Demarus Dye|BKD TV Insiders
Here is a recap of Week 14 of the 2016 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Raiders 13, Chiefs 21
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Tyreek Hill didn’t know what to do when he started hearing thousands of people in Arrowhead Stadium chanting his name, even as he stood all alone on the frozen turf waiting for the punt.
“Just give them what they want, I guess,” Hill thought to himself.
So he did, the rookie speedster taking the punt back 78-yards for a game-changing touchdown. It followed shortly after he had hauled in a 36-yard touchdown grab, spurring Kansas City to a 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on a frosty Thursday night and into control of the AFC West.
“It gave me chills on the sideline,” said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who had 261 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception. “The whole stadium is chanting his name and he answers — that was one of the coolest things I’ve seen, for sure.”
The Chiefs (10-3) and Raiders (10-3), longtime and bitter rivals, are now tied atop the division, but Kansas City has the tiebreaker by virtue of two head-to-head wins this season.
“This was as big as it gets for a regular-season game,” Smith said. “We don’t get caught up in all the must-win stuff, that’s not how we operate, but we knew the stakes for sure.”
Charcandrick West added a touchdown run and Travis Kelce had five catches for 101 yards as the Chiefs returned from a back-to-back road wins to beat Oakland for the seventh time in eight meetings.
It came at a big cost, though: The Chiefs lost Derrick Johnson for the rest of the season after the star linebacker ruptured his left Achilles just before halftime.
“I felt a little bit of a letdown when it happened,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid acknowledged, “but the last thing D.J. would have wanted was a letdown.”
Derek Carr was just 17 of 41 for 117 yards passing for Oakland, but the ugly line wasn’t entirely his fault. Seth Roberts dropped just about everything thrown at him, Amari Cooper couldn’t adjust to a long throw for a would-be touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and several more passes were dropped to the rock-hard turf of Arrowhead Stadium on a night when wind chills approached single digits.
Latavius Murry led the Raiders with 103 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“I liked our effort, just didn’t like the execution,” said Jack Del Rio, who remained winless in four tries against Kansas City as the Raiders’ coach. “In all three phases we came up a little short.”
That includes the way they defended Hill, one of the game’s bright young stars.
He scorched the Raiders for a 36-yard TD reception before bringing his punt back, in the process becoming the first rookie since Gale Sayers in 1965 with touchdowns on the ground, through the air and on punt and kickoff returns in a single season.
“I didn’t know that,” he said. “I mean, that’s great, but I’m not the only one on that field doing it. Without those guys blocking for me, and Alex throwing me the rock, none of that stuff would happen.”
It was still 21-3 when Johnson went down, and his injury seemed to briefly deflate the Kansas City defense. Oakland proceeded to march 92 yards for its lone touchdown just before halftime.
But the Raiders kept coming up empty with their chances in the second half.
Smith threw a pick on the second play of the third quarter, but Oakland had to settle for a field goal. And when Smith was strip-sacked by Khalil Mack on the next play, the Raiders again had to try a field goal — only this time, holder Marquette King couldn’t get the snap down.
The Raiders’ last chance came with about two minutes left, when a questionable pass interference penalty and a fourth-and-4 conversion got them deep into Kansas City territory. But after a false start on fourth-and-1, Carr’s pass toward the end zone was batted incomplete.
The Chiefs went on to pick up the first down they needed to put the game away.
“It was definitely a bad night. There’s no getting around that,” Carr said. “I hate to have the bad night come on this one, right? Out of all the games that we’ve had. Obviously, we didn’t do enough.”
Kelce has had at least 100 yards receiving in four straight games, matching the franchise record set by Tony Gonzalez. The only tight end with such a streak is Jimmy Graham, who has done it twice.
Mack had a strip-sack for the third straight game, and a sack in his eighth straight dating to the Raiders’ loss to Kansas City in October. That matches Lance Johnstone for the longest streak in franchise history since sacks became official in 1982.
Johnson appeared to know he had ruptured his Achilles the moment he went down. He ruptured his other Achilles in 2014 and missed the remainder of that season. … Defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches left with back spasms and did not return.
Raiders offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele was a late scratch with an illness that sent him to the hospital, though Del Rio said he’ll be able to travel home with the team. Safety Karl Joseph was inactive with a toe injury and defensive tackle Stacy McGee was sidelined by an ankle injury.
Oakland remains in the AFC West when it heads to slumping San Diego on Dec. 18.
Kansas City continues its three-game homestand Dec. 18 against Tennessee.
Cardinals 23, Dolphins 26
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Idle for most of the past five seasons, backup quarterback Matt Moore came through on the final series Sunday for the Miami Dolphins.
And his work is just beginning.
With Ryan Tannehill sidelined by a knee injury that will likely end his season, the Dolphins turned to Moore, who directed the drive that led to a field goal on the final play to beat the Arizona Cardinals 26-23.
On Saturday at the New York Jets, Moore will likely make his first start since 2011, the year before Tannehill was drafted. And the Dolphins (8-5) will be in the thick of the race for their first playoff berth in eight years.
The Cardinals (5-7-1) are almost certain to spend the postseason at home after another ugly road loss.
Here are things to know about both teams:
SUPER SUB: Moore made 12 starts for the Dolphins in 2011, but has thrown only 35 passes since then, with Tannehill starting every game the past five years.
That’s about to change. Tannehill limped off with a left knee injury in the third quarter after he was hit around the legs by defensive tackle Calais Campbell, and the Dolphins fear their quarterback tore his ACL. He’ll undergo further testing Monday.
Miami failed to pick up a first down in Moore’s first three series, but he threw completions of 12 and 29 yards to Kenny Stills in the last minute to set up Andrew Franks’ game-winning 21-yard field goal.
“When Matt came in, he brought energy and enthusiasm,” tackle Ja’Wuan James said. “He’s a leader. We’re confident in Matt.”
PLAYOFF RACE: Miami pulled into a tie with Denver in the race for the final AFC wild-card spot. The Broncos lost to Tennessee 13-10.
The Dolphins finish the regular season with games against their three AFC East rivals.
“You talk about where we’re at as a team, you can’t ask for much more,” Moore said. “The ball is in our court.”
Arizona, 1-5 in away games, will try to bounce back against New Orleans at home Sunday.
“This was pretty much a playoff game for us, and we knew we needed the W real bad,” Campbell said.
RUNNING DOWN THE CLOCK: With 10 seconds left, the Dolphins narrowly averted disaster while running one final play before the field goal.
Moore briefly bobbled the snap and a teammate stepped on his foot, which caused a sloppy handoff to Darien Williams.
Several seconds ticked off while Williams became entangled in a scrum, and there was only a second remaining when the Dolphins managed to call time out.
“Not the way you wanted that series to end,” Moore said.
“I thought it was very questionable whether that second was on that clock,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “Thank God the home teams do not run the clock, the NFL does, or you’d really have a (controversy).”
PIVOTAL PLAY: After the Cardinals scored a touchdown to cut their deficit to 21-15, Jordan Phillips blocked Chandler Catanzaro’s extra-point kick, and Walt Aikens scooped up the ball and scored .
“I saw the ball, picked it up and the rest was history,” Aikens said. “I was tired. It’s a long run for 2 points.”
