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Here is a recap of Week 4 of the 2015 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Dolphins 7, Bengals 22
CINCINNATI (AP) — For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.
The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one — 173 yards and a touchdown — and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict’s return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.
The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.
Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.
“I hold myself to a very high standard,” said Green, who had 10 catches. “I know what I’m capable of. Last week I didn’t perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week.”
During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals’ season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent’s season-high five field goals.
Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.
“Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play,” Dalton said.
The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play — Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills— but couldn’t do anything else on offense.
“We’ve got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday,” Tannehill said. “We’re kind of in a dark spot right now. It’s squarely on our shoulders.”
The Bengals’ defense expected to get a lift from Burfict’s return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.
“He’s amazing,” end Carlos Dunlap said. “Did you see the plays he made? Those aren’t plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It’s good to have him back.”
Mostly, it was Green’s show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton’s scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.
A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: “Jose 16 Heaven’s Bright.”
STILL CAN’T RUN
The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.
Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.
Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.
Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals’ trouble close to the goal line. He’s recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.
Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.
Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.
The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.
The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They’re 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They’ve dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.
Colts 27, Jaguars 30 @ London
LONDON (AP) — Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t let one slip away.
The team that leads the NFL in surrendered leads since 2014 pulled out a gutsy 30-27 victory Sunday over the Indianapolis Colts despite conceding three fourth-quarter touchdowns to Andrew Luck and Frank Gore.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles held his own versus Luck, throwing for two touchdowns and running for a third. Bortles finished 19 of 33 for 207 yards and three sacks, Luck went 27 of 42 for 234 yards, two TDs, six sacks and a costly first-quarter pick.
Still, Luck’s three fourth-quarter touchdown drives — the last capped by a 64-yarder to Phillip Dorsett against busted coverage — rattled the Jaguars’ nerves. But Luck’s fourth-and-1 pass at the Jacksonville 49 with 1:36 remaining fell from the hands of tight end Dwayne Allen to preserve the victory for under-fire Jaguars coach Gus Bradley.
“Man, that was exciting. Our team never stopped believing despite all that Andrew Luck threw at us,” Bradley said after the Jaguars’ second straight win at their London second home, Wembley Stadium.
“Our fan base here, that atmosphere out there, was unbelievable, and our team fed off it,” he said in reference to the raucous sold-out crowd of 83,764, many of whom waved yellow Jaguars (1-3) flags and raised the volume whenever Luck had the ball.
The Colts (1-3) repeatedly self-destructed on offense with dropped balls and another costly Luck interception that led to Jacksonville’s opening touchdown. The Colts proved just as reckless on defense as pass interference and unnecessary roughness penalties extended three Jacksonville scoring drives.
Jacksonville took a 7-0 lead after Dante Fowler Jr. shot through the middle of the line and batted Luck’s pass sideways to teammate Yannick Ngakoue, who returned the interception 12 yards to the Colts 26. Bortles found Allen Robinson wide open on an inside slant for a 3-yard touchdown as Robinson easily beat Antonio Cromartie.
“When you have a turnover early in the game, you give up a short field and a touchdown, and 11 penalties that keep drives alive, guys have got to control their emotions, they’ve got to learn when to say when,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Obviously we have to be better.”
The Jaguars led 23-6 after three quarters before the Colts mounted a tenacious comeback.
The Colts’ first touchdown drive of the final period was aided by an end zone pass interference on safety Jonathan Cyprien. Frank Gore — who ran 16 times for 68 yards and rose to 10th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list — punched the ball through on the next play seconds into the final period.
After a Jacksonville punt, Luck led a 12-play, 78-yard touchdown drive capped by his rollout scoring toss to T.Y. Hilton alone in the right corner of the end zone to narrow the score to 23-20.
The Jags didn’t fold under the pressure as so often before. Bortles found Allen Hurns on a short out route that the wide receiver turned into a 42-yard touchdown. Hurns made reserve cornerback Rashaan Melvin miss, then cut inside and through the defense to put the Jaguars up 30-20 with 5:31 left.
But Luck pulled the Colts back to 30-27 barely two minutes later. A coverage miscue by Jaguars rookie Jalen Ramsey left slot receiver Dorsett streaking alone to haul in the 64-yard touchdown throw.
“We’ll go back and fix what we need to fix. … This does not feel good and it shouldn’t,” Luck said.
JAGUARS CAN RUN: The Jaguars, who entered the game ranked as the NFL’s second-worst rushing attack , got a semblance of a running game going. Yeldon carried 13 times for 68 yards and Bortles added seven scrambles for 36 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown keeper on a read-option play that put Jacksonville ahead 14-6 midway through the second quarter. Chris Ivory added eight carries for 29 yards. While nothing special, gaining 136 yards on the ground was a great improvement for a team averaging a paltry 55 per game.
FOREIGN POWER: Frank Gore added to his somewhat strange status as the NFL’s greatest rusher outside the United States. Sunday marked his fourth time in regular-season action on foreign soil dating back to his rookie year of 2005 in Mexico City. Gore also had strong 2010 and 2013 performances as a 49er in London’s Wembley. Adding Sunday’s productive numbers leaves Gore with 66 non-American carries for 264 yards and four touchdowns.
MORE GORE: The running back’s 68 yards on the ground raised him to 10th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list at 12,293. He passed Marcus Allen, Colts all-time leading rusher Edgerrin James, and Marshall Faulk. But Gore, making his 84th straight start, most among active running backs, couldn’t end the Colts’ most awkward streak: the longest run of any team without a 100-yard rusher. The Colts haven’t had one since Dec. 16, 2012, when rookie Vick Ballard reached 105 yards versus the Texans.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Jaguars enjoy a bye week before traveling to Chicago to face the Bears. The Colts, unusually for teams making the London trip, chose not to schedule their bye after the game and will face the Bears at home Oct. 9.
Panthers 33, Falcons 48
ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan and Julio Jones brought down some team records — and the defending NFC champions.
Ryan shredded Carolina’s defense, passing for a team-record 503 yards and four touchdowns, Jones had 12 receptions for a Falcons-record 300 yards, and Atlanta overwhelmed the struggling Panthers 48-33 on Sunday.
A week after being held to one catch in a win at New Orleans, Jones had a 75-yard scoring catch late in the game as Atlanta (3-1) solidified its early hold on the NFC South lead. Jones’ 12 catches came on 15 targets.
“We got Julio the ball in space and when he has the ball in space he’s so explosive,” Ryan said.
The totals by Ryan and Jones are the most ever allowed by Carolina (1-3), and the first time teammates had 500 yards passing and 300 yards receiving, according to information provided to the Falcons by Elias.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton left the game in the fourth quarter. The team said Newton suffered a concussion after taking a hit from Deion Jones on a successful 2-point run. There appeared to be helmet-to-helmet contact but there was no penalty on the hit.
