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Here is a recap of Week 11 of the 2016 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Bye: Falcons, Broncos, Jets, Chargers
Saints 20, Panthers 23
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — When Luke Kuechly was carted off the field with a concussion, the tears streaming down his face as he left, it appeared the Carolina Panthers might be ready for another collapse.
Their defensive leader was gone and another big fourth-quarter lead was crumbling.
Instead, the Panthers did just enough to hold on and beat the New Orleans Saints 23-20 on Thursday night in a game marred by injuries to key players.
When Kuechly went down the lead was at 10, and players gathered around him as he was put on a cart near midfield. Carolina would give up another score, but hold on for itsr third win in four games.
“We rally behind that guy,” defensive end Charles Johnson said about Kuechly. “He’s our leader. When you see a leader go down like that, we just rally behind him. I’m keeping Luke in my prayers.”
The Panthers, who surrendered a 17-point lead and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs last week, entered the fourth quarter with a 23-3 lead before injuries began to take their toll. Along with Kuechly, the Panthers lost two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil (shoulder), top pass rusher Mario Addison (foot) and cornerback Leonard Johnson (chest) to injuries. The Saints lost running back Mark Ingram to a head injury in the third quarter.
“It was the Grim Reaper walking around out there,” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees seemed to seize the momentum.
Brees, who had been held to 171 yards and no touchdowns in the first three quarters, rallied the Saints back to 23-20 with touchdown passes to Brandon Coleman and Coby Fleener.
But an 18-yard reception by Kelvin Benjamin on a third-and-10 with 2:39 left in the game proved pivotal, taking enough time off the clock where Brees only had 14 seconds to work with on his final drive. He couldn’t manage to get his team into field goal range.
Newton finished 14 of 33 for 192 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. as the Panthers (4-6) pulled even with the Saints for third place in the NFC South.
“Our mantra is to Keep Pounding and it speaks volumes in situations like this,” Newton said. “I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss.”
Jonathan Stewart also ran for a touchdown and Graham Gano had three field goals.
Carolina’s next two games are on the West Coast — at Oakland and Seattle.
“Hopefully, the time off will give us enough time to heal up for this long road trip,” safety Kurt Coleman said. “And also you wonder if it wasn’t a Thursday game and it was a Sunday game, would there be these type of injuries? You never know. … I’m just going to pray for everybody. Not only our team but their team.”
Brees finished with 285 yards passing.
That was a dramatic difference from the last time the two teams met on Oct. 16 when Brees threw for 465 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-38 win over the Panthers.
“They did exactly what we hoped and that was keep the ball it in front of them,” Rivera said of his young secondary. “You can’t ask for the guys to do a better job.”
Saints coach Sean Payton was upset after the game about the team’s continuing struggles on special teams, including a blocked field goal that was returned 73 yards by Kuechly before the half to set up Ginn’s touchdown catch.
Last week the Saints lost to Denver when a potential game-tying extra point was blocked and returned for a 2-point defensive conversion.
“Fundamentally we’ve got to be able to kick an extra point. … We’ve got to be able to, you know, kick a field goal that’s a makeable one,” Payton said. “We’ve just struggled in that area. It cost us at New York, it cost us last weekend (against) Denver and it cost us again tonight. And we’ve got to be smart enough in the game early to understand that the turnovers aren’t good.”
LOSE SOME, WIN SOME
Maybe Ginn is just too fast for officials.
In the first quarter Ginn appeared to score on a 14-yard run, but officials reviewed the play and ruled his knee was down at the 1-yard line taking away a touchdown. Then, in the closing seconds of the second quarter, officials ruled Ginn was out of bounds on a pass from Cam Newton. But after instant replay officials overturned the ruling and gave Ginn a 40-yard touchdown catch.
Newton was under heavy pressure for most of the first half, taking a sack on third down that took his team out of field goal range — the second time he has done that in as many weeks.
A COOL BREES
Brees eclipsed 3,000 yards passing for the 13th consecutive season, tying Peyton Manning for the second-longest streak in NFL history.
Ravens 17, Cowboys 27
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — New backup, same result for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.
Prescott threw three touchdown passes, two to Dez Bryant, in the first game with Tony Romo as his backup, and the Cowboys set a franchise regular-season record with their ninth straight win, beating the Baltimore Ravens 27-17 on Sunday.
The Cowboys (9-1) punted on their first four possessions — a first this season — against the NFL’s No. 1 defense. But Prescott completed 14 of 15 in the second half and led consecutive drives of 92 and 88 yards after halftime to break a 10-10 tie. Both drives ended with TD passes to Bryant.
“Like I said before, the guy’s amazing,” said Bryant, who had six catches for 80 yards in his first two-score game since his All-Pro season of 2014.
“We’re going to follow that guy. We’re going to continue to keep following that guy. The way that he adjusts and the way he handles his business, it says a lot about him.”
Romo, who broke a bone in his back in a preseason game, was active for the first time since Thanksgiving last year, and was the Dallas backup for the first time in 10 years.
The 36-year-old never took off his baseball cap, although he was watching with interest as medical personnel surrounded Prescott after the 23-year-old went down hard on a late hit by C.J. Mosley after throwing his first touchdown pass , to Cole Beasley in the second quarter.
Prescott, who was off target on three straight throws during the rough start for the offense, bounced off the bench moments later and finished 27 of 36 for 301 yards for another 300-yard game a week after his first.
He joined Dan Marino and Russell Wilson as the only rookie quarterbacks since 1970 to have multiple touchdown passes in five consecutive games.
“Before the game starts I know we’re going to figure things out,” Prescott said. “The game plan that we got going into there and the adjustments we’ve made all season long. There’s no worry in us not figuring things out.”
The Ravens (5-5), who lost to Dallas for the first time in five games in franchise history, controlled the tempo most of the first half. Baltimore stayed close on Joe Flacco’s 5-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter to Steve Smith, who became the 14th player with 1,000 career catches.
But Dallas’ third possession of the second half took more than six minutes before Dan Bailey’s 21-yard field goal for a 10-point lead with 1:50 remaining as the Ravens fell back into a tie for first with Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
“They scored every time they had the ball,” Flacco, who was 23 of 35 for 269 yards, said of the second half. “In that kind of game, we’ve got to do the same thing.”
NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott, who had 97 yards to give him 1,102 this season, broke the Dallas club rookie rushing record of 1,007 yards set by Tony Dorsett in 1977. That’s the same year the Cowboys set the previous franchise mark with an 8-0 start.
Dallas won the Super Bowl that season, but ever-optimistic owner Jerry Jones is resisting such talk.
