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Here is a recap of Week 5 of the 2017 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Bye: Falcons, Broncos, Saints, Redskins
Patriots 19, Buccaneers 14
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady tied the NFL record for regular season wins with some timely help from a porous New England defense showing signs of improvement.
Brady threw for 303 yards and one touchdown, and the Patriots held off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-14 to rebound from a last-second loss that left them searching for answers to defensive woes.
The Super Bowl champions rebounded from a 33-30 loss to Carolina, despite Brady turning the ball over twice — on his first interception in eight regular-season games and a fumble on one of Tampa Bay’s three sacks.
On a night when the offense gained 402 yards but only got in the end zone once, Brady lauded the defense, which slowed the Bucs down just enough to get the victory.
“They kept us in it all night,” Brady said. “I wish we could have scored more points offensively, but defense really held their own.”
Neither of Brady’s turnovers led to points for the Bucs (2-2), who were was unable to do much offensively until the fourth quarter, when their comeback bid was hindered by two missed field goals.
“We responded,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the defense, which yielded 456 yards and 32 points per game through the first four weeks of the season, contained the NFL’s No. 3 ranked passing attack until Jameis Winston rallied his team in the final 15 minutes.
“They had 100 yards in the first half. They moved the ball some. We made some plays. They made some plays,” Belichick added. “(Giving up) a lot fewer points, you got a chance to win.”
Brady threw a 5-yard TD pass to Chris Hogan in the second quarter, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked field goals of 27, 23, 45 and 48 yards for the Patriots (3-2).
Jameis Winston rallied Tampa Bay late with an 18-yard TD pass to Cameron Brate that trimmed New England’s lead to 16-14 with 2:09 remaining.
After Gostkowski’s fourth goal put the Patriots up by five, Winston marched the Bucs from his 25 to the Patriots 19 before throwing an incompletion on the final play.
It might not have come down to a last-minute drive if not for another poor performance by Tampa Bay’s Nick Folk.
The veteran kicker missed two field goals and an extra-point before beating the New York Giants on a last-second kick last week. He missed three more field goals Thursday night, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter that would have cut a nine-point deficit to six with just under six minutes to go.
“I left points out there,” said Folk, who also misfired from 56 yards just before halftime and 49 yards on the second play of the fourth quarter. “We should have won the game 20-19, so this one’s on me.”
With his 186th career regular-season win as a starter, Brady tied Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most by a quarterback in NFL history. He also has 25 postseason victories, including five Super Bowls.
Playing without injured star tight end Rob Gronkowski (thigh), Brady was 30 of 40 passing with one interception. Danny Amendola had eight catches for 77 yards and Hogan had eight for 74 yards.
Defensively, the Patriots entered the night on pace to yield more than yards than any team in league history.
And, Winston and a young Tampa Bay offense that’s progressively gotten better since he was selected first overall in the 2015 draft was hoping to be the latest beneficiary of New England’s struggles.
Running back Doug Martin provided a lift in his return from a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers with 74 yards rushing and one TD.
But one week after throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and overcoming a pair of fourth-quarter deficits to beat the Giants, Winston was unable to move the ball consistently until the fourth quarter.
The Bucs didn’t have a third-down conversion until late in the third quarter, and Martin’s 1-yard TD came on a drive the Patriots kept alive with a hands-to-the-face penalty on third down.
Winston threw for 225 yards in the fourth quarter, finishing 26 of 45 with 334 yards and zero interceptions. DeSean Jackson had five receptions for 106 yards.
“You can’t play them over again,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “We let this one slip away. It was a good opportunity.”
Brady opened the game with four straight completions before throwing his first interception of the season, overthrowing a wide-open Hogan in the middle of the field to end a streak of 264 pass attempts without an interception.
Since 2003, New England is 44-6 in regular-season games following a loss. The Patriots have dropped back-to-back games only six times during that time span — in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012 and twice in 2015. As a starter, Brady is 44-10 in games following a loss.
RING OF HONOR
The Buccaneers honored Malcolm Glazer at halftime, inducting the late owner into the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.
Glazer, whose family still runs the team, died in 2014 at the age of 85. He purchased the franchise in 1995 for a then-record $192 million.
The late owner joins Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, as well as former coach John McKay, Doug Williams, Jimmie Giles, Mike Alstott, John Lynch and Paul Gruber inductees. Former coach Jon Gruden, who led the Bucs to their only Super Bowl title after being acquired in a trade Glazer approved 15 years ago, will be inducted on Dec. 18.
Patriots: Gronkowski was added the injury report after Wednesday’s practice, listed as questionable. … The Patriots did not report any injuries during the game.
Buccaneers: Played with three defensive starters — LBs Lavonte David (ankle) and Kwon Alexander (hamstring), and S Keith Tandy (hip). Tandy’s backup T.J. Ward (hip) was inactive, too. … DB Josh Robinson left the game in the first half with a concussion. … DE Ryan Russell injured his shoulder in the second quarter and did not return.
Patriots: At New York Jets on Oct. 15
Buccaneers: Begin stretch in which they’ll play six of eight games on the road, visiting Arizona on Oct. 15.
Panthers 27, Lions 24
DETROIT (AP) — Cam Newton wore a black hat with a white button on the left side to honor Rosie the Riveter before and after showing he was very focused on football. The embattled quarterback threw three touchdowns through three quarters, helping the Carolina Panthers build a lead big enough to hold off the Detroit Lions for a 27-24 win Sunday.
Newton came under fire for making sexist comments to a female reporter this week. He apologized after losing an endorsement deal and getting criticized by the NFL.
The 2015 NFL MVP said he put Rosie the Riveter, flexing her right arm, on his hat after doing homework to learn her iconic impact on World War II.
“I just wanted to have a little notion, a shout out, to all the strong women,” Newton said.
He was 26 of 33 for a season-high 335 yards. On perhaps the game’s key play, he converted a third-and-9 from the Carolina 24 with a sharp, 17-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 2:00 left while clinging to a three-point lead against a team out of timeouts.