Newton appeared to be trying to take a casual jog into the end zone when he was knocked to the ground by Jones. Newton still reached the ball across the goal line.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera had no update on Newton following the game. Newton’s replacement, Derek Anderson, said he saw Newton after the game.
“He was all right,” Anderson said.
The Panthers scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including scoring passes from Anderson to Greg Olsen and Corey Brown.
Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, completed 14 of 25 passes for 165 yards with one touchdown before leaving the game.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly. “I don’t what the severity of it is. … He’s a fighter. He’s one of the toughest guys I know. He’ll get out there as soon as he can.”
Robert Alford’s 30-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:14 remaining clinched the win. Alford picked off another pass from Anderson to end Carolina’s final possession.
The Falcons began the day leading the NFL in scoring and total offense.
They were rarely stopped by Carolina, even when pinned back close to their own goal line. They scored touchdowns after beginning drives on their 2- and 1-yard lines.
Carolina has lost two straight and needs a quick recovery to avoid falling too far behind in the division.
“Our guys are going to rebound from this,” Kuechly said. “I know they will. They’re a resilient bunch. We take a lot of pride in what we do. We’ll come out better next week.”
Newton was sacked only once after being sacked eight times in last week’s loss to Minnesota.
MORE ON JULIO: Jones is only the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to have at least 300 yards receiving in a game. He is the first since Detroit’s Calvin Johnson had 329 yards against Dallas on Oct. 8, 2013.
MISMATCH: Panthers rookie cornerback James Bradberry was overwhelmed from the opening minute in his matchup with Jones. Ryan completed passes to Jones on Atlanta’s first three plays for 22, 14 and 15 yards, showing the Falcons’ plan to take advantage of a secondary still struggling to replace Josh Norman, now with Washington.
“They put the young corner on me man to man … and Matt made some great decisions today,” Jones said.
INJURIES: Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis left the game with a hamstring injury early in the second half. Wide receiver Devin Funchess left the game in the fourth quarter with a toe injury. Bradberry returned after he was taken to the locker room in the first quarter with a left toe injury.
Falcons linebackers Jones and Sean Weatherspoon sustained calf injuries.
There was little production to be found in Carolina’s running game , as Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) did not play. Cameron Artis-Payne ran for 12 yards on five carries. Fozzy Whittaker had three carries for only six yards but led the Panthers with nine catches for 86 yards.
Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman ran for 57 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries as he took the lead in the tandem with Tevin Coleman, who ran for 19 yards on eight carries.
Carolina: The Panthers will face another division opponent when they return home to face Tampa Bay next Monday night.
Atlanta: The Falcons open a stretch of three straight games against AFC teams when they visit Denver next week.
Lions 14, Bears 17
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears don’t know who their quarterback will be going forward.
But they at least have one running back.
Rookie Jordan Howard had a breakout game, running for a career-high 111 yards to back a solid performance by quarterback Brian Hoyer, and the Bears picked up their first win of the season with a 17-14 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
“I always thought we were going to win, but I wasn’t expecting 100 yards,” Howard said. “That makes it even better. Just getting a win, I’m very excited about that.”
The Bears were planning to use a committee approach after letting Matt Forte go as a free agent following last season. But with Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey hurt, it was basically a one-man show on Sunday.
Howard carried 23 times and gave the Bears’ dormant running game a much-needed boost.
He ran through defenders and exposed holes in the line — an eye-opening performance for a running back who followed quite a path to the NFL.
Howard transferred to Indiana last year after UAB shut down its program and was drafted by the Bears in the fifth round after averaging 134.8 yards rushing for the Hoosiers.
“I think we noticed pretty early on Jordan is a big back,” coach John Fox said.
“We knew that coming out of the University of Indiana. I think the thing that we didn’t know is the quickness of his feet and the vision that he has. I think he’s outstanding and we will ride him pretty good moving forward.”
Here are some things learned as the Bears (1-3) also stopped a six-game home losing streak as well as a six-game slide against Detroit (1-3):
WHO’S AT QB? Brian Hoyer might have given Fox something to think about in filling in for the injured Jay Cutler.
Hoyer threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns in his second straight start with Cutler nursing a sprained right thumb.
The next game is at Indianapolis. And if Cutler is healthy, who starts?
“I’d like to enjoy this for at least a few hours,” Fox said.
Hoyer shrugged off a similar question, saying, “It’s my role to do whatever’s asked of me. Today, I’m going to enjoy the victory. Whatever they say to me tomorrow, then that’s what I’ll prepare to do. I think that’s being a professional about it.”
STRUGGLING LIONS: The Lions dropped their third straight, with Matthew Stafford struggling to find open receivers and a short-handed run game once again unable to get going.
Stafford was 23 of 36 for 213 yards. Marvin Jones Jr. had 74 yards receiving after setting a career-high with 205 yards against Green Bay the previous week.
The Lions managed just 66 yards rushing and 263 in total offense.
“We were just not sharp at all,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “There was no rhythm to it. That’s my fault.”
DOWN ON DEFENSE: The Lions’ defense clearly missed the injured Ezekiel Ansah and DeAndre Levy, considering they gave up 408 yards to a team that came into the game 27th in total offense.
Ansah sprained his ankle two weeks ago in Detroit’s loss to Tennessee and didn’t return to the game. Levy has a quadriceps injury. He missed much of last season with a hip injury.
CORNERBACKS COME THROUGH: Bears cornerbacks have three interceptions, matching their total of last season.
Jacoby Glenn and Deiondre Hall each picked off Stafford deep in Chicago territory on Sunday, helping Chicago beat Detroit for the first time since 2012.
They were pressed into action early in the season because of injuries to Kyle Fuller (knee) and Bryce Callahan (concussion, hamstring).
The other interception by a Chicago cornerback was by Tracy Porter in the opener at Houston. Fuller had two interceptions last season and Porter one.
SLOW STARTS: After taking halftime leads in the first two games, the Lions have been outscored a combined 38-13 in the past two.
“We just have to keep fighting and keep practicing,” tight end Eric Ebron said. “I have no clue. We ball out all week, 100 percent effort all week and we get to Sunday and we have no idea why. It’s a bad drought we have and we have to get ourselves out of there.”
Seahawks 27, Jets 17
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Russell Wilson’s efficient arm certainly made up for his banged-up knee.
The Seattle quarterback was sharp despite playing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee , throwing three touchdown passes in the Seahawks’ 27-17 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
“I thought it was a sterling effort by the quarterback,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Everybody was wondering and questioning what was going to happen and how he would be able to do it. He just did it. This is the best he’s looked in the last few weeks.”
