-23 in three seasons, said he has not been offered an extension.
Chiefs 34, Raiders 20
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Marcus Peters and Tyvon Branch made the Oakland Coliseum feel just like home.
Peters, an Oakland native who grew up attending Raiders games, set up Kansas City’s go-ahead score with an interception and former Oakland safety Tyvon Branch put the game away with an interception return for a touchdown that gave the Chiefs their sixth straight win, 34-20 on Sunday.
Peters and Branch helped key a momentum-changing fourth quarter as Kansas City (7-5) turned three interceptions by Derek Carr into three touchdowns to remain in the AFC wild-card lead.
Alex Smith threw two TD passes to Jeremy Maclin after Carr’s first two interceptions to lead the opportunistic Chiefs to another win.
Carr became the third Raiders quarterback since the team moved back to Oakland in 1995 to throw three fourth-quarter interceptions to send the Raiders to their fourth loss in five games and likely a 13th season without a playoff berth.
The game turned odd late in the third quarter after the Raiders took a 20-14 lead on a 5-yard TD pass from Carr to Lee Smith. But Sebastian Janikowski hit the upright on the extra point, ending a streak of 225 straight makes.
The Raiders then forced a punt and were driving to make it a two-score game when Carr tried to make something out of nothing and it cost him. He tried to throw the ball away to avoid a sack, but was hit on the play and the ball went right to Mauga, who rumbled 65 yards to the 2 on the return.
Maclin then scored on a 1-yard pass from Smith. But the holder Dustin Colquitt couldn’t get the snap down and the Chiefs missed the extra point, keeping the game tied at 20.
Carr then threw another interception on the next possession after Michael Crabtree tripped and Peters returned it 58 yards to the 13. Maclin then took a short pass and ran 13 yards for the go-ahead score only to have kicker Cairo Santos miss the point after attempt.
The botched kicks proved contagious as Janikowski hit the upright again on Oakland’s ensuing possession on a 49-yard field goal try.
The Raiders got another chance, but Branch scooped up a pass that deflected off Cooper’s hands and ran it back 38 yards for the score.
The Raiders took a 14-7 lead going into the half after Woodson ripped the ball away from Kelce with the Chiefs in field goal range and returned it 38 yards to the Kansas City 36. It was Woodson’s second fumble recovery of the game and set up Michael Crabtree’s 25-yard TD catch.
NOTES: Former Raiders WR Tim Brown was presented with his Hall of Fame ring at halftime. … Chiefs DL Mike DeVito left the game with a concussion. … Raiders S Nate Allen left with a knee injury.
Panthers 41, Saints 38
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers displayed composure in the clutch. That’s what unbeaten teams do.
Newton passed for five touchdowns, capped by a 15-yard scoring strike to Jerricho Cotchery with 1:05 to go, and the Panthers clinched the NFC South with a 41-38 victory over the Saints on Sunday.
“I expected us to win the football game,” Newton said, adding he wasn’t pleased by how tight the game got at the end against the reeling Saints (4-8), who’ve lost four straight. “We’ve got to find ways moving forward not to put ourselves in this position. This was a wakeup call for us. And moving forward, we know we can’t just win games by us showing up.”
Carolina, the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, has the ninth 12-0 start in the Super Bowl era. The Panthers have won 16 straight regular-season games, a streak that began in the Superdome last season. Newton, who was 28 of 41 for 331 yards, twice had to lead the Panthers back from fourth-quarter deficits.
Newton was sacked once but hit numerous other times, including on his 10 rushes for 49 yards. Newton was ordered to undergo concussion testing during the third quarter, right after his 13-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. capped a touchdown drive during which he took a heavy hit from linebacker Michael Mauti.
Drew Brees passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Saints linebacker Stephone Anthony returned a fumble 31 yards for a score, and also became the first NFL player to return a blocked extra-point kick for 2 points. The league made a rule change to allow such plays for the first time this season.
Carolina led 27-16 after Newton’s 13-yard pass to Devin Funchess, but New Orleans rallied to take a 31-27 lead on Brees’ 54-yard TD to Brandin Cooks and 24-yard scoring pass to Brandon Coleman.
The Panthers went back in front on Newton’s 45-yard pass to Ginn. But New Orleans answered with Mark Ingram’s 9-yard run with 5:21 left, forcing Newton to put together one more touchdown drive.