Newton threw a 6-yard TD pass to rookie Christian McCaffrey to pull the Panthers into a 10-10 tie early in the second quarter and a 10-yard pass to Devin Funchess for a tiebreaking score with 48 seconds left in the first half. With a perfectly lofted 31-yard pass to Benjamin, Newton put Carolina up 24-10 early in the third.
“He did a real nice job under some unfortunate circumstances,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.
The Panthers (4-1) scored 24 straight points after trailing the Lions 10-3 early in the second quarter. Detroit rallied, but could not stop Newton on his last drive to get the ball back.
Detroit (3-2) struggled to move the ball in the air and on the ground until late in the game.
Matthew Stafford, limping after being sacked and hit a lot, threw a 4-yard TD pass to tight end Darren Fells with 5:56 left and a 20-yard pass for a score to the former professional basketball player with 3:22 to go. The quarterback didn’t have as much success connecting with starting tight end Eric Ebron, who dropped a pass in the end zone and had another pass go through his hands.
Even though Ebron has a history of dropping passes, Detroit coach Jim Caldwell insisted he’s not concerned about it.
“No one was perfect out there, and he came back in the game and made a catch or two, so I wouldn’t say it is in his head,” Caldwell said. “Obviously, it is not what you want to see, but he wasn’t our problem.”
Protecting Stafford has become an issue. He has been sacked six times in two straight games after being sacked a total of just six times over his first three games.
“Getting hit one time is too many, so that was clearly a problem,” Caldwell said. “Matthew is always going to battle, and so are his teammates, but we clearly have to do a better job of protecting our quarterback. That involves a lot of people, though, not just the offensive line.”
TAKING A BREAK
Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue was not working in the Ford Field press box during the Panthers-Detroit Lions game.
“Taking some time off,” Mike Persinger, the executive sports editor of The Charlotte Observer, wrote in an email.
Rodrigue asked Newton about Funchess’ route running on Wednesday and Carolina’s quarterback laughed and said, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. It’s funny.”
Newton declined to provide much of a comment about her absence at the game.
“That’s personal,” he said.
Panthers tight end Ed Dickson had five receptions for a career-high 175 yards, a total that surpassed his production from each of the previous three seasons with the Panthers. He had 64- and 57-yard catches in the first half for two of his three receptions of 50-plus yards in his eight-year career. Clearly, Dickson is making the most of an opportunity to play for injured starter Greg Olsen.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve got a text from him right now,” he said. “I know he’s proud of me. I’m just holding it down for him.”
Panthers: CB Daryl Worley had an ankle injury in the third quarter, but was able to finish the game.
Lions: Stafford played through what appeared to be an ankle injury and DT Haloti Ngata left with an elbow injury.
Panthers: Host Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Lions: Play at New Orleans next Sunday.
Cardinals 7, Eagles 34
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz calls third downs the “money down.”
Wentz threw a career-best four touchdown passes and the Philadelphia Eagles continued their impressive start with a 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Wentz tossed three scoring passes on three consecutive attempts in the first quarter, including 59 yards to Torrey Smith, 11 yards to Zach Ertz and 15 yards to Trey Burton. He connected with Nelson Agholor for a 72-yard TD in the third quarter that left six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson shouting on the sideline.
The Eagles (4-1) have won three straight games.
Wentz was 11 for 12 for 225 yards and three TDs on third down.
“To be that efficient, that’s huge,” Wentz said.
Carson Palmer and Arizona’s one-dimensional offense were held to 279 yards. The Cardinals (2-3) have alternated losses and wins since Week 1.
Wentz torched a secondary that features Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, finishing 21 of 30 for 304 yards. Peterson held Alshon Jeffery to three catches for 31 yards, but Wentz spread the ball around.
The Eagles entered with the NFL’s second-best third-down offense and converted their first four chances, including two of Wentz’s early TDs.
“We got ourselves into some winnable downs and we weren’t able to get off the field,” Peterson said.
On the opening drive, Wentz tossed a 12 yard pass to Ertz on third-and-11 and a 16-yard pass to Jeffery on another third-and-11. Then he found Burton on a fade for a 7-0 lead.
Wentz’s TD pass to Ertz came on third-and-6 to make it 14-0. He hit Smith in stride on third-and-5 for a 21-0 lead.
“Our execution was pretty good, Carson made accurate throws and the guys did a nice job route running,” coach Doug Pederson said.
The Cardinals finally got going when Palmer threw a 13-yard TD pass to John Brown to cut it to 21-7.
Agholor’s TD catch was on third-and-19. He blew past safety Budda Baker, caught Wentz’s perfect pass over the shoulder and used a spin move and stiff arm to reach the end zone.
“I shouldn’t have been able to make the throw, but Jason Kelce made a great block on two guys,” Wentz said about his center. “And then Nelly made the guy look silly.”
NOT SO PERFECT
Wentz made a mistake late in the second quarter after guiding the Eagles to the Cardinals 25. He overthrew Ertz and Antoine Bethea made a toe-tapping interception in the end zone.
Kenjon Barner had a 76-yard punt return to set up Philadelphia’s second TD. Barner was signed after veteran Darren Sproles tore his ACL in Week 3.
Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson deflected Phil Dawson’s 51-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald caught a pass for the 200th consecutive game, third-longest streak in NFL history. Fitzgerald, who had 11 TDs in eight games vs. Philadelphia, was held to six catches for 51 yards.
Smith and a few teammates came up with an original, baseball-themed TD celebration . Smith was the batter. Jeffery crouched like a catcher. Agholor pretended to be the pitcher and Wentz was the umpire. Agholor wound up and threw a fake pitch. Smith used the ball as a bat and swatted a “home run.”
Cardinals: LS Aaron Brewer (arm) left in the first quarter. T Jared Veldheer (knee) and DT Olsen Pierre (ankle) were injured in the third.
Eagles: RT Lane Johnson left at halftime with a head injury. … Two-time Pro Bowl DT Fletcher Cox (calf) missed his second straight game and RB Wendell Smallwood (knee) also didn’t play.