“I can hang my hat on this little thing called nine wins in a row,” Jones said.
GET HIM THE BALL
Elliott didn’t have a touch in the second quarter, but had 10 for 70 yards in the third. That included an 8-yard catch when he did what’s becoming his customary hurdle over Tavon Young, one of the cornerbacks filling in with Jimmy Smith sidelined by a back injury.
1,000 FOR SMITH
Smith’s 1,000th career catch came on the first play of the second half, a 22-yarder over the middle. His 999th was a toe-tapping gem on the sideline in the first half and held up after a review challenge from Dallas coach Jason Garrett. The 16th-year pro finished with 99 yards on eight catches, putting him at 1,005 for his career.
FIRST AND 30
The Cowboys faced first-and-30 after starting with the four punts when Prescott scrambled for 12 yards, threw a 12-yard pass to Bryant and then a 41-yard deep ball to Brice Butler, who hauled it in at the Baltimore 7. The scoring toss to Beasley came two plays later.
Terrance West had an 18-yard run for Baltimore’s first touchdown and 42 yards rushing at halftime, but one carry for zero yards in the second half. The Ravens had 86 yards rushing at the half and finished with 101.
Ravens: A key NFC North matchup with Cincinnati in the first of consecutive home games. Surging Miami follows.
Cowboys: Annual Thanksgiving game against the most traditional of opponents: the Redskins. The Cowboys will have a chance for big cushion over Washington and Philadelphia in the NFC East, with Giants hanging closer in second place.
Jaguars 19, Lions 26
DETROIT (AP) — By Detroit’s standards, this was a comfortable, drama-free victory.
The Lions beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-19 on Sunday , extending a streak in which every Detroit game this season has been decided by seven points or fewer. But the Lions needed no last-ditch passes from Matthew Stafford or long kicks from Matt Prater in this one.
“Our mindset is not that, ‘Keep it close and see if we can win.’ That’s not our mindset,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “But nevertheless, it’s just the way it’s happening, so you have to accept that and find a way to win.”
Detroit took a 23-19 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Eric Ebron with 10:03 remaining. The Lions (6-4) then forced a punt and took possession with 8:19 to play, and they were able to run out almost all the remaining time.
“You can sit there and say you hope that the defense stops them again and you get the ball back, but as an offense, I don’t think you can ever say, ‘We’ll get another opportunity,'” Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles said. “We knew we had an opportunity up three to go put it away and we didn’t do it, so it’s on us.”
On fourth-and-2 from the Jacksonville 46, the Lions lined up as if to go and drew defensive lineman Sen’Derrick Marks offside. The encroachment penalty with 2:34 remaining gave Detroit a new set of downs.
“It’s a heat of the moment, it’s a physical game and he’s trying to make a play for his team,” Stafford said. “I’ve been on the sideline and seen guys on our team do it before. It’s a tough situation to be in.”
The Lions eventually took a seven-point lead on Prater’s 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds left, and the Jaguars (2-8) didn’t come close to challenging in the final seconds.
Here are a few things learned from Detroit’s victory over Jacksonville:
ALL-PURPOSE THREAT: Detroit’s Andre Roberts can impact the game in many ways. Roberts muffed a punt in the first quarter, giving the Jaguars great field position, but he was terrific after that. Roberts returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, and he caught a 44-yard pass in the third. He also hustled over to throw a nice downfield block on a 61-yard reception by Ebron in the fourth.
NEED TO CAPITALIZE: It’s not enough just to force turnovers. After five straight games without a takeaway, the Jaguars recovered two Detroit fumbles, but managed only three points off them. That was disappointing for Jacksonville, because the fumble by Roberts gave the Jaguars possession at the Detroit 11.
“We said, ‘We need a turnover.’ We got turnovers. ‘We want to play with the lead.’ We got the lead,” Jaguars defensive lineman Malik Jackson said. “I don’t know what to ask for to try to get a better game. These guys are going out here playing hard. We’re playing consistent. We’ve just got to find it, whatever it is.”
NO BALANCE: The Lions are still having a hard time establishing the run. They managed only 14 yards on 21 carries against Jacksonville, and that was part of the reason Detroit had only one offensive touchdown.
NO GIMMES: Extra points aren’t freebies. On a day when kickers struggledall around the league, Prater had an extra point blocked and Jacksonville’s Jason Myers missed one wide to the right. That led to the odd-looking final score in a game that could have easily ended up 27-20.
Myers did make a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter.
SHOWDOWN: Thanksgiving in Detroit should be even bigger than usual. The Lions and Minnesota remain tied for first in the NFC North, and they’ll play at Ford Field on Thursday.
Jacksonville visits Buffalo on Sunday.
Steelers 24, Browns 9
CLEVELAND (AP) — A short bus ride into Ohio put Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers back in the fast lane.
The playoffs remain a possible destination.
Le’Veon Bell scored on a 1-yard touchdown run — long after time expired in the first half — and Pittsburgh’s defense recorded eight sacks as the Steelers snapped a four-game losing streak, 24-9 Sunday over the winless Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers (5-5) scored eight points with zeroes showing on the clock before halftime after they were awarded two extra plays because of defensive penalties against the Browns (0-11), who also lost rookie quarterback Cody Kessler with a concussion.
Pittsburgh’s win, coupled with Baltimore’s loss to Dallas, pushed the Steelers back into a tie for first place in the AFC North with the Ravens (5-5).
Roethlisberger tied to downplay the victory, but there was no denying its importance.
“We just won a game, honestly, that’s the approach we have to have,” Big Ben said. “It really doesn’t mean anything. It means we won a football game.”
The Steelers did it by playing Steelers football — running the ball, stopping the run and physically punishing the Browns.
After they knocked Kessler from the game, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave recovered a fumble by Browns backup QB Josh McCown for a TD with 3:36 left to seal Pittsburgh’s win. The Steelers came in with a league-low 13 sacks before unloading on the Browns.
On a bitter blustery day, where throwing was difficult, Bell finished with a season-high 146 yards rushing as the Steelers improved to 2-3 on the road and avoided an embarrassing loss to the NFL’s worst team.
“We knew with the weather we had today that he was going to have to be big for us,” said Roethlisberger, who improved to 20-2 in starts against Cleveland, still paying for not drafting the Ohio native in 2004.
Making it worse, Roethlisberger’s 10 wins in Cleveland match Derek Anderson for the most home wins by a Browns quarterback since 1999.
Kessler sustained a concussion — his second this season — late in the third quarter. Kessler was being dragged down when he was hit by Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who launched himself and was called for unnecessary roughness. It’s not clear if Kessler was hurt by Timmons or when his head hit the turf.