He narrowly pulled it off, finding tight end Greg Olsen for a first down as he rolled left on a fourth-and-4. Olsen had to fall to the field to make a, rolling fingertip grab of the underthrown pass, which was so close to hitting the turf that fans in the Superdome were roaring at replays as Saints coach Sean Payton asked for a review.
Olsen finished with nine catches for 129 yards.
Cooks had six catches for 104 yards for the Saints.
New Orleans’ defense produced three turnovers and a touchdown in the first half.
However, the Saints’ offense was unable to convert cornerback Delvin Breaux’s interception or Kenny Vaccaro’s recovery of Olsen’s fumble into points. One of those possessions ended in Kai Forbath’s missed 38-yard field goal.
Anthony scored when he ripped the ball away from Jonathan Stewart as the running back tried to push through a pile of players. Carolina players seemed to think the play was over and watched as Anthony raced 31 yards for a 14-0 Saints lead.
Early in the second quarter, Carolina cut the lead in half on Mike Tolbert’s 12-yard touchdown catch, set up by Newton’s 30-yard bootleg on fourth-and-1 a couple plays earlier.
Stewart scored on a 5-yard run shortly before halftime, but Graham Gano’s extra point kick was blocked by Kevin Williams and returned 82 yards by Anthony to give New Orleans a 16-13 lead.
NOTES: Breaux left the game in the first half with what Payton said was a hamstring injury. … Panthers safety Kurt Coleman’s interception of Brees was his sixth this season and fifth in his last six games.
Eagles 35, Patriots 28
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Eight days ago, the New England Patriots were thinking about an unbeaten season.
Now the defending Super Bowl champions are trying to recover from their first back-to-back losses in more than three years.
Najee Goode scored on a blocked punt, Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception 99 yards for another touchdown and Darren Sproles took a punt return all the way on Sunday before the Philadelphia Eagles held on for an improbable 35-28 victory over the Patriots.
After giving up 45 points in back-to-back games, the response from the Eagles defense and special teams was just what coach Chip Kelly needed to snap a three-game losing streak and propel Philadelphia (5-7) back into the NFC East race.
“It takes those things to win in this stadium,” Kelly said, “against that coach and that quarterback.”
The Patriots took a 14-0 lead before Philadelphia scored five straight touchdowns. Then New England (10-2) came back, taking advantage of an onside kick and a fumble to have a chance to tie the game in the final minute.
That’s when the Patriots receivers dropped three passes in a row to turn the ball over on downs.
The Eagles moved into a tie for second in the division with the New York Giants, just a half-game behind Washington, which plays Dallas on Monday night.
The Patriots hold a three-game lead over the New York Jets in the AFC East. But what two weeks ago was a comfortable cushion for an undefeated team has shrunk and could, at the very least, cost New England a chance to rest its injured players for the postseason, as Belichick likes to do.
And they need it.
Just eight days removed from talk of an undefeated season, the Patriots’ injuries began to take their toll. Brady was without tight end Rob Gronkowski, top receiver Julian Edelman and No. 1 running back Dion James, and playing behind a reshuffled offensive line that couldn’t protect him.
Still, the Super Bowl MVP gave them a chance.
After blowing a 14-point lead for the second straight week, the Patriots snapped out of it for a late charge in the final minutes.
Brady threw for a touchdown to make it a two-score game and then, after an onside kick, ran it in from the 1-yard line to cut it to seven points with 3 minutes left. New England’s second onside kick failed, but the Patriots stripped the ball from Kenjon Barner on third down to give Brady one more chance.
But the comeback fell short when Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and Keshawn Martin all had passes come out of their hands in the final 34 seconds.
“You have a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach, and you have a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback — maybe the best quarterback to ever play the game. Of course you’re aware of that,” Kelly said. “(But) if you spend too much time patting yourself on the back, you’re going to lose focus.”
Darren Sproles had 66 yards rushing, 34 receiving and 115 more on punt returns — including an 83-yard touchdown that made it 28-14 with 4:18 left in the third quarter. After missing the previous two games with a concussion and left shoulder injury, Sam Bradford completed 14 of 24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
But the Eagles won this one with defense and special teams.
The Patriots took a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter before deciding on the ensuing kickoff to have former rugby star Nate Ebner drop-kick the ball off. It floated behind the first line of defenders, where Seyi Ajirotutu fielded it at his 41.
It took eight plays for the Eagles to go 59 yards, with Bradford connecting with Zach Ertz from the 5 to make it 14-7.
