2016 NFL Week 9 Tuesday Afternoon QB

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: Cardinals, Bears, Bengals, Texans, Patriots, Redskins

Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

Julio Jones, Vernon Hargreaves III

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones catches a pass for a touchdown over Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (28) during the second half of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla., Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — There’s no letup in Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.

The NFC South leaders tightened their grip on first place in the division with a 43-28 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Ryan throwing for 344 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions on Thursday night.

The victory avenged a 7-point home loss to Tampa Bay in the season opener. It also reiterated how much the Falcons (6-3) have progressed as a team since the earlier meeting.

“First game of the year, they played a little better than we did that day,” Ryan said after tossing scoring passes to four different targets. “I felt like we have continued to improve from that time of year. For me, that’s like the best thing from a confidence standpoint — that we continue to get better week in and week out.”

Julio Jones had another big game , with eight receptions for 111 yards. In 10 career meetings against Tampa Bay, he’s averaged 110.6 yards per game with eight touchdowns.

It was the receiver’s fifth 100-yard game of the season, 33rd of his career.

“The amount of guys that get involved in the game is a big topic for us,” Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said.

Levine Toilolo, Patrick DiMarco and Austin Hooper also caught TD passes from Ryan, who leads the NFL with 2,980 yards and 23 touchdowns vs. four interceptions.

Receiver Taylor Gabriel scored on a 9-yard run.

Jameis Winston threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns for the Bucs (3-5), including scoring passes of 3 and 24 yards to Mike Evans, who had 11 receptions for 150 yards.

Both of Tampa Bay’s young stars finished the game on the sideline, with Evans being evaluated for a possible concussion and Winston limping off after being shaken up when he was tackled trying to score on a two-point conversion play with just under seven minutes remaining.

Winston was tackled around the ankle by Atlanta’s Brooks Reed and also hit by cornerback Jalen Collins. He said he was fine and didn’t leave the game because he was injured.

“Coach took me out,” Winston said.

Mike Glennon finished up for the Bucs, taking his first regular season snaps since 2014. He threw a late TD pass to Cameron Brate to cut into a 23-point deficit.

Some things to know about the Falcons and Buccaneers:

MOVING FORWARD: The Falcons are positioned well in the division, but don’t want to get ahead of themselves. “One of the things I do like about our team is we’re able to stay on the present moment and focus on the team that is at hand. … Our focus this week was on us and how well we could attack, so we’re going to stay right in that window.” Tampa Bay has lost two straight on the heels of a two-game winning streak that got them back in the division race. “We’re 3-5 at the halfway point, and that’s what we earned. There’s half a season left. I’ve got to figure out a way to help this team play up to its potential because right now they’re not,” Bucs coach Dirk Kotter said. “And that’s on me.”

DEPENDABLE JONES: Jones started slowly, before the Falcons finally got him involved. The All-Pro receiver had half his production coming during a two-minute stretch of the second quarter. Early in the second half with the Falcons only leading 20-14, Jones caught passes from Matt Ryan on four consecutive plays, all for first downs, during an 86-yard touchdown drive. “His play kind of got us going,” Ryan said.

THE BUCS STOP HERE: Falcons DT Grady Jarrett stopped a promising Tampa Bay drive with sacks on successive plays late in the first half. The Falcons finished with three sacks, hiking their season total to 21 in nine games. They had 19 last season, fewest in the NFL.

LYNCH HONORED: Retired S John Lynch became the ninth member of the Bucs Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony. Lynch earned nine Pro Bowl selections during a 15-year career with Tampa Bay and the Denver Broncos. He was a captain on the Bucs’ only Super Bowl championship team (2002) and ranks fifth in team history with 164 games played. Lynch was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Honor earlier this month.

Jaguars 14, Chiefs 19

Marcus Peters, Ben Koyack, Chris Ivory

Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters (22) recovers a fumble in the end zone in front of Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Ben Koyack (83). The ball was fumbled by Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory, second right, during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Their starting quarterback and running back never dressed, their top wide receiver joined them on the sideline with an injury of his own, and their Pro Bowl tight end was ejected by an official who didn’t seem to think his antics were very funny.

Good thing for the Kansas City Chiefs that everything was status quo on defense.

That stout bunch kept Blake Bortles in check most of the afternoon, then stuffed the Jacksonville Jaguars on fourth down with less than 2 minutes remaining deep in their own territory, preserving a 19-14 win on Sunday made even more impressive by the long odds the Chiefs overcame.

“That’s what football is all about. You’re going to have weeks where you have injuries,” said Nick Foles, who started in place of injured quarterback Alex Smith. “You have to step up and make plays.”

Foles threw for 187 yards and a first-half touchdown toss to Albert Wilson, and helped to set up four field goals by Cairo Santos, as Kansas City (6-2) won its 10th consecutive home game.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars (2-6) couldn’t overcome four turnovers — including a fumble at the goal line in the fourth quarter — in their first game with quarterback coach Nathaniel Hackett directing the offense .

Bortles was 22 of 41 for 252 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, showing little improvement after a week spent with his personal coach, Adam Dedeaux . His wide receivers hardly helped him, dropping several passes, including an early fourth-down throw that cost Jacksonville a chance at points.

“I thought Nathaniel called a great game,” Bortles said. “To run for 200 yards and throw for 200, or whatever, I thought it was awesome. If you look at the stat sheet minus the turnovers there’s no way you say Kansas City won. But unfortunately, that’s part of the game.”

Chris Ivory rumbled for 107 yards in the biggest bright spot for Jacksonville, but he fumbled going over the goal-line with 8:28 left in the game. The Jaguars quickly got the ball back, and Bortles hit T.J. Yeldon to get within 19-14 with 4:10 to go, but the extra time it took to score proved costly.

They got the ball back with 3:01 remaining, and a long scamper by Bortles gave them a chance. But his pass on fourth-and-3 at the Kansas City 32 was batted to the ground and the Chiefs ran out the clock.

“We had four turnovers and when you do that, any game in the NFL is hard to win,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “And for us, we did it at critical times.”

The Chiefs played the whole way without Smith and starting running back Spencer Ware, who were out with head injuries, and offensive guard Parker Ehinger, who went on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin hurt his groin on the Chiefs’ first series and did not return, and tight end Travis Kelce was tossed from the game in the fourth quarter after arguing over a pass interference no-call, then tossing his towel at the official as if it was a flag.