Brown coach Hue Jackson said Kessler’s season could be over.
“We’re definitely going to talk to our medical staff,” Jackson said. “This is about a young man’s career and future. We have to do the right thing.”
Jackson didn’t think Timmons’ play was dirty.
“This is football,” he said. “This is a tough sport. I don’t think they were border line.”
Pittsburgh dominated the first half, but only led 6-0 before the strange final moments.
Starting at the Cleveland 41, Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to the Browns 3 with 8 seconds left. On second down, Roethlisberger’s pass to Antonio Brown in the end zone was incomplete as time ran out.
However, Browns defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun was called for holding, giving Pittsburgh another chance.
Again, Roethlisberger looked for Brown, who was dragged to the ground by star cornerback Joe Haden. Pass interference was called and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stayed aggressive and Bell bowled over the goal line to make it 12-0.
“That’s the mentality that coach has and the confidence he has in us,” Roethlisberger said. “We actually called a pass plan on that, and I ran to the sideline and told coach (offensive coordinator Todd) Haley, ‘No we need to run this because the boys up front want to run it.’ So we changed the play at the very last minute and Le’Veon got it in for us.”
Three NFL teams previously went 0-11 before winning a game — the 1975 Chargers, 1984 Bills, 2000 Chargers — while seven had even worse starts.
Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison is the club’s career sack leader.
Harrison drilled Kessler in the third quarter to pass Jason Gildon (77) for the most sacks in the Steelers’ storied defensive history. It’s likely Hall of Famers Joe Greene, Jack Lambert or Jack Ham could have more, but the NFL didn’t recognize sacks as an official statistic until 1982.
Harrison teared up in the locker room afterward.
GRIFFIN GETTING CLOSE
Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has been out since breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the season opener, did some conditioning drills, threw — and even drop kicked a ball through the uprights — before the game.
Griffin has been cleared to practice this week and will undergo another medical exam to see if he can take contact.
If he continues to progress, Griffin will likely start one of Cleveland’s final five games. The Browns have a bye on Dec. 4, which would give RG3 additional time to get ready.
Steelers: At Colts on Thanksgiving night.
Browns: Host Giants next Sunday.
Titans 17, Colts 24
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts followed the blueprint to get back into playoff contention.
They started fast and finished strong. They were creative with play-calling and fortunate enough to get a couple of good bounces.
And with the 2006 Super Bowl champs watching every play, these Colts did something to make the old guys proud: Beating Tennessee yet again.
Andrew Luck led the Colts to touchdowns on each of their first three possessions and the defense staved off the Titans’ second-half charge for a 24-17 victory on Sunday.
“Love the way the guys responded, loved the way we started the ballgame. We went out and put 21 quick points on the board. The defense was outstanding,” coach Chuck Pagano said after Indy moved into second in the AFC South.
The Colts (5-5) have won back-to-back games for the first time all season — and for the first time they no longer have a losing record.
If Houston loses Monday night at Mexico City, the Colts would be one game out of the division lead and potentially in position to win the title by winning their final two division games in Indy.
The Colts have won 11 straight against Tennessee (5-6) and still have not lost to the Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in 2008.
“It’s not about the streak, it’s not about here. It’s not about … somebody asked me something about their helmets. It’s not that,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “This was a team that played better than we did today, coached better than we did today.”
Even as the script changed.
Luck led usually slow-starting Indy on three straight touchdown drives to open the game.
The second was set up when Frank Gore took the snap, ran left and flipped the ball to Luck who had lined up at receiver. Luck looked up the field and spotted the wide-open Gore for a 49-yard pass play.
Indy made it 21-0 when T.Y. Hilton caught a pass that slipped right through the fingers of Titans cornerback Perrish Cox. Afterward, Cox looked around in dismay.
Tennessee answered with a 3-yard TD pass from Marcus Mariota to DeMarco Murray in the final minute of the first half, a 34-yard TD pass from Mariota to Tajae Sharpe and a 47-yard field goal from Ryan Succop to make it 21-17.
But Adam Vinatieri answered with a 49-yard field goal and the Titans’ last gasp ended when Murray was stopped for no gain at the Colts 19-yard line with 2:42 left.
“What a great stop, what a gritty fourth-down stop by the defense to win the game,” Luck said.
Luck was 15 of 28 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Hilton finished with five catches for 97 yards.
Mariota was 25 of 38 for 290 yards with two TD passes — his seventh straight game with more than one, breaking Warren Moon’s franchise record.
Vinatieri’s NFL record streak of consecutive field goals ended at 44 when a 42-yarder sailed wide right. While he has been terrific at just about every venue, the window end of Lucas Oil Stadium that has given so many other kickers trouble finally caught up to Vinatieri on Sunday.
Murray, the 2014 rushing champion, reached the 1,000-yard mark for the third time in his career — barely. The NFL’s second-leading rusher entering the game ran 20 times for 70 yards to give him exactly 1,000. His streak of consecutive games with a rushing score ended at five, tying Earl Campbell’s franchise record.
Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan limped off the field with 5:34 to go. Mularkey said Lewan will have an MRI on his left knee Monday. Titans cornerback Brice McCain left in the first half with a leg injury, but returned in the second half and picked off Luck.
THEY SAID IT
Titans: “We were outplayed and we were out-coached until we all settled down and got back into a groove,” Mularkey said. “And I give our guys credit. Nobody panicked.”
Colts: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you and, uh, that wasn’t how we drew it up,” Luck said when asked about the name of the trick play he ran with Gore.
Titans: Visit Chicago next Sunday.
Colts: Host Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night.
Cardinals 24, Vikings 30
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings returned, literally, to their winning way.
Xavier Rhodes took back one of his two interceptions 100 yards for a touchdown and Cordarrelle Patterson returned the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a score in Minnesota’s 30-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, helping the Vikings stop their four-game losing streak.
“It’s been a long, long, long month, but it’s good to feel this again,” said coach Mike Zimmer, who urged his team multiple times this week to stop chasing those momentum-shifting plays and focus instead on fundamentals. “It’s good to see the fight that the players had, to see the hard work.”
The Vikings are the first team since the 1962 Dallas Cowboys to have a 100-yard interception return touchdown and a 100-plus yard kickoff return touchdown in the same game. The Cowboys’ Amos Marsh had a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown and Mike Gaechter had a 100-yard interception return touchdown in Dallas’ 41-19 win over Philadelphia.