The three-point swing turned out to be the difference in the game.
CONTAINED: The Cardinals’ David Johnson came into the game leading the NFL with 15 touchdowns, but was kept out of the end zone. He rushed for 80 yards and caught passes for 41.
“Defenses are keying in on me a little bit more — double-teaming me, putting their safety or DB on me,” Johnson said. “So I really do have to focus more on attention to detail.”
Vikings 25, Jaguars 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings feel as if they’re back in the playoff picture.
The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be counting down the days until the season is over.
Although both teams looked mostly lost the past two months, the Vikings used a trip to Jacksonville to gain some much-needed confidence and maybe even turn around a season that went awry after a 5-0 start.
“We needed this one,” receiver Adam Thielen said. “Our backs were against the wall.”
Matt Asiata scored on a short touchdown run, Kai Forbath kicked four field goals and the Vikings beat the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars 25-16 on Sunday, winning for just the second time in nine weeks.
Sam Bradford completed 24 of 34 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. He wasn’t sacked and scrambled four times for 17 yards. His 3-yard TD toss to tight end Kyle Rudolph with 2:13 remaining sealed the victory.
Minnesota (7-6) hadn’t won on the road since Sept. 25 at Carolina and needed a victory to keep pace in the NFC playoff race. With games against Indianapolis, Green Bay and Chicago remaining, the Vikings believe they can win out and slide in.
“I wouldn’t say we were desperate, but definitely there was a sense of urgency,” receiver Stefon Diggs said. “When you get desperate or get in shambles and don’t stay calm, cool and collective, that’s when things don’t go your way.”
Little went Minnesota’s way Sunday, but it didn’t matter.
The Vikings lost the turnover battle, failed to score twice inside the 1-yard line , allowed a fourth-down conversion on a fake punt and missed an extra point.
Those kinds of mistakes normally would result in a loss, especially on the road. Not against the Jaguars (2-11), who dropped their record-tying eighth consecutive game and fell to 0-6 at EverBank Field this season.
Jacksonville now needs to win at Houston next week to avoid setting the single-season franchise record with nine straight losses. The club mark is 13 consecutive losses over two seasons.
“It’s tough anytime you lose,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “I know for me personally, I can’t wait to play on Sunday the following week and get another opportunity and hopefully to try to erase some of this stuff that’s going on and maybe wake up from this nightmare.
“With these last three weeks left and then having to live six months until you get another opportunity, I think is more fearful than counting down the days until it’s over. I don’t want to have to go through those six months.”
Here are some other things we learned from Minnesota’s fourth straight win against Jacksonville:
DEEP SHOTS: Known more for short passes than deep shots, the Vikings changed things up against the Jaguars. Bradford connected with Rudolph for 44 yards on the first play from scrimmage and then found Thielen for a 41-yard gain on Minnesota’s second possession. Both set up field goals. He also found Diggs for a diving, 45-yarder in the first half.
“We created some explosive plays, and anytime you do that, it just makes it easier for the offense,” Bradford said.
LEE SHINES: Marqise Lee caught five passes for a career-high 113 yards, further establishing himself as Jacksonville’s go-to guy down the stretch. Allen Robinson finished with one reception for 17 yards, giving him nine catches for 90 yards in the past four games. Robinson, Bortles and offensive coordinator Nate Hackett held a private meeting this week in hopes of “getting on the same page,” but it was another dismal day for the 2015 Pro Bowl receiver. Lee, meanwhile, had another strong showing .
“They’re all competing, but he’s really standing out,” said Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who fell to 14-47 in four seasons. “I like where he’s at right now. I think he’s playing with great competitive spirt and he’s competing in his routes, he’s competing in catching, he’s competing in blocking.”
ZIMMER RETURNS: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had no real issues in his first game back following eye surgery. Zimmer missed last week’s game against Dallas because of a detached retina and was unsure earlier in the week whether he would be on the field or in an upstairs box. Zimmer, who needed a doctor’s clearance to fly to Jacksonville, wore a patch over his right eye and had no limitations.
“I couldn’t see to my right, but other than that, not really,” he said.
Chargers 16, Panthers 28
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Linebacker A.J. Klein knows that realistically the Carolina Panthers don’t have much of a shot to make the playoffs.
But he said that isn’t going to keep this team from trying.
That was evident Sunday as Carolina’s defense forced a season-high five turnovers by Philip Rivers, recorded five sacks and a crucial fourth-quarter safety in a 28-16 win over the San Diego Chargers.
“I think it shows that we’re not going to just roll over,” said Klein, who had a sack and forced fumble. “It shows that we’re going to fight and we have a lot of high character people on this team. We will keep fighting until the last game and wherever the chips fall, that’s where they fall.”
Cam Newton was a pedestrian 10 of 27 for 160 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception for Carolina (5-8), which snapped a two-game losing streak and kept its slim playoff hopes alive. Jonathan Stewart ran for 66 yards and a touchdown and Graham Gano had four field goals.
But it was Carolina’s defense that set the tone early — and later put the game away.
Despite playing without middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Charles Johnson, the Panthers had four sacks on Rivers and forced three turnovers in the first half to build a 23-7 lead.
“I thought (defensive coordinator) Sean McDermott had a real good game plan,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I like the way he called the game. He had some timely pressures and he used everybody — bringing corners and nickels and the safeties. I thought early on we kept Philip off balanced.”
One of those turnovers, a strip-sack by Kawann Short, proved extra costly for the Chargers (5-8). Running back Melvin Gordon, who came in averaging 117.5 yards from scrimmage and had scored 12 touchdowns, was carted off with a hip injury after his left leg twisted under a pile while attempting to recover the loose ball. He did not return.
The Chargers later lost defensive end Joey Bosa to a neck injury.
Coach Mike McCoy had no update on the extent of the injuries after the game.
Rivers, who played at North Carolina State, finished 21 of 39 for 236 yards with three interceptions and two touchdown passes in his homecoming game. He also fumbled twice on sacks.
“There were times I tried to do too much today,” Rivers said. “That hasn’t been the case in the past couple of games. I know better than that. At the same time, I don’t want to stand back there and throw balls away and lose 35-3. It felt like that was the way it was going. That’s no excuse to make bad mistakes and bad turnovers, but those were just decisions I made today.”
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen called the defense’s effort incredible.
“Five sacks, five turnovers — that makes playing offensive football a lot easier, so hats off to those guys,” Olsen said.
Despite trailing 26-16, the Chargers seemed to seize momentum briefly with 11 minutes left in the game when Trovon Reed intercepted Newton in the end zone and appeared to take it back 99 yards for a touchdown. But instead of it being a three-point game, officials ruled Reed was down by contact at the 3-yard line before ever got going.
Three plays later, Mario Addison sacked Rivers in the end zone for a safety and the Chargers never threatened again.
BOSA INURES NECK
Bosa, the No. 3 pick in the draft, left in the second quarter with a neck injury after a sack on Newton. Bosa didn’t appear to have his head up as he collided with the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton in the pocket and his neck snapped back.
Cornerback Craig Mager also left in the first half with an elbow injury and did not return.
IN THE MIRROR
The Chargers could be in for a whole lot of changes this offseason, and players are beginning to realize that.