Cardinals: Host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Eagles: Visit the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.
Jets 17, Browns 14
CLEVELAND (AP) — On his first trip back to Cleveland, Josh McCown experienced something new — and something unexpected.
“It took me three years and two teams,” New York’s quarterback said. “But dang gummit, I got me a win at FirstEnergy Stadium.”
As a visitor.
Released by the Browns in February after two seasons, McCown got some revenge on his former team by throwing two touchdown passes and leading the surprising Jets to a 17-14 win over the winless Browns and coach Hue Jackson, who benched rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and is under more pressure after falling to 1-20.
McCown won only one game as a starter in two seasons with Cleveland, and that came in Baltimore. He went 0-7 at home for the Browns (0-5), who released him on Feb. 7 in a cost-cutting move. The 38-year-old wasn’t looking for payback, but he got it with two second-half scoring tosses.
Little was expected this season of the Jets (3-2), but they’ve become a shocking success story.
“We haven’t done anything,” coach Todd Bowles said. “We’ve won three games. By no means are we perfect. We’ve got to play a lot better to beat New England (next week) or anyone else.”
McCown threw a 2-yard TD pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the third quarter and a 24-yarder to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth to give the Jets a 17-7 lead en route to their third straight victory.
Kearse’s TD capped a 97-yard drive after Jackson decided not to try a potential tying field goal — rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two attempts in the first half — and went for it on fourth down.
However, running back Isaiah Crowell was stopped short by New York’s defense and McCown moved the Jets down the field, helped by a 34-yard pass on third down to tight end Eric Tomlinson.
Jackson said Gonzalez’s earlier misses factored into his decision, but he was confident that his defense would get the ball back in good field position.
While the choice to shun the field goal was debatable, Jackson’s conclusion to bench an ineffective Kizer for Kevin Hogan was the right move.
Hogan threw two touchdown passes, a 21-yarder to rookie tight end David Njoku and a 41-yarder to Duke Johnson in the final two minutes to pull the Browns within 17-14.
Cleveland tried an onside kick, but Jets linebacker Julian Stanford recovered it and McCown knelt three times to run out the clock. It is the first time in his 15-year career that McCown has won three consecutive starts.
When the game ended, McCown chased down Jackson and put his arm around the embattled coach.
“I told him to hang in there,” McCown said. “Fight the fight.”
With his future growing cloudy, Jackson opened the second half with Hogan, who came into training camp as the team’s forgotten No. 4 quarterback. Hogan brought a spark, driving the Browns to a touchdown — and their first lead of the season — on the opening possession of the third quarter.
“I didn’t think it was going in the right direction,” Jackson said of Kizer’s benching. “That is why I made the decision to take him out. We go into every game trying to win. That is our goal. That is our job. That is my job. I’m not here just to get players better. That is part of it, but it is also to win. I think if there is a decision that needs to be made to win, that is the decision I am going to make.”
Kizer was understandably upset following the game.
“Frustrated for sure,” said the second-round pick, who has nine interceptions and a league-low 49.5 rating. “This is all new to me. Being 0-5 is new to me. This organization and this city deserves wins.”
Kizer stood on the sideline next to Jackson wearing a baseball cap and blank expression as Hogan completed five straight passes, including his scoring pass to Njoku, who snared the pass with a diving, one-handed grab.
Jackson said he’ll wait to watch the tape before making a decision on his quarterback for next week when the Browns visit Houston.
While the Browns dropped to 2-30 in their past 32 games, they did finally get to see No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett.
Garrett, who missed Cleveland’s first four games with a high ankle sprain, sat out the first two plays before recording a sack on his first snap.
He finished with two sacks in limited time.
“Sacks don’t mean anything if you don’t win,” Garrett said. “It’s nice to have stats, but you have to get the dub at the end of the day.”
The Browns squandered four scoring opportunities during a sometimes comical — and difficult to watch — first half in which they dominated statistically, but couldn’t get out of their own way.
Crowell fumbled a pitch inside New York’s 10, Gonzalez missed two field goals and Kizer threw an interception at the goal line.
Jets: RB Bilal Powell exited in the second quarter with a calf injury, forcing third-stringer Elijah McGuire into action. Starter Matt Forte was inactive for the second straight week with turf toe.
Browns: LB James Burgess sustained a left knee injury in the fourth and walked off. … Starting LB Jamie Collins missed his third straight game with a concussion.
Jets: Host New England next Sunday.
Browns: At Houston next Sunday.
49ers 23, Colts 26 OT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Adam Vinatieri brought the perfect gift to Peyton Manning’s big celebration Sunday.
Another game-winning kick.
After Indianapolis blew a 14-point lead in the final eight minutes of regulation, the last remaining Colts player from Manning’s first Super Bowl team easily made a 51-yard field goal with 1:38 left in overtime for a 26-23 victory over San Francisco.
“I obviously knew that it was our last opportunity to put points on the board,” Vinatieri said. “You know what that means if you make it, and you know what it doesn’t if you don’t. So you have to focus in.”
He and Manning used to perform that routine together. Like Manning, Vinatieri is considered one of the best to ever play the game at his position.
And, like Manning, few have performed as calmly or consistently for so long as Vinatieri, who made four more kicks Sunday.
The last one not only gave Indy (2-3) its second win in three weeks, both against winless teams, but it also moved him into second all-time on the NFL’s career list for field goals made. Vinatieri has one more than Gary Anderson (538).
San Francisco (0-5) is one of three winless teams still left in the NFL. Cleveland and the New York Giants are the others.
The day was supposed to be all about Manning, who became the first Colts player from the franchise’s Indianapolis era to have his jersey retired. It changed quickly when Vice President Mike Pence left shortly after about a dozen San Francisco players dropped to their knees — the latest salvo in the national anthem protests. The Colts locked arms, but none took a knee.
Some reports indicated Pence’s walkout was planned. 49ers safety Eric Reid, one of the more vocal protesters, called it a “stunt.”