“As soon as the ref took off his hat (to throw), I knew I was out. Felt like an idiot,” he said. “It was a terrible decision, but just have to learn from it and keep going.”

What did Kelce learn from it?

“I can’t throw my flag at the ref,” he replied. “He can throw his all day long.”

INJURIES

Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns left early in the second half with an ankle injury. He returned to the game, only to sustain a concussion while trying to make a catch later in the half. … Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack left with a hip injury.

STATS AND STREAKS

The Chiefs have won three straight against Jacksonville. … The Jaguars still do not have a touchdown on their opening possession since Week 2 last season, an NFL-long stretch of 22 games. … Jacksonville has not forced a turnover in four games. … The Jaguars scored in the first half on the road for the first time this season. They’ve still been outscored 68-7. … Outside linebacker Dee Ford had both of Kansas City’s sacks, giving him 5 1/2 the past two weeks.

LONG TRIP NOWHERE

Chiefs running back Knile Davis played after re-signing with Kansas City on Saturday. Davis was traded to Green Bay three weeks ago, cut after two games and signed with the New York Jets. He was cut again hours later, allowing him to return to Kansas City. “It felt like I was home,” he said.

UP NEXT: The Jaguars return home to face the Texans on Sunday, while the Chiefs expect to have Alex Smith back when they visit Carolina.

Jets 23, Dolphins 27

Kenyan Drake

Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Jets 27-23. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Rookie returner Kenyan Drake was delighted to find himself at the bottom of a pile of players, because they were teammates in the end zone.

Drake caused the celebration when he scored untouched on a 96-yard kickoff return with 5:15 left Sunday, the final swing in a seesaw game that helped the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets, 27-23.

Jay Ajayi came up short in his bid to become the first NFL rusher to have three consecutive 200-yard games, but he managed 111 yards and helped to run out the clock after the Dolphins came from behind for the third time.

A botched Dolphins punt led to a touchdown that put New York ahead 23-20. The Jets pinned Miami’s Jakeem Grant deep on the ensuing kickoff, but Antonio Allen was flagged for offside.

On the re-kick, the weary coverage team found itself chasing a fresh Drake, Grant’s backup. He sped past the final Jet — kicker Nick Folk — into the clear.

“I was trying to remember what my track coach said: to keep those knees up,” Drake said.

Even his teammates gave chase.

“Everyone was running down the sideline,” Ajayi said. “I was trying to beat him to the end zone. I was so excited for him.”

The Dolphins (4-4) won their third game in a row, while New York (3-6) fell deeper into last place in the AFC East. The Jets hurt themselves with four personal foul penalties, two interceptions thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick and numerous squandered chances.

Fitzpatrick missed four plays midway through the second half because of a left knee injury and wore a brace when he returned. He said he’ll undergone an MRI exam Monday.

Ajayi was hit behind the line on many of his 24 carries but gradually wore down the Jets and had 55 yards in the fourth quarter.

“I’m never going to go away from him,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “His job is to keep hammering it.”

Also impressive with his ball-carrying skills was 335-pound Miami defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who leaped over an opponent during a 17-yard interception return to set up a field goal.

“Looked like he wanted to be a hurdler,” teammate Ndamukong Suh said.

Fitzpatrick was intercepted in the end zone by Bobby McCain in the fourth quarter, and missed an open Brandon Marshall in the end zone, forcing New York to settle for a field goal.

“We had opportunity after opportunity and didn’t get it done,” Fitzpatrick said. “It all falls on the quarterback. There’s a lot of things I could have done better today.”

Same for the Jets defense — linebacker Jordan Jenkins dropped a potential interception with nothing but 85 yards of grass in front of him.

COSTLY PENALTIES

The Jets were amped up at the start to stop Ajayi — perhaps too much so.

Ajayi lost 3, 1 and 5 yards on his first three carries. But two of the losses were negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Buster Skrine, and a taunting penalty on Calvin Pryor.

On his fourth carry, Ajayi found a big hole and ran 20 yards for a touchdown to put Miami ahead 7-3.

The Jets’ Sheldon Richardson was flagged for unnecessary roughness twice in the second quarter.

ABSENT AT FIRST

Jets defensive linemen Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson sat out the first quarter and entered the game at the start of the second period. A team official said their absences at the start weren’t injury-related, but declined to say whether they were for disciplinary reasons.

“Coach’s decision,” coach Todd Bowles said.

WHAT FEUD?

The feud between Marshall and Byron Maxwell produced a lot of trash-talking, but Marshall managed only 45 yards on six catches. The Jets receiver complained during the week that Maxwell held him on every play in their only previous meeting.

INJURIES

Jets: CB Marcus Williams (ankle) left the game in the first quarter. … LB Josh Martin (concussion) missed the second half.

Dolphins: LB Jelani Jenkins (concussion and hand) and WR Kenny Stills (illness) left the game in the second quarter.

RUGBY-LIKE

The Jets started the game with a field goal at the end of a 13-play drive, and the best was an ad lib. Fitzpatrick scrambled up the middle for 14 yards, and as he was about to be tackled, he lateraled to Bilal Powell for an additional 8 yards.

STILL PHYSICAL

Miami receiver Jarvis Landry, who said he would remain aggressive after a hefty fine for a block that injured the Bills’ Aaron Williams, kept the pledge. Following a catch he tried to run through tackler Marcus Gilchrist and knocked off the safety’s helmet.

Steelers 14, Ravens 21

Kyle Juszczyk, Chris Moore, Jordan Berry

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore (10) runs in a blocked punt for a touchdown past Pittsburgh Steelers punter Jordan Berry (4) and Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk, center, in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens frustrated longtime nemesis Ben Roethlisberger long enough to build a three-touchdown lead.

By the time Roethlisberger finally found his groove, it was too late.

Joe Flacco threw a 95-yard touchdown pass to former Steeler Mike Wallace, and the Ravens beat Pittsburgh 21-14 on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.

Baltimore (4-4) moved into a tie atop the AFC North with the Steelers (4-4), who have dropped three in a row.

Three weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee, Roethlisberger returned well ahead of schedule. Playing for the first time since Oct. 16, the 13-year veteran looked out of sync until the fourth quarter, when he directed a 75-yard drive that got the Steelers to 21-7 with 8:38 remaining.

Before that, Pittsburgh’s offense produced only two first downs and was limited to 69 yards. The Steelers totaled 36 yards rushing, 32 by Le’Veon Bell.

