Demarus Dye| BKD TV Insiders
Here is a recap of Week 8 of the 2016 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Bye: Ravens, Rams, Dolphins, Giants, Steelers, 49ers
Jaguars 22, Titans 36
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans head into the second half of the season believing they’re right in the playoff mix now that they’ve already exceeded their win total from last year.
For Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars, the future is much less certain.
Marcus Mariota threw two touchdown passes and DeMarco Murray rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown Thursday night as the Titans breezed to a 36-22 victory over the Jaguars . The Titans led 27-0 at halftime and scored on six straight possessions during one stretch.
The Titans are 4-4 at the halfway point of the season, a major step forward for a franchise that went 2-14 in 2014 and 3-13 last year. They’ve won three of their last four and have a chance to play meaningful games down the stretch if they maintain this momentum.
“We’re just sick and tired of losing, man,” Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said. “Sick and tired of being a pushover in this division. I think we’ve had some games that were close and (we) shouldn’t even be .500. We should be over .500.”
The Jaguars aren’t feeling nearly as good about themselves.
A poor performance in a prime-time showcase will turn up the heat on Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who is in his fourth season and owns a 14-41 record . The Jaguars (2-5) had to score two touchdowns in the last 3 1/2 minutes just to make the final margin respectable.
“The first half was inexcusable,” Bradley said. “We didn’t come out to play. I don’t know what the answer is. Do we play with some anxiety? Yeah, I can say I felt like we pressed too much, but some of the plays that weren’t being made had nothing to do with anxiety.
“I don’t know if it’s focus. We have a high standard, and we didn’t meet that standard.”
Here are some things to know about the Jaguars and Titans:
MURRAY, HENRY FORMING DYNAMIC DUO: The Titans acquired Murray and drafted 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry because they believed a physical running attack could help them turn things around. Those moves are paying off so far. Murray has rushed for 756 yards and already has exceeded the total from his disappointing 2015 season in Philadelphia. Henry rushed for 60 yards against the Jaguars and scored his first touchdown. Murray hurt a toe late in the first half but returned to the game.
MARIOTA AT HOME: The Titans’ quarterback had the best home performance of his career. Mariota had been just 2-8 at home since Tennessee drafted him No. 2 overall out of Oregon in 2015, and he had at least one turnover in each home game this season until Thursday night. Mariota was credited for a fumble on the opening drive for a 12-yard loss, but left guard Brian Schwenke recovered the ball. Mariota’s 148.1 passer rating was the second-highest of his career.
MARIOTA LENDS HELPING HAND: Mariota helped the Titans even when he wasn’t throwing or carrying the ball. On Murray’s 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Mariota attempted a downfield block to help clear the path to the end zone.
“He’s a team-first guy,” Murray said. “He doesn’t care about his stats or anything really. Obviously, he doesn’t care about his body either, but we’ve got to talk about that. It was a huge play by him. He’s our leader and to see him do that, it’s pretty special.”
Mariota downplayed his role in Murray’s touchdown. “He really did all the work,” Mariota said. “I just kind of got in the way.”
JAGUARS STRUGGLING TO RUN: The Jaguars came in ranked 30th in the NFL running the ball, and their struggles continued Thursday as they ran only 11 times for 48 yards.
Bortles ended up rushing for a team-high 22 yards. Chris Ivory had four carries for just 6 yards, and T.J. Yeldon ran three times for 20 yards.
BORTLES BOUNCES BACK (OR DOES HE?): Bradley said earlier this week that he “firmly, firmly” believes in his third-year quarterback. Bortles responded by throwing for 337 yards with three touchdowns, but most of those yards came with the Titans playing prevent defense.
In the first half, Bortles was just 8 of 16 for 64 yards.
Redskins 27, Bengals 27 @London Tie
LONDON (AP) — The Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals played to a 27-27 draw Sunday in London as the NFL got its second tied game in a season for the first time since 1997.
The sold-out crowd of 84,488 at Wembley Stadium left deflated and even puzzled as the regulation-time shootout between Kirk Cousins and Andy Dalton turned into an overtime comedy of errors.
“It definitely feels more like a loss than a win, because we moved the ball so well and had so many opportunities to win,” Cousins said.
Washington (4-3-1) appeared to have the game won with 2:13 left in overtime, but Dustin Hopkins hooked his 34-yard field goal attempt wide left.
Hopkins, whose first overtime attempt sailed smoothly through the uprights but was negated by a last-second Bengals timeout, appeared calm and unruffled in the locker room.
“It was slick out there, but that didn’t have an effect on any of my kicks,” said Hopkins, who also was badly short on a 55-yard attempt at the end of the first half.
The Redskins got the ball back with 1:11 remaining when Dalton fumbled at the Bengals 47 on a quarterback sneak. Cousins couldn’t connect downfield and tossed his final desperate pass tamely into the sideline to preserve the draw. Cincinnati is 3-4-1.
The unlikely result came one week after the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals tied 6-6 .
“Obviously not winning the game is disappointing,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We had opportunities on both sides of the ball to win it.”
Cousins finished with 38 completions for a season-high 458 yards on a team-record 56 attempts, with touchdowns to Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder. He also threw an inconsequential interception on a deep ball.
Dalton completed 27 of 42 for 284 yards and a touchdown to Tyler Eifert, who saw his first significant game action following offseason back surgery. Eifert made nine catches for 102 yards, while A.J. Green generated 121 yards on nine catches. Dalton also tossed a costly interception early in the fourth quarter with the Bengals driving deep into Washington territory.
THE 1997 TIES: Oddly, the last time the NFL had two ties in a season also happened in back-to-back weeks. In Weeks 12 and 13 of the 1997 season, Baltimore and Philadelphia tied 10-10, followed seven days later by Washington and the New York Giants’ 7-7 draw.