President Donald Trump later tweeted: “I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
On the field, it didn’t resemble the masterpieces Manning often created on this same field.
Vinatieri and Robbie Gould each made two field goals in the first half and Vinatieri broke the tie with a 38-yarder midway through the third quarter.
Marlon Mack finally scored the first TD on a 22-yard run late in the third and Jacoby Brissett added a 3-yard scoring run early in the fourth to give the Colts a seemingly safe 23-9 lead.
Again, the Colts couldn’t put it away.
“I thought we were able to stick with it, press through; the defense gave us a chance to stay in it,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “They gave us some time to where we could start clicking.”
The 49ers rallied behind Kyle Juszczyk’s 6-yard TD catch with eight minutes left and forced overtime when tight end George Kittle bulled his way across the goal line on a 7-yard TD catch on fourth-and-goal with 20 seconds to go.
But, naturally, Vinatieri sent Manning home with a win.
“It was awesome seeing him — not only him but all the other guys back from that dynasty and those years,” Vinatieri said. “They won so many games.”
One day after Manning’s statue was unveiled outside Lucas Oil Stadium, the only five-time league MVP in league history finally got to thank Colts fans inside the stadium he helped build. And he did it by taking a snap from long-time center Jeff Saturday and throwing a pass that Reggie Wayne caught in the end zone.
“I thank God every day that I’m an Indianapolis Colt,” Manning told the crowd at halftime.
49ers: Hoyer was 26 of 49 with 353 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Marquise Goodwin had five catches for 116 yards and former Colts receiver Pierre Garcon caught eight passes for 94 yards. San Francisco became the first team since the 1994 Houston Oilers to lose four straight games by three or fewer points.
Colts: Brissett finished 22 of 34 for 314 yards. Mack ran nine times for 91 yards, and Frank Gore had 14 carries for 48 yards in his first game against the 49ers, for whom he played 10 years. Vinatieri’s 10 winning field goals in overtime are also an NFL record. T.Y. Hilton had seven catches for 177 yards.
49ers: Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion) left in the first half and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) left early in the third quarter. Neither returned.
Colts: Receiver Krishnan Hogan needed help to get off the field after appearing to hurt his lower left leg on a kickoff return midway through the third quarter. He did not return. Linebacker Anthony Walker left in the second half with a hamstring injury and also did not return.
THEY SAID IT
49ers: “You got to have success to get the confidence. That was very frustrating throughout the game — we had a number of opportunities,” Shanahan said.
Colts: “You put your hands up, it’s going,” Hilton said, referring to his confidence in Vinatieri.
49ers: Visit Washington with another early start next Sunday.
Colts: Play their first division contest at Tennessee on Oct. 16.
Chargers 27, Giants 22
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers finally grabbed a win, while the New York Giants just about lost everything.
Philip Rivers threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon with 2:58 to play and the Chargers rallied for a 27-22 victory Sunday in an ugly game between teams that each went 0-4 in the first month of the season. For New York, it was a fifth straight defeat, and dynamic wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr . departed with a broken left ankle.
The worst of all was the injury to Beckham on the series before the Chargers’ winning touchdown. He jumped to catch a high Eli Manning pass and had Los Angeles cornerback Casey Hayward pin his ankle making a tackle. Players immediately signaled the sideline and Beckham was eventually carted off in obvious pain with a hand covering his face.
The touchdown pass was Rivers’ third of the game and came three plays after Kyle Emanuel had a sack, forced fumble and recovery against Manning at the Giants 11-yard line. It also came four plays after Beckham became the fourth Giants receiver knocked out of the game.
“We found a way,” said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn after his first win. “We’ve been looking for a way to win close games and we found a way. Now we’re going to enjoy this one, and tomorrow we’ll work on what that lesson really was.”
Rivers also hit Gordon on a 6-yard TD pass in the second quarter and had a 25-yarder to tight end Hunter Henry in the third as the Chargers ended a nine-game losing streak dating to late November.
The loss was the sixth straight for the Giants, who also lost to the Packers in the wild-card playoff game last season.
“I’m hurting right now. It’s a tough loss,” guard Justin Pugh said after the Giants were beaten for the third straight time late in the fourth quarter. “We will bounce back. We will go out and flush it. We’re still professionals. This is still our job. We have to go out there and execute, get this thing done.”
Manning had given the Giants a 22-17 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard TD pass to a wide-open Beckham. New York missed the 2-point conversion attempt after being hit with a delay-of-game penalty.
Manning, who was sacked five times, also threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to backup Roger Lewis Jr. in the third quarter. Orleans Darkwa scored on a 23-yard run and the Giants got a safety in scoring their first first-quarter points this season.
Manning’s attempt to rally the Giants in the final minute ended when he was intercepted by Tre Boston at the Los Angeles 33. On the drive New York used three tight ends and its only remaining receiver, Lewis.
Giants cornerback Eli Apple said he has never played in a game at any level where a team has lost four wide receivers.
“It was insane,” he said. “Did we even have any more receivers? I thought I was going to have to go out and play receiver.”
This game was filled with errors and there were a combined 21 penalties. Rivers (21 of 44 for 258 yards) and Manning (21 for 36 for 183) each missed open receivers deep. The Giants got a safety on a play when Chargers center Spencer Pulley snapped the ball from the 7-yard line before Rivers was ready, forcing the quarterback to toss the ball out of the end zone. Each team converted a PAT that hit the upright and bounced the right way. Referee Jeff Triplette announced “San Diego” on a call.
WR MISERY: Giants WRs Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall left on the same second-quarter series with sprained left ankles. Dwayne Harris broke a foot on a kickoff return in the third quarter. Beckham was the final one.
INJURIES: After playing in 84 straight games, Giants DE Olivier Vernon (ankle) was sidelined for the first time in his career. New York C Weston Richburg (concussion) had started the last 26 games … Chargers starting LB Korey Toomer did not suit up because he was not able to play on special teams.