Roethlisberger ran for a 4-yard score with 48 seconds left, but Chris Boswell botched the onside kick — barely knocking it off the tee — and Baltimore closed out its fourth straight win over Pittsburgh (including playoffs).

“The bottom line is we put ourselves in a big hole with some adversity, some of which was created by us,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

After going 8 for 18 for 54 yards and an interception through three quarters, Roethlisberger finished 23 for 45 for 264 yards.

Baltimore’s only touchdown offensively came on Flacco’s pass to Wallace, who was making his first appearance with the Ravens in this bitter rivalry after playing for Pittsburgh from 2009-12.

Wallace broke free on the left sideline , caught the pass in stride and outran safety Mike Mitchell to the end zone. It was the longest play from scrimmage in Ravens history during the regular season and second-longest in the NFL this year.

The home crowd gasped in the third quarter when Flacco hopped off the field after sliding at the end of an impromptu run. It appeared he had reinjured his surgically repaired left knee, but it turned out that his protective brace broke. He missed only three plays.

Flacco completed 18 of 30 passes for 241 yards to help Baltimore earn its first win since Sept. 25, at Jacksonville.

The offense of both teams was slowed by a steady stream of penalties. Pittsburgh had 84 yards in penalties in the first half and only 66 yards of offense, its fewest before halftime with Roethlisberger at quarterback since 2009.

Baltimore led 10-0 at halftime and 13-0 in the fourth quarter before Javorius Allen blocked a punt and Chris Moore took it 14 yards for a TD and a 21-0 lead with 13:36 to go.

Roethlisberger cut the deficit with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. The Steelers then forced a three-and-out, and Roethlisberger brought Pittsburgh to the Baltimore 13 before a sack created a fourth-and-18.

Roethlisberger threw incomplete. Minutes later, he took the Steelers 65 yards for a score in his final shot at the end zone.

QUOTEABLE

Steelers: Tomlin on Roethlisberger: “He was healthy to play. He was willing to play. I appreciate his efforts and his display of will.”

Ravens: “We gave up some plays down the stretch. … We will take the win, but we are not satisfied,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

MR. TOUCHDOWN

Moore, a rookie, has scored two touchdowns on special teams in the past two games. “I might not be able to catch some touchdowns, but I’m still going to score,” said Moore, a wide receiver from Cincinnati.

MR. SMITH RETURNS

Ravens WR Steve Smith returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. He had Baltimore’s first catch, a 30-yarder, and finished with four receptions for 47 yards.

INJURIES

Steelers: C Maurkice Pouncey (dislocated finger) missed part of the first quarter, returned and left for good with the same injury in the third quarter. … LB Jarvis Jones was injured making a first-quarter tackle and did not return until the second half. … S Jordan Dangerfield (groin) left in the fourth quarter.

Ravens: RB Kenneth Dixon left in the fourth quarter with a bruised chest.

UP NEXT

The Steelers host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Ravens are at home Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, who entered the weekend as the only winless team in the NFL.

Cowboys 35, Browns 10

Ezekiel Elliott, Joe Schobert

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball against Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Joe Schobert (53) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

CLEVELAND (AP) — America’s Team is looking more and more like Dak Prescott’s.

The rookie quarterback threw three easy touchdown passes and kept any talk about Dallas playing Tony Romo unnecessary, leading the Cowboys to a 35-10 rout on Sunday over the winless Cleveland Browns.

Rookie Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 92 yards and scored twice, and durable veteran tight end Jason Witten had 134 yards receiving for the Cowboys, off to their best start since 2007.

Prescott has won seven straight starts since losing the season opener, and with the Cowboys (7-1) leading the NFC East and getting better, there’s no reason for the team to accelerate Romo’s return from a back injury.

Romo practiced earlier this week and is looking at a return at some point this season.

However, the way Prescott is playing, the 36-year-old Romo doesn’t look as if he’ll be back on the field anytime soon.

“We’ve got a great luxury and wonderful problem to have,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We’ve got some real talent at our quarterback position. I think Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks that has played this game.

“My real regret would be to have had him here and not win a Super Bowl with him. He’s that talented. And then I look at Dak and how he’s playing, his future. I just don’t have a problem with this situation.”

As the Cowboys wrestle with success, the Browns (0-9) are plunging to new depths.

They’ve dropped a franchise-record 12 straight going back to last season and lost 19 of 20 — also a team record. Cleveland, which also started 0-9 in 1975, is 3-27 in its past 30 and the Browns are the first team since the 1964 Denver Broncos to allow at least 25 points in their first nine games.

“We’re not going 0-16,” linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but we’re not going winless.”

The Browns gained just 28 total yards in the second half when they were overmatched on both sides of the ball by the Cowboys.

Prescott threw a 26-yard TD pass to Witten and a 6-yarder to Cole Beasley in the first half to help Dallas open a 21-3 lead.

And while Prescott’s pushing Romo deeper into the background, the fourth-round pick from Mississippi State is also drawing comparisons to another Cowboys rookie QB — Troy Aikman.

Prescott broke two of the Hall of Famer’s team rookie records in the blowout, surpassing him in TDs and completions. With eight games left, Prescott, who finished 21 of 27 for 247 yards, will surpass all of Aikman’s first-year marks and may start to chip away at some others as well.

Jones said Romo will do more this week at practice, but he doesn’t know if the quarterback will be active when the Cowboys visit the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday.

Prescott said there has been no awkwardness between the QBs and credited Romo with guiding him through the early part of his NFL career. If there’s any controversy, it’s taking place outside the confirms of the Cowboys locker room.

“Me and Tony have a great relationship,” he said. “I don’t think this team or anybody even worries about that. We come in stay focused and just try to win no matter who’s back there.”

ONE TOUGH COWBOY

The 34-year-old Witten, who had eight receptions, made his 155th consecutive start, breaking a team record held by linebacker Lee Roy Jordan.

It was Witten’s first 100-yard game since 2013 and the 13-year veteran moved past Calvin Johnson (11,619 yards) for 28th place on the career list.

ELLIOTT MESS

Jones said he’s “very comfortable” with his knowledge of the allegations against Elliott, who has been interviewed by the league this season regarding domestic violence complaints.

“Everything that I know regarding Zeke’s case, makes me satisfied that we don’t have issues,” Jones said.

KESSLER RETURNS

Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler returned after missing one game with a concussion and passed for 203 yards. Kessler threw a 12-year-old TD pass to Terrelle Pryor and also took several hard shots as Dallas’ defense teed off on him with the big lead in the second half.