QUICK START: At first, it looked as if both teams might have forgotten to pack their defenses.
Washington took its opening possession 80 yards on a 15-play drive capped by Robert Kelley’s juking 4-yard run. It was the first NFL rushing touchdown for Kelley, an undrafted rookie from Tulane starting in place of an injured Matt Jones.
Cincinnati immediately responded with a 66-yard kickoff return by Alex Erickson up the right sideline. Giovani Bernard took a draw 8 yards to the end zone to tie the score 7-7 with about four minutes still left in the opening quarter.
KICKING WOES: It wasn’t only Hopkins ruing his errors. The Bengals’ Mike Nugent had a chance to tie at 10, but his low-trajectory 51-yarder spun wide left. Nugent has often struggled from long range throughout his 12-year career. He has yet to convert a field goal beyond 47 yards this year, and fell to 0-for-3 from 50 yards or more.
Nugent then missed his first extra point of the season, wide left following the Bengals’ go-ahead drive of the second half.
“We missed a PAT, we missed a field goal, and those things eventually came back to hurt us,” Lewis said.
WATCH THOSE HANDS: Redskins’ star cornerback Josh Norman was called four times for illegal use of hands. It’s a shame for Washington that those hands weren’t as sticky to the ball.
Norman dropped two great interception opportunities while jumping routes on short sideline throws to A.J. Green. The first hit him squarely in both hands on the Bengals 39 near the end of the first half, the second was in Redskins territory during the Bengals’ opening drive of the second half. A pick then would have stopped the Bengals from seizing the lead barely a minute later.
SEEING YELLOW: The game was marred by penalties, particularly by the Redskins. Washington was flagged 15 times for 106 yards, leading to eight Bengals first downs and damaging Washington’s overtime drives into Bengals turf. Cincinnati had seven penalties for 85 yards.
UP NEXT: Both teams have byes.
Cardinals 20, Panthers 30
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers emerged from the bye week looking a little more like the team that went to the Super Bowl last season rather than an NFC doormat.
Jonathan Stewart ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns, Thomas Davis returned a fumble 46 yards for a score and the Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 30-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
In a game reminiscent of last season’s NFC championship, a 49-15 Carolina victory, the Panthers jumped to a 24-0 lead and kept the pressure on Carson Palmer all day.
Carolina, which has struggled to generate a pass rush all season, sacked Palmer eight times — three of those by Star Lotulelei — and forced two turnovers. The Panthers also limited running back David Johnson to 24 yards rushing.
“That’s just everybody working together,” said Lotulelei, a 2013 first-round draft pick. “It’s the back seven doing their job covering, and the front getting after it. They gave us time to get there and that’s what we did up front.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the win felt like a big weight was lifted from his shoulders.
“It is huge because it is one of those things we can build momentum off,” Rivera said.
Stewart added touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards to push the lead to 21-0 against an Arizona defense that hadn’t allowed a touchdown in its previous two games.
“Our offense really struggled after that call,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of the Davis fumble return. “We played much better in the second half and gave ourselves a chance. We just didn’t make the plays to get us back in the game.”
Forced into a one-dimensional game, Palmer finished 35 of 46 for 363 yards with three touchdowns, two to J.J. Nelson .
After losing their last two games on last-second field goals, the Panthers left no doubt about this one.
Carolina (2-5) needed a boost to save a sinking season and got one from Davis, their longest-tenured player and emotional leader, on the opening series. Lotulelei sacked Palmer, who attempted to push the ball forward to avoid the sack while in the grasp of the 315-pound defensive tackle. Davis picked up the loose ball and delivered a stiff arm on the way to the first touchdown of his 12-year NFL career.
“I think the guys really appreciate that because he works so hard,” Rivera said. “He is one of the players who is the heart and soul of the team.”
Palmer didn’t see it as a fumble.
“I was throwing to David (Johnson),” Palmer said. “It was an obvious pass, but they didn’t see it that way.”
The Cardinals (3-4-1) battled back within 30-20 and had the ball at the Carolina 36 with 3:18 left. But defensive end Kony Ealy tipped Palmer’s pass and intercepted it to help seal the Carolina win.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said the bye week helped the players get away from football and “we came back and meshed together.”
NEWTON ON THE RUN: Newton said last week he wasn’t afraid to run after being knocked out with a concussion against the Falcons on Oct. 2, and he proved it Sunday. Newton ran six times for 39 yards.
“The offensive line played very physical and we ran the ball extremely well,” Newton said.
WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU: Arizona wide receiver John Brown, who missed last week’s game against Seattle because of leg issues related to a sickle-cell trait, caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Palmer in the third quarter.
CORNERBACK ROTATION: Nickel cornerback Leonard Johnson gave the Carolina defense a big boost in his first game. Johnson, activated from the non-football injury list last week, had eight tackles, one sack and a pass breakup.
FRUSTRATION SETS IN: Frustration got the best of Palmer in the third quarter when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third quarter when he argued an illegal hands to the face call against a teammate, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and a second-and-44.
Cardinals: Safety Tyrann Mathieu left in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return. Left tackle Jared Veldheer departed in the fourth quarter with an arm injury.
Panthers: Two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil (right shoulder) and did not return.
UP NEXT: The Panthers travel to Los Angeles next Sunday. The Cardinals have a bye.
Lions 13, Texans 20
HOUSTON (AP) — Despite mounting criticism in recent weeks, Brock Osweiler continues to look pretty comfortable in Houston.
Osweiler bounced back from an ugly performance by throwing for 186 yards and a touchdown to help the Texans remain perfect at home this season with a 20-13 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Texans (5-3) have lost all of their road games, including a 27-9 loss to Denver on Monday.
“He had a good day,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “You’re judged as a quarterback by helping your team win and I thought he did a nice job of helping us win.”