NOTES: The Giants did not give up a sack last week in a loss to the Buccaneers. Joey Bosa and Emanuel each had two. Darius Philon had the last one. … Giants S Darian Thompson had a team-high 11 tackles and his first career interception.
Chargers: at Oakland next Sunday.
Giants: at Denver next Sunday.
Jaguars 30, Steelers 9
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars spent the first month of the season looking equal parts awesome and awful, taking one step toward respectability immediately followed by a baffling step back.
On the road facing a team expected to play deep into January and perhaps beyond, the Jaguars instead served notice their best start in nearly a decade is hardly a fluke.
Turns out, running back Leonard Fournette can fly in more ways than one. And a secondary getting better by the week appears ready to make the Jaguars a legitimate threat in the underwhelming AFC South.
Fournette soared for a 2-yard touchdown and sprinted 90 yards for another, and Jacksonville used Pick 6s on back-to-back Pittsburgh drives to stun the Steelers 30-9 on Sunday.
“I think this is a completely different ballclub compared to last year,” said Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson, who had two of Jacksonville’s five interceptions. “We got guys who will make plays on the football, guys in situations to make plays, and that’s all you can ask for. This year has been fun so far.”
And decidedly different. The Jaguars (3-2) have already matched their 2016 win total and are above .500 after five games for the first time since 2010 thanks in large part to Fournette’s precocious play.
The rookie finished with a season-high 181 yards, the knockout punch delivered with his dash to the open end of Heinz Field with 1:47 to go that sent whatever portion remained heading for the exits following Pittsburgh’s worst home loss in coach Mike Tomlin’s 11 seasons.
“They drafted me for a reason,” Fournette said, adding later his only goal on the third-longest touchdown run ever against the Steelers was simply to not get caught.
Fournette and Jacksonville’s defense were so dominant that quarterback Blake Bortles only attempted one pass in the second half. The way the Jaguars were overwhelming Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Bortles didn’t have to do much other than watch Fournette go to work.
Pittsburgh (3-2) again struggled to get big-play production out of an offense that was supposed to be among the league’s best. Five games in, the Steelers look average. Roethlisberger completed 33 of 55 for 312 yards and his career-high five interceptions, the most by a Steelers quarterback since Mark Malone threw five against Cleveland in 1987.
“You know it’s one of those things where I’ve been doing this a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve had bad games before, bad stretches. I’ve had good ones too. You just find a way to move on and play better.”
A week after a sideline outburst generated headlines and drew Roethlisberger’s ire, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards. Brown didn’t score, but twice men attempting to cover him did.
The Steelers led 9-7 in the third quarter when Roethlisberger looked left for Brown. Jacksonville defensive lineman Abry Jones tipped it into the hands of Telvin Smith, who chugged 28 yards to put Jacksonville in front with 6:38 left in the period.
The Jaguars defense struck again on Pittsburgh’s next series. Roethlisberger tried to hit Brown down the sideline. Jalen Ramsey deflected it, Barry Church came down with it and 51 yards later Jacksonville had turned a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead without taking an offensive snap.
“I was just right there in the nick of time to grab it,” Church said. “I wasn’t letting anybody tackle me before I got to the end zone. I had to get there.”
When Gipson made a leaping pick near the Jacksonville goal line in the final minutes to thwart any chance of a Pittsburgh rally, it gave the Jaguars 15 takeaways on the season. They managed an NFL-low 13 while going 3-13 in 2016.
Fournette gave the Jaguars an early lead with a spectacular 2-yard touchdown dive in the second quarter. The former LSU star basically jumped from the 4 and flew untouched over the line of scrimmage into the end zone. Not bad for a 240-pound back known more for his heft than his hops.
“I noticed the line knocked everybody down,” Fournette said. “I jumped 5 yards. I was nowhere near the goal line. I jumped 5 yards back and I made it. I surprised myself.”
“It was a (butt) whooping, plain and simple.”
Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who was held to 21 yards receiving on five receptions.
GROUND TO A HALT
Jacksonville came in with the top-ranked pass defense in the league, though that number was a bit of a misnomer. The Jaguars also came in last in rushing yards allowed, giving up an average of 165 per game. Pittsburgh managed just 70 on 20 carries, with Le’Veon Bell mustering just 47.
“They stopped the run,” Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva said. “They pretty much forced us to throw the entire game and they played better than us at the end.”
Jaguars: Host the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
Steelers: Travel to Kansas City next week in a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Round playoff. Pittsburgh edged the Chiefs 15-13 to reach the AFC title game.
Titans 10, Dolphins 16
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Adam Gase stubbornly stuck with Jay Cutler until his quarterback finally silenced the boobirds.
Cutler drew jeers while struggling through much of the Miami Dolphins’ 2017 home debut, but his fourth-quarter touchdown pass helped them overcome another dismal offensive showing Sunday to beat the Tennessee Titans 16-10.
The crowd chanted repeatedly for backup quarterback Matt Moore before Cutler finally got Miami going with a 58-yard drive capped by his 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry for the tiebreaking score.
Gase noted the crowd also lobbied unsuccessfully for Moore during a victory over Tennessee last year, when Ryan Tannehill was the struggling starter.
“That’s fine,” Gase said. “I’ll make the decision about the quarterback. We’re not going to take public polls.”
Cutler — playing his first game in Miami as the Dolphins’ QB — acknowledged he heard the chants too.
“I didn’t know what they were saying, and I don’t think anyone was going to tell me what they were saying,” Cutler said. “I just kept going about my business.”
Despite an offense that has scored three touchdowns in four games, the Dolphins (2-2) climbed to .500. The Titans (2-3) lost for the second week in a row.
Tennessee played without quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was inactive because of a left hamstring injury suffered a week ago. Replacement Matt Cassel went 21 for 32 for 141 yards and was sacked six times.
Cutler went 12 for 26 for just 92 yards, but Gase said his QB wasn’t the problem.