Kessler was limping after the game. He received an X-ray on his leg, but feels he’ll be able to play Thursday at Baltimore.

ERVING VS. IRVING

Five plays into the game, the Browns and Cowboys were brawling.

Cleveland starting center Cam Erving and Dallas defensive end David Irving scuffled following a play and both were ejected. It’s not clear what prompted the altercation, which included punches being thrown and ended with Erving pulling off Irving’s helmet.

The loss of Erving caused the latest shake up on Cleveland’s offensive line as John Greco moved from right guard to center, Alvin Bailey went from left guard to right and rookie Spencer Drango came in.

Lions 22, Vikings 16 OT

Matt Prater

Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater (5) celebrates with teammates after making a 58-yard field goal during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — For most kickers, a game-tying, 58-yard field goal as time expires would qualify as the highlight of their careers.

For Matt Prater, it just barely made the top five on his list.

Prater’s big leg got the Detroit Lions to overtime against the Minnesota Vikings and Matthew Stafford’s big arm took over from there in a 22-16 victory on Sunday.

Prater has the NFL record of 64 yards and three kicks of 59 yards on his resume, so when he trotted on to the field at indoor U.S. Bank Stadium with the game on the line, it was nothing new for him.

“I’m confident,” Prater said. “More than likely I’m not worried about missing it short. … I expect to make every kick. I don’t overanalyze it or think too much. I just kick it and hope it goes straight.”

It usually does. Prater is 23 for 23 on game-tying or go-ahead field goal tries in the fourth quarter or overtime, according to ESPN. So when Stafford took the ball down 16-13 with 23 seconds left on the clock, he knew all Prater needed was a chance.

“Matt Prater will say get to midfield and he will have a chance,” Stafford said. “He has got a big leg.”

Once it got to overtime, Stafford hit Golden Tate for a 28-yard touchdown to give the Lions (5-4) their fourth win in five games. Stafford completed 23 of 36 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and Tate had 11 catches for 79 yards.

Sam Bradford completed 31 of 40 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, who have lost three in a row coming out of the bye after a 5-0 start.

But the vaunted Vikings defense couldn’t come up with one more stop.

“It’s hard to feel good after a loss, but today we looked like we have in the past,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.

“Obviously we didn’t get it done and there’s no guarantees, but I’d rather go into a fight with these guys the way they were today than the last couple of weeks.”

Here are the top takeaways from the game:

WALSH’S BREAKING POINT

Juxtaposed against Prater’s dependability in big moments is Vikings kicker Blair Walsh’s erratic play. He missed his third extra point try of the season, more than any other kicker in the league. He also had a kick that was blocked. Throughout his career, Walsh has impressed with his graciousness in fielding questions after missing big kicks. But on Sunday, he snapped.

“It didn’t go in, right?” he said. “You guys are going to ask me this question a million times: ‘Did it feel good?’ Did I make it? No. Do I have to? Yes. Do I want to? Yes. So, just, if you’ve got something else, please. Seriously.”

STAFFORD’S COOL

The comeback was Stafford’s fifth this season when trailing in the fourth quarter, the most in the NFL. The Lions’ five victories have been by a total of 17 points. Their four losses have come by a combined 18 points.

“You do not always want to be in those situations, but we have been the majority of the time this year and these guys just believe in each other,” Stafford said. “I believe in those guys.”

ZIMMER’S REGRET

Zimmer deployed a prevent defense in hopes of avoiding getting beaten deep by Stafford. When the QB was able to complete two passes to get them into Prater’s range, Zimmer said he should have tried to apply more pressure.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would probably rush four and try and get it that way,” Zimmer said. “He scrambled around and made a play. That’s how it goes.”

SHARP SHURMUR

Unlike the past two games, the blame for losing didn’t fall squarely on Minnesota’s offense.

Actually, the Vikings posted their third-highest yardage total of the season during an efficient, rhythmic performance behind sharp play calling by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in his first game in the role. He replaced Norv Turner, who abruptly resigned on Wednesday.

They used a faster pace between snaps and favored quicker, high-percentage throws, effectively minimizing the pressure on Bradford, who was sacked only twice after taking a total of 11 sacks the previous two weeks.

Still, the Vikings weren’t perfect. They had to punt after starting a drive at the 18-yard line following an interception in the second quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, Matt Asiata was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the 5.

Eagles 23, Giants 28

Eagles Giants Football

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) gets both feet down in the end zone for a touchdown after catching a pass as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Leodis McKelvin (21) makes the hit during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Even with Eli Manning toying with Philadelphia’s secondary for much of the game, the New York Giants barely held off the Eagles on Sunday.

Manning threw for four touchdowns and New York’s defense had two interceptions and three stops on fourth downs to beat Philadelphia 28-23 on Sunday.

“Philadelphia, the last few years, has had our number,” said Manning, whose team had lost five of the last six to the Eagles. “We’ve played close games, but haven’t been able to win those close games. So to be able to pull it off today and get that win was nice.”

The Giants (5-3) won their third straight game, stopping the Eagles (4-4 after a 3-0 start) from the New York 17 after Manning was intercepted with less than two minutes to go.

“At the end of the game you have to go out there with confidence, confident that you are going to stop them,” said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “We have been playing well in games and when they get the ball down there and our backs are against the wall, we know we have to stand up.”

Two of Manning’s touchdowns went to Odell Beckham Jr., with the others to Roger Lewis Jr. and Sterling Shepard .

It was a game marked by big plays on offense — six of more than 30 yards in the first half alone— and defense (four interceptions) and special teams (Jason Pierre-Paul’s block of a field goal , Darren Sproles’ 66-yard punt return). Most of Sunday, it was a mismatch of Manning and his receiving corps against a sieve of an Eagles secondary. New York picked on every Philly defensive back, with the biggest Leodis McKelvin, no matter who he tried to cover.

Less than two minutes in, Landon Collins made his third interception in the last two games; he had one pick as a rookie last year. Manning found Beckham on a slant after McKelvin failed to bump him at the line, and Beckham surged into the end zone for a 26-yard score.

Andrew Adams, a rookie safety from UConn, had no interceptions in his previous five games. He sure knew what to do with the ball after hauling in Carson Wentz’s high pass moments later, returning it 19 yards. Manning hit Lewis three plays later after McKelvin and Jaylen Watkins collided and it was 14-0.