The Vikings (6-4) held onto their first-place tie with Detroit in the NFC North, with a rematch against the Lions looming in four days. After scoring twice each on defense and special teams during their NFL-best 5-0 start, the Vikings failed to produce a return touchdown over their last four games until this breakthrough. They also sacked Carson Palmer four times, two by Danielle Hunter, for the most since their last victory six weeks ago.
Palmer, who passed for 198 yards and two scores, was off the mark for much of the afternoon and had no time to find anyone on the final two possessions.
“They have a great front. They knew that we were in a position where we must throw,” Palmer said. “So they really pinned their ears back and had some good rushes, and we just couldn’t quite get the ball out.”
David Johnson rushed for 103 yards and a score and tacked on 57 yards and a touchdown receiving, but the Cardinals (4-5-1) netted only 27 yards after halftime. The NFC runner-up last season fell further into the background of the playoff picture with four more road games remaining.
“It’s an uphill climb, but I feel like with the veterans we have, the leaders, the players we have, we definitely still have a chance,” said Johnson, who has topped 100 yards from scrimmage in all 10 games, only the fourth player to do so since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
The Cardinals climbed within six points after Chandler Jones sacked Sam Bradford to force a fumble that Deone Bucannon recovered at the Vikings 27. That set up Johnson’s third-down catch in the end zone with 7:24 remaining.
John Brown’s 32-yard punt return put the Cardinals in excellent position, but the Vikings fired up their pass rush and quickly forced a punt. They had to kick it back, but Jeff Locke boomed a 72-yard punt after a friendly roll to the Arizona 13 with 2:20 left.
“It was weighing on everyone,” said Bradford, who went 20 for 28 for 169 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. “I think you could feel it just at practice and in the locker room. So the joy of winning, it’s a great feeling. That feeling we had in the locker room today, I think it solved a lot of problems.”
FITZ’S FRUITLESS VISIT
Larry Fitzgerald had six catches for 63 yards, leaving his native city with a loss for the fifth time in five trips in his NFL career. Fitzgerald has scored only one touchdown in eight all-time games against the Vikings, the team he used to serve as a ball boy for when Dennis Green was the coach. Green, who died on July 22 at age 67, was honored before the game with a video tribute and a painting presentation to his wife and three of his children.
New Vikings kicker Kai Forbath made a short field goal and three extra points, but he had one PAT blocked in the second quarter that loomed large at the end. Forbath’s ensuing kickoff was short, setting up a 49-yard return by Brittan Golden. Forbath replaced Blair Walsh, who missed a league-leading four extra points.
Cardinals: DT Corey Peters (foot) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) were inactive, with Mathieu sidelined for a second straight game. RT Mike Iupati limped off after hurting his left ankle in the second quarter but returned before halftime.
Vikings: Nickel CB Captain Munnerlyn (ankle) and punt returner Marcus Sherels (ankle) each returned from injuries that kept them out last week.
Cardinals: They visit Atlanta next Sunday. They’ve lost their last three games in the Eastern time zone, including at Buffalo and Carolina this season.
Vikings: They play their first Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit since 1995, their only loss in six all-time appearances on the holiday. Their last Thanksgiving Day game was in 2000 at Dallas.
Bills 16, Bengals 12
CINCINNATI (AP) — A pair of third-place teams knew exactly what this one meant. Either the Bills or the Bengals were going to walk off the field feeling their season was just about gone.
Despite losing two more key players, the Bills were the ones still standing at the end.
LeSean McCoy ran 7 yards for a touchdown before suffering a thumb injury on Sunday, and Buffalo’s defense held on at the end for a 16-12 victory over Cincinnati Bengals.
“We’re in a desperate position,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “You look at it: We were kind of two teams teetering on the brink.”
The Bills (5-5) had lost three straight heading into their bye week. When they lost both McCoy and top receiver Robert Woods in the first half, things looked bleak. They piled up 183 yards on the ground — the most against the Bengals this season — to bust out of their long slump.
They’ve got yet more injury problems, but at least they’re still in position to end their run of 16 seasons without a playoff appearance.
“I feel deflated about the injuries,” coach Rex Ryan said. “I know what this team can do. If we are healthy, we are going to be pretty tough.”
By contrast, the Bengals (3-6-1) are in danger of not making the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Playing their first game at Paul Brown Stadium in nearly a month, they couldn’t move the ball consistently or make an extra point.
“Yes, it’s tiring,” cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones said. “It’s depressing. It’s nerve-wracking. Whatever you want to call it.”
To make matters worse for Cincinnati, receiver A.J. Green left with a severely injured right hamstring on the Bengals’ first pass of the game. He couldn’t bend the leg and was taken off on a cart.
“You never want to lose a guy like that,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “He’s the best receiver in the league, so when you lose him it hurts.”
Some takeaways from Buffalo’s slump-busting win:
RUN IT: Even with McCoy out, the Bills showed why they were ranked No. 2 in the league in rushing. Mike Gillislee filled in and picked up 72 yards, averaging 5.1 per carry. The Bills averaged 5.4 overall against a defense that has struggled to stop the run all season.
“It’s good to spread the ball around,” said quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who ran for 39 yards. “It wasn’t pretty by any means, but we got a win and that’s all that really matters.”
DEFENSIVE TURNAROUND: The Bills came in leading the league with 30 sacks, but they’d also given up a lot of big plays as well — seven completions of at least 50 yards. After Green got hurt, they clamped down and didn’t allow a completion of more than 21 yards. They knocked down Dalton’s desperation pass in the end zone to end it.
“It’s a look-at-me-now moment,” Bills linebacker Preston Brown said.
A.J.’s INJURY: The Bengals will be without Green for the foreseeable future. He ranked third in the league in catches and second in yards receiving. He’s their only consistent deep threat, and it showed against the Bills. None of the other receivers had a catch of more than 16 yards.
CAN’T RUN IT: Cincinnati had trouble running the ball again, which played into the Bills’ hands. Jeremy Hill managed only 62 yards on 16 carries. The Bengals ran for a total of 93, only 3.4 yards per carry.
“All season, it’s been mistake after mistake,” Hill said.
UPRIGHT KICKS: Mike Nugent hit the upright on both of his extra-point attempts while compensating for the wind. Nugent also missed an extra point and a field goal during a 27-27 tie with Washington on Oct. 30 in London.
“It just drives me crazy to have a poor performance that contributes to a loss,” Nugent said. “That’s the second time that’s happened this year, that I’ve contributed enormously to a loss. If I did what I was brought here to do, we’d have two less losses, in my opinion.”
Bears 16, Giants 22
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Nothing has come easy for the New York Giants this season, even the games they are supposed to win.
The difference this year is they are winning the close games, a big change from previous seasons.