“If guys would do their jobs — catch the ball, block the right guys, give the quarterback a chance to do something …” Gase said. “Jay is way down the list of things going wrong.”
The Dolphins came in ranked last in the NFL in points and yards per game, and struggled against a Titans team that allowed 57 points against Houston a week ago.
Miami’s only TD in the first three periods was scored by safety Reshad Jones on a 38-yard fumble return when the other players on both teams apparently thought the play had ended with an incomplete pass. The Titans didn’t chase Jones, and the officials didn’t initially signal a score.
The Dolphins won despite totaling just 178 yards. They tried the wildcat in the second quarter, and even that flopped — tight end MarQueis Gray took the snap, faked a handoff and threw incomplete.
The Titans couldn’t get out of their own way, either. A 59-yard touchdown reception by Delanie Walker was negated by a pass interference penalty on Jonnu Smith.
Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray managed only 58 yards rushing. Jones recovered Murray’s fumble to set up an early Miami field goal, and a fumble by Jay Ajayi led to the Titans’ first score on a field goal.
Tennessee totaled 188 yards and went 2 for 13 on third down.
Cassel’s best moment came when he drove the Titans 69 yards for a tying touchdown to start the second half. Backup tight end Phillip Supernawcaught an 11-yard pass for his first career touchdown.
“Matt managed the offense well,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “There are some throws I know he’d like to have back. There are some throws that I’d like to see our guys make plays for him.”
Mularkey said Mariota wasn’t close to being able to play, and his status remains day to day.
Jones kept playing after everyone else stopped to give the Dolphins their first touchdown.
Cassel fumbled with his arm cocked when hit by Kiko Alonso, and the ball squirted forward 14 yards. Jones scooped up the ball and ran uncontested to the end zone.
Referee Bill Vinovich eventually announced that the loose ball was a fumble and Miami had scored. Following a replay review, the call was upheld, giving the Dolphins a 10-0 lead.
“We all, as an offensive line, heard a whistle,” Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said. “We all stopped, and I ended up getting hit late. That ball should have come back.”
Titans: Lewan hurt his knee in the first quarter, later returned but watched the second half from the sideline. “I think it’s a very minor, small thing,” he said. “I don’t think it should be an issue in the future, and I’ll be fine for next week.”
Dolphins: WR DeVante Parker left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return. … OG Anthony Steen was taken for X-rays after the game.
Dolphins: at Atlanta next Sunday.
Titans: at home Monday, Oct. 16 against AFC South rival Indianapolis.
Bills 16, Bengals 20
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals took A.J. Green at his word. They kept throwing his way, even after the ball repeatedly slipped through his wet hands. The elusive receiver found a way to make the difference, just as promised.
Green contributed to three turnovers that kept it close, but he also had a 77-yard touchdown and another long catch that set up the go-ahead score Sunday, rallying Cincinnati to a 20-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a steady rain.
“I understand the ups-and-downs,” Green said. “You know me, I’m pretty level all the time. The drops hurt, but you just have to erase everything.”
After losing their first three games, the Bengals (2-3) salvaged their season by getting the ball to their stars at decisive moments. Green’s 47-yard catch set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Joe Mixon that put Cincinnati ahead to stay in the fourth quarter.
Combined with Pittsburgh’s 30-9 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday, the Bengals are a game out of first in the AFC North.
The Bills (3-2) got their season off to an encouraging start by relying heavily on kicker Stephen Hauschka and a defense that led the league in stinginess, allowing only 13.5 points per game through the first four. The combination wasn’t enough this time as Buffalo’s depleted offense failed to take advantage of Cincinnati’s three turnovers.
Tyrod Taylor’s off-target pass was picked off near midfield with 2:14 left, clinching it for Cincinnati. Taylor finished 20 of 37 for 166 yards with a touchdown pass to Brandon Tate . He also was sacked six times.
“It wasn’t a great offensive performance and I take responsibility for that,” Taylor said. “I take the blame. My job is to get the ball out quicker. Sometimes we weren’t on the same page.”
The Bengals changed offensive coordinators after failing to get a touchdown in their first two games. Green complained that they weren’t getting the ball to their difference makers in the biggest moments. He caught seven passes for 189 yards Sunday, the third-highest total of his career.
Green ran past rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White and caught Andy Dalton’s pass in stride for a 77-yard score on the Bengals’ second possession. Green also had a hand in the Bengals’ three turnovers that kept the Bills in it. Green had passes go off his hands and his chest for a pair of interceptions . He also fumbled after a catch .
The turnovers are so uncharacteristic that coach Marvin Lewis wondered if he was hurt.
“I asked him if he was OK,” Lewis said. “He said yes. I said, well, go win the game.”
Dalton twisted his left ankle in the first half and finished the game with a limp, getting it heavily taped at halftime. He was 22 of 36 for a season-high 328 yards.
The Bills got little out of an offense down to four healthy receivers because of injuries, managing only 221 yards. They’ve been held under 300 yards in each of their last four games.
In his last two games , Dalton has completed 47 of 66 passes for 614 yards with five touchdowns. Since the Bengals changed coordinators, his passer rating is 116.2.
The Bengals showed clips from the Steelers’ loss on the videoboard during timeouts, drawing cheers from the crowd of 52,367 that was their smallest of the season.
A fan banner in the upper deck said: “Just Play Football.” A pro-Trump banner was displayed briefly criticizing players and owners, signed with #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. During the anthem, a fan held a cardboard sign that said “Cincy Stands For The Anthem.” It was the first game at Paul Brown Stadium since President Donald Trump tweeted that players should be fired if they protest during the anthem, prompting a pushback from players and some team owners. Bills and Bengals players all stood.
Bills: WR Jordan Matthews already was sidelined by a broken thumb. TE Charles Clay hurt his left knee when he was tackled in the first half and didn’t put weight on it as he was helped to the bench. He didn’t return.
Bengals: The Bengals lost starting cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (right shoulder) and Adam “Pacman” Jones (lower back) to injuries in the first half. WR Tyler Boyd hurt his right knee in the first quarter and didn’t return.