Osweiler has struggled in his first season with the Texans, but has been better at home where he’s thrown eight of his nine touchdown passes.
“I’m not concerned about the criticism,” Osweiler said. “Getting a win at home going into the bye to really put an exclamation mark on the first half of the season means so much to me.”
On Sunday, he gave the Texans a 7-0 lead on a 6-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz in the second quarter. The Texans made it 14-0 when Lamar Miller bulled his way into the end zone from a yard out later in the quarter. That score was set up when DeAndre Hopkins used one hand to make a 12-yard reception.
Osweiler believes he’s starting to find chemistry with his star receiver.
“Every time I break the huddle, I’m looking to see where he’s at … trying to see if I can get him the football,” he said.
Hopkins finished with four receptions for 44 yards.
The Lions (4-4) cut the lead to seven when Theo Riddick connected with Matthew Stafford on a 1-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter.
Houston added a field goal after that before a 34-yard field goal by Matt Prater got Detroit back within a score. But Houston recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock to secure the victory.
“We couldn’t put enough points on the board, offensively, in the first half, we were just stagnant,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “Defensively, we stopped the run until midway through the third quarter and they really took control on the ground. We just didn’t play as well as we’re capable of.”
Stafford threw for 240 yards and a touchdown for Detroit, which had a three-game winning streak snapped as the Lions were unable to continue a string of late-game comebacks.
“I wish I could have done it earlier in the game,” Stafford said. “I’ve got to play better and we have to play better as a team, as an offense, earlier in the game so we’re not in that situation.”
INJURIES: The Lions were without top cornerback Darius Slay, who missed the game because of a hamstring injury. Houston receiver Jaelen Strong injured his ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork didn’t return after injuring his groin in the third quarter and receiver Will Fuller left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
O’BRIEN’S OUTBURST: Houston coach Bill O’Brien was seen yelling at special teams coach Larry Izzo after the Texans had just 10 men on the field for the opening kickoff of the second half. O’Brien got in Izzo’s face and yelled for several seconds before being pushed away by another member of the staff. He turned around for a second and started to walk away before whipping back around and screaming at him for several more seconds.
But O’Brien denied the incident.
“I don’t know what you guys are talking about,” he said. “No idea.”
Then he was asked about being pushed away by a staff member.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t remember that one bit.”
A second follow-up yielded perhaps the most telling answer of the exchange.
“There’s conversations that happen on the sideline,” he said. “That’s just kind of the nature of the game.”
CLOWNEY’S CONTRIBUTIONS: Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was the top overall pick in the 2014 draft, sacked Stafford for a 9-yard loss to give him three sacks this season. It was his ninth tackle for a loss this season, which is a career high.
Lions: Detroit visits Minnesota on Sunday.
Texans: Houston is off next week before visiting the Jaguars on Nov. 13.
Seahawks 20, Saints 25
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sean Payton had a surprise in store for a Seattle defense that thrives on harassing quarterbacks and physically intimidating receivers.
The Saints coach dialed back New Orleans’ prolific passing game and challenged his running backs and offensive line to deliver as much punishment to Seahawks defenders as they could.
Drew Brees wound up well short of his typical passing numbers in the Superdome — 265 yards and one touchdown — but the Saints (3-4) pulled out a 25-20 victory they sorely needed to improve their prospects for climbing back into the NFC playoff picture.
“It doesn’t really have to be aesthetically pleasing to be effective,” Payton asserted. “The key is winning.”
The victory wasn’t assured until the New Orleans’ much-maligned defense, which entered the game ranked 29th in the NFL, came up with a stop on the Seahawks’ final drive, which started on the Seattle 32 with 1:50 left. Russell Wilson took the Seahawks (4-2-1) to the New Orleans 10, where he had one final play. He lofted a pass toward the corner of the end zone, where Jermaine Kearse caught the ball, but landed out of bounds.
“It was close. I tried to give him a shot,” Wilson said of his last throw to Kearse, adding that cornerback B.W. Webb “did a good job of trying to drive him out of bounds. I think he got one (foot) in and was trying to get the second one down. The last drive was a testament to our resilience.”
The Saints rushed 35 times and passed 35 times — certainly not the M.O. for a team that entered the game with a second-ranked passing offense and 28th-ranked running game. But it was effective. New Orleans gained 123 yards on the ground with Tim Hightower gaining 102, making him the first Saint this season to rush for 100. New Orleans also kept possession for 36:12 to Seattle’s 23:48.
“We knew coming in here it was going to be a physical game,” Hightower said. “In that fourth quarter, I looked over on their sideline and saw a couple of those guys on their knees and I said, ‘This is exactly where we want them.'”
Wilson finished with 253 yards passing and was intercepted once by linebacker Nathan Stupar, whose diving snag set up the Saints’ first TD on Brees’ 1-yard dive over a pile of players. Brees’ lone touchdown pass went to Brandin Cooks on a 2-yard slant , which gave the Saints the lead for good early in the fourth quarter.
Wil Lutz kicked field goals of 22, 53, 21 and 41 yards for the Saints, the latter coming with under two minutes left to put Seattle down by more than a field goal.
MINI SLUMP: Seattle has gone two straight games without a win, having tied Arizona last week, but the Seahawks hardly seem concerned.
“The great thing is we have all the players, we have the right system, we have the right guys,” Wilson said. “We are going to be able to do it. This is nothing that we haven’t faced before.”
MISLEADING STATS: While the Saints held numerous statistical advantages in several categories, big plays on both sides of the ball helped Seattle lead 14-13 at halftime and keep it close throughout.
Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril forced Mark Ingram’s fumble in the first quarter. It popped straight to safety Earl Thomas, who sprinted into the open field for a 34-yard touchdown.
A trick play set up Seattle’s second score. Wilson threw a backward screen to his left to receiver Tanner McEvoy, who then threw deep back across the field for a 43-yard completion to running back C.J. Prosise to the Saints 2. That set up Christine Michael’s TD run, making it 14-3.