Manning’s third TD throw came on a 1-yard jump ball to Beckham over McKelvin to make it 21-10.

Wentz looked like a rookie from an FCS school in the first half, often appearing befuddled by coverages. Twice, the Eagles failed on short fourth downs while in field goal range.

But he came out of halftime a different player , quickly guiding the Eagles 70 yards to Kenjon Barner’s 3-yard TD run.

Manning, though, was just as precise and decisive on the ensuing drive, capped by his fourth TD throw, 32 yards to rookie Shepard. That gave Manning his first four-TD game since Game 14 last season.

Wentz remained much sharper in the second half, leading the Eagles to two field goals by Caleb Sturgis. But Philly went 3 for 15 on third downs, 1 for 4 on fourth downs.

MALCOLM’S MESSAGE: Eagles players said veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins spoke up in the locker room after the game, saying they needed to learn how to finish games.

Speaking for the defense, whose two interceptions in the fourth quarter resulted in no points, Jenkins said: “Are you giving your team a chance to win defensively? There were a couple of plays here and there (early in the game) we feel we’ve got to have back. Those small mistakes — there might be only one or two — for our team to win we need to make those plays.”

ELI’S COMING: Manning moved into ninth place in career yards passing with 46,428. Manning, in his 13th NFL season, threw for 257 yards against Philadelphia. He passed Vinny Testaverde, who had 46,233 yards through the air.

ROOKIE FIRSTS: In addition to Adams’ first interception, Eagles WR Bryce Treggs made his first NFL reception, an 11-yarder on a field goal drive. It got even better for the undrafted rookie from Cal when his 58-yard reception set up Philadelphia’s first touchdown. Treggs was in the lineup because Josh Huff was released after being charged with possession of a handgun without a permit and having a small amount of marijuana during a traffic stop.

INJURIES

Giants WR Victor Cruz hurt an ankle in the first half, and LG Justin Pugh sprained his right knee in the second quarter. Neither returned. Eagles safety Terrence Brooks left with a hamstring issue.

UP NEXT:

Philadelphia hosts Atlanta next Sunday.

New York hosts Cincinnati on Monday night, Nov. 14.

Panthers 13, Rams 10

Cam Newton, Eugene Sims

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, left, is sacked by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Eugene Sims during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cam Newton will accept any type of victory while the Carolina Panthers are trying to get their season back on track.

Even something as unattractive as the win they pulled off in their Hollywood debut.

Newton persevered through five sacks to pass for 225 yards and a touchdown, and the Panthers’ defense shut down Los Angeles in a 13-10 victory over the slumping Rams on Sunday.

Greg Olsen caught a touchdown pass in the first half and Graham Gano added two fourth-quarter field goals for the Panthers (3-5), who won their second straight after a four-game skid. Newton’s offense managed just 244 yards against the Rams’ vaunted defense, but the Panthers nearly shut out Los Angeles in a defense-dominated game.

“I’ve never heard of a pretty loss,” Newton said. “They’re very stingy, and we knew that coming in.”

Newton went 20 for 32 and took his share of big hits again after his complaints about the NFL’s commitment to player safety dominated headlines last week. The star quarterback spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to voice his worries.

Newton went down from a violent sack by Mark Barron in the third quarter, and he was downed for two important sacks by star defensive lineman Aaron Donald. The star QB saw nothing worth complaining about afterward.

“Not worried about that,” Newton said when asked if the referees had done a good job keeping quarterbacks safe. “Just trying to find ways to win football games.”

In their franchise’s first game in Los Angeles, the Panthers found a way with defense. After Olsen scored Carolina’s only touchdown on a 9-yard catch in the first quarter, coach Ron Rivera’s group kept the Rams off the scoreboard until the final 8:01, and Los Angeles’ rally fell well short.

“That’s my kind of football,” Rivera said. “I really like the style we’re playing.”

Case Keenum passed for 296 yards for the Rams (3-5), who have lost four straight after a strong start to their homecoming season. Los Angeles’ scoreless streak reached 102 minutes, 12 seconds before Greg Zuerlein’s 25-yard field goal.

Kenny Britt then made a 10-yard touchdown catch with 34 seconds to play, but Zuerlein curiously quick-kicked the kickoff far down the field, essentially ending the game.

“Enough is enough,” Rams guard Rodger Saffold said. “We know we have to score touchdowns. The defense is out there playing a great game.”

HONEYMOON OVER

The Coliseum crowd booed the Rams’ offense repeatedly and chanted “We want Goff!” during the first half of another dispiriting offensive performance in the Rams’ return from their bye week. No. 1 pick Jared Goff remained on the bench even after Keenum threw his eighth interception in four games to Thomas Davis , killing a solid drive in the second half.

“It’s frustrating, (but) I’m glad they care,” Keenum said. “I care, too. I put a lot into this, a lot of hours. It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life. They have a right to feel however they want to feel.”

The Rams finally got moving in the fourth, but Lance Kendricks dropped a sure touchdown pass from Keenum at the goal line on third down, forcing a field goal.

Keenum went 27 for 46 for the Rams, who hadn’t scored a touchdown in 115 minutes, 41 seconds before Britt’s grab.

GONE GURLEY

Todd Gurley had 48 yards in another quiet game, although he broke his longest run of the season for 18 yards out of the wildcat in the first half. Last season’s offensive rookie of the year watched the Rams’ final series from the sideline while Benny Cunningham played.

INJURIES

Rams CB Trumaine Johnson returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained ankle. … Rams DB Lamarcus Joyner left in the first half with an oblique muscle injury, but returned in the second half. … Carolina S Colin Jones was ruled out with a concussion early in the second half.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Host Chiefs on Sunday.

Rams: At Jets on Sunday.

Saints 41, 49ers 23

Michael Thomas, Jimmie Ward

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, top, catches a pass for a touchdown as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (25) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — With Drew Brees’ big arm, a 1-2 running punch in Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower and all of those capable receiving targets, the New Orleans Saints suddenly are looking like a legitimate contender again.

Forget that 0-3 start. Brees still has big plans for this bunch.

He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Michael Thomas and another to Ingram, who also ran for a 75-yard score a week after being benched as the Saints beat the lowly San Francisco 49ers 41-23 on Sunday.

“I want to win. I want to win a championship. I want to see this team come together and do something special,” Brees said. “We’ve won four out of five and we’ve really grown over the last five weeks. I’m excited about the second half of the season. Here we are, halfway through 4-4 again. I feel like our best is yet to come. We’ve got some momentum now.”