“It hurts, especially give the season we have had,” said wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who had 71 yards receiving and a touchdown. “Like coach (McCoy) said, we have to all take a look in the mirror and see if guys really want to play.”
The home crowd held its breath when Newton left the game late in the third quarter after taking a hit to the side of the head from defensive end Corey Liuget. But Newton returned to the game one play later.
HE DID WHAT?
Stewart had a highlight reel 20-yard run when he somersaulted over Chargers defender Jahleel Addae, landed on Addae’s ankle with his helmet and somehow kept his balance to pick up another 5 yards.
FINALLY, A WIN VS. WEST
The Panthers got their first win against an AFC West team after losing to Denver, Kansas City and Oakland earlier this season.
Gano was perfect on the day, converting all four field-goal attempts from 23, 41, 44 and 45 yards.
Redskins 27, Eagles 22
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Chris Thompson kept running into the end zone on one of those rare times scoring a touchdown wasn’t the optimal play.
Ryan Kerrigan made sure it didn’t matter.
Thompson had a 25-yard TD run with 1:53 remaining, Kerrigan forced a turnover in the red zone and the Washington Redskins beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-22 on Sunday.
“Had he taken a knee, we could’ve run the clock down and kicked a field goal, but there’s no guarantees with those and we learned the hard way in London,” coach Jay Gruden said about Thompson’s run. “Smart thing to do would’ve been to take a knee, but that’s hard for a running back to do.”
Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard toss to DeSean Jackson, and had a pick-6.
The Eagles took a 22-21 lead when Caleb Sturgis hit a 41-yard field goal with 4:59 left after holder Donnie Jones got the high snap from third-string long snapper Trey Burton down in time.
Carson Wentz drove Philadelphia to the Redskins 14 in the final minute, but Kerrigan sacked him to force a fumble and seal the win for Washington.
The Redskins (7-5-1) snapped a two-game losing streak and remained in the middle of a jumbled playoff race.
“Our heart is still beating, we’re still rolling,” Gruden said.
The Eagles (5-8) have lost four in a row and eight of 10 after a 3-0 start.
“This is a resilient group,” coach Doug Pederson said. “They hung together. They battled. It’s great to see how far they’ve come through adversity.”
Jackson made a twisting, over-the-shoulder catch and spun away from Leodis McKelvin before slowing down and jogging into the end zone to give the Redskins a 14-13 lead in the third quarter.
“DeSean would’ve been a world-class center fielder,” Gruden said. “He adjusts to the ball and tracks it like no other.”
McKelvin intercepted Cousins and returned it 29 yards for a TD early in the fourth quarter, but Wentz’s pass to Jordan Matthews was knocked down on the 2-point conversion.
Cousins then connected with Pierre Garcon on a 15-yard TD pass to extend the lead to 21-13.
After Dustin Hopkins hit the left post on a 38-yard try in the first quarter, the Redskins took a 7-6 lead on their next possession. Rob Kelley knocked over a defender at the end of a nifty, 22-yard TD run .
Wentz finished with 314 yards passing and one TD pass. Cousins threw for 234.
“We just didn’t finish at the end,” Wentz said.
The Redskins have won five straight games against the Eagles.
The Eagles lost long snapper Jon Dorenbos to a right wrist injury. Backup Brent Celek made a poor snap on a 50-yard field goal attempt and then suffered a stinger, leaving Burton to handle the tough task. After the offense lined up to go for fourth-and-1, Wentz called a timeout. Burton practiced a couple snaps on the sideline along with linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Jones had to reach up to catch Burton’s snap and Sturgis took a stutter-step before kicking the ball through the uprights.
Darren Sproles took a hard shot to the head while trying to catch a punt in the fourth quarter and left the game to be treated for a head injury. Washington’s Deshazor Everett ran Sproles over, drawing an unsportsmanlike penalty. Players from both sides immediately started pushing and shoving. Sproles remained down for a couple minutes before walking off.
An illegal block by Zach Ertz negated Sproles’ 72-yard punt return for a score in the third quarter. … The Eagles drove to the Redskins 3 on their second possession before Wentz tossed an interception to Everett on third down.
Jackson went to three Pro Bowls in six seasons with the Eagles, but former coach Chip Kelly released him after his most productive year in 2013. The 30-year-old Jackson will be a free agent after this season and already said he wouldn’t mind returning to Philadelphia. He mingled and exchanged hugs with stadium personnel on Philadelphia’s sideline before the game.
Bears 17, Lions 20
DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford got a shotgun snap, dropped back, slid left, rolled right and ran up the middle through three defenders with a shot to stop him.
Stafford’s go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left made up for his two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one that was returned for a score, and helped the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 20-17 Sunday.
The Lions have become the first team in NFL history to have eight comeback wins from fourth-quarter deficits in a season, according to information provided by the team from the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Finding ways to win is what we do,” Stafford said.
Stafford usually does it with his right arm.
With the middle finger on his right hand taped up and covered by a white glove, Stafford struggled to throw at times. When it was time to run and score, he wasn’t going to stop himself short of the end zone.
“It’s fourth quarter, go time, you’ve got to make a play,” Stafford said. “I surely wasn’t going to slide on the 2.”
The NFC North-leading Lions (9-4) have won five straight and eight of nine, moving them a step closer to winning a division title for the first time in 23 years.
“Our goals are much bigger than winning this game,” receiver Anquan Boldin said.
Matt Barkley completed two passes that put the Bears in a position to at least attempt a tying field goal in the final minute, but both were negated by flags, before turning the ball over on downs from the Detroit 44.
“You can’t really recover from two holding penalties back to back,” said Bears guard Ted Larsen, who was called for holding, as was left tackle Charles Leno.
The Bears’ opportunity of pulling off an upset were also hurt by three penalties for pass interference for a total of 74 yards, helping Detroit score both of its TDs.
Chicago (3-10) has lost four of five, playing a lot of young players in place of banged-up veterans.
“Eventually, this is going to help us,” Bears coach John Fox said. “And this experience will help those individual players.”
Barkley , in the first road start of his career, perfectly led Cameron Meredith on a 31-yard TD to pull the Bears within three late in the third quarter. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards.
“There’s no issue of effort or wanting to win,” Barkley said. “You can really see the fire and the drive is there.”
Stafford was picked off twice after he threw only one interception the previous eight games. Demontre Hurst intercepted Stafford’s pass in Chicago’s end zone after it ricocheted off teammate Bryce Callahan and receiver Golden Tate early in the fourth quarter. Cre’Von LeBlanc returned an interception 24 yards midway through the fourth to put Chicago up 17-13.
Stafford finished 21 of 35 for 223 yards with a TD. Stafford said he hurt his finger, which he expected to be X-rayed, in the first quarter when his hand collided with linebacker Leonard Floyd.
“I don’t think he’s going to let a finger stop him,” Boldin said.
Detroit has matched its longest winning streak since starting 5-0 in 2011, and its best nine-game stretch since winning eight of the last nine games in 1995. The Lions have given up 20 or fewer points in seven straight games in one season for the first time since 1961.
Stafford threw a tiebreaking, 16-yard TD pass to Boldin with 19 seconds left in the first half. It was the 1,063 reception of Boldin’s career, moving him past Andre Johnson for 10th place on the NFL’s all-time list. The 14-year veteran has helped Detroit overcome the retirement of star receiver Calvin Johnson.