Eli Manning threw a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown pass to rookie Sterling Shepard in the third quarter as the Giants rallied for their fifth straight win with a 22-16 decision Sunday over the Chicago Bears in a gusty MetLife Stadium.
New York (7-3) remains two games behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
“We did find a way, that’s the resiliency of this team,” guard Marshall Newhouse said. “In the past we’d lose a lot of close games, now we are winning a lot of close games. People see that as a negative and I don’t see why. Obviously there is stuff to improve on, but if you can play, maybe not playing your best, and you win, that’s a positive.”
Manning (21 of 36 for 227) also threw a third-quarter touchdown to Will Tye, Rashad Jennings scored on a 2-yard run and Robbie Gould kicked a 46-yard field goal on a day he missed two extra points.
The Giants got a second-half shutout from their defense and a game-clinching interception from Landon Collins .
After taking a surprising 16-6 lead, injuries on the offensive line finally caught up with the Bears (2-8) and left Jay Cutler under constant pressure.
The winning streak is New York’s longest in the regular season since 2010, while the Bears’ starts matches their worst since 2002.
“This one is going to be a hard one to swallow,” said Cutler, who was 17 of 30 for 252 yards and sacked four times. “These games that you lose when you definitely have a chance at the end to win, those are the ones that kind of keep you up at night.”
Down 16-9 at the half, the Giants grabbed the lead in the third quarter, scoring on their first two possessions. The second featured a third-down scramble by Manning and 48-yard pass to Victor Cruz on the next play. Manning ran toward the line on what looked like another run, then found Cruz behind the defense.
Shepard split a seam in the middle of the Bears defense three plays later, but Gould missed the extra point keeping things tense.
“We’ll take it as it comes,” Cruz said. “We’re continuing to rally these victories and continuing to build on them. With every victory, with every week, we’re getting stronger as a team. That’s what you want to see.”
Chicago got to the New York 30 in the final two minutes but Jason Pierre-Paul had a 13-yard sack and Cutler was picked off by Collins, his fifth interception in the last four games.
“I even told some guys that it is time to blow up, it is on us, and guys responded,” said Pierre-Paul, whose 2½ sacks were his best performance since injuring a hand in a fireworks accident last year. “I responded myself. I can’t just do the talking, I have to show up and we came out with a win.”
Cutler found Miller for a 19-yard TD on the opening possession. A 34-yard pass to Miller set up Barth’s 40-yard field goal and Langford’s short TD lunge put Chicago ahead halfway through the second quarter.
GOING FOR IT: A couple of fourth-down gambles got the Giants nine points in the half. A 15-yard pass to Shepard on a fourth-and-2 at the Bears 17, set up Jennings’ TD run. A 5-yard pass to Jennings on fourth-and-2 at Bears 33 set up Gould’s 46-yard field goal with 3:33 left in the half.
INJURIES: Leonard Floyd, the Bears first round draft pick from Georgia, was removed from the field on a stretcher with 5:53 to go against the Giants with a neck injury. He gave a thumbs-up to teammates leaving the field and returned Sunday night to Chicago after being released from a hospital, the Bears said. … Miller had to leave the game early in the second half with a possible broken foot. … Giants receiver Roger Lewis Jr. and Bears cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc left in the first-half with concussions.
ACTIVE-INACTIVE: Cruz returned to the lineup after missing a game with an ankle injury. Tight end Larry Donnell was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. … Bears right tackle Bobbie Massie (concussion), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and defensive end Mitch Unrein (back) were inactive. … Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery served the first game of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Bears also were missing guard Kyle Long, who was placed on injured reserve last week with an ankle and shoulder injuries.
Bears: Host the Titans and Marcus Mariota on Sunday.
Giants: Start two-game road trip with a trip to winless Cleveland on Sunday.
Buccaneers 19, Chiefs 17
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took their celebration all the way to the showers Sunday after snapping the Kansas City Chiefs’ five-game winning streak, whooping it up louder than any fan in the building.
When some of them started to talk about how great it felt, though, Gerald McCoy set them straight.
“He was like, ‘That is expected,'” Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston said of their longtime defensive tackle, “and I thought, ‘You’re right.'”
Winston sliced up a Kansas City defense missing top cornerback Marcus Peters, then McCoy and the Buccaneers defense stood tall in a 19-17 victory Sunday that could prove pivotal to their season.
Tampa Bay (5-5) is suddenly right in the NFC South playoff hunt.
“We have a really close locker room. We pull together,” said Chris Conte, who made a crucial pick for Tampa Bay in the fourth quarter. “When we travel, we come together as a team and get it done.”
Winston threw for 331 yards to help set up four field goals by Roberto Aguayo, and hit tight end Robert Cross for a touchdown with just over 6 minutes left to give the Buccaneers a cushion.
The Chiefs (7-3) marched swiftly downfield, and Alex Smith hit Albert Wilson with a short TD pass with just over two minutes left. But their defense couldn’t stop Mike Evans on third-and-3 moments later, and the big wide receiver’s sixth reception gave the Buccaneers a first down.
By the time Kansas City finally forced a punt, there was 8 seconds left in the game.
“This is my responsibility that my team plays better than this,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, whose team had not lost at home since Oct. 11, 2015. “I didn’t have them ready when they needed to be.”
It was the Buccaneers’ fifth straight win over Kansas City dating to 1993.
“We can’t make mistakes. We can’t stop ourselves, whether that be blocking the wrong people or getting penalties. We got to execute,” Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley said. “We’ve got to continue the tempo that we have during the middle of the field. We’ve got to keep that tempo in the red zone.”
The Chiefs, who had won 17 of their last 19 regular-season games, repeatedly fizzled inside the Tampa Bay 20. They had to settle for a field goal by Cairo Santos on their first trip and Smith threw an interception in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs were 0 for 3 in the red zone last week at Carolina.
“I don’t think there’s one thing you can point to. I don’t think there’s one thing that can do it,” Smith said of the red-zone trouble. “You got to come away with points. That’s a difference-maker.”
Smith was 23 of 30 for 268 yards in another inconsistent performance Sunday, while Spencer Ware was bottled up much of the afternoon. The bruising running back finished with just 69 yards rushing.
“We have to capitalize. We can only learn from this and move forward,” Ware said. “There’s nothing wrong with what’s going on right now. We just have to capitalize.”
MARTIN MOVES IT
The Buccaneers’ Doug Martin carried 24 times for 63 yards in his second game back from a hamstring injury. But that modest total was important in helping Tampa Bay go 11 of 16 on third downs.