Seattle’s defense also forced a field goal in the third quarter after the Saints had a first-and-goal on the 1 and thwarted a Saints 2-point conversion attempt after Cooks’ TD.
BENCHED: Ingram was benched after his fumble on this third carry of the game. It was his second fumble in two weeks while trying to fight for extra yards after contact. A week earlier, Ingram’s fumble inside the Kansas City 10 contributed to a six-point loss.
“Sometimes those things happen and I know he’s going to bounce back,” Brees said of Ingram. “I’ve got so much trust, great confidence in him as does this whole offense, so I wouldn’t look into that any further.”
GRAHAM’S RETURN: Jimmy Graham was silent about his return to the place where his NFL career started, avoiding media all week. He had a relatively quiet game as well, finishing with three catches for 34 yards. Graham did speak to media after the game, walking from the locker room to the stadium exit wearing headphones and ignoring several reporters’ questions.
BREES AT HOME: Brees now has a TD pass in 58 consecutive home games, extending his NFL-record streak.
UP NEXT: Seattle hosts Buffalo in the Week 9 Monday night game, while the Saints travel to meet San Francisco next Sunday.
Chiefs 30, Colts 14
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano looked as if he was ready to seethe Sunday night.
He refused the temptation. A few more games like this and perhaps Pagano will lose his cool.
For now, he must focus on finding solutions to the Colts’ myriad of ailments.
“Instead of going in there and throwing a tantrum and all that stuff, that isn’t going to fix what needs to get fixed, it’s obvious,” Pagano said after the 30-14 loss to Kansas City.
“We will go back in (Monday) like we always do and take a good hard look at ourselves because the same things keep popping up.”
The problems have been constant throughout the first half of the season.
After two weeks of better starts, the Colts reverted to their old form and fell into an early 10-point deficit — a big enough deficit that Andrew Luck and the sluggish offense couldn’t dig them out of it.
The Colts’ defense couldn’t get off the field. Indy (3-5) had five more penalties, pushing their total to 63.
The Chiefs — even with a backup quarterback and only one healthy running back — easily overpowered the beleaguered Colts.
And if Indy doesn’t fix this soon, any shot of making the playoffs could soon fade, too.
“I feel like I let the team down,” Luck said after throwing two TD passes, one interception and losing a fumble. “Turnovers are bad. Simple things that you can’t do in the NFL and expect to win games.”
The Chiefs’ big concern coming out of their third consecutive win is that they aren’t sure who will play quarterback or running back next week against Jacksonville.
Alex Smith left twice with head injuries, the second diagnosed as a concussion. In between the departures, he still managed to throw a TD pass.
Backup Nick Foles played well in relief, throwing two TD passes and leading the Chiefs on four scoring drives.
Spencer Ware, who started in place of the injured Jamaal Charles didn’t play in the second half after also being diagnosed with a concussion.
But at least they have some momentum.
“Yeah, you never expect that. Especially with a guy like Alex who’s so tough and he’s been very durable throughout his career,” Foles said. “He’s a warrior. For him, he’s going to continue to fight.”
Here are some other things we learned from Sunday’s game:
NOT-SO SPECIAL: The Colts could argue they have the two best kickers in the league — Adam Vinatieri and punter Pat McAfee. Unfortunately, the coverage teams aren’t so special. Chiefs punt returner Tyreek Hill ran around the Colts’ coverage three different times, averaging 19.0 yards on those returns. Indy, meanwhile, fumbled two punts — one of which was erased by a penalty.
TRAVIS IS TROUBLE: Travis Kelce keeps getting better and better, and he was spectacular in the first half Sunday. He caught six passes for 96 yards and a touchdown and finished with season highs of seven receptions for 101 yards. Whoever the quarterback is next week, they need to keep throwing Kelce’s way.
LOSING GROUND: Just when it appeared Indy’s offensive line was starting to make progress, it took a step back against the Chiefs by allowing six sacks and more hits on Luck. That wasn’t the only problem. Indy rushed 21 times for 105 yards, 60 of which came on Luck’s scrambles. The Colts have gone 28 consecutive home games without a 100-yard rusher.
DOMINANT DEFENSE: Kansas City has played two of the top eight scoring offenses in back-to-back weeks and shut down both. Last week, they beat New Orleans 27-21 at home. This week, they rolled on the road. And with Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa Bay coming up over the next three weeks, the Chiefs’ dominance could continue.
Patriots 41, Bills 25
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady asserted his on-field ownership of the Buffalo Bills again Sunday, matching an NFL record in beating them for the 26th time.
Brady went 22 of 33 for 315 yards and threw four touchdowns in leading New England to a 41-25 win. He improved to 26-3 against Buffalo , matching a record set by Brett Favre, who went 26-9 against Detroit.
Best of all, Brady’s performance had Bills fans heading for the exits early in the fourth quarter, what whatever Patriots fans remained as the clock wound down.
“We’ve had a lot of experiences where there’s 70,000 people against you,” Brady said. “And at the end there’s 5,000 Patriots (fans) on the road that are cheering for us. … To be so far ahead you can run out the clock, it’s a great feeling.”
The Patriots (7-1) have won four straight since Brady returned after opening the season serving the NFL’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension. His absence included New England’s only blemish, a 16-0 home loss to Buffalo on Oct. 2, the first time the Patriots were shut out at home since 1993.
And don’t think that loss didn’t still sting.
“You know, they like to talk all that. They got that win,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had 109 yards receiving and a touchdown. “I’m so glad we came in here and showed them what we’re really about.”
After a Bills field goal, Brady threw touchdowns passes on his first two drives. They included a 53-yarder to former Bills receiver Chris Hogan , who beat cornerback Stephon Gilmore up the left sideline.