Wilson was injured last week against San Francisco and wasn’t his usual mobile self in this one, but finished 23 of 32 for 309 yards while wearing a brace on his leg as the Seahawks (3-1) won at MetLife Stadium for the first time since beating the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in 2014.
“Feeling great,” said Wilson, who was sacked twice. “I thought the offensive line did a phenomenal job. They protected really well.”
Jimmy Graham, questionable with back spasms earlier in the week, had six catches for 113 yards, including an impressive 17-yard one-handed grab in the opening quarter, while giving the Jets (1-3) fits all game.
“He’s a bad, bad man,” Wilson said. “He can do anything. He can make any play, any catch. He’s a special player.”
Added Carroll: “He’s just a monster out there.”
Wilson, who has also dealt with a sprained right ankle from the opener against Miami, went 10 of 11 for 191 yards and two TDs and a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating in the first half. He finished with minus-5 yards on five rushes for Seattle, which has a bye next weekend.
Wilson helped Seattle, making the first of three East Coast trips this season, improve to 8-5 in its last 13 games with a 1 p.m. Eastern start time.
Richard Sherman had two interceptions and Earl Thomas one as Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets couldn’t get much going against the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense.
Fitzpatrick, coming off a six-interception performance at Kansas City , was 23 of 41 for 261 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. The Jets were without receiver Eric Decker , who’s week to week with a partially torn right rotator cuff.
“We’ve beaten ourselves two weeks in a row,” coach Todd Bowles said, “and we’ve got to fix that.”
Marshall bristled a bit when asked if he thought the Jets need to evaluate the quarterback position.
“I am. Going down. In a boat. With Ryan Fitzpatrick,” Marshall said, measuring his words. “OK?”
Marshall’s first touchdown catch of the season on a back-shoulder throw to the front-left corner of the end zone over Sherman cut the deficit to four at 14-10 with 13 seconds left in the opening half. Seattle took advantage of an interception by Sherman at the start of the fourth quarter. Wilson found Graham for 24 yards — a catch challenged by the Jets but upheld by review — and then connected with Paul Richardson for 27 yards to make it first-and-goal from the 6.
On the next play, Wilson rolled to his right and lofted a pass to Christine Michael, who reached over the pylon to make it 24-10.
FLUKEY FIRST TD: Rookie Charone Peake scored his first NFL touchdownwhen Fitzpatrick was sacked by Cliff Avril and fumbled, but the receiver picked up the ball and zipped 42 yards into the end zone with 2:15 left that made it 27-17.
MEMORABLE GRAB: Tanner McEvoy’s first NFL catch was one for the trophy case as he was wide open downfield when Wilson hit him for a 42-yard touchdown that put the Seahawks up 14-3. McEvoy, a New Jersey native, was an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin.
QUICK IMPACT: C.J. Spiller, who signed with the Seahawks earlier in the week , made his first big play for Seattle with an 8-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter. Spiller had worked out for the Jets before he signed with the Seahawks, and made New York pay for not signing him, giving Seattle a 7-3 lead.
“That was the cherry on top,” Spiller said. “It’s been a crazy week.”
The drive was highlighted by a 27-yard catch by Graham and a 37-yard grab by Doug Baldwin, who held onto the ball despite taking a huge hit from Calvin Pryor, who was flagged for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at the Jets 5.
IFEDI’S DEBUT: Seattle guard Germain Ifedi, the 31st overall pick in the draft, made his regular-season debut. Ifedi missed the first three games (ankle), but started at right guard after going through a full week of practice.
INJURIES: Baldwin came out briefly early in the second quarter after taking the hit from Pryor. He returned later in the quarter. … Bowles said Jets CB Darrelle Revis has a hamstring injury, although it was initially announced as a thigh injury. … RG Brian Winters left in the second quarter with a concussion after he banged helmets with a Seahawks defender — and was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty. He was replaced by Brent Qvale, who had started at RT.
Bills 16, Patriots 0
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady won’t return to an undefeated team after all.
But following the Buffalo Bills’ surprise 16-0 shutout victory at New England Sunday, he will come back to an AFC East that is suddenly tighter a month into the season.
Buffalo’s win was a continuation of an offensive turnaround that seemed improbable after a 0-2 start.
The change in direction began with the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Roman and promotion of assistant Anthony Lynn. It is now in full bloom after back-to-back wins over Arizona and New England.
“For sure, we’re confident in coach Lynn,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “Each game, each time he has a shot he has to call a play, different situations, he’s answering every time. … We loved him already before he was an offensive coordinator, and now we’re just falling in love with the calls that he’s making.”
And for a team that seemed to be going nowhere two weeks ago, getting just its second win in 16 visits to Foxborough is a very big deal.
A big part of the reason is quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In his second year as a starter, he has found confidence with his throwing.
He had trouble reading coverages and throwing the deep ball earlier in the season, but didn’t exhibit those issues in picking apart a veteran New England defense that is having trouble defending the pass this season.
Buffalo’s defense also took a big step by handing the Patriots their first shutout loss at Gillette Stadium.
Even with Brady serving the final game of his four-game “Deflategate” ban, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said it’s something to build on.
So was the camaraderie his teammates showed about an hour before the game, when Bills safety Robert Blanton and others were involved in a shoving match with Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett and receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
Robey-Coleman said he and other Buffalo players felt disrespected when the Patriots players twice ran through their pregame warmups.
Several punches were thrown when a shoving match erupted near the sideline. The altercation appeared to begin when Brissett was jogging along the field and was shoved by Bills safety Robert Blanton.
Brissett didn’t stop, and Mitchell retaliated by shoving Blanton. Blanton responded by punching Mitchell in the chest and head-butting him, which led to several other players and assistant coaches getting involved before it was broken up.
“When he did that, it kind of put a fire up underneath us,” Robey-Coleman said. “We came out there with some fire. And it was like, ‘Nah, we ain’t going to let nobody disrespect us no matter where we’re at.'”
WELCOME BACK BRADY: As bad as things went for the Patriots on Sunday, Brady’s return to the team on Monday is welcomed for several reasons. Not only do they get back the leader of their offense, but they get back a healthy player at the position with Jimmy Garoppolo still recovering from his shoulder injury and Brissett not 100 percent after tweaking his right thumb last week. Receiver Julian Edelman said his presence will help everyone refocus.
“Any time one of your best players isn’t there, there’s something missing,” Edelman said. “We handled a lot of it well. Today we just didn’t. The Bills outplayed us, so that’s that.”
A LITTLE MORE GRONK: After going without a catch in his season debut last week, Rob Gronkowski got his first reception of 2016 with an 11-yard reception in the fourth quarter. With it, he took over sole possession of 20th place among NFL tight ends. Gronkowski (5,566) needs 161 yards to move past Irving Fryar (5,726) into fourth place on the Patriots career receiving list.