Bears: Receivers Eddie Royal (toe) and Marquess Wilson (groin) were inactive due to injuries, taking two more players away from a depleted team. Cornerback Tracy Porter (illness) and defensive lineman Eddie Goldman (ankle) left the game with ailments.
Lions: Running back Theo Riddick was inactive with a wrist injury and was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Dwayne Washington, who had season highs with 16 carries and 64 yards rushing. Linebacker DeAndre Levy was active for the first time since Week 1, returning from a knee injury. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah left the game in the second quarter with an injured right shoulder, but returned to play in the second half.
Bengals 23, Browns 10
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Bengals took trash talk to a new level after thumping the winless Browns.
Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones spent several minutes following Sunday’s 23-10 win over Cleveland dismissing and disrespecting Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who was held to one catch for 3 yards.
As reporters mingled near his locker, “Pacman” Jones launched an unprovoked verbal attack on Pryor, his former teammate in Cincinnati.
“I ain’t talking about nothing but Terrelle Pryor today,” Jones hollered. “Get out of my face if you want to ask me anything else.”
Jones then unleashed on Pryor, the former Ohio State and Oakland quarterback, who changed positions after being released by the Bengals last year.
“For a guy that’s been a slouch around the league as a quarterback, he does a lot of fake hard (stuff),” Jones said, using several profanities. “I don’t have no respect for him. I looked up his background. He’s a suburban kid from Pittsburgh.”
Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes in the first half to Tyler Eifert as the Bengals (5-7-1) kept their slim playoff hopes alive and extended Cleveland’s losing streak to 16 games going back to last season. The Browns haven’t won since Dec. 13, 2015.
Based on the way the Bengals played and Jones’ comments, it was clear Cincinnati’s players had no sympathy for their in-state rivals.
In fact, Jones used a locker room prop to get his point across about Pryor.
With several teammates egging him on, Jones picked up a garbage can and yelled into it, “Get him (Pryor) out of there. Do you see him in there? Terrelle? Terrelle?”
Jones then slammed the receptacle on the floor and said, “Terrelle Pryor is garbage.”
It’s not known why there is bad blood between Jones and Pryor, who dressed quickly and left Cleveland’s locker room before speaking with reporters.
For the Bengals, there’s no margin for error. Another loss will eliminate them from making the playoffs for the sixth straight year.
They may not make the postseason anyway, but after winning consecutive games for the first time all season, the Bengals, who will host Pittsburgh next week, aren’t giving up.
“There are three big weeks left and it will be a challenge,” said offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. “It’s three really good teams, and so we’ll have an opportunity to really put our will forward.
“Next week, we have a great opportunity with Pittsburgh coming to our place and what should be a big battle.”
After facing the Steelers, the Bengals are at Houston before hosting Baltimore.
Dalton wore two gloves over his right throwing hand to improve his grip in the wintry conditions. Missing wide receiver A.J. Green for the third straight game, Dalton used rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd and Eifert as his primary targets.
He connected on scoring passes with Eifert of 14 and 5 yards in the opening half as the Bengals opened a 20-0 lead and turned away a Cleveland comeback in the second half.
Cincinnati rushed for 213 yards as Jeremy Hill picked up 111 and the Bengals’ offense kept the ball away from the Browns after halftime.
There’s nothing the Bengals can do now about a recent 0-3-1 stretch that may wind up keeping them out of the playoffs for the sixth straight year. All they can do is look ahead.
“At the end of the day, everybody has to be stepping up,” Boyd said. “It would be huge to win on out, but we have to get back to Cincy and beat the Steelers to keep it going.”
Broncos 10, Titans 13
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A year ago, the Tennessee Titans lost their way in the race for the No. 1 overall draft pick. Now they find themselves tied atop the AFC South and coming off a very big upset of the defending Super Bowl champions.
DeMarco Murray ran for 92 yards and a touchdown, and the Titans held on to beat the Denver Broncos 13-10 Sunday and keep a piece of the lead in their division.
“We’re definitely a team that’s on the rise,” Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
With the win, the Titans (7-6) also climbed above .500 for the first time all season. They are tied atop the AFC South with Houston, a 22-17 winner over Indianapolis. Tennessee hosts Houston in the regular-season finale Jan. 1.
“All it does is just reconfirm what we’re doing, that we can play with anybody in this league,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.
The Titans came in with the NFL’s third-best rushing offense and the AFC’s top runner in Murray, and they ran right over a Denver defense that came in 28th in that category. By halftime, the Titans led 13-0 having run 26 times for 138 yards — the second-most rushes by any team in the first half this season and most allowed in the first half by Denver since 2014.
Tennessee then had to hold on as Trevor Siemian tried to rally Denver (8-5) despite a sprained left foot that kept him out last week. He threw a 3-yard TD pass to Emmanuel Sanders with 9:58 left and drove the Broncos to first-and-goal at the Tennessee 7 before rookie Aaron Wallace sacked him.
Coach Gary Kubiak settled for a 34-yard field goal by Brandon McManus on fourth-and-goal at the 16 with 4:28 left.
Siemian was driving the Broncos again when A.J. Derby fumbled after a catch. Safety Daimion Stafford recovered with 53 seconds left, and the Titans finished off their biggest win in years.
“We had our chances down the stretch and we didn’t make the plays, but the start sure as heck didn’t help us,” Siemian said.
Siemian threw for 334 yards and finally helped a team that leads the NFL in three-and-outs snap an 0-of-17 drought on third down conversions late in the third quarter. Siemian found Demaryius Thomas on third-and-14 with a 15-yard pass.
Marcus Mariota, taken by Tennessee the second overall selection in 2015 after Tampa Bay drafted Jameis Winston, threw for only 88 yards for his worst game passing in his two-year career in a game he finished. He did become the first Titans quarterback with at least 3,000 yards passing in a season since Matt Hasselbeck in 2011. Mariota also ran eight times for 38 yards.
Denver outgained Tennessee 348-253, but the Titans held the ball for more than 32 minutes.
“We completed enough to win the game, and that’s all you can really ask for,” Mariota said.
Broncos rookie punter Riley Dixon passed to Cody Latimer on fourth-and-2 late in the third quarter for 14 yards. But the Titans took over on downs after Denver had first-and-goal at the 4 after Siemian’s big pass to Thomas. Titans rookie cornerback LeShaun Sims helped break up a pass on third down, and Siemian threw incomplete on fourth down at the start of the fourth quarter.
Denver picked up running back Justin Forsett off waivers Monday to help a banged-up unit, and he got the first carry of the game on the Broncos’ second possession. Forsett picked up 9 yards before Titans safety Rashad Johnson poked the ball out with cornerback Jason McCourty recovering. Tennessee took a 10-0 lead when Ryan Succop kicked a 53-yard field goal. Succop added a 41-yarder in the second quarter.
Denver cornerback Aqib Talib was flagged for unnecessary roughness after tangling with Titans wide receiver Harry Douglas on the Tennessee sideline late in the second quarter. Talib was angry at Douglas for his low block on Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on the previous play that left Harris on the ground for a couple minutes. The penalty came during a 19-play, 74-yard drive by Tennessee that took 8:04 off the clock.