Ingram, replaced by Hightower during last Sunday’s 25-20 win against Seattle after fumbling for a second straight game, scored his second straight TD for the Saints on a career-long run to answer immediately after DuJuan Harris caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick. Ingram’s run also was the second-longest in Saints history and he wound up with 158 yards rushing as San Francisco allowed an opposing 100-yard runner for the seventh straight game.

Afterward, Hightower made sure to find Ingram with some kind words.

“To see him respond the way he did, I’m proud of him,” Hightower said. “That’s not easy to do.”

The Saints (4-4) have grabbed back some momentum and returned to the race in the NFC South. They won for the fourth time in five games following an 0-3 start and eighth in the last 10 regular-season meetings with San Francisco.

Brees dazzled in his debut game at Levi’s Stadium, where “Fire Baalke” signs showed up on cars and in the stands in reference to the beleaguered 49ers general manager. The QB completed 28 of 39 passes for 323 yards in the Saints’ first trip to San Francisco’s home field since a 36-32 loss in the divisional playoffs after the 2011 season.

Brees now has 449 career touchdown passes, leaving him one shy of becoming the third player to throw for 450 TDs. Peyton Manning (539) and Hall of Famer Brett Favre (508) are the others.

Kaepernick also threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald just before halftime, when New Orleans led 31-20. In Kaepernick’s third game back as starter, he had his best game yet: He became the 15th player in franchise history to rush for 2,000 yards and went 24 of 39 for 398 yards passing — second most yards of his career.

“Today was a step in the right direction,” Kaepernick said.

But the Niners (1-7) didn’t have nearly enough to avoid their seventh straight loss since shutting out the Rams to start the year.

Hightower, who became the Saints’ first 100-yard rusher of the season last week against Seattle, ran for a 4-yard touchdown in the first to put his team ahead for good. Craig Robertson’s interception of a pass by Kaepernick and return of 29 yards just four plays later set up Brees’ 1-yard touchdown pass to Thomas .

Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 49, 48 and 46 yards for San Francisco.

STEADY BREES

Brees added more notables to his remarkable resume: He has 55 career games passing for at least 300 yards while throwing three touchdown passes, most in NFL history. Also, he didn’t have an interception Sunday, becoming the first player in league history with 30 career games recording 300 yards passing, three TDs and no interceptions.

STUPENDOUS STUPAR

Former 49ers linebacker Nate Stupar forced Mike Davis’ fumble and recovered it early in the third quarter, the second straight big game for the journeyman in his fourth NFL season.

Last week, he intercepted a pass by Russell Wilson.

BIG-PLAY TOUCHDOWNS

Breakdowns for both defenses led to the high-scoring, offensive day. The first half accounted for 663 of total offense combined — 484 yards passing by Brees and Kaepernick together — and 1,057 in all once the game was over.

The teams came into the game as two of the league’s worst defenses, San Francisco at No. 30 and New Orleans 28th.

HOLDING, TIMES THREE

Just before halftime, 49ers defenders Eric Reid, Keith Reaser and Jimmie Ward were flagged for simultaneous, intentional holding penalties against a trio of receivers to keep the Saints’ targets from getting open in the end zone. New Orleans had only one more chance and settled for Wil Lutz’s 26-yard field goal as time expired.

San Francisco was penalized four times early, too — two on its first defensive series and two more on its initial offensive possession that had the Niners settling for Phil Dawson’s 49-yard field goal.

Colts 31, Packers 26

Colts Packers Football

Indianapolis Colts’ Jordan Todman (28) runs back the opening kickoff for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Colts coach Chuck Pagano returned home to Indianapolis in a good mood.

A 31-26 win Sunday on the road over the Green Bay Packers should do wonders for his team’s confidence going into a bye week.

Jordan Todman had a 99-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff, Frank Gore rushed for two touchdowns and Andrew Luck shook off two interceptions in the first quarter with two clutch third-down throws in the fourth quarter to hold off the Packers.

This was about as close as a must-win game as it could get at midseason for Indianapolis (4-5).

“Everybody knew exactly where we were and what the stakes were. It’s a whole different world today, right now. Tomorrow will be a totally different world,” Pagano said. A 4-5 record “is way different coming off this then going back home and being 3-6.”

The Colts survived after letting an 18-point lead with 9:35 left nearly disappear. They withstood Aaron Rodgers’ comeback attempt.

“Not an ideal start offensively … from my game, the two interceptions. Like anything, you’ve got to move on,” Luck said . “The defense built up strong early, which was huge. Then made enough plays at the end to win.”

Rodgers’ 3-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 3:29 left got Green Bay (4-4) within five, capping a 14-point spurt in four-plus minutes. Rodgers finished 26 of 43 for 297 yards with three scores and an interception.

Luck responded on the Colts’ next drive with what Pagano called “two unbelievable plays.”

The quarterback dodged a potential sack by blitzing safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to throw a 20-yard pass on third-and-10 with 3:07 left to tight end Jack Doyle.

Luck also found T.Y. Hilton for a 27-yard completion on third-and-2 with 2 minutes left to put the game away. He finished 23 of 36, throwing both interceptions to Clinton-Dix.

“We didn’t play good enough, I’m disappointed, I’m irritated, the fact that we were not sharp as a football team,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Other notes and takeaways from the game:

PROTECTING LUCK

The Colts, who had allowed an NFL-worst 31 sacks coming into the game, gave their quarterback decent protection. Luck was sacked twice and maneuvered out of other tight spots, including a 7-yard scramble on a bootleg on third-and-1 with 37 seconds left in the second quarter.

He deftly engineered a 15-play, 96-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief with 11 seconds left to give Indianapolis a 21-10 halftime lead.

LOW ENERGY?

Familiar problems surfaced early for the Packers, who lost their second straight game. The offense had trouble getting going until the fourth quarter. But the defense gave up at least 30 points for a second straight game, and special teams also hurt them.

Todman’s kickoff return to open the game seemed to be a Green Bay buzz-killer.

“We’ve all got to be a little mentally tougher. I don’t understand the way the sideline was after that first play. We go down, let’s get a field goal and we’ll win the game. It’s 7-3 early on. We’ve got to be a little tougher. That’s the mark of a team,” Rodgers said.

INJURIES

Rodgers said he had his left foot stepped on “pretty hard. I mean, that’s a common frustration from time to time, just getting stepped on really badly. It’s fine.”