BOUNCING BACK: Following a 0-2 start, Ryan looked forward to Buffalo’s next two opponents.
He said Arizona and New England would be a great test to see how his team responds. The Bills passed with flying colors in winning both games, starting with a 33-18 win over the Cardinals.
“Yeah, not one of the more brilliant statements I’ve had,” Ryan said with a self-deprecating laugh. “Well, I feel a lot better.”
SACK ATTACK: The Bills had three sacks against the Patriots.
Buffalo has 13 sacks in four games after managing just 21 last season — a franchise low for a 16-game schedule. Last season, the Bills failed to record more than two sacks in one game. This season, the Bills have had three or more three times.
More encouraging is the Bills’ defense prepares to welcome back star defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who missed the first four games serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Browns 20, Redskins 31
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Cashing in with four red zone touchdowns and taking the ball away at crucial moments allowed the Washington Redskins to win a game they could’ve easily lost to the Cleveland Browns.
Kirk Cousins threw three touchdown passes, including two to tight end Jordan Reed, and the Redskins forced three second-half turnovers to complete a 31-20 victory Sunday that kept the Browns winless on the season.
“It’s just what we needed to do,” said Cousins, who was 21 of 27 for 183 yards and also had an interception. “The defense did a great job at getting us momentum with those turnovers. We ran the ball well. … I think being able to run the ball effectively certainly got us going.”
Washington (2-2) scored more touchdowns in the red zone against Cleveland (0-4) than it did in the first three games of the season, when it was 3 for 14 . Cousins connected with Reed for 8- and 9-yard touchdowns, Chris Thompson for a 5-yard score, and running back Matt Jones scored from 1 yard out as part of his 117-yard performance.
“We just found a way to execute, found some mismatches,” Thompson said. “The run game is key. Matt had a great day today and it was able to help out our pass game, help Kirk out.”
The Redskins blew a 14-0 lead and fell behind 20-17 before shutting down Cleveland’s running game and taking the ball back. Linebacker Will Compton forced a fumble by fullback Malcolm Johnson — on the first carry of his career — late in the third, Ziggy Hood knocked the ball out of Duke Johnson’s hands early in the fourth and Josh Norman picked off Cody Kessler to set up Jones’ touchdown.
“We’ve got to get stuff corrected,” Compton said. “But we won the game. We made big plays when we needed to make big plays.”
Browns running back Isaiah Crowell ran for 112 yards and a touchdown, and Kessler was 27 of 38 for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
NEED FOR REED: With his 8-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Reed became the fastest tight end in NFL history to 200 career receptions. Reed hit the 200 mark in his 38th game, one faster than Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr., and had his fifth multi-touchdown game.
Reed made nine catches for 73 yards.
WHO RECOVERED?: Shortly after Duke Johnson’s fumble, he stood up and raised the ball, but the Redskins were given possession. The Browns weren’t exactly sure the call was the right one.
“Within half a second, Duke stood up and held it up in his hand. I think the ref was still trying to find out where the ball was,” Kessler said. “And Duke was yelling, ‘Hey, I got it right here! It’s right here!’ And unfortunately the call didn’t go our way.”
For his part, the running back said he was sure he had recovered the ball but blamed himself for losing it in the first place, not the refs for possibly ruling incorrectly.
PUT IT IN PARKEY: After missing three field goal attempts last week, including a 46-yarder at the end of regulation that could have won the game, Browns kicker Cody Parkey bounced back in a big way. In his second game with Cleveland, Parkey was good from 51 and 45 yards out.
REDSKINS DEFENSIVE BLOWS: Already without cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and DaShaun Phillips, the Redskins’ defense lost three more players against the Browns. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan left in the second quarter with an elbow injury, linebacker Su’a Cravens in the third with a concussion and safety David Bruton in the fourth with a concussion.
Coach Jay Gruden said Kerrigan would have an MRI on his elbow.
On the Cleveland side, center Austin Reiter injured his left knee, and tight end Randall Telfer injured his ankle.
JACKSON’S CLEATS: Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson wore cleats with a design of yellow police “caution” tape to “start dialogue about the senseless killings of both citizens and police.” Originally set to wear them just in warmups, Jackson said he felt it important to wear the cleats during the game, too.
“I felt like I’ve been silent long enough,” Jackson said. “Whatever the response is, that’s what it is, but I feel it’s time for me to make a stance.”
PRYOR CHANNELS LEBRON: After his first career touchdown catch, Terrelle Pryor mimicked LeBron James’ famous chalk celebration, throwing the ball into the air. He earned a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his trouble.
Redskins cornerback Will Blackmon on Norman, penalized for a bow and arrow celebration following his interception: “I didn’t know they got him for that, and Josh did it like way off the sideline too. Josh. Josh is a honey-baked ham.”
Browns running back Duke Johnson: “That’s what’s most upsetting: We’re knocking on the door. … We’re just not finishing.”
Raiders 28, Ravens 27
BALTIMORE (AP) — For the first time in years, the Oakland Raiders have developed a knack for winning on the road.
Derek Carr threw four touchdown passes, the last to Michael Crabtree with 2:12 left, and the Raiders beat the previously undefeated Baltimore Ravens 28-27 on Sunday.
After the Ravens rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to go ahead with 3 ½ minutes remaining, Carr directed a 66-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard strike to Crabtree in the back of the end zone.
The last time Oakland (3-1) won its first three road games of the season was in 2002.
East coast, West coast, the Raiders don’t care.
“We really at some point stopped talking about the time zones and all that,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think good football teams find a way to play well wherever they are.”
Carr went 25 for 35 for 199 yards. Three of his TD passes were to Crabtree, who finished with seven catches for 88 yards.
The Ravens (3-1) trailed 14-3 in the second quarter and 21-12 with 11:11 to go before coming back.
A 52-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Steve Smith cut the deficit to 21-19.
Ravens defensive tackle Lawrence Guy then forced a fumble by DeAndre Washington, and Baltimore recovered at the Oakland 17.
Four plays later, Terrance West scored from the 3 to give Baltimore its first lead.
Oakland had the appropriate response, dropping the Ravens to 49-17 at home over the past nine seasons.
“At the end of the day just a gritty, gritty win,” Del Rio said. “A great road win against a really good football team.”
The Ravens won their previous three games by excelling in the fourth quarter. This game was a throwback to last year, when Carr pulled out a 37-33 win over Baltimore.
Operating against a porous defense ranked 32nd in the NFL, the Ravens didn’t reach the end zone until deep into the third quarter. Flacco was pressured in the pocket for much of the afternoon, in part because starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was inactive with a foot injury.
Baltimore was called for offensive holding five times and yielded two sacks.