The Patriots then broke the game open by scoring 27 points over five consecutive possessions in a surge that began with Gronkowski scoring his 69th career touchdown to break a franchise record previously held by Stanley Morgan.
The Bills (4-4) sputtered minus their offensive top threat, running back LeSean McCoy, who has a hamstring injury. And their defense was unable to keep the Patriots in check despite star defensive tackle Marcell Dareus making his season debut.
Dareus missed the past three games because a hamstring injury, and missed the start of the season serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
“Obviously, we weren’t good enough,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “We made way too many mistakes, mistakes that we haven’t made all season. And against a guy like Brady, he makes you pay.”
The Patriots punted just three times and converted nine of 13 third-down opportunities.
Backup running back Mike Gillislee scored on a 3-yard run and Taylor scrambled for a 26-yard touchdown on fourth down in the third quarter. Jonathan Williams scored on a 1-yard run with 30 seconds left.
Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman also caught touchdown passes, while LeGarrette Blount scored on a 1-yard run.
For Brady, it was his first four-TD outing since a 36-7 win over Miami last October. It was the most he’s had on the road since throwing four in a 37-22 win at Orchard Park on Oct. 12, 2014.
Of his 20 regular-season games with four touchdowns passing or more, six have been against Buffalo.
Gronkowski, who grew up in Buffalo, actually set two franchise records with his 53-yard touchdown catch . It was his 69th touchdown and 68th TD receiving, moving him one ahead of Morgan in both categories.
After spiking the ball, Gronkowski spun and took a bow.
He said he bowed in tribute to his mother, Diane, who met with Gronkowski at the team hotel on Saturday and told him how proud she would be for him to break the record.
“I was like, I’ve got to give her a shoutout for letting me know she’s super proud of me,” he said. “Hi mom and thank you.”
The Bills had five sacks, upping their season total to 26 — five more than they managed all last season. Veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams had one, his 38th, moving into eighth on the franchise list, one ahead of Sherman White.
Patriots: Amendola’s 73-yard kickoff return to open the second half led to Brady’s 12-yard TD pass to Edelman to put New England up 31-10.
Bills: Bills punter Colton Schmidt bumbled his drop while facing fourth-and-15 at his own 20. He quickly scooped it up and broke up the right sideline for a 16-yard gain. Buffalo eventually went on to score on Taylor’s 26-yard run to cut the Patriots lead to 31-17 midway through the third quarter.
Patriots: None reported.
Bills: LB Lorenzo Alexander did not return after hurting one of his hamstrings during a punt return in the second quarter. Receiver Brandon Tate (concussion protocol) did not return after being tackled by Devin McCourty in the third quarter. RB Reggie Bush hurt his groin.
Jets 31, Browns 28
CLEVELAND (AP) — Down a couple of scores and 30 minutes away from a loss to that would have turned a disappointing season into something far more dire, New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis decided it was time for a wake-up call.
The fact one was required against the winless and luckless Cleveland Browns is telling of just how things have been going in New York.
Regardless, whatever Revis said worked. Ryan Fitzpatrick led three long touchdown drives as the Jets — who trailed 20-7 at halftime — put together the biggest second-half road comeback in team history, rallying for a 31-28 victory on Sunday.
“It was basically, ‘Just fight. We are not leaving this stadium not winning the game,'” Revis said of his halftime message. “This game is very important to us. When adversity strikes, we have to respond.”
For once, the Jets did. Emphatically.
A week after openly criticizing team management for losing faith in himwhen it benched him in favor of Geno Smith, Fitzpatrick overcame a nightmarish first half to throw for 222 yards and a score.
“I’m here to try to win football games for these guys,” Fitzpatrick said. “The first half was bad. We played poorly. I played poorly. It was nice to see the way we rebounded together.”
New York (3-5) outgained the Browns 287-133 in the second half, and most of Cleveland’s yards came on a garbage-time drive that didn’t exactly smack of urgency. Matt Forte ran for 82 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns and Bilal Powell added 76 yards rushing and a 35-yard dart to the end zone of his own.
Jets coach Todd Bowles insisted he didn’t consider going to backup quarterback Bryce Petty, even as Fitzpatrick went 3 for 14 over the first 30 minutes.
“It wasn’t Ryan,” Bowles said. “We had 22 guys who didn’t play well in the first half. We didn’t play well as a team. It had nothing to do with Ryan. Ryan doesn’t play defense, he doesn’t block, catch or run. We had to play better as a team.”
Something the Jets managed to do when with more than a little help from the Browns (0-8).
Josh McCown passed for 341 yards with two touchdowns to Andrew Hawkins in his return from a fractured collarbone, but also threw interceptions on consecutive possessions in the second half that doomed any real shot of Cleveland picking up its first victory in 322 days.
Terrelle Pryor caught six passes for 101 yards, but couldn’t keep Cleveland from its worst start since the 1975 team dropped its first nine games. The Browns have lost 11 straight overall dating to Week 14 of last season and are 3-26 over their last 29. Three of the losses this season have come with the Browns ahead at the break.
“Losing is old, we’re 0-8,” Browns cornerback Joe Haden said. “Everything’s old. We have to win. We have to start winning. When we do really good in the first half, we’ve got to figure out how to kickstart that thing in the second half.”
LOSING BROADWAY JOE
Fitzpatrick channeled a little bit of his old “FitzMagic” put together consecutive touchdown drives of 78, 84 and 81 yards after halftime. His 24-yard hookup with Quincy Enunwa brought the Jets within 20-14. Fitzpatrick hit Enunwa again for a 57-yard gain on New York’s next possession, one that ended with Forte bulling over from 4 yards out on fourth-and-goal.
The surge came after Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath took to Twitter , suggesting it was time for the Jets to turn to Petty after Fitzpatrick managed just 30 yards passing and was sacked twice during a sloppy first half.