The Patriots had a chance to run out the clock, but Brady was sacked and New England was forced to punt with 15 seconds remaining. Ryan Allen’s kick was blocked by Chris Maragos; Goode scooped it up and ran it 24 yards for the touchdown to send the teams into the break tied 14-all.
Brady had thrown just four interceptions all season, but he was charged with one when Jenkins grabbed a deflection and gave the Eagles a 21-14 lead midway through the third quarter.
When the Patriots were forced to punt on their next possession, Sproles broke free for an 83-yard touchdown.
The Patriots moved the ball thanks to a direct-snap, end-around pass to Brady that gained 36 yards — his first reception since 2001. But on the next play, Brady lobbed the ball into the end zone and it was picked off by Byron Maxwell.
Bradford led the Eagles on a 12-play drive to make it 35-14 on a 10-yard pass to Jordan Matthews.
Then the Patriots rallied.
Brady made it a 14-point game on a 14-yard pass to Scott Chandler, then the Patriots recovered an onside kick. Brady’s 1-yard sneak with 3 minutes left made it 35-28.
The ensuing onside kick attempt went out of bounds, and Philadelphia ran the clock down to just over 1 minute. On third down, with a chance to run off all but 20 seconds left on the clock, Barner fumbled.
NOTES: Brady had never in four previous games against the Eagles thrown an interception. … It was the 71st 300-yard game for Brady, third-most all time. With his 30th touchdown pass of the season, Brady has six seasons with 30 or more, joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. … It was Brady’s first multi-interception game since the Super Bowl. . Brady was 40-8 after a loss in his career. . The Patriots were 38-4 following a loss since 2013. . Ebner attempted two onside kicks, and neither was successful. Stephen Gostkowski’s one onside attempt was recovered by New England.
Colts 10, Steelers 45
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Antonio Brown crossed the goal line with the exclamation-point touchdown and decided it was time to turn the goal post into his personal jungle gym. The Pittsburgh receiver spread his legs, leapt and tried to squeeze the yellow post pad with his legs. Instead, he slipped down and landed on his rear with a harmless thud.
It was the most resistance any of the Steelers felt all night. It tends to happen when Ben Roethlisberger is under center and the Indianapolis Colts are on the other side.
The Pittsburgh quarterback threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-10 dismantling of the decimated Colts on Sunday night, giving him 866 yards and 10 touchdowns — with no interceptions — his last two starts against Indianapolis.
Then again, they typically do against the Colts. Brown caught eight passes for 118 yards and two scores and added a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown in the final minutes for the Steelers (7-5).
Martavis Bryant hauled in four passes for 114 yards and a score, and DeAngelo Williams added 134 yards rushing as Pittsburgh shook off a slow start to dominate the Colts (6-6) over the final three quarters.
“We have the best quarterback in the NFL,” Brown said. “We have a great offensive line and running back … We’re doing a great job and getting better each and every week as a team. Today we showed that.”
Indianapolis, not so much.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 169 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions before leaving in the fourth quarter because of neck and shoulder pain. The Colts remain tied with Houston for the lead in the AFC North.
Pittsburgh came in smarting following a sloppy loss in Seattle last weekend that dropped the Steelers out of the AFC’s top wild-card spot, while the Colts had been surging under the seemingly ageless Hasselbeck. The 40-year-old began the night 4-0 this fall while filling in for injured Andrew Luck, playing with the energy of a player at the onset of his career instead of one fighting off the twilight.
Whatever magic Hasselbeck possessed disappeared quickly in a stadium where he has never won. He threw a pair of interceptions in opening 11 minutes, matching his season total. The first one came on the game’s third play, a lob at the goal line that linebacker Jarvis Jones snatched out of the air for his first career interception. Hasselbeck’s second came later in the quarter on a tipped ball that ended up in the hands of cornerback Brandon Boykin, seeing his first extended playing time since the Steelers acquired him from Philadelphia in August.
“Just terrible,” said Hasselbeck, who believe he’ll be fine. “There’s really no excuse. We were in it. We had chances and we didn’t capitalize offensively.”
Boykin’s interception led to a 51-yard field goal from Chris Boswell that gave the Steelers a 6-3 lead. Hasselbeck found Frank Gore for a 9-yard score that put Indianapolis in front, a touchdown that seemed to remind Pittsburgh that Roethlisberger put up 522 yards and six touchdowns in a victory over the Colts last fall.