The Ravens closed to 14-12 with 2:41 left in the third quarter when Flacco bulled in from the 1 to complete a 72-yard drive that consumed seven minutes.
The comeback lost some steam when Bruce Irvin sacked Flacco, forcing a fumble that Oakland recovered on the Baltimore 29.
That led to a 13-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree after the Ravens jumped offside on a fourth-and-1.
Raiders: Despite getting only 13 first downs and 261 yards, in addition to being penalized 12 times for 93 yards, Oakland found a way to win.
Ravens: Flacco went 32 for 52 for 298 yards, and the Ravens amassed 412 yards in offense. Unfortunately for the Ravens, all their points over the first 42 minutes came from Justin Tucker .
Raiders: Del Rio on Crabtree: “He’s been sensational since Day One. He’s a real pro, he’s a tough guy, he loves football, he’s really competitive and he’s got great hands.”
Ravens: “You put pressure on yourself when you have that many penalties,” said coach John Harbaugh, referring to Baltimore’s 10 penalties for 105 yards.
NO FORSETT: After starting the Ravens’ first three games, RB Justin Forsett was placed on the inactive list. … West ran for a career-high 113 yards and Javorius Allen picked up 13 in his season debut. Flacco has two of Baltimore’s three rushing TDs this season.
INJURIES: Raiders: TE Lee Smith (ankle) was hurt in the second quarter and did not return. … LB Malcolm Smith left in the fourth quarter with a groin injury.
Ravens: S Eric Weddle and S Lardarius Webb both underwent concussion protocol in the fourth quarter but returned to play. … CB Maurice Canady (thigh) left in the first quarter. … TE Maxx Williams (knee) missed most of the second half.
Raiders: Oakland begins a two-game homestand against AFC West foes next Sunday, hosting San Diego before Kansas City comes to town on Oct. 16.
Ravens: A matchup against neighboring rival Washington looms for the Ravens at home next Sunday.
Titans 20, Texans 27
HOUSTON (AP) — Will Fuller had never returned a punt for a touchdown at any level entering Sunday’s game.
Moments after he grabbed the first return of his NFL career he knew that was about to change.
“It was wide open,” Fuller said. “It was probably one of the easiest touchdowns I’ve scored.”
Fuller had a tiebreaking 67-yard punt return for a touchdown and the Houston Texans earned a 27-20 win over the Tennessee Titans in their first game without J.J. Watt.
It was the first time Houston (3-1) had played without its star defensive end since the 2010 season after Watt , who is out for the season after back surgery, had started 83 straight games since being drafted in 2011.
Fuller also had 81 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Tennessee (1-3) was driving with less than two minutes remaining, but Marcus Mariota’s pass to former Texan Andre Johnson on fourth down was broken up to secure the victory.
The Texans squandered an early 14-point lead and their offense was struggling in the second half when Fuller took the punt back for a touchdown to make it 27-20 late in the third quarter.
“That gave us a real shot in the arm,” coach Bill O’Brien said.
Fuller, who ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine, took the punt and quickly made a trio of Titans miss before outrunning everyone else down the sideline for the score.
The 21st overall pick in this year’s draft was so far ahead of any defenders that he slowed down Usain Bolt-style near the 5-yard line and trotted into the end zone.
“Once I got past everybody I knew it was a touchdown,” Fuller said. “So I didn’t want run to the back of the end zone and look crazy.”
It was Houston’s first punt return for a touchdown since 2013 and he became the first player in franchise history to have a TD reception and a punt return for a score in the same game. Fuller’s 5-yard touchdown reception made it 14-0 in the first.
The Titans’ game plan was to shut down receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and they did that, limiting him to just one catch for 4 yards. But putting so much emphasis on him left Fuller open to make plays.
“You can take one away; you can’t take two away,” coach Mike Mularkey said.
Fuller’s return came after Jadeveon Clowney led a defensive stand following Brock Osweiler’s second interception of the game.
Clowney, the top overall pick in 2014, sacked Mariota for a 6-yard loss on first down and chased down Delanie Walker after a reception on third down to force a punt.
The Texans raced out to a 14-0 lead after touchdown passes by Osweiler on their first two possessions.
The teams exchanged field goals before two touchdown runs by DeMarco Murray tied it at 17-17. But the Texans added a field goal to lead 20-17 at halftime.
MURRAY’S FIRST HALF: Sunday was the first time since 2013 against the Raiders that Murray had two rushing touchdowns before halftime. He had 12 carries for 56 yards before the break and finished with 95 yards rushing.
THEY SAID IT: Mariota on the struggles of the offense in the second half: “We just weren’t able to finish. We would get a first down here, a first down there, and, unfortunately, whether it was a penalty or miscommunication, just not executing. We just weren’t able to do our jobs.”
CUSHING RETURNS: Houston middle linebacker Brian Cushing returned after sitting out the past two games after injuring his knee in the season opener. He finished with four tackles. He was happy to be back so soon after he was initially expected to be out five or six weeks.
“I didn’t want to be out that long and (we) really cut the time down big time,” he said. “I was just really excited to be back out there.”
INJURY REPORT: Tennessee DL Al Woods pulled a calf muscle and Mularkey said he’ll be out at least four weeks. … Houston TE C.J. Fiedorowicz injured his knee early on Sunday, but returned in the second half and said he was OK.
UP NEXT: Titans : Visit the Dolphins on Sunday.
Texans : Visit the Vikings on Sunday.
Broncos 27, Buccaneers 7
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Paxton Lynch made his NFL debut sooner than expected Sunday, stepping in for injured starter Trevor Siemian to help the Denver Broncos remain unbeaten with a 27-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Siemian left the game with two minutes remaining in the first half with what the defending Super Bowl champions described as an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder. He remained in uniform and watched the second half from the sideline, wearing a baseball cap while Lynch — the 26th pick in this year’s draft— finished the Broncos’ ninth consecutive win.
Siemien threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, capitalizing on Aqib Talib’s interception and 25-yard return to the Bucs 11 on Tampa Bay’s opening possession. The ex-Buc cornerback also set up another first-half TD with a second interception that led to C.J. Anderson’s 1-yard run for a 14-7 lead.
For the second straight week, play was stopped in the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium because of inclement weather. The game was suspended for 1 hour, 26 minutes with 6:52 remaining Sunday, with only a few thousand fans returning to their seats for the conclusion.
Jameis Winston scrambled 7 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, but had limited success against the Denver defense the rest of the way. In addition to throwing two interceptions, the second-year quarterback was sacked five times while going 17 of 35 for 179 yards.