Chiefs long snapper James Winchester played one day after the funeral for his father, Michael, who was shot to death at an Oklahoma City airport on Tuesday. Police believe the elder Winchester, an employee for Southwest Airlines, was gunned down in retaliation for losing his own airline job.
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston made his season debut , though he hardly factored into the game. The four-time Pro Bowl pick has been out after surgery in February to repair the ACL in his left knee.
Buccaneers: Starting cornerback Brent Grimes left in the first half with a quad injury and did not return. Backup offensive lineman Ben Gottschalk left with a knee injury.
Chiefs: Outside linebacker Dee Ford, the NFL sack leader with 10 coming in, did not play in the second half with a hamstring injury. Peters (hip pointer), starting defensive tackle Jaye Howard (knee) and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (groin) were inactive.
Buccaneers: Return home next weekend to take on another Super Bowl favorite, Seattle.
Chiefs: Head to Denver for a Sunday night showdown between AFC West contenders.
Dolphins 14, Rams 10
LOS ANGELES (AP) — For the first 11 drives, Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins did almost nothing right.
On the final two drives of a rainy Sunday in LA, the Dolphins somehow found a way to stay on a remarkable roll that could propel them all the way back to the playoffs.
DeVante Parker caught a 9-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds to play, and the surging Dolphins rallied for two late scores to spoil Jared Goff’s NFL debut with a 14-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Tannehill passed for 172 yards in the fifth straight victory for the Dolphins (6-4), who were dominated by the Rams’ defense until their final two chances for redemption. Miami left the Coliseum crowd in disbelief — except for a healthy contingent of fans in aqua-colored jerseys celebrating the Dolphins’ first game in Los Angeles since 1988.
“As long as there is time on the clock, I’m going to believe that we are going to win,” Tannehill said. “I have a lot of faith, and everyone that steps on that field with me, we put in a lot of work and a lot of time. We’ve grown together over the past three months.”
Miami barely kept alive its longest winning streak since 2008, and the future looks bright: None of the Dolphins’ next five opponents currently has a winning record, which means the Dolphins are in prime position to claim their first playoff berth since 2008.
The Dolphins spent the week in California after beating San Diego last weekend, working on that bond away from the distractions of home. But their offense was mostly awful until Tannehill got it moving in the final minutes with big plays from Parker, who had eight catches for 79 yards, and Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 77 yards.
“I don’t even know (how the comeback happened),” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “Just nothing was going right for us. We were terrible on offense.”
After Jarvis Landry caught a 10-yard TD pass with 4:02 to play, the Dolphins got the ball right back and drove downfield for Parker’s diving TD reception in the corner. Miami gained 152 of its 240 total yards on the final two drives, leaving the Los Angeles defense heartbroken and furious.
“We played pretty much great the whole day,” Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said. “We kept fighting, but those last six minutes, I think it’s going to haunt us.”
Todd Gurley scored on a 24-yard run in the first quarter for Los Angeles (4-6), but neither team managed much offense until Miami’s late surge.
GOFF’S TURN: Goff went 17 of 31 for 134 yards after finally getting his chance in the 10th game of the season. But the Rams did little between Miami’s two touchdowns, and when Los Angeles got the ball back at its 41 with 29 seconds left, Goff moved the team only 12 yards before throwing an incompletion in the end zone as time expired.
“Felt good,” Goff said. “We’re obviously disappointed with the result there at the end and how things turned out, and how we felt through the whole game and how in control we were. At the end, six minutes left, we just kind of couldn’t put it away.”
The rookie got his first NFL completion on a short pass to fellow rookie Tyler Higbee. Goff showed mobility in the pocket and made a handful of key third-down throws to keep the Rams moving.
“I was disappointed in the outcome of the game, but I think you could see the light,” Los Angeles coach Jeff Fisher said. “There was a light there for (Goff), so we’ll continue to allow him to get ready, continue to progress.”
BEATING THEMSELVES: Fisher called it “one of the most disappointing losses” of his long career.
“To play 3 1/2 quarters of good football and then to let things slip away in the last six minutes was really disappointing,” Fisher said.
Los Angeles took its first double-digit lead at home this season on a 46-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein in the third quarter. But after Zuerlein missed a 48-yard attempt off the upright with 6:40 to play, the Dolphins finally mounted a scoring drive capped when Landry caught a short pass and his teammates pushed the pile 4 yards into the end zone.
UP NEXT: The Dolphins return home to host struggling San Francisco (1-9). The Rams are at New Orleans for yet another long road trip in a season full of travel.
Patriots 30, 49ers 17
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Tom Brady reminisced for a minute, practically giddy rewinding back to his teenage years and childhood as a San Francisco fan watching Joe Montana with all the other greats and witnessing “The Catch.”
Then he touched on some winning football before quickly taking off to go greet all of his supporters here at home.
What a day for the Patriots star. One he waited for over nearly two decades as an NFL quarterback. And how fitting a rainbow even emerged as the game clock expired on his triumphant first game at San Francisco’s home field following a 17-year wait .
Making the day even sweeter, Brady won his 199th career game in Sunday’s 30-17 New England victory over the 49ers, tying Hall of Famer Brett Favre for second-most wins by a quarterback in NFL history. With his next one, Brady will match Peyton Manning for the top spot.
Nostalgic from the start, Brady threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, getting four TD passes with no interceptions for the 21st time in his career. He missed a chance to play at Candlestick Park in 2008 because of a knee injury.
Brady had time to say hello to Tom Rathman. He saw Steve Young at halftime.
Rathman, the former fullback and current 49ers running backs coach, was one of the quarterback’s favorites.
“He was neighbors with my best friend. I got to know him a little bit before the draft and he was just starting in coaching. I always loved the way that he played and the way he spiked the ball after he scored,” Brady said.
“He autographed my shoe at this store opening when I was probably 12 or 13, he and Roger Craig. Great memories.”
Under pressure on the slick grass, Brady found Danny Amendola for a 5-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter then later hit Malcolm Mitchell on a 56-yard score for his fourth TD pass .
Brady also threw short touchdown passes to Julian Edelman and James White on his first two possessions and completed 24 of 40 passes. The AFC East-leading Patriots (8-2) bounced back from last week’s loss to the Seahawks by prevailing on a soggy afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.
Edelman caught a 4-yard TD pass for the first score of the game, breaking away from Keith Reaser to the corner and just keeping two feet inbounds. He finished with eight receptions for 77 yards and Mitchell made four catches for 98 yards and White six for 63.
Brady hit White for a 9-yard touchdown then Amendola reached a career high with his fourth TD catch of 2016 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Mitchell’s athletic, reaching grab between two defenders and straightaway speed after the catch for his first career touchdown sealed it.