“Man, that was so illegal,” Harris said of Douglas’ hit. “I’ve never had a player just try to end my career like that. That was dirty. He should be fined.”
Broncos: Host Patriots on Dec. 18
Titans: at Chiefs on Dec. 18
Texans 22, Colts 17
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Houston Texans hoped to cash in on a hefty offseason investment in the offense.
Turns out, their rugged defense may still be the way to the playoffs.
On a day the Texans scored only one touchdown against Indianapolis, the defense forced three turnovers and stopped the Colts on fourth-and-1 with 1:24 left in the game to preserve a 22-17 win on Sunday.
“What the defense did is truly unbelievable,” quarterback Brock Osweiler said. “It was like a playoff game.”
Win a couple more, and it will be a playoff game.
By snapping a three-game losing streak, Houston (7-6) and Tennessee remained tied atop the AFC South though the Texans are better positioned because of season sweeps over the Titans and Colts (6-7).
The Texans won their second straight game in Indy after losing their first 13 and have won nine straight over division foes
This one sure wasn’t easy.
Nick Novak made five field goals, Lamar Miller ran 21 times for 107 yards and scored on a 2-yard run late in the first half for all of the points.
Osweiler, meanwhile, went 14 of 24 for 147 yards with no touchdowns despite twice starting drives inside the Colts 20-yard line.
Still, the old-school style played right into the hands of Houston’s defense, which picked off Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble after Jadeveon Clowney beat tight end Dwayne Allen on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
They finished it off by beating the Colts with a blitz that forced an errant throw on Indy’s final play.
Luck blamed himself.
“Bad plays, I mean those turnovers,” he said after going 24 of 45 for 276 yards with two TD passes. “We didn’t execute and you’ve got to execute to have a chance to win the game.”
After the Colts took a 3-0 lead on their opening series, they didn’t score again until Frank Gore took a screen pass and raced 18 yards to the end zone to make it 16-10 early in the third quarter. T.Y. Hilton scored on a 35-yard TD pass early in the fourth, cutting the deficit to 19-17.
But the Texans used nearly 6½ minutes on the ensuing drive to set up Novak’s 34-yard field goal, and the defense, as it did all day, held up.
“Was it perfect by any means? No. But we got the job done,” Osweiler said.
MOVING ON UP
Gore and Adam Vinatieri continue climbing the NFL charts. Gore, the Colts’ top running back, finished with 74 yards from scrimmage to move past Terrell Owens (16,185) for No. 11 on the NFL’s list.
And Vinatieri scored five points, ending the day with 104 to extend his NFL record to 19 100-point seasons. He’s achieved that feat nine times since joining the Colts, a franchise record.
Texans linebacker Brian Cushing finished with six tackles, giving him 639 in his career — breaking DeMeco Ryans’ franchise record (636).
While Houston ran 41 times for 185 yards, Miller reached the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career. The milestone came on a 20-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. He has 1,012 yards this season — a pretty good return for a team that signed the free agent to a four-year deal in March.
Texans: Cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ribs) was inactive, and right guard Jeff Allen left in the third quarter with a concussion.
Colts: Already short-handed on defense and down one starting offensive lineman before the game, things got worse throughout the day. Indy lost left guard Jack Mewhort (left knee) in the third quarter and starting center Ryan Kelly also left briefly in the third quarter.
Linebacker Curt Maggitt (knee) limped directly from the field to the locker room after getting hurt on a fourth-quarter kickoff and receiver Donte Moncrief injured his hamstring.
THEY SAID IT
Texans: “Our defense competes. Our defense is tough to beat with our secondary playing well,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said.
Colts: “We had a different play called and they did a nice job and they called timeout got it in right at the right time, took a picture of what we were doing,” coach Chuck Pagano said, referring to Indy’s final play. “They made a substitution and we called a different play and the executed it and obviously we didn’t.”
Texans: Host Jacksonville next Sunday.
Colts: Travel to Minnesota next Sunday.
Steelers 27, Bills 20
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Le’Veon Bell had no issues with traction in establishing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rushing record on a slick, snow-covered field.
Whether it was rushing to his left, right or up the middle, the Steelers running back scored three times and gained 236 yards rushing in a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
For Bell, the wintry conditions were nothing more than what it was like growing up in suburban Columbus, Ohio.
“It was never a thing that bothered me, being cold or if there’s snow. It never fazed me,” Bell said, noting that goes for the cold-weather Steelers, too. “Our guys embrace playing in the snow.”
The Steelers (8-5) overcame three interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger to win their fourth straight and improve to 8-5 and keep pace in the AFC playoff race.
It’s the Bills (6-7) who were unable to get a hand on Bell in having their playoff chances all but mathematically slip away. Buffalo is in jeopardy of extending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 17 years — the longest since New Orleans ended a 20-year drought by reaching the postseason for their first time in 1987.
“It’s very hard to swallow,” cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said. “I don’t know how to take this right now. But it’s going to take some time.”
After scoring in the first half on 3- and 7-yard runs, Bell put the game away on the opening drive of the third quarter. He had nine rushes for 72 yards alone and capped the 82-yard drive by waltzing into the end zone from 5 yards to put the Steelers ahead 21-7.
Bell also had 62 yards receiving to account for 298 of the 460 yards gained by Pittsburgh. It was the second three-TD game of his career, and first in which he scored three times rushing.
Bell broke the franchise rushing record set by Willie Parker, who had 223 yards against Cleveland on Dec. 7, 2006.
“You set a franchise record in a snow game in December,” guard David DeCastro said. “I mean, come on. Of course it was fun.”
The mood was entirely different for the Bills.
The loss raised questions about coach Rex Ryan’s job security and quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s future .
Ryan was defiant when asked about whether he deserved a shot to continue on the job beyond his second season.
“What do you think I’m going to say? You’re dang right I do,” Ryan said. “It hasn’t gone exactly the way I wanted it to go, that’s obvious. But we have three games left and we’ll try to win every one of them.”
Ryan, however, was noncommittal in saying, “we’ll see,” when asked whether Taylor will remain his starter.
Taylor oversaw an offense that sputtered through much of three quarters.
The Bills combined for seven first downs and 87 yards net offense on their first nine possessions. That included Sammy Watkins’ 8-yard touchdowncatch set up by Stephon Gilmore returning Roethlisberger’s second interception to the Pittsburgh 7 midway through the second quarter.
Down 24-7, the Bills scored twice in the final 7:27 on Charles Clay’s 40-yard catch and LeSean McCoy’s 3-yard run with 1:25 left.
Taylor finished 15 of 25 for 228 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Ryan’s prized defense continued to struggle a week after Buffalo squandered a 24-9 third-quarter lead in a 38-24 loss at Oakland. Buffalo has now surrendered more than 200 yards rushing twice this season, including 256 in a 28-25 loss at Miami on Oct. 23, when Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi had 214 of those yards.
Roethlisberger finished 17 of 31 for 220 yards in continuing his struggles on the road. He has a 4-3 record away from Pittsburgh this season, when he’s thrown eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Roethlisberger’s numbers are far better at home, where he’s 4-1 and thrown 17 TDs versus three interceptions.
Buffalo linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Zach Brown, on a pass intended for tight end Jesse James in the end zone, also had interceptions.