“It hurts to say this, but we’re not goin (sic) with Fitzpatrick,” Namath posted.
The only quarterback to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl later backtracked, praising Fitzpatrick for his delivery on the long strike to Enunwa that helped put the Jets in front. New York wide receiver Brandon Marshall chided Namath afterward, saying “Come on, Joe. You can’t say that.”
SAME OLD, SAME OLD
Cleveland honored the 1986 team that reached the AFC championship game at halftime. Former coach Marty Schottenheimer, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease, said “there’s nothing like the Browns.”
Maybe, but on the same day the Indians have a chance to win the World Series and four months after the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers won a title, the glory days for Cleveland’s football team seem farther away than ever.
“Had our chances, did not finish it,” current Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said. “Did not finish it, and that has kind of been the story of our season.”
Jets: face AFC East rival Miami for the first time this season when they hit the road to face the Dolphins. New York has won four of the last five meetings.
Browns: host the Dallas Cowboys. Cleveland hasn’t beaten the Cowboys at home since 1988.
Raiders 30, Buccaneers 24 OT
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Derek Carr kept throwing touchdowns and the officials kept throwing flags as both set records as the Oakland Raiders defeated Tampa Bay 30-24 in overtime on Sunday.
Carr finished with a franchise-record 513 yards passing — completing 40 of 59 passes without an interception. The Raiders (6-2) also overcame a NFL-record 23 penalties for 200 yards to remain unbeaten on the road.
Carr threw to Seth Roberts for the winning score with under two minutes to go in overtime. He had tied the game a scoring throw to Mychal Rivera with 1:38 remaining in regulation.
“It was an awesome performance. I’ve seen some good ones. I think we’ll continue to see good ones from him,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said.
Carr said when he was told he had thrown for more yards in a game than any other quarterback in team history, he nearly cried.
“Not in a weird way, just like that’s stuff you dream of as a kid,” the third-year pro said. “I’m just blessed.”
Carr broke a 52-year-old record set by Cotton Davidson.
Offensive tackle and ex-Buc Donald Penn and Amari Cooper also caught TD passes, with Cooper winding up with 12 receptions for 173 yards and Michael Crabtree adding eight catches for 108 yards.
Oakland amassed 626 yards total offense and dominated time of possession by more than 15 minutes against an overworked Tampa Bay defense that was on the field 85 plays.
Jameis Winston threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns for the Bucs (3-4), who took a 24-17 lead on a 1-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers and 2-point conversion.
Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a 50-yard field goal as time expired to send it into overtime.
Janikowski misfired again from 52 yards on Oakland’s first possession of the extra period. On the winning play, Carr hit Roberts into the middle of the field on fourth-and-4, Tampa Bay defenders lunged and missed the tackle at the 30, and the receiver sped into the end zone.
The Raiders, who beat Jacksonville last week and remained in Florida to prepare for the Bucs, are 5-0 on the road for the first time since 1977. Tampa Bay, which had a two-game winning streak stopped, fell to 0-3 at home.
“They tried to give us the game — two missed field goals and all those penalties,” Tampa Bay tackle Demar Dotson said. “We didn’t take it.”
DID YA SEE THAT?: Raiders OL Donald Penn was with the Bucs for eight years before being released after the 2013 season. His 1-yard TD made it 10-10 early in the third quarter. The 315-pound tackle crossed his arms and struck a pose for the announced crowd of 61,058
“I had to let them know they made a big mistake in cutting me,” Penn said. “II had to let them know I’m back.”
FILLING IN: With RB Doug Martin still sidelined by a hamstring injury, Rodgers made his third start for Tampa Bay and rushed for 69 yards on 19 carries against the league’s 32nd-ranked defense. Rodgers topped 100 yards each of the previous two games , keying victories over Carolina and San Francisco. Martin, the league’s second-leading rusher a year ago, has been out since getting hurt at Arizona Week Two.
FLAGS, FLAGS AND MORE FLAGS: The Raiders hurt themselves repeatedly with penalties, including a delay of game on first and goal from the Tampa Bay and an offensive pass interference call against WR Michael Crabtree that nullified a touchdown. They wound up settling for Sebastian Janikowski’s 31-yard field goal that trimmed a second-quarter deficit to 10-3. Oakland was penalized four times, twice on third-and-1 for lining up with 12 men on defense, during the fourth-quarter drive Winston used to put Tampa Bay up 24-17.
“I can’t believe it, but it just shows the resilience of this team. We just have to work to clean that up,” Cooper said. “We can’t be a championship team like that, so we have to clean that up. Definitely.”
INJURIES: The Raiders lost CB Sean Smith with a shoulder injury on the second play of the game. The Bucs said Rodgers left the game late with a foot injury.
UP NEXT: The Raiders return home from their extended stay in Florida to face the Denver Broncos. The Bucs have a short week, continuing a three-game homestand against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.
Chargers 19, Broncos 27
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Broncos took turns picking off and pummeling Philip Rivers in a 27-19 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
But defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was taken to a hospital after getting knocked down during Brady Roby’s 51-yard touchdown return in the second quarter, tempering their enthusiasm.
San Diego running back Melvin Gordon was blocked into the 69-year-old assistant, who was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field. The Broncos said Phillips was alert and had movement in his arms and legs when he arrived at the hospital via ambulance.
With linebackers coach Reggie Herring taking over Denver’s defensive calls for Phillips, the Broncos (6-2) had a goal-line stand in the closing minutes and picked off Rivers twice more in the second half.
They only turned one of those takeaways into points, however, and that allowed the hard-luck Chargers (3-5) to stay in it until the end, forcing Denver to make two stands in the closing minutes.