A week after becoming the first player in league history with 300 passing yards, four TD passes and zero interceptions in his first career road start, Siemian was off to another solid start when he was sacked by Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who slung the Broncos quarterback to the turf on his left shoulder for an 8-yard loss late in the second quarter. Siemian left the field on his power and later received a ride to the locker room on a cart.
Denver (4-0) punted after Lynch threw an incompletion on third down coming out of the two-minute warning. The rookie got one more crack at the Bucs defense before halftime, going 4 of 8 for 47 yards to move his team into position for a 38-yard field goal that made it 17-7.
The Broncos set the tone for a frustrating second half for the Bucs, methodically moving 69 yards in 16 plays for a field goal that increased the lead to 13. Lynch’s 5-yard TD pass to Emmanuel Sanders, who had eight receptions for 88 yards, made it 27-7 in the fourth quarter.
Siemian was 5 of 7 for 68 yards, including an 11-yard TD pass to Sanders on Denver’s first offensive play. Lynch finished 14 of 24 for 170 yards, one TD and no interceptions.
Talib faced his former team for the second time, first in Tampa. He was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2008 and spent four-plus years with the team before being traded to New England in the middle of the 2012 season. His 33 interceptions are the most by a cornerback since the ninth-year pro entered the league. The first 16 came with Tampa Bay. The only other time he faced his former team, Talib had an interception during New England’s 23-3 victory over the Bucs in 2013.
The Broncos are 4-0 for the second straight season and third time in four years. Their nine-game winning streak is the longest in the NFL and they’ve now won a league-best 26 consecutive games when they’ve won the turnover battle.
SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT
The Buccaneers had four sacks — 1 ½ by McDonald, after not getting much pressure on opposing quarterbacks the previous two weeks against Arizona and Los Angeles. Siemian was sacked three times before leaving the game.
Broncos: In addition to Siemian, lost reserve CB Kayvon Webster with hamstring injury in second half.
Buccaneers: Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy limped off with a calf in the second quarter and did not return. … TE Brandon Myers (hip) and LB Noah Spence (shoulder) left in the first half and did not return. … Played without RB Doug Martin (hamstring) and DE Robert Ayers Jr. (ankle) for the second straight week.
Cowboys 24, 49ers 17
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — With Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and two starting offensive linemen out injured, Dallas turned things over to a pair of talented rookies who have the Cowboys playing mistake-free football.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 138 yards and a touchdown and Dak Prescott threw for two scores to help the Dallas Cowboys overcome an early 14-point deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers 24-17 on Sunday.
“This is a great team,” Prescott said. “I think the win just shows the character. We had more guys go down last week and guys had to step in. They got the job done. I guess the theme I guess you could say is if somebody goes down, just step up and do your job, and we’ve done a good job.”
The Cowboys (3-1) fell in a 14-point hole early in the second quarter before taking over the game behind a pair of rookies who have helped the team get off to a fast start this season with Romo sidelined by a back injury. Making things even harder this week were the absences of star receiver Bryant and offensive linemen Tryon Smith and La’el Collins.
Prescott threw for 245 yards and had a 20-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams and a 4-yarder to Brice Butler to tie the game at the half.
Elliott then took over with 96 yards rushing in the second half, including a 1-yard run that gave Dallas the lead for good late in the third quarter.
“We just all came together, that’s what it was,” Elliott said. “We have a lot of faith in each other and there wasn’t any point in that game where any of us worried on that sideline. We knew what we could do and we knew we were beating ourselves.”
Blaine Gabbert got off to a fast start to help San Francisco (1-3) take the early lead but struggled to generate any offense after that. Gabbert finished 16 for 23 for 196 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
He had a chance to lead a late tying drive but he threw a 3-yard pass to Torrey Smith on fourth-and-6 from the Dallas 35 to end hopes at a comeback.
“We were moving the ball. We have to make a play there on third-and-6 and fourth-and-6,” coach Chip Kelly said. “It was 6 yards. We have to be able to covert.”
BIG MISTAKE: Gabbert doesn’t throw the ball deep often but he had one shot at a big play in the fourth quarter when Torrey Smith got open down the middle of the field. But Gabbert didn’t lead him with the pass, allowing Morris Claiborne to intercept it .
“Every game in the league comes down to one or two plays that change the outcome and that definitely had an impact on it and that’s on me,” Gabbert said. “I got to throw that ball to the middle of the field and let him go get it.”
BIG LOSS: The Niners lost star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman to a lower left leg injury in the third quarter. He went down with a non-contact injury and had to be helped off the field. He was then taken to the locker room on a cart and was immediately ruled out for the rest of the game. Elliott ran for 23 yards on the play after Bowman left. He had six carries for 50 yards and the TD on the drive after Bowman left.
Rookie DeForest Buckner then left later in the game and had a walking boot on his left foot.
FILLING IN: With Bryant out with a hairline fracture of a bone in his right knee, the Cowboys needed someone else to step up on the outside. Butler, who came into the game with just one catch this season, had five catches for 41 yards, including a 4-yard TD that tied the game at 14.
THIRD DOWNS: After failing to convert their first 10 third-down chanceslast week against Seattle, the Niners were quite efficient at the start this week. They converted seven straight third downs to open the game, including Gabbert’s 33-yard TD pass to Jeremy Kerley and Hyde’s 3-yard TD run . San Francisco then converted just one of its final seven third-down chances.
ANTHEM PROTEST: Six teammates of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick joined him for a protest during the national anthem on Sunday. Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Eli Harold kneeled beside Kaepernick. Defensive backs Antoine Bethea, Keith Reaser, Jaquiski Tartt and Rashard Robinson all raised their fists.
Rams 17, Cardinals 13
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The move to the West Coast has done wonders for the Rams.
Tavon Austin returned a punt 47 yards to set up Case Keenum’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Brian Quick with 2:36 to play, and Los Angeles improved to 3-1 for the first time in a decade, adding to Arizona’s early season woes with a 17-13 victory Sunday.
After years of mediocrity in St. Louis, the Rams are 3-1 for the first time since 2006, tied with Seattle for first in the NFC West.
The Cardinals (1-3), the reigning NFC West champions and expected to contend for the Super Bowl, have lost as many games this year as they did all of last season, and two of them have been at home.
Now they head to a Thursday night game in San Francisco almost certainly without Carson Palmer, who left late in Sunday’s loss to undergo the concussion protocol after his head was slammed to the turf on a sack by Aaron Donald.
“The sky is not falling for us,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. “I’m sure it is for a bunch of the fans — we’re as disappointed as they are — but we’ve got a game Thursday night.”
Keenum threw two touchdown passes to Quick, including a 65-yard score in the first quarter.
“Good teams win the close games,” Keenum said. “It says we are fighters. We have done it on the road two times in a row. We are not going to dwell on where we are. We are looking ahead. We are looking at where we are going.”