The Bills had minus-1 yards through two series in the first quarter, becoming the NFL’s first team this season to have negative yards through the first 15 minutes. Buffalo didn’t get into positive yardage until its first snap of the second quarter, when McCoy had a 9-yard run.
The start of the second half was delayed for nearly 10 minutes because of a buildup of rubber pellets that accumulated along the sidelines. The piles of pellets, which are part of the artificial turf, gathered up when tractors swept the field of a dusting of snow during halftime. Workers were required to use blowers and shovels to push the pellets further off the field.
Steelers: At Cincinnati on Dec. 18
Bills: Host Cleveland on Dec. 18.
Jets 23, 49ers 17 OT
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Bilal Powell has been a complementary running back for most of his career, trying to make the most of whatever opportunity comes his way.
When Matt Forte went down with a knee injury in the first quarter and the New York Jets not wanting to put too much on Bryce Petty’s plate in his second career start, Powell got plenty of chances.
Powell ran for 145 yards and scored the game-winning 19-yard touchdown in overtime that helped the Jets overcome a 14-point deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 on Sunday.
After reaching the end zone on his career-high 29th carry, Powell fell on his back and extended his arms in celebration while waiting for the referee to announce a penalty on the 49ers that gave the Jets (4-9) the win. Powell then handed the ball to a young Jets fan in the crowd.
“I didn’t know what happened,” he said. “I just knew I was tired and I was in the end zone. I’m not a big celebration guy. I was just waiting for the confirmation.”
Powell had good reason to be tired with 34 offensive touches for 179 yards. He had carried the ball 20 times in a game just twice in his six-year career before being given the big load against a tiring defense for the 49ers (1-12).
Powell scored on a 5-yard run that helped spark the comeback and then gained 24 more yards on the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation.
“If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if we would have even won this game,” coach Todd Bowles said. “He single-handedly, from my point of view at least, broke every tackle he could break. He caught every ball. He ran. He blocked. He did everything, and he had outstanding effort.”
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
Petty’s day couldn’t have started any worse when he threw an interceptionthat set up San Francisco’s first TD on his first pass of the game. But he rebounded to make some key plays, including a 2-point conversion run that cut the deficit to 17-14, and finished 23 for 35 for 257 yards. His biggest play might have been ill-advised as he threw across his body after scrambling in overtime to complete a 26-yard pass to Robby Anderson that helped set up the winning score.
“He was up and down,” Bowles said. “He had some plays he’d like to have back. He made some throws. He made some dangerous throws. He got away with some things, but he settled down and made some gutsy plays.”
After getting off to a fast start with two touchdowns in the first five minutes and taking a 17-3 lead midway through the second quarter, the 49ers offense stalled . San Francisco was held to 133 yards, no points and punted six times on the final eight drives over the last 42:10 of game time. Colin Kaepernick completed all seven passes for 95 yards in the first quarter, but went 8 for 19 for 38 yards the rest of the way as coach Chip Kelly got conservative with offensive linemen Joe Staley (hamstring) and Daniel Kilgore (leg), tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder) and receiver Torrey Smith (concussion) all out.
“We have to be able to adjust, adapt and go out and still win football games,” Kaepernick said.
HYDE’S BIG DAY
Carlos Hyde had a career day for the 49ers, rushing for 193 yards on 17 carries and catching a 7-yard touchdown . He had four runs of more than 20 yards but also was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-2 from the New York 37 on the opening possession of overtime.
“That’s a play we’ve been running all game,” Hyde said. “The Jets just played good defense right there. … I didn’t have a lane where I could go. I just tried to hit it up there and tried to get a push, but they did a good job there.”
CBS reported earlier in the day that 49ers general manager Trent Baalke’s job status is in jeopardy because of a second straight losing season. Kelly backed Baalke.
“I have tremendous confidence in Trent,” he said. “I have not heard anything about that.”
The Jets have another short week before hosting Miami on Saturday night. The 49ers will try to snap their 12-game losing streak when they travel cross-country to take on Atlanta.
Falcons 42, Rams 14
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Vic Beasley sacked Jared Goff, stripped the ball, scooped it up and sprinted to the end zone in a remarkable athletic display for the Atlanta Falcons.
Beasley then tried and miserably failed to dunk the ball over the crossbar in a considerably less impressive effort.
None of it slowed down the Atlanta Falcons in their 42-14 victory over spiraling Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
“I was going for the dunk, but my legs didn’t go up as much as I wanted them to,” Beasley laughed after the aborted attempt that made his teammates think he had injured himself. “So that was a failure on my side, but I got into the end zone, and that’s a positive thing.”
The Falcons had few negatives from their trip to the West Coast. They haven’t made the playoffs or won the NFC South since 2012, but they took major steps toward both goals while compounding the misery of the Rams, whose modest dreams of a winning season are dead again.
Matt Ryan passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns and Atlanta forced five turnovers in the Falcons’ fourth win in six games. Tevin Coleman caught a TD pass and rushed for another score for the Falcons (8-5), who opened up a 42-point lead in the third quarter even without Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, their top two receivers.
“This is the kind of game where it shows you that all the hard work you’ve been putting in is paying off,” said Beasley, who had three sacks. “It’s definitely a great feeling, especially for a defense that’s been giving up a lot of points. To go out there and dominate them just shows what we can be as a defense.”
Deion Jones also returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown during Atlanta’s comprehensive pummeling of the Rams (4-9). The Falcons easily stayed atop the division alongside Tampa Bay with its fourth win in six games.
The Rams have lost four straight and eight of nine in their increasingly miserable homecoming season. Embattled coach Jeff Fisher tied Dan Reeves’ NFL record with his 165th career coaching loss.
“It’s offense,” Fisher said after the Rams put up 312 yards and didn’t score until the fourth quarter. “We’re not moving the ball consistently. We’re not converting on third downs, and we’re not scoring points. It’s the problem.”
Todd Gurley rushed for 61 yards and eventually scored the Rams’ first points in one of the team’s ugliest performances of their 10th consecutive losing season.
“It looked like a middle school offense out there,” Gurley said.
Goff went 24 of 41 for 235 yards with two interceptions and a fumble. The No. 1 overall draft pick fell to 0-4 as a starter with a trip to Seattle looming Thursday.
“If there was ever a game to put behind you quickly, it’s this one,” said Goff, who scored his first NFL rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. “We’re not having fun. We’re not enjoying this. It’s awful.”
Atlanta had good vibes from the opening kickoff, which was fumbled by Rams rookie Michael Thomas and recovered by the Falcons at the 3. Justin Hardy immediately caught a TD pass 10 seconds in on the Falcons’ first snap.
Fisher was booed heavily in the Coliseum, where the Rams haven’t won since their home opener Sept. 18. The Rams have scored only five touchdowns in five games at the Coliseum — one fewer than the Falcons managed on Sunday.
BREAKING IT OPEN
Coleman scored on a short screen pass on Atlanta’s first snap of the second quarter. The rout began moments later when Jones made an exceptional leaping interception and returned it down the Atlanta sideline for a score. Ryan hit a wide-open Taylor Gabriel for a 64-yard TD pass on the Falcons’ opening drive of the second half.
Saints 11, Buccaneers 16
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston and his supporting cast are anything but the same old Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The second-year quarterback led the streaking Bucs (8-5) to their fifth straight win Sunday, a 16-11 victory over the New Orleans Saints that bolstered the young team’s growing confidence and playoff prospects.