Safety Darian Stewart’s takeaway gave Denver the ball at the San Diego 10, and Devontae Booker’s 3-yard TD run made it 17-7. Safety T.J. Ward’s interception set up his offense at the Chargers 7. But Booker, making his first career start after C.J. Anderson (knee) went on IR, fumbled at the San Diego 2 and linebacker Jatavis Brown recovered.
The Chargers capitalized with a 98-yard touchdown drive that ended with Travis Benjamin’s one-handed TD grab. Shaq Barrett blocked Josh Lambo’s extra point, keeping the score 17-13.
Juwan Thompson, promoted from the practice squad Saturday, scored from the 1 to make it 24-13. But the Chargers got into the defensive act themselves when cornerback Casey Hayward returned a tipped pass from Trevor Siemian to Jordan Norwood 24 yards for a touchdown that made it 24-19.
Antonio Gates’ illegal pick negated a 2-point conversion catch by Gordon, and Jared Crick deflected Rivers’ do-over pass, keeping it a five-point game.
The Chargers reached the Denver 2 with three minutes remaining but threw four consecutive incompletions without handing off to Gordon, who had 111 yards on 23 carries.
San Diego’s last gasp ended at midfield.
Roby, starting in place of Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib (lower back), gave Denver a 10-7 lead with a 51-yard pick-6 in the second quarter.
Rivers’ pass went off receiver Tyrell Williams’ hands and Roby spun around and plucked the ball out of the air. He quickly found the sideline, slipped past tackle Joe Barksdale and outraced Rivers into the end zone.
DIDN’T COUNT: Roby’s pick-6 came a few minutes after DeMarcus Ware’s strip-sack was overturned on review even though it appeared he had his hand on the football as Rivers was about to release it. Linebacker Corey Nelson, making his first career start in place of Brandon Marshall (hamstring), scooped up the ball and returned it to the San Diego 22. Ware was making his first start since breaking his right forearm in Week 2.
DAWDLING DENVER : A week after holding Houston to three-and-outs on its first two drives, Denver’s dawdling defense again surrendered a touchdown on its first series. That makes six times in eight games the Broncos have allowed a TD on an opponent’s first drive.
STREAK CONTINUES: After snapping a 10-game AFC West skid with a 21-13 win over Denver 17 days earlier, the Chargers lost for the eighth straight time on the road in the division.
Packers 32, Falcons 33
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons found themselves in another tight game.
This time, they came through with the winning play.
After two excruciating losses, the Falcons rallied for a 33-32 victory over the Green Bay Packers when Matt Ryan threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds remaining Sunday.
With Julio Jones shut down in the second half, Ryan turned to Sanu to bail out Atlanta (5-3). He caught five passes for 50 yards on the final possession, the last of them a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone after he got matched against linebacker Jake Ryan.
The Green Bay player didn’t have a chance. Sanu raced past him and hauled in the pass right in front of the goalposts, the ball easily clearing Ryan’s outstretched hands.
“We’ve got the greatest receiver in the NFL, but we’ve got other great guys in that room, too,” Sanu said. “When our number is called upon, we went out there to do what we do.”
The Falcons were coming off a 26-24 loss at Seattle and a 33-30 overtime setback to San Diego in which they squandered a 17-point lead at home.
Given what happened a year ago — Atlanta started the season 6-1, then lost six in a row and missed the playoffs — it was imperative to turn things around against the Packers. It didn’t look good when Aaron Rodgers threw his fourth touchdown pass, putting the Packers ahead with 3:58 remaining.
“It’s just finishing,” Sanu said. “We didn’t finish the last two weeks and we finished this week.”
Sanu had nine catches for 84 yards, both season highs in his first year with the Falcons. Atlanta needed every one of them, since Jones was held to three catches for 29 yards and targeted only once in the second half — a dropped pass on the final possession.
But Jones helped Sanu get open on the winning play, drawing two defenders when they lined up on the same side of the field.
Ryan was 28 of 35 for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
“They don’t call the guy Matty Ice for no reason,” Sanu said. “The guy has ice in his veins.”
Rodgers threw for 246 yards, teaming up with a bunch of unknown receivers as the banged-up Packers played without six starters. Linebacker Clay Matthews and receiver Randall Cobb were among those who couldn’t go because of hamstring injuries.
Three Green Bay receivers — Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis — got their first career touchdown. Allison, in fact, had just been promoted from the practice squad and never caught a pass in an NFL game. Ditto for Davis, a rookie who had mainly been used as a returner.
“That’s our job, to go out and make plays regardless of who’s in there,” Allison said.
The Packers took a 32-26 lead after the Falcons were caught with too many men on the field, giving Green Bay a first down rather than having to go for a fourth-and-1. Rodgers went to Janis for a 7-yard touchdown with 3:58 remaining, followed by a 2-point conversion.
It wasn’t enough. Sanu’s touchdown tied the game, and Matt Bryant booted through the winning extra point. Bryant had already become the Falcons career leading scorer, passing Morten Andersen, with a PAT after Atlanta’s first TD.
SACKING THE PACK
Adrian Clayborn had the first multi-sack game of his six-year NFL career, bringing down Rodgers twice in the second half.
Vic Beasley Jr. also had a sack, giving him 6 1-2 over the last four games and 7 1-2 for the season.
Rodgers was also Green Bay’s leading rusher with a career-high 60 yards on six carries. He broke his previous best of 57 yards in 2012, and posted the highest rushing total by a Packers quarterback since Don Majkowski’s 88-yard effort in 1990.
The Falcons lost tight end Jacob Tamme to a right shoulder injury on the opening possession.
Tamme took a hit at the end of a 13-yard reception and left the field holding his right arm.
Packers: Return home next Sunday to face the Indianapolis Colts (3-5), in what will be the only game played in Green Bay during the month of November. After that, it’s three straight on the road.