Cobb finished with two catches for 14 yards. Questionable before the game with a hamstring injury, Cobb didn’t play until the second half.

“I took a conservative approach with him. I was going to use him only when we needed him. Obviously, we needed him in the second half and he gave us everything he’s got,” McCarthy said.

Safety Micah Hyde (shoulder) left in the fourth quarter. The Colts had no injuries to report.

FURRY FRIEND

A persistent squirrel livened up the crowd at Lambeau Field.

The squirrel first made its appearance in the first half, then returned late in the third quarter. With the Packers driving at about the Colts 12, the squirrel dashed along the goal line, forcing the officials to call timeout. The squirrel finally went out of bounds, but not before causing a stir on social media .

The Packers had to settle for a 27-yard field goal with 1:46 left to get within 24-13. No word on if the squirrel made the traditional Lambeau Leap to celebrate.

Titans 35, Chargers 43

Titans Chargers Football

San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs with the ball as Tennessee Titans cornerback Perrish Cox defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Melvin Gordon ran and ran and ran some more for the San Diego Chargers, not stopping until he’d gotten a career-high 196 yards.

His 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the go-ahead score in the San Diego Charges’ 43-35 victory Sunday against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans, who still haven’t won in San Diego since 1990.

Although the defense came up big as well, scoring twice on turnovers by Mariota, the Chargers raved about the performance by their second-year back.

“We all know he’s our bell cow back there,” coach Mike McCoy said. “We’re going to give him the ball and let him roll.”

Gordon’s performance even excited the defensive backs.

“We love it because we know, being a defender, on the opposite end of that, it wears you down,” said cornerback Brandon Flowers, who had a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown. “We know it’s wearing the defense down the way he’s running and pounding the ball. That’s why we try to get three-and-outs so often because we’re feeding our horse right now.

“Melvin Gordon is playing outstanding football right now. We’ve just go to keep feeding our horse.”

A week ago in Denver, the Chargers had a first-and-goal at the 2 and Gordon’s number wasn’t called once. Philip Rivers threw four straight incomplete passes and the Chargers lost 27-19.

Gordon leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns, nine rushing. He has three 100-yard games, including two straight.

During a frustrating rookie year, he failed to score a touchdown and had no 100-yard games.

“We’re just working hard,” he said. “That’s been our goals since OTAs, training camp to now, and that is just to finish. Finish, finish, finish the game.”

The Chargers (4-5) won two days before the team will ask voters to approve a billion-dollar subsidy for a new downtown stadium to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.

Gordon scored on a 1-yard run with 5:28 left in the third quarter to give the Chargers a 26-21 lead. He broke a 47-yard run in the closing minutes. He also caught four passes for 65 yards.

Mariota threw for 313 yards and three TDs for the Titans (4-5).

Mariota, who led the Titans to a 21-19 lead by guiding two quick scoring drives on either side of halftime, helped the Chargers surge to a 12-point lead when he fumbled late in the third quarter. Dwight Lowery picked up the ball ran 43 yards for a touchdown and a 33-21 lead.

“They made a couple of great plays,” Mariota said. “Obviously, I can’t fumble and that’s going to put us in bad situations.”

With the Chargers up by eight — and with a propensity to blow late leads this year — Flowers jumped a route, intercepted Mariota and returned it 33 yards for a 43-28 lead with 4:51 left.

Running the two-minute drill to perfection, Mariota threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Rishard Matthews with 14 seconds left before halftime. The Titans got the second-half kick and Mariota quickly moved them down the field, finishing the drive with a 14-yard run on which he held out the ball to touch the pylon.

The Chargers came right back with a drive aided by three crucial penalties by the Titans’ defense to get Gordon’s go-ahead score.

The Titans (4-5) have lost seven straight in San Diego since 1993, when they were the Houston Oilers. The franchise’s last victory in San Diego was in 1990.

Philip Rivers threw a 13-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates in the first quarter and a 6-yarder to Tyrell Williams in the second for a 16-0 Chargers lead.

San Diego held DeMarco Murray to 51 yards on 14 carries. He scored on a 1-yard run late in the game.

REF-RIPPING: Titans coach Mike Mularkey was unhappy about three calls against his defense on the drive capped by Gordon’s go-ahead score. “I thought they were really poorly officiated,” he said. “That didn’t lose the game, but they need to be held accountable like we are.”

RIVERS-TO-GATES: Rivers’ 13-yard touchdown pass to Gates in the first quarter was the 81st time they’ve connected, the most in NFL history between a quarterback and a tight end. It was also the 108th career TD catch for Gates, leaving him three shy of matching Tony Gonzalez’s NFL record for a tight end.

BALLOT BOWL: The Chargers are asking San Diegans to approve a ballot measure that would provide $1.15 billion via an increase in the hotel occupancy tax to help fund a $1.8 billion stadium and convention center annex downtown . The measure needs a two-thirds supermajority to pass. Polls show it might not get 50 percent. Team chairman Dean Spanos will then have to decide whether to negotiate a new deal with Mayor Kevin Faulconer or move to L.A.

TOUGH WEEKEND: Mariota, who is from Hawaii and played at Oregon, had several family and friends in attendance, many of whom also watched Hawaii lose to San Diego State 55-0 on Saturday night. There were also people in Ducks colors in the crowd. Oregon lost 45-20 to Southern California on Saturday evening at the L.A. Coliseum.

INJURIES: Titans RB Derrick Henry hurt a calf during pregame warmups and didn’t play. … San Diego WR Jeremy Butler hurt an ankle in the first quarter. … Chargers rookie DE Joey Bosa was down briefly in the second quarter, but walked off under his own power and came back in.

Broncos 20, Raiders 30

Latavius Murray

Enter a caption

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — For the past few years, the Oakland Raiders have been building a team they hoped could thrive on the big stage.

With an offensive line that dominated the trenches and a defense much improved from a porous start to the season, they sure looked the part Sunday night.

Latavius Murray ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns and the Raiders showed they were ready for prime time, beating the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos 30-20.

“We’re growing to expect success,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “We know we’re a good team.”

In what was being billed as the biggest game in Oakland since the team went to the Super Bowl following the 2002 season, the Raiders (7-2) put together a complete effort to overpower the Broncos (6-3) and take over sole possession of first place in the AFC West.