“Five in a row is a nice little accomplishment but, we’re not where we want to be yet,” coach Dirk Koetter said. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry right now.”
Doug Martin scored on a 1-yard run, Roberto Aguayo kicked three field goals and an improving defense intercepted Drew Brees three times while holding the NFL passing leader without a touchdown pass.
Winston had modest statistics, throwing for only 184 yards. He failed to throw a TD pass for the first time in his career, but still outplayed Brees by doing what he’s done well during Tampa Bay’s surge — take care of the football.
Brees began the day leading the league in completions, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards and TD passes, but failed to throw for a touchdown for the second straight week, the first time he’s done that in consecutive games since 2009.
“It’s huge. The first time he hasn’t thrown a touchdown (against us) and also the first time in Jameis’ career he hasn’t got one,” Koetter said. “I think that also says a lot about how far our guys have come that we can find different ways to win.”
Rookie Vernon Hargreaves III and Brent Grimes, cornerbacks brought during the offseason, to overhaul a porous secondary, had two of Tampa Bay’s interceptions.
Safety Keith Tandy picked off the quarterback’s final pass on fourth-and-1 from near midfield in the final minute.
“Right now we’re just a confident bunch … a scary bunch,” Tandy said. “Keep it rolling.”
The Bucs have won five straight for the first time since 2002 , the season they went on to win their only Super Bowl. The surge has them in contention for their first playoff berth since 2007.
New Orleans (5-8) entered hoping to tighten the NFC South race , but instead dropped three games behind division co-leaders Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
“It’s very tough. But we’re all professionals here. … I always believe when you go through moments like these, there’s something you’re going to be able to pull out that’s positive,” Brees said.
“You may not feel it or know it, but it will allow you to accomplish the things in the future you want to accomplish. But it’s hard to swallow right now.”
The Saints ran just six plays in the opening quarter and trailed 13-0 before changing momentum of the game with a field goal, followed by a safety on Tampa Bay’s ensuing possession, which started from the Bucs 1 after Josh Huff fumbled the kickoff before the ball rolled out of bounds.
Brees finished 25 of 41 for 257 yards. He also was intercepted three times during last week’s 28-13 loss to Detroit.
Winston was 16 of 26 with no interceptions for the Bucs. He had thrown for at least one touchdown in 28 consecutive games to begin his career.
THAT’S A LOT OF YARDS
Brees is in his 11th season with New Orleans and has thrown for more than 4,000 yards every season since signing with the Saints as a free agent in 2006. He reached the plateau again on a completion to Brandon Coleman late in the first half and has 4,000 passing yards through 13 games. Winston is closing in on his second straight 4,000-yard season for the Bucs, who only have one other 4,000-yard season in team history (Josh Freeman 2012).
The Saints had three turnovers and also hurt themselves with 13 accepted penalties for 104 yards, including a false start that backed them on second-and-goal in the final minute of the second quarter. They wound up settling for a field goal that trimmed the Bucs’ lead to 13-8 at the half.
They wasted another opportunity to get in the end zone in the third quarter, when Brees’ 4-yard throw to Brandin Cooks initially was ruled a touchdown that would have given New Orleans the lead, but was overturned following a replay review, which determined the receiver didn’t make a clean catch. Wil Lutz has his third field goal of the game — a 22-yarder — on the next day, cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 13-11 late in the third quarter.
“I thought the penalties certainly hurt us. It ended up being really the difference,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “When we watch this tape we’re going to see it come up time and time again. We get down in the red zone, false start. Too many third down and long situations ended up costing us. The turnovers as well.”
Saints: Continue stretch in which they’ll play three of their final four games on the road, traveling to Arizona on Sunday.
Buccaneers: Play at Dallas on Sunday night.
Seahawks 10, Packers 38
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers moved right out of the pocket, found Davante Adams running down the right sideline and tossed a perfect pass into his receiver’s hands.
Adams cut left as his defender slipped before racing to the end zone for a tone-setting touchdown on the opening drive of a decisive 38-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. On that same play, Rodgers hurt his right calf .
Rodgers finished with 246 yards and three scores before leaving early in the fourth quarter with his team up by 25. Don’t think for one minute that Rodgers plans to miss any time.
The Packers (7-6) won their third straight game to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“That’s football. You deal with injuries, you know . I’d like to talk about the win, you’re talking about my injuries,” Rodgers told reporters. “I’m not missing games, so … we’ve won three in a row.”
The Packers are two games back of first-place Detroit in the NFC North, but play division opponents in the last three weeks of the season.
Rodgers, who is already playing with a sore left hamstring, finished 18 of 23. He was sacked just once, an impressive accomplishment for a Packers offensive line against a formidable defense for Seattle (8-4-1).
“Aaron’s a great player. Frankly, he spoils us all,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Green Bay gained 330 yards in Seattle’s first game without former All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, who is out for the season with a broken leg.
The Packers’ defense flustered Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw a career-high five interceptions.
“Obviously, we can’t turn the ball over and I put that on me. That game was on me,” Wilson said.
He finished 22 of 39 for 240 yards and a touchdown. Two interceptions came off passes that deflected off receivers’ hands, including one that caromed off Doug Baldwin’s helmet to cornerback Damarious Randall.
It was a stunning turn for Seattle a week after blowing out Carolina 40-7. The Seahawks missed out on a chance to clinch the NFC West following Arizona’s loss to Miami earlier Sunday.
“This is such a rare occurrence for our team,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s just something at this time we have to push behind us and get going.”
Most of the focus about defense going into the game was about Seattle’s league-best unit, but the Seahawks gave up a season high points.
The Packers dominated, mixing in a few blitzes and getting effective pressure on Wilson most of the game against a shaky offensive line. It was an impressive showing without starting linebackers Nick Perry (hand) and Blake Martinez (knee). Outside linebacker Clay Matthews (shoulder) was limited mainly to passing downs.
OUT IN FRONT
Green Bay had a 21-3 lead at halftime, reminiscent of the way the Packers built big leads on opponents in recent dominant seasons. They’ve scored first each time in their three-game win streak.
“Obviously it makes a difference. It means we’re being successful, we’re scoring points,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “We saw what happens when our defense can play with a lead.”
The Packers look nothing like the team that suffered back-to-back blowout losses at Tennessee and Washington a few weeks ago.
Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright slipped on consecutive plays in the second quarter, and the Packers took advantage each time. He was covering Ty Montgomery in the flat on a pass that turned into a 24-yard gain to the Seattle 9. He slipped again on the next play trailing Nelson across the end zone, leaving the receiver open for a touchdown pass and a 21-3 lead with 5:15 left in the first half.
“We had the right cleats on, it was just terrible,” defensive lineman Cliff Avril said about the footing. He said it got worse as the game progressed.
The field was covered by a tarp until about 90 minutes before the game. By that time, the snow had mainly subsided in Green Bay.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes to Nelson. They have connected on 57 TD passes overall, tying Hall of Famer Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman for the most touchdown passes from a quarterback to a receiver in franchise history.
TE Jared Cook left the game with a chest injury following an incompletion deep down the left sideline with 1:55 left in the second quarter.