Bills: Following their bye, the Bills host Tampa Bay and Oakland in the next two weeks.
Bengals: Following their bye, they play at Pittsburgh. The Bengals have lost four straight and seven of eight against the Steelers, including a first-round playoff game in the 2015 season.
Ravens 30, Raiders 17
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Mike Wallace got excited as soon as he saw the script, knowing he’d have an early chance to deliver the big passing play that has been missing too often this season for Baltimore.
Wallace caught a tone-setting 52-yard pass from Joe Flacco on the first play from scrimmage to set up an early touchdown for the Ravens, and Jimmy Smith added a fumble return for a score on the next drive that helped fuel Baltimore’s 30-17 victory over the short-handed Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
“I just knew last night when I saw this play call, if we get this play I knew it would be on me to start the game off,” Wallace said. “It was going to be a snowball effect. I just had thoughts like that last night. Then we came out and caught them on the first play. Wish I would have scored.”
That pass set up tight end Vince Mayle’s 2-yard touchdown run on an end-around and the Ravens (3-2) got going after being held scoreless in losses the past two weeks.
Flacco had struggled to get the ball downfield against Jacksonville and Pittsburgh, averaging less than 4 yards an attempt those games. But the early deep ball to Wallace helped open things up and the two connected later on a 54-yard pass and a 27-yarder, equaling the team’s season total of 20-yard pass plays in the previous four weeks.
“It definitely feels good to let the ball go down the field and let Mike go get one,” Flacco said. “You can see it on his face, when he starts getting involved, how much he gets revved up and how much it helps our offense.”
The Raiders (2-3), playing without injured star quarterback Derek Carr and two key cornerbacks, played from behind all game as Smith returned Jared Cook’s fumble 47 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0 just 3:50 in.
Backup quarterback E.J. Manuel , making his fourth start in the past three seasons, threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and led another TD drive that ended in Marshawn Lynch’s 3-yard run . He finished 13 for 26 for 159 yards.
But that wasn’t nearly enough for the Raiders, who have dropped three straight following a 2-0 start, putting a severe dent in their hopes to challenge in the AFC West.
“It’s a big shock to start the season off this way,” running back Jalen Richard said. “I don’t even know what to say. It’s like a bad shock. We just keep getting whooped. It’s just going to come down to when (are) we going to get tired of getting whooped.”
The Ravens had also lost two in a row following a 2-0 start, but reversed that slide thanks to Flacco and the opportunistic defense. Flacco completed 19 of 26 passes for 222 yards.
The Coliseum was rocking after Lynch’s TD cut Baltimore’s lead to 24-17 late in the third quarter. The Ravens, who had been held to three-and-outs the first two drives of the second half, responded with a 72-yard drive to a 21-yard field goal by Justin Tucker that gave Baltimore a 10-point lead. Flacco converted a pair of third downs on the drive, completing a 13-yard pass to Breshad Perriman on third-and-3, and a 27-yarder to Wallace on third-and-8.
The Raiders drove into Baltimore territory on the next drive and faced fourth-and-3 from the Ravens 44 with about nine minutes left. Coach Jack Del Rio opted to punt despite the 10-point deficit, and Marquette King sent it into the end zone for a touchback. Baltimore then drove 64 yards in 6:26 to take a 13-point lead.
“It didn’t go anything like it needed to,” Del Rio said. “The fourth down call with 9 minutes left in the game, was that the difference today? I don’t think so.”
GET BACK UP AGAIN
Flacco showed off his improvisational skills in the first quarter when he tripped on a drop back after a shotgun snap. He got up and stumbled before getting off a 6-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin that converted a third down. The Ravens ended up scoring on the drive on a 1-yard run by Javorius Allen that made it 21-3.
Ravens RB Terrance West departed on the opening drive with a left calf injury following a 13-yard run. He did not return. … The Raiders lost four players to injuries: Marquel Lee (ankle), FB Jamize Olawale (concussion), LB Corey James (knee) and CB Antonio Hamilton (knee).
Ravens: Host Chicago on Sunday.
Raiders: Host San Diego on Sunday.
Seahawks 16, Rams 10
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Todd Gurley stretched the ball toward the goal line, Earl Thomas soared in with perfect timing and a martial arts-style chop to the running back’s arm, knocking the ball out for a touchback.
After an impressive start to the season, the Rams thought they were ready to run past the NFC West’s perennial power.
Thomas and the Seattle Seahawks barely swatted away the upstarts in a defensive performance full of timely brilliance.
Russell Wilson passed for 198 yards and a touchdown, and Thomas forced two of the Rams’ five turnovers in the Seahawks’ 16-10 victory Sunday.
Jimmy Graham scored late in the first half in a defense-dominated win for the Seahawks (3-2), who shut out the NFL’s highest-scoring offense in the second half and won despite getting outgained 375-241.
“We all played so well on defense,” Thomas said. “Even when our back was against the wall, we squared up in the red zone. This is the No. 1 offense, and we did a great job.”
Thomas made enormous plays early and late. The veteran safety stripped Gurley at the pylon to kill the Rams’ opening drive, and he intercepted Jared Goff’s fluttering pass at midfield with 6:02 to play.
Sheldon Richardson also came through with two big plays, diving to intercept a deflected pass in the third quarter before scooping up Goff’s fumble near midfield with 2:45 left.
“He’s going to be all right,” Richardson said of Goff, who went 22 of 47 for 288 yards with three costly turnovers. “He’s not the same guy from last year. But he’s no Tom Brady yet.”
Goff moved the Rams 55 yards in the final 1:09, but Seattle’s defense made its final stop. Rams rookie Cooper Kupp barely missed a diving TD grab on third down, and Goff’s fourth-down pass to Kupp was too low.
“For our guys to come through and finish like that, that’s as exciting as the game gets,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Tavon Austin rushed for a 27-yard TD for Los Angeles (3-2). After a quick start to the season that caught the NFL’s attention, the Rams wasted their strong defensive game when new coach Sean McVay’s offense ran into the Legion of Boom.