The play that sent Palmer to the sidelines forced a punt and Austin raced past would-be tacklers to the Arizona 34. A facemask penalty against Ifeanyi Momah moved the ball to the 19 and the Rams (3-1) went ahead when Quick caught a pass under tight defense for the score.
Arizona backup Drew Stanton was intercepted twice in the final minutes, including on a Hail Mary on the game’s final play.
Arizona outgained the Rams 420-288 but committed five turnovers to the Rams’ one.
“The big thing for us was getting the turnovers,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “Then, offensively we are improving in the third-down area and keeping the ball alive.”
The Cardinals took their only lead of the game 13-10 on Chandler Catanzaro’s 21-yard field goal on the final play of the third quarter.
Arizona had tied it at 10 on Palmer’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Cardinals’ offense stumbled through most of the first half and was hearing boos from the home crowd before finally getting moving in the final two minutes.
Quick caught only 10 passes for 102 yards and his future with the team was in doubt in training camp.
“When someone doubts you of course you are going to be motivated to prove them wrong,” he said. “You have to fight and be strong mentally. If they (his coaches) feel like things are a little shaky that means you have to do something better. There were some things I had to do. I had to improve and get better. ”
A defensive holding penalty against the Cardinals kept the Rams’ first scoring drive alive and an offensive holding penalty nullified an Arizona touchdown moments later.
The defensive hold on Patrick Peterson came when Keenum was sacked on third-and-five. Three plays later, Keenum connected with Quick for the long TD.
The Cardinals drove to the Los Angeles 10 on their next possession and Chris Johnson ran for an apparent touchdown. But a holding penalty against Jermaine Gresham nullified the score and the Cardinals settled for a field goal.
Another Arizona threat ended with a spectacular interception by Trumaine Johnson in the end zone.
Turnovers scuttled two Arizona scoring threats.
The Cardinals were at the Rams 33 in the second quarter when Palmer threw deep and Johnson intercepted in the corner of the end zone.
In the third quarter, Arizona recovered Keenum’s fumble and drove to the Los Angeles 26, but Aaron Donald hit Palmer, forcing a fumble that the Rams recovered.
Cardinals wide receiver Roy Green was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at halftime.
Green played on offense, defense and on special teams in 12 seasons with the Cardinals (1979-90). He ranks second in franchise history in touchdowns, third in all-purpose yards and fourth in 100-yard receiving games.
Saints 35, Chargers 34
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Drew Brees led New Orleans to two touchdowns in the final 4 minutes, 50 seconds to rally the Saints to a stunning 35-34 victory on Sunday against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, who blew a 13-point lead by committing two crucial turnovers.
Brees overcome two interceptions to win in his return to San Diego, where he played his first five NFL seasons before being allowed to leave as a free agent. It was also the first win this season for the Saints (1-3).
After the final gun, Brees ran over to the stands and greeted Saints fans.
With the Chargers trying to protect a 34-21 lead, Melvin Gordon fumbled and Darryl Tapp recovered at the San Diego 13, setting up Brees’ 5-yard TD pass to Michael Thomas on fourth-and-2 to pull to 34-28 with 4:50 to go.
Travis Benjamin then fumbled after a reception and Nate Stupar recovered at the San Diego 31. Seven plays later, fullback John Kuhn scored his third TD of the game, on a 1-yard run. The PAT made it 35-34.
Rivers, who was Brees’ understudy for his first two NFL seasons, was intercepted by B.W. Webb with 1:10 to go.
It was the third time this season the Chargers (1-3) blew a late lead.
The Chargers seemed to have it in control after Rivers directed a 14-play, 74-yard scoring drive capped by Gordon’s second 1-yard scoring run of the game to give the Chargers a 31-21 lead with 12:15 to play. Rivers kept the drive alive with a pinpoint, 16-yard completion to Tyrell Williams to the New Orleans 7-yard line.
It was the first time Brees played at Qualcomm Stadium since Dec. 31, 2005, when he injured his throwing shoulder in his final appearance as Chargers quarterback. He had surgery and was allowed to leave as a free agent, signing with New Orleans. That gave the starting job to Rivers. Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts after the 2009 season.
The Saints beat the Chargers in 2008 in London and in 2012 in New Orleans.
Rivers threw scoring passes of 20 yards to rookie Hunter Henry and 53 yards to Dontrelle Inman as the Saints’ defense broke down on both plays.
Brees threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Kuhn. Kuhn and Mark Ingram each scored on a one-yard run.
The Chargers took a 24-14 halftime lead after scoring on three straight possessions, getting the 53-yard TD pass from Rivers to Inman, a 30-yard field goal from Josh Lambo and a 1-yard run by Gordon.
San Diego floundered on the opening drive of the second half, making fans nervous. Dexter McCluster caught the opening kickoff of the second half 6 yards deep and bringing it out only to the 15. The Chargers went three and out, and Brees led them on a drive culminated when Kuhn scored on a 1-yard run to pull the Saints to 24-21.
ATTENDANCE: The announced crowd was 60,641 at 70,000-seat Qualcomm stadium, the second home game this year well short of capacity. The Chargers are threatening to move to Los Angeles if voters don’t approve a $1.1 billion stadium subsidy via an increase in hotel occupancy taxes.
MOMENTUM CHANGE: With the score tied at 14, San Diego’s Jason Verrett deflected a pass by Brees and Craig Mager intercepted at the New Orleans 41. Lambo kicked his 30-yard field goal five plays later for a 17-14 lead.
ANTHEM PROTEST: Chargers Joshua Perry, Joe Barksdale, Chris Hairston, D.J. Fluker and Tyreek Burwell of held up their right fists during the national anthem.
INACTIVES: Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was inactive for the second straight week with a hamstring injury. Also out a second straight week was LT King Dunlap, who is bothered by migraines. … Chargers lineman Chris Hairston limped off with a groin injury late in the second quarter. … San Diego defensive end Joey Bosa, out indefinitely with a hamstring injury, has yet to make his NFL debut.
INJURIES: Chargers LG Orlando Franklin sustained a knee injury. … Chargers LB Denzel Perryman injured a shoulder in the second quarter. … Saints DE Paul Kruger suffered a back injury in the third quarter.
Chiefs 14, Steelers 43
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a week letting their worst loss in 27 years fester. Catharsis came during a frenetic stretch in the first quarter Sunday night against the seemingly unprepared Kansas City Chiefs.
Six offensive snaps. Three Ben Roethlisberger touchdowns passes. Two to Antonio Brown. One very important reminder of just how good Pittsburgh’s offense can look when all of its dynamic parts are moving in sync.
Seven days after a 31-point meltdown in Philadelphia, the Steelers overwhelmed the Chiefs 43-14 behind five touchdowns passes from Roethlisberger and 178 yards of total offense from running back Le’Veon Bell.