Falcons: Have only three days to prepare for a Thursday night game at Tampa Bay (3-4), which is coming off a 30-24 overtime loss to Oakland. This will be the second meeting between the NFC South rivals; the Buccaneers opened the season with a 31-24 victory in Atlanta.
Eagles 23, Cowboys 29 OT
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten in overtime to give the Dallas Cowboys their sixth straight victory, 29-23 over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
Prescott won the rookie quarterback duel with Carson Wentz, rallying the Cowboys with a late tying pass to Dez Bryant. Dallas (6-1) overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a two-game division lead.
The 23-year-old Prescott recovered from a shaky start, finishing 19 of 39 for 287 yards with two scores and an end zone interception that cost the Cowboys points late in the first half.
Wentz had the Eagles (4-3) in position for a win with another efficient performance. But he couldn’t move Philadelphia late in regulation with the game tied. The Eagles never got the ball in overtime after Prescott led the 75-yard scoring drive.
On the winning play, Prescott started to his right before spinning back to his left and finding a wide-open Witten, who broke Ed “Too Tall” Jones’ franchise record with his 204th start.
Bryant had four catches for 113 yards, including a 53-yarder to set up the first Dallas touchdown, in the 2014 All-Pro’s return after missing three games with a hairline fracture in his right knee.
Ezekiel Elliott’s NFL rookie record of four straight games with at least 130 yards rushing end, but the NFL’s rushing leader played a big part on the winning drive with 18 yards rushing and a 10-yard catch that set up Witten’s score. He finished with 96 yards on 22 carries.
Prescott’s TD pass to Witten tied Troy Aikman’s rookie franchise record of nine scoring passes after Wentz broke Donovan McNabb’s rookie mark of eight from 1999 with his ninth of the season, a 5-yarder to Jordan Matthews that put Philadelphia up 20-10 in the third quarter.
Darren Sproles had a season-high 86 yards rushing on 15 carries for the Eagles. Matthews had 11 catches for 65 yards.
NOT SO SPECIAL: The Cowboys had a rough first quarter on special teams. Lucky Whitehead fumbled the opening kickoff but recovered it. The Eagles later got the ball back after punting when Dallas was called for too many men on the field. Then the Cowboys were called for running into Sturgis, although replays showed a pretty good acting job and the penalty was declined because it wasn’t a personal foul and Sturgis made the 30-yarder.
INJURIES: Eagles OL Allen Barbre left in the first half with a hamstring injury and didn’t return. … Cowboys S Barry Church left with an arm injury in the second half and didn’t return. … Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne left with a groin injury late in the fourth quarter.
Vikings 10, Bears 20
CHICAGO (AP) — Jay Cutler threw for 252 yards and a touchdown after missing five games with a thumb injury, rookie Jordan Howard ran for a career-high 153 yards and a TD, and the Chicago Bears stunned the Minnesota Vikings 20-10 on Monday night.
The Bears (2-6) sacked Sam Bradford five times while handing the NFC North-leading Vikings (5-2) their second straight loss.
Cutler was on target in his return from a sprained right thumb. Howard easily surpassed his previous high of 118 yards. Alshon Jeffery got his first touchdown reception of the season, and Chicago outgained Minnesota 403 yards to 258.
Cutler had not played since he exited against Philadelphia in the second game of the season. But with his future up in the air after coach John Fox wavered in his commitment to him as the starter, he made a triumphant return.
Cutler completed 20 of 31 passes, including an 11-yard touchdown to Jeffery early in the third that made it 20-3. Whether he quieted fans who thought the Bears were better off with Brian Hoyer is another issue. But that became a moot point when Hoyer broke his left arm last week in a Thursday night loss at Green Bay.
Howard had a 69-yard run, the longest for Chicago in seven years. Zach Miller added 88 yards receiving as the Bears stopped a three-game losing streak.
Bradford, playing behind a porous line, had another rough game after getting sacked six times the previous week against Philadelphia. He was 23 of 37 for 228 yards.
Matt Asiata ran for 42 yards with Jerick McKinnon sidelined by an ankle injury.
With a sparse and quiet crowd looking on, the Bears led 13-3 at halftime. It was almost a bigger advantage, but Chicago settled for field goals on its first two trips inside the 20.
Howard, a fifth-round draft pick, broke off a 69-yard run to the 13 on Chicago’s first possession. It was the longest rushing play for the Bears since Kahlil Bell’s 72-yarder against Philadelphia on Nov. 22, 2009. But instead of a touchdown, the Bears got a field goal from Connor Barth.
They got another field goal early in the second after Xavier Rhodes broke up a pass to Jeffery in the end zone on third down at the 10.
Chicago finally broke through midway through the second quarter when Howard scored on a 2-yard run to make it 13-0.
The Vikings drove to the Bears’ 2 in the final minute of the half. But Akiem Hicks hit Bradford for a 10-yard sack on third down, leading to a 30-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.
Head linesman Ed Walker was taken from the field on a cart after he slipped on the Soldier Field grass in the first quarter. Walker was injured running down the Vikings’ sideline as the Bears punted. His legs bucked, and he was tended to for several minutes by medical personnel before being placed on the cart.
GO CUBS, GO
Vikings backup receiver and Chicago native Laquon Treadwell made it clear who he’s rooting for in the World Series. He was wearing cleats showing an image of the Chicago Tribune with the headline “Cubs Win!” before the game.
Vikings: G Alex Boone was being evaluated for a concussion. … CB Captain Munnerlyn hurt his foot. … SS Andrew Sendejo (ankle) sat out and Jayron Kearse started in his place.
Bears: The Bears held out RG Kyle Long (strained triceps) and LG Josh Sitton (ankle). Ted Larsen started at right guard and Eric Kush at left guard.
Vikings: Face division rival Detroit for the first time this season when they host the Lions on Sunday.
Bears: Have a bye before visiting Tampa Bay on Nov. 13.