LeGarrette Blount had a season-long 44-yard run and finished with 124 yards rushing, his fourth 100-yard performance this season.
With so many family and friends in the stands, Brady completed eight of his first nine passes and nine of 11.
“It was very cool. It doesn’t get any better than that,” he said. “To have the first chance to ever do that was very special.”
Former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. received his Hall of Fame “Ring of Excellence” during a halftime ceremony with umbrellas galore.
“I was told all these years I brought rain, thunder and lightning to this franchise, and I guess today proves it,” he said.
The 1-and-Niners is an emerging nickname for a team that matched a franchise-record losing streak done once before. The 1978 team lost nine straight.
Colin Kaepernick was sacked five times and had a great first half.
He couldn’t sustain it, but he is still Chip Kelly’s starter.
“We’re always evaluating every week, but I don’t think Colin played poor today,” Kelly said.
Kaepernick threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald late in the first half and Shaun Draughn’s 13-yard TD catch in the fourth. But he went 8 for 21 in the second half after completing 8 of 9 passes in the first half.
He didn’t have one top target: A shoulder injury forced Torrey Smith to miss the first game of his career after playing 89 straight during six NFL seasons.
NO TURNOVERS: San Francisco fumbled five times, but didn’t lose any of them. The game featured no turnovers, a remarkable stat given a game played in rain for most of the day.
The 49ers went without a turnover for the first time all season.
SOUVENIR BALL: Phil Dawson will find a special place for this souvenir ball — the one from his 400th field goal Sunday.
He became just the 10th kicker in NFL history to reach the mark with a 33-yarder in the first quarter. Teammates immediately congratulated his achievement.
“In a team game it’s hard to feel good about individual accomplishments,” San Francisco’s 41-year-old kicker said. “Probably when it’s all said and done and I’m no longer a member of the team I’ll enjoy it a little more.”
Patriots: Travel to face the Jets on Sunday.
49ers: Travel to face the Dolphins on Sunday.
Eagles 15, Packers 26
SEATTLE (AP) — Everyone knew Russell Wilson could run and pass.
But catch? The Seattle Seahawks quarterback showed he can do that, too.
“I think we’ve been trying to call that the past four or five years,” Wilson said.
Wilson threw for 272 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Doug Baldwin as the Seahawks rolled past the Philadelphia Eagles 26-15 on Sunday.
Wilson became the first quarterback in franchise history to catch a touchdown, a perfect end-around pass from Baldwin to Seattle’s athletic QB as he ran down the left sideline and dove into the end zone to give the Seahawks a 23-7 lead.
Seattle had the call in the playbook for a few weeks and finally broke it out against the Eagles.
“I’ve been begging for that play for the past two or three weeks. They doubted my arm ability, they doubted I could make the throw, so I’m glad I got to prove them wrong,” Baldwin said with a grin.
Wilson was already causing headaches for the Eagles well before his TD catch. He scrambled and threw across his body to find Jimmy Graham on a35-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the second quarter as Seattle built a 16-7 halftime lead that was more than enough. Rookie C.J. Prosise had a 72-yard touchdown run on Seattle’s fifth offensive play — the longest run by a Seattle player since CenturyLink Field opened in 2002.
Wilson completed 18 of 31 passes, with four of them going to Baldwin for 104 yards, along with the first touchdown pass of his career.
“I don’t know who is playing better than him right now,” Baldwin said of Wilson. “He’s the best player in the league right now, by far.”
Philadelphia lost its fifth straight road game as rookie quarterback Carson Wentz was provided an education while facing one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Wentz (23 of 45 for 218 yards) was good early, especially on Philadelphia’s first scoring driving that was capped by a 4-yard TD pass to Zach Ertz in the opening moments of the second quarter. Wentz then went 5 of 14 for 25 yards and two interceptions during the rest of the second and the third quarter.
Philadelphia’s wide receivers didn’t help Wentz, going mostly invisible against Seattle’s secondary. Until the early stages of the fourth quarter, Eagles’ wide receivers had the same amount of yards receiving combined as Wilson — 15. Dorial Green-Beckham caught a 5-yard TD with 3:46 remaining.
“I thought overall it’s going to be a great learning experience for him, coming in here, a tough place, and trying to get a win,” Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said of Wentz. “I thought he played OK.”
The game took a brutal toll with injuries. Philadelphia lost running back Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (ribs) before halftime, while Prosise injured his shoulder and cornerback DeShawn Shead hurt his hamstring in the first half. Prosise suffered a “scapula injury,” according to coach Pete Carroll, and will be out a while.
The biggest loss could turn out to be Seattle safety Earl Thomas, who grabbed at his left hamstring in the third quarter running in coverage downfield on Wentz’s pass that was intercepted by Richard Sherman. Thomas was examined on the sideline for several minutes and taken to the locker room.
Carroll said the team didn’t know the severity of Thomas’ injury.
Seattle had the services of running back Thomas Rawls for the first time since he suffered a hairline fracture of his right shin in Week 2. With Prosise injured, Rawls took the bulk of the carries in the second half and finished with 57 yards on 14 carries.
“My leg is fine. Please don’t bring it up,” Rawls said.
The Seahawks didn’t want to overwork Rawls in his first game back, so backup QB Trevone Boykin got two snaps at running back in the closing minutes. His one carry was for minus-5 yards.
Carroll picked up the 100th regular season win of his career, becoming the 39th coach in NFL history to reach the milestone.
Nelson Agholor had a first half to forget for Philadelphia.
He failed to line up properly and was flagged for illegal formation on what would have been a 57-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Ertz. He also had a critical drop late in the half as he ran wide open across the middle after beating Sherman off the line of scrimmage.
“He’s trying his best, that’s all you can ask for,” Ertz said. “It’s not like he went out there that play and said ‘I’m going to take a touchdown away.’ We made a lot of mistakes tonight.”
Eagles: Philadelphia returns home to host Green Bay on Monday, Nov. 28.
Seahawks: Seattle travels east for the third time in five games heading to Tampa Bay next Sunday.
Packers 24, Redskins 42
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Kirk Cousins wondered early in the Washington Redskins’ game against the Green Bay Packers if the wind would make it difficult.
Instead, Cousins gripped the ball tighter, ripped it into the air and threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Redskins to a 42-24 victory Sunday night, Washington’s sixth victory in eight games.
Handing the Packers (4-6) a potentially season-crushing fourth consecutive loss, Cousins outdueled two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and got the Redskins (6-3-1) rolling into a Thanksgiving showdown against the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys.