“I told the guys before the game, we’re driving a car and we don’t have a rearview mirror right now,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re not looking back. We’re looking forward. We’re moving on. We did a pretty good job moving on.”
Sure looked like it.
Roethlisberger hit Brown — wearing cleats featuring the profile of golf great and western Pennsylvania native Arnold Palmer — for a pair of scores. Roethlisberger also found Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jesse James for touchdowns on his way to finishing 22 of 27 for 300 yards.
“When you’ve got a Hall of Fame quarterback, it looks good like that,” center Maurkice Pouncey said the Steelers improved to 3-1.
It helps when the franchise running back is allowed to join in too. Bell returned from a torn MCL that cut short his 2015 season and a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and looked every bit as dangerous as he did when he was an All-Pro in 2014, which also happened to be the last time Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger started and finished a game together.
“I didn’t really feel like I was rusty,” Bell said. “I was more anxious if anything.”
There was no need, not on a night Pittsburgh’s struggling defense repaid a pre-game pep talk by Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene by throttling the Chiefs (2-2). The Steelers forced a pair of first-quarter turnovers that Roethlisberger promptly turned into touchdowns during a franchise-record 22-point deluge. Pittsburgh, which came in with just one sack on the season – dead last in the league – but getting to Kansas City’s Alex Smith four times and never allowing the Chiefs to get into a rhythm.
“We wanted to get’em one dimensional and take’em to the deep end of the pool,” Steelers linebacker Vince Williams said.
Smith was 30 of 50 for 287 yards and two inconsequential fourth-quarter touchdowns after things were well out of hand. Spencer Ware ran for 82 yards but also fumbled in the first quarter that kick-started Pittsburgh’s record-setting run.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid hardly bothered to spin the worst loss of his three-plus years with the Chiefs.
“This is my responsibility,” Reid said. “We clearly didn’t play well enough as a football team. We didn’t coach well enough. I take full responsibility for it and make sure we make it right.”
The Chiefs run an offense similar to the one the Eagles used to roll up 34 points against Pittsburgh last week. Yet Kansas City was never in it over the final 45 minutes and trailed 36-0 going into the fourth quarter.
“You own this right now, you wear it, and it stinks,” Smith said.
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles ran one time for 6 yards in his first game since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last October. It was perhaps the lone bright spot on an otherwise forgettable night.
“To get him back in the mix and get him worked in more and more, it will only help us,” Smith said.
Chiefs: Running back Knile Davis was evaluated for a concussion
Steelers: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert went down with a left ankle injury late in the first half and did not return. Linebacker Anthony Chickillo (knee) and Jarvis Jones (ankle) and Heyward-Bey (shoulder) all left in the second half and did not return.
Chiefs: are off next week before traveling to take on the suddenly dangerous Oakland Raiders on Oct. 16. Kansas City is 5-1 against the Raiders under Reid.
Steelers: Begin a three-game swing against AFC East teams next Sunday when they host the New York Jets.
Giants 10, Vikings 24
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s defense denied Odell Beckham Jr. all night and forced two turnovers that led to 10 points, and the Vikings mystified Eli Manning yet again during a 24-10 victory Monday over the New York Giants.
Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph for the third straight game and kept his turnover-free streak since joining Minnesota intact, helping the Vikings (4-0) lead from start to finish after falling behind in each of their first three wins and record their first 4-0 start since 2009. The Vikings, Eagles and Broncos are the only remaining unbeatens.
“I think they like to compete. I think they like to go out there and prove to everybody that they can be talked about with other good teams in this league,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Beckham, who has yet to score this season, was smothered by cornerback Xavier Rhodes and had a career-low 23 yards on three catches.
“It’s not a one-on-one game. It’s 11-on-11, and we got beat 11-on-11 today,” Beckham said.
Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard were quiet, too, and Manning was erratic as ever while finishing 25 for 45 for just 261 yards. Rhodes picked him off in the third quarter , the 15th interception for Manning in eight career starts against the Vikings. He’s 2-6 with only five touchdown passes.
Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon each ran for a touchdown as the Vikings rushed for a season-high 104 yards to strike their best balance of the season as they continue to craft a post-Adrian Peterson strategy without their injured veteran running back. Bradford went 26 for 36 for 262 yards, thriving with quick-release throws behind an offensive line that protected better than it had in any of the previous three games.
“I didn’t get hit, hardly at all,” Bradford said. “The game ball should go to those guys.”
The Vikings, who have allowed only 50 points in four games and rank second in the league in that category, have an NFL-best turnover margin of plus-10. The Giants (2-2) dropped to minus-8 for the season, including a muffed punt in the first quarter by Dwayne Harris that was forced by Vikings wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson in his new role on the coverage team.
“A good team on the road, especially this team, you can’t give them two possessions,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. “The message is getting through. I just think we need to take care of the ball.”
Rudolph’s wife, Jordan, was scheduled to give birth to twins by induction on Tuesday morning. He joked he wanted a second touchdown catch, one for each of his soon-arriving children. Bradford might as well be their godfather with the way he’s connected with his sure-handed tight end.
“We kind of had a bond early,” Bradford said, adding: “He’s just such a big target.”
MONDAYS WITH MOSS
Former Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss, at the game as an analyst for ESPN, blew the ceremonial Gjallarhorn prior to kickoff to get the crowd going early. Fifteen years ago, Moss caught three touchdown passes on a Monday night game as the Vikings beat the Giants 28-16.
“This is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful place,” Beckham said. “The atmosphere they created, I love it. You live for it, you thrive in it, and tonight we didn’t have that opportunity.”
The Giants defensive backs are so depleted by injuries that wide receivers were playing safety in practice this week. Andrew Adams, promoted from the practice squad last week, started at safety for Nat Berhe. Trevin Wade had trouble all game, starting at cornerback for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Wade was beaten by Charles Johnson for receptions of 30 and 40 yards, had a pass interference penalty on Rudolph and got away with one on an early incompletion to Adam Thielen.
WALSH, WIDE LEFT
Blair Walsh’s 46-yard field goal attempt failed early in the third quarter, already his fifth miss (three field goals, two extra points) of the season. The interception by Rhodes gave him the chance to make a 44-yarder less than 3½ minutes later.
Giants TE Larry Donnell (concussion) was blown off his feet in the second quarter by blitzing Vikings LB Anthony Barr and quickly ruled out for the rest of the game. Donnell was obviously woozy as he walked slowly to the sideline.
Vikings RT Andre Smith (right elbow) was hurt in the first quarter and was replaced by Jeremiah Sirles.
The Giants play at Green Bay (2-1) on Sunday night.
The Vikings host Houston (3-1) on Sunday afternoon.