Derek Carr threw for 184 yards and did not turn the ball over, Khalil Mack had two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery and the Raiders outrushed Denver 218-33 behind a dominant performance in the trenches.

“That’s what we do,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “We try to take our will out on people and today it looked real good. Some days it doesn’t but today it looked real good. We have to keep building. We have to get more consistent.”

The performance was to the delight of an energetic crowd at the Coliseum, excited to host a prime-time Sunday night game for the first time in more than a decade. After 13 straight seasons without a playoff berth or winning record, the Raiders have shown they are ready to contend in the AFC in the second season under Del Rio after overpowering the team that has dominated the division in recent years.

“We gave up 200 yards rushing today,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “That’s definitely not the mark of a great defense, we can’t just get run over.”

Oakland got off to its best start in 15 years by beating up on lesser teams, but the win over the defending champion Broncos showed the progress the franchise has made since starting 0-10 two years ago.

Trevor Siemian looked shaky at times for Denver but did throw two touchdown passes, including a short pass behind the line that Kapri Bibbs turned into a 69-yard touchdown catch and run in the fourth quarter.

But Oakland still led by 10 points despite that defensive breakdown and held on for the win.

REPRIEVE: Carr played a smart game for the most part but did get bailed out by one potential big mistake. On the play after Mack recovered a fumble at the Denver 39 following his strip sack , Carr threw down the right sideline for fullback Jamize Olawale. But the ball went right to T.J. Ward for an apparent interception. A replay review showed the ball hit the ground and Oakland kept the ball, setting up Murray’s third score.

TONE SETTERS: The Raiders’ much-maligned defense started fast, forcing Denver into four straight three-and-outs to open the game. It was the first time since 2012 that Oakland didn’t allow the opponent to record a first down on the opening four drives. Siemian started the game 1 for 8 for 4 yards before connecting on four straight completions on the fifth drive capped by a 36-yard TD pass to Jordan Norwood.

FAST START: Oakland’s offense also started quickly. Carr threw for 108 yards in the opening quarter — the second most against Denver in the first quarter in the past three years — and Murray scored on two short TD runsin the second quarter for a 20-10 halftime lead. That was the most points scored against the Broncos in the first half since Cincinnati also had 20 in a 37-28 win on Dec. 22, 2014 — a span of 29 games including the playoffs.

DANCING PUNTER: Oakland’s Marquette King had two straight punts in the third quarter downed at the 2 by Andre Holmes. King then punctuated each with a celebratory dance not usually seen from punters. In a season full of excessive celebration flags, King was not penalized on either dance.

“I just love life,” King said.

Bills 25, Seahawks 31

Jimmy Graham

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) makes a one-handed catch for a touchdown ahead of Buffalo Bills’ Robert Blanton, left, and Nickell Robey-Coleman, center, in the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — Jimmy Graham needed only one hand to catch two first-half touchdown passes from Russell Wilson, and the Seattle Seahawks held off a late rally for a 31-25 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.

Seattle won its 11th straight Monday night game behind a huge game from its tight end. Still less than a year removed from a major knee injury, Graham used his right arm to catch a 17-yard touchdown from Wilson on the first play of the second quarter and later used the same arm to cradle an 18-yard TD pass in the final moments of the first half.

But the Seahawks had to hold on in the final seconds as Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor led the Bills inside the Seattle 10 in the final seconds. Taylor was sacked by Cliff Avril on third-and-goal from the 8 and on fourth-and-goal Taylor’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete.

Buffalo would not have needed a touchdown if not for mistakes by the officiating crew at the end of the first half that cost the Bills a chance at a shorter field goal. Dan Carpenter eventually missed a 54-yard attempt on the final play of the half, only after Seattle’s Richard Sherman got away with an unnecessary roughness penalty that wasn’t called and a delay of game caused in part by the officiating crew standing over the ball.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino tweeted during the game that Walt Coleman’s crew did not make the correct call.

Graham caught all eight of his targets for 103 yards. It was his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. Wilson was 20 of 26 passing for 282 yards.

Wilson and Christine Michael both added 3-yard touchdowns runs, but Seattle’s run game was again absent. The Seahawks attempted just 12 running plays and wide receiver Tyler Lockett was Seattle’s leading rusher taking a fly sweep 13 yards.

Buffalo lost its third straight to drop below .500, but it wasn’t due to its quarterback.

Taylor was outstanding, nearly matching Wilson’s performance, except for one miscommunication with a wide receiver that led to Sherman’s end zone interception in the third quarter. Taylor threw for 289 yards. He kept plays alive with his legs and made smart reads and smart throws.

Robert Woods was his favorite target with 10 catches for a career-high 162 yards.

Taylor was 6 of 7 for 73 yards on a drive that carried into the early stages of the fourth quarter and was capped by Mike Gillislee’s 1-yard TD run. Taylor then sneaked in on the 2-point conversion to pull Buffalo within 28-25.

Thanks to a key penalty keeping the drive alive, Seattle got a 49-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka to extend the lead to 31-25 with just under 10 minutes remaining.

Taylor drove the Bills inside the Seattle 35 but a tripping call on Cordy Glenn on third-and-10 pushed Buffalo back and McCoy was stopped for a loss of 2 yards on the next play. Buffalo punted with 3:14 left and got a final chance driving inside the 10 before the Seahawks made a stand.

KICKING THE CALL

The final seconds of the first half were a mess.

Carpenter lined up for a 53-yard field goal with 3 seconds left. Sherman jumped offside and crashed hard into Carpenter, blocking the kick. Sherman was flagged for offside and Carpenter appeared to be hurt bringing trainers on the field.

Because the trainers took the field, Carpenter had to leave for one play. Buffalo spiked the ball with 1 second left to set up a 48-yard attempt, but the Bills were penalized for delay of game even with the umpire standing over the ball. Carpenter’s 54-yard attempt on the final play was wide right.

PERFECT START

Buffalo got a dream start, with Jerry Hughes blocking a punt after Seattle went three-and-out to open the game and Taylor running untouched for a 3-yard TD on the next play for a quick 7-0 lead. It was Buffalo’s first blocked punt since 2014.

TOP DEFENSE?

Buffalo scored on its first three possessions before Seattle finally forced a punt midway through the second quarter. That snapped a string of nine straight possessions with opponents scoring on Seattle’s defense.

INJURIES

Buffalo center Eric Wood was carted off the field after Gillislee’s TD run with a right ankle injury. Wood was rolled up blocking on the play. Ryan Groy took over at center.

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