“Lights out,” said DeSean Jackson, who had a 17-yard touchdown catch . “QB rating 145? So we need him to play like that a lot more. I think if we can get our guy back there playing like that, pretty much unstoppable.”
With Cousins carving up Green Bay’s porous pass defense and Robert Kelley running for 137 yards and three touchdowns, Washington put up 517 yards didn’t wilt like it did in a playoff loss to the Packers. “We Want Dallas” chants filled FedEx Field in the final minutes of the game that only became a blowout late, but this was a well-rounded performance that the Redskins wish they could’ve put together in January.
“We certainly had a sour taste in our mouths walking away from the game last season,” said Cousins, who was 21 of 30 and also had TD passes toJamison Crowder and Pierre Garcon . “When you watch the film, we felt like there were plays there to be made that didn’t get made. I think tonight you saw what we felt we were capable of doing last January and just didn’t get it done.”
While the Packers allowed 30 or more points for the fifth time in six games — all losses — Rodgers and the offense couldn’t keep up. He was 26 of 41 for 351 yards and three touchdowns, but the result was the same.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got find a way to get a win next week and approach it one week at a time. That’s all we’ve got right now.”
The Redskins have a big meeting at Dallas to look forward to. The Cowboys (9-1) have won nine in a row.
“We’re feeling good, but at the same time it’s a short week and we’re playing one of the best teams in the NFL on Thursday,” Cousins said.
GREEN BAY IN DEEP: The loss put the Packers two games back of the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions in the NFC North. Each team won Sunday, meaning Green Bay may need to pull off a heck of a feat to return to the playoffs.
“We clearly understand the urgency that’s in front of us,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
GUTSY GRUDEN: After kickers around the league missed 11 extra-point attempts going in, Washington coach Jay Gruden opted to go for 2 twice — and converted neither. But he was validated when Green Bay’s Mason Crosby missed a 36-yard attempt at that end in the third quarter and when his kicker, Dustin Hopkins, shanked an extra-point attempt off the right upright in the fourth.
Gruden was feeling risky all night, going for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 41 with 6:22 left. Cousins sneaked it to convert and reward his coach, and the drive finished with a touchdown by Kelley.
“The fourth-and-1 was pretty simple: It was half a yard, and the wind was pretty strong in our face,” Gruden said. “Thought our offensive line was getting pretty good movement (and) we’d get half a yard with the quarterback sneak play.”
BANGED-UP PACKERS: Already missing offensive linemen J.C. Tretter and T.J. Lang, the Packers lost cornerback Demitri Goodson (knee), replacement right guard Don Barclay (shoulder), linebacker Blake Marinez (knee) and safety Kentrell Brice (back).
QUICK-STRIKE OFFENSE: While the offenses were on ice early in the night, they combined for two touchdowns in the first 35 seconds of the fourth quarter. Rodgers’ 31-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open James Starks came on the first play of the fourth, and Cousins connected with Garcon on a 70-yard touchdown on the second play of the Redskins’ next drive.
Kelley on his special night: “Real special, especially for the guys in the fantasy leagues.”
Packers safety Micah Hyde: “We have way too much talent in this locker room to be performing like that. But week in, week out, we’re doing it. I’m speechless.”
Texans 20, Raiders 27 @Mexico City
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The party in the stands started early in the second NFL regular season game ever played in Mexico with loud cheers and chants from before kickoff until the final whistle. The Oakland offense took a little longer to get going, but once they did Derek Carr and the Raiders came out with yet another win.
Carr woke up a struggling offense by throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as the Raiders capped a successful trip to Mexico with a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night.
“We got punched in the mouth,” Carr said. “We weren’t doing things the way we usually want to do things executing wise. But there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that we’d come back and win the football game.”
Oakland had been held to 120 yards through three quarters with the running game going nowhere and Carr finding few open receivers downfield. But that suddenly changed in the fourth quarter to give the Raiders (8-2) their fourth straight win for the first time since 2002 .
With star receiver Amari Cooper lined up in the backfield, Carr found fullback Jamize Olawale open for a 75-yard catch and run that tied Houston (6-4) at 20.
“We felt like that was the momentum shifter,” Cooper said.
Then Oakland took advantage on two questionable spots by the officials to take over on downs at the 15 and drove 85 yards in five plays to take the lead on a 35-yard pass to Cooper to send the Texans to their fourth loss in five games outside of Houston.
“Very tough loss,” defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney said. “We should have won the game, we are trying to win every game. You don’t leave the game in the ref’s hands.”
That set off loud celebrations from the pro-Raiders crowd of 76,743 in the second regular season game ever played in Mexico. What was originally scheduled as an Oakland home game featured Raiders music during stoppages, Tommie Smith lighting the Al Davis torch in a memorable return to Mexico City nearly a half-century after his Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics and frequent “RAI-DERS!” chants.
While the atmosphere was electric, the field was a bit slippery leading to some falls and the high elevation 7,380 feet above sea level played a factor. The Raiders needed to use a timeout on defense at one point in the fourth to catch their breath and receiver Michael Crabtree was seen gasping for breath at one point.
“To be able to play here was amazing,” Carr said. “There’s so much history, so much rowdiness. I love soccer and it gave me a kind of soccer feel.”
CLOSE SPOTS: The Texans were upset on two spots on the fourth-quarter drive before Oakland went ahead. On third-and-2, Lamar Miller was stopped just short of the first down even though Houston believed he got it. Coach Bill O’Brien went for it on fourth down but Akeem Hunt was stopped about an inch short on fourth down and the play stood after a replay challenge.
LASER SHOW: Houston QB Brock Osweiler had to deal with an unusual distraction during the game as a fan with a green laser frequently shined it on the Houston quarterback as he dropped back to pass in an act more familiar in soccer games played here than in NFL games. That wasn’t the only soccer tradition imported for this game. Fans also used a homophobic chant on kickoffs. Mexico’s soccer federation has been punished by FIFA in the past for the chant during World Cup qualifiers. Fans threw paper airplanes on the field in the third quarter with Oakland’s Sean Smith taking a turn throwing one that reached the field during a break.
STREAK BROKEN: Carr had thrown 170 straight passes without an interception before getting picked by A.J. Bouye on a deep ball on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. It was Carr’s fourth interception of the season and the first since Kansas City’s Marcus Peters got one Oct. 16.
INTERNATIONAL SCORER: With his extra point in the second quarter, Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski scored a point in his third country, having previously done it in the United States and United Kingdom. Joe Nedney is the only other player to score in Mexico, the U.S. and the U.K. Five other players have scored in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.: running back Steven Jackson and kickers Robbie Gould, Matt Bryant, Dan Carpenter and Jay Feely.