Seahawks: Have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night home game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Packers: Begin their season-ending stretch of three straight NFC North games with a trip to Chicago on Dec. 18 to play the Bears.
Cowboys 7, Giants 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With a no-huddle offense and no-fooling-around defense, the New York Giants snapped the Cowboys’ 11-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory Sunday night, preventing Dallas from clinching the NFC East.
Dallas (11-2) hadn’t lost since the season opener against the Giants (9-4), who solidified their position in the NFC playoff chase as the top-wild card team. New York still hopes to catch Dallas in the division, and it can thank a stingy, aggressive defense for still having that opportunity.
Missing star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants couldn’t stop rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott from rushing for 107 yards. But New York’s pressure stymied the other Cowboys rookie standout, quarterback Dak Prescott, blanked receiver Dez Bryant until 2:13 remained — he fumbled away the ball on that play — and held Dallas to one conversion in 15 third-down attempts.
“Talk about us winning, the defense, holding the game down against clearly one of the best teams in the league,” said Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whose 61-yard touchdown reception provided the winning points. “They got two young guys over there doing their thing and one of the best receivers in the league, and the (defense) found a way to hold them to seven points. That’s really the story.”
The Giants had three sacks, continually made Prescott uncomfortable, and he threw two picks.
“It’s a bad feeling but it gets you resettled, gets you back right,” said Prescott, who has made Tony Romo’s return from injury basically a non-headline so far. “After we lost to these guys the first time, we went on that run. Maybe we can do something similar.”
New York’s offense was unsightly much of the night, blanked at halftime with only 84 net yards. Then it switched to the no-huddle and put together a short drive to Robbie Gould’s 39-yard field goal, making it 7-3.
But Beckham, stepped up, as he often does, and sped through the Cowboys on a 61-yard touchdown play. Beckham caught Eli Manning’s pass at the Giants 48 and raced all the way to the end zone for the lead the defense preserved.
“I just caught a slant and tried to hit a gear,” he said, “and I looked back — actually I didn’t have to look back, I could feel somebody running, and (cornerback Brandon) Carr was running as fast as I ever felt somebody chasing me. I had to hit another gear. My hamstrings got a little tight. It was a real race.”
Beckham won, and it was just enough.
“This is huge man,” linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “The so-called best team in the league and they got two losses, both to us.”
Manning was 17 for 28 for 193 yards, one TD, one interception and two fumbles. His main adversary was linebacker Sean Lee, who had 18 tackles.
There wasn’t much offense in the opening 30 minutes — Prescott threw for 101 yards and Manning had only 80. That was no issue for Dallas, which simply let Elliott control matters with 15 rushes for 86 yards; 2 more yards than the Giants had in total offense. The one big play was Prescott’s 31-yard TD pass to Terrance Williams as the Giants completely bit on a play-action fake.
New York was plagued by sloppiness and poor blocking in the second straight game in didn’t score in the opening half. Dallas got to Manning three times in that half, forcing fumbles on two of those sacks. Lee seemed to be in on every tackle for the Cowboys, forced one fumble and recovered another.
Dallas came close to extending its 7-0 lead on the final play of the first half, but Dan Bailey’s 55-yard field goal attempt hit the crossbar.
Prescott had thrown for a touchdown and not been intercepted in five straight games, a rookie record. He got a TD early Sunday when he connected with the wide-open Williams for a 31-yard score, but the string ended when Bryant slipped as Prescott threw and Janoris Jenkins picked off the second-quarter pass.
Prescott finished 17 for 37 for 165 yards.
Manning passed Hall of Famer Warren Moon for seventh place in career passing yards and has 47,477 since joining the team in 2004. Older brother Peyton is the leader with 71,940 yards.
New York lost RB Shane Vereen (concussion) in his first game back after being idle for nine games with a triceps injury. DT Johnathan Hankins left with a neck burner in the second half.
Cowboys: Host Buccaneers on Dec. 18
Giants: Host Lions on Dec. 18
Ravens 23, Patriots 30
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots needed a big play, and Tom Brady delivered — again.
Brady connected with Chris Hogan for a 79-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to help the Patriots to a 30-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the fourth NFL quarterback with at least 450 career touchdown passes. He also threw just his second interception of the season.
LeGarrette Blount rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries, passing 1,000 yards for the first time since his rookie season with Tampa Bay in 2010.
The Patriots (11-2) have won four straight games and eight of their last nine as they continue to inch toward their eighth straight AFC East title.
“It was a big game for us,” Brady said. “You play at home in December on Monday night against a great defense, it was important for us to come out and play well. We knew it was gonna be a 60-minute game.”
The Ravens (7-6) had won two in a row. They now face a challenging route to the playoffs with two of their last three on the road.
Joe Flacco did his best to keep Baltimore in the game, finishing 37 of 52 for 324 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The 37 completions set a franchise record.
The Patriots led 23-3 before the Ravens turned back-to-back New England fumbles on special teams into touchdowns.
New England still had a 23-17 lead in the fourth quarter when the Ravens drove to the Patriots 12 before Flacco was sacked by Rob Ninkovich, forcing Baltimore to settle for a field goal.
The Ravens entered the week with the NFL’s top-ranked defense, giving up just 296.1 yards per game. But the Patriots defense shined early on, limiting the Ravens to just three points and 142 yards in the first half.
The Ravens rushed only four times for 7 yards in the opening 30 minutes, and were just 3 for 8 on third downs.
The Patriots appeared to be in control after Martellus Bennett’s 19-yard touchdown reception made it 23-3 with 8:45 to play in the third. But Cyrus Jones couldn’t get out of the way of Sam Koch’s 53-yard punt. It brushed off his foot as it fell to the turf and was picked up by Chris Moore on New England’s 3. The Ravens scored two plays later.
The Patriots then gave Baltimore another gift on the ensuing kickoff when returner Matt Slater lost the ball after a hit by Patrick Onwuasor. Shareece Wright recovered for the Ravens, and Flacco threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Dixon.
“I think there were some plays I wish we all could have had back,” Brady said. “But they’re a competitive team. They force you into some errors. It was great to finish the game with the ball in our hands. We always love doing that.”
“It’s something that we preach about, through the whole OTA’s, camp, preseason and all that. We want to eliminate big plays. We had a bust,” Ravens linebacker Zach Orr said of Brady’s touchdown to Hogan. “If you miss an assignment, Tom Brady and those guys will exploit that to the max.”
Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin showed off his athleticism in the first quarter by hurdling the Ravens’ line and then blocking Justin Tucker’s 34-yard field goal attempt. It was part of a big first half for McClellin, who was also involved in five total tackles in the opening 30 minutes.
New England’s defense was the first unit to get on the scoreboard. After Ryan Allen’s punt was downed on the 1, Dixon was swarmed in the end zone and brought down by Malcolm Butler for a safety.
It was the Patriots’ third safety of the season — a franchise record. They also got one on Oct. 9 against Cleveland when Browns quarterback Cody Kessler fumbled the ball out of the end zone and the following week when Dont’a Hightower sacked Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton in the end zone.
Ravens: CB Jimmy Smith left in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
Ravens: Host the Eagles Sunday in their final home game of the regular season.
Patriots: Play two of their final three on the road, beginning Sunday with a trip to Denver.