The Steelers finished the first half with a flourish. Roethlisberger completed six straight passes on an 80-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard dart to Brown that pushed the Steelers ahead. Roethlisberger found Will Johnson for the team’s NFL record seventh 2-point conversion to make it 14-10. The quarterback was even better running the 2-minute drill on Pittsburgh’s next possession, going 60 yards in eight plays, the last a 5-yard toss to Markus Wheaton just inside the pylon that put Pittsburgh up 11 at the break.
The Colts went three-and-out to start the second half and the Steelers effectively entered the competitive portion of things when Roethlisberger found Bryant with a rainbow down the right sideline. Bryant chased it down and simply ran away from a pair of Indianapolis defensive backs on his way to a 68-yard play that put the Steelers up 18. Indianapolis’ last best shot to get back in it came later in the quarter, but Hasselbeck was chased to the sideline and threw incomplete on fourth down at the Pittsburgh 14.
Brown finished the Colts with two more scores, a 5-yard reception 49 seconds into the fourth quarter before adding the fourth punt return touchdown of his career even if the celebration didn’t go as planned.
Cowboys 19, Redskins 16
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — After the game’s 10th drive finally resulted in the evening’s first points, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant stalked around the sideline, cursing and yelling and, oddly, even removing his shoes.
He was upset that the football wasn’t being thrown his way.
On the game’s final scoring drive, Matt Cassel’s only two completions both went to Bryant, helping set up Dan Bailey’s 54-yard field goal with 9 seconds left Monday night that gave Dallas a 19-16 victory over the Washington Redskins and allowed the Cowboys to somehow keep themselves in the thick of the playoff chase in the woeful NFC East.
“I was frustrated,” Bryant said of his first-half tantrum. “But then I had to calm down and understand that this is the game. Everybody wants to make plays and be there for their team.”
At halftime of a game that was dull until the last 90 seconds, Bryant had zero catches and had been targeted twice. He finished with three receptions for 62 yards, including a diving 42-yard grab that led to — what else? — a field goal.
The last-place Cowboys (4-8) won for the first time this season without Romo and now are only one game behind the Redskins, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, who are all 5-7.
“We are still in this thing,” Bryant said.
Hard to believe, but it’s true.
“I would never have dreamed it,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “You can say it speaks to parity — and I guess it does. We are fortunate.”
Jones added: “We won one on will tonight.”
Here is what else to know about Monday’s game:
NO TABLETS: A power issue led to the teams not being able to use their sideline tablets during the game. “We didn’t have tablets, and we didn’t have pictures. Typically, if the headsets are off for one side, they immediately go off for the other side. But the NFL is working their way through the ruling with tablets and pictures and it took a little while before it was balanced on each side,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “It’s a challenge (to be without that technology). You get so used to looking at those and verifying your thoughts.”
UP AND DOWN: The Redskins had won their past five home games, including a 20-14 victory over the Giants last weekend, but they continued a pattern: Washington has not collected consecutive wins all season. “We’ve shown flashes. Good quarters, good games, here and there,” coach Jay Gruden said. “But the great teams, the ones that advance in the playoffs and win Super Bowls are consistent. And we have not been.”
JACKSON: With score 9-all and about 1 1/2 minutes left, Washington’s DeSean Jackson fielded a punt at his own 16 and headed up the field. Jackson, who hadn’t been used as a punt returner this season until last week, got past the 20, before reversing course and heading backward all the way to the 1, with various Cowboys in pursuit. As he again tried to move forward, Jackson was surrounded and the ball popped out, recovered by punter Chris Jones at the 15 with 86 seconds remaining. Two plays later, Dallas turned that fumble into its only TD. Jackson said he heard some encouraging words from Gruden afterward. “The best thing I could say was, ‘I laid an egg; I messed up,'” Jackson said.
WITTEN’S 1,000TH: Dallas TE Jason Witten became the second NFL player at that position to reach 1,000 catches, joining Tony Gonzalez. Witten already was one of only two tight ends — Gonzalez is the other — with more than 10,000 yards receiving. “I was happy to get it,” Witten said. “I’m just humbled by it.”
QUITE A QUARTER: There were 18 points over the first 58 1/2 minutes, 17 the rest of the frenzied way. The first quarter-plus was particularly ugly. The first nine possessions resulted in eight punts — five after three-and-outs — and one turnover, a combined four first downs, only 68 yards of offense, and a half-dozen penalties for 66 yards. In all, the teams totaled four turnovers and 16 penalties.