“We had a 12-play drive and a 13-play drive that went for no points, so it wasn’t so much we weren’t moving the ball,” Goff said. “We just weren’t finishing drives. We got into the red zone and didn’t do a good job. That’s where it shows up. You see why Seattle has been so good for so long defensively.”
Wilson didn’t have big numbers, but the quarterback put on a performance of vintage resourcefulness, repeatedly wriggling away from the Rams’ pursuing defense to make plays. Blair Walsh’s two second-half field goals turned out to be the difference for Seattle, which managed just 97 yards in the second half.
SOLID START FOR RAMS
Austin, the wide receiver used more often as a ball carrier by McVay, scored the game’s first points when he took a handoff and high-stepped to the end zone early in the second quarter.
Wilson then threw an interception to Rams rookie John Johnson, who returned it 69 yards before Wilson made a possible touchdown-saving tackle.
Thomas forced Gurley’s fumble on a play that was ruled a touchdown on the field, but went to video review because it could have been seen three ways: A touchdown, out of bounds on the 1, or a fumble and touchback. Officials eventually ruled Gurley had lost control of the ball an instant before stepping out of bounds.
“I did a great job watching the Bruce Lee movies, and it kind of carried over to the football field,” Thomas said of his chop.
Thomas made an incredibly similar play against the St. Louis Rams in 2014, chopping the ball out of Benny Cunningham’s hand at the goal line.
SO CLOSE AGAIN
Kupp, the Rams’ impressive third-round choice, barely missed the biggest catch of his young career on a tough ball. “I expect to make that play,” said Kupp, who had three catches for 44 yards. “I can’t say anything about whether it was behind me or a one-hand catch. If I’m putting my hands on the ball, I’ve got to make that play.”
Seahawks: DE Michael Bennett went to the locker room late in the first half after injuring his right foot. He returned for the second half, keeping Seattle sound at the position while playing without injured Cliff Avril and Quinton Jefferson.
Rams: Starting safeties Lamarcus Joyner and Maurice Alexander both didn’t play. Joyner had a hamstring injury, but Alexander’s absence wasn’t injury-related. “It was nothing disciplinary,” McVay said, calling it a personnel decision.
Seahawks: A bye week, followed by a trip to the New York Giants on Sunday, Oct. 22.
Rams: At Jacksonville on Sunday before traveling to London.
Packers 35, Cowboys 31
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Aaron Rodgers had more magic in store for the Dallas Cowboys, who can’t seem to find the mojo that carried them a year ago.
Rodgers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining, lifting the Packers over Dallas 35-31 on Sunday in another thriller nine months after their divisional playoff win on the same field.
Rodgers capped a 75-yard drive in just 1:02, going toward the same end zone as in the playoff game. In that game, Rodgers’ long completion to Jared Cook on third-and-20 in the final seconds set up Mason Crosby’s winning field goal as time expired in a 34-31 win.
“It comes down to little things being executed perfectly,” Rodgers said after the Packers’ seventh win in eight games in the series. “It was important plays at the most important times by those guys.”
Adams had been in the concussion protocol but was active 10 days after leaving the field on a stretcher on a helmet-to-helmet hit that resulted in a suspension for Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan. He had seven catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Dak Prescott, who had touchdown passes on Dallas’ first three drives, put the Cowboys in front on an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:13 remaining to cap a 17-play drive that lasted almost nine minutes.
But another defensive letdown, just like a year ago in the postseason, left Dallas (2-3) already with the same number of losses from the magical rookie season when Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The Packers (4-1) had gone ahead earlier on Damarius Randall’s 21-yard interception return for a touchdown, the third of five lead changes in the fourth quarter. Green Bay rallied from 15 points down in the first half after letting a 21-3 lead get away in last season’s playoff win.
Aaron Jones became the first Green Bay running back with 100 yards in his first start as a rookie since Samkon Gado in 2005. He had 19 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown. He replaced Ty Montgomery, out after breaking some ribs in the win over the Bears.
“He earned the opportunity to start today, and he produced,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Elliott ended a three-game drought without 100 yards, matching the longest from his rookie season, finishing with 116 yards on 29 carries.
Rodgers was 19 of 29 for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and set up the winning score with an 18-yard scramble. After an incompletion to Adams working against rookie Jourdan Lewis, Rodgers went there again. Rodgers made the grab as Lewis turned too late.
“I was going to call a different play, but (Adams) said to call it again,” Rodgers said. “With his eyes, he said, ‘Throw a better ball.'”
Prescott looked the part of Rodgers, scrambling to set up big completions and running 21 yards himself on one play to help the Cowboys build a 21-6 lead.
He was 25 of 36 for 251 yards and three first-half touchdowns, two to Cole Beasley and one to Dez Bryant, who joined Hall of Famer Bob Hayes as the only Dallas receivers with at least 70 TD grabs.
“It’s a tough one,” Prescott said. “You’re frustrated. We knew how important it was for us to get this win and try to go into this bye week 3-2 and now on the flip side it’s just about staying focused, a lot of football left to play.”
Before Prescott’s TD run for a 31-28 lead, there were consecutive challenges from each coach over a first down. A catch by Beasley was ruled a first down and reversed, as was Elliott’s fourth-down plunge when he was ruled short but replay showed the ball reaching Green Bay’s 19-yard line. Officials then measured the first down, and the Cowboys got it by half a football.
DE David Irving returned from a four-game suspension for Dallas with two sacks. He had a sack and three forced fumbles with a recovery in last year’s 30-16 win in Green Bay during the regular season.
Crosby missed his first two PATS, the first time in his 11-year career to miss more than one in a game. The first clanged off the left upright in the first quarter, and the second was wide left in the second quarter. He made all 36 kicks in 2015, the first year of the longer distance, but missed three last season.
Packers: WR Jordy Nelson, who scored his sixth touchdown for the first Packers lead early in the fourth quarter, wasn’t on the field during the final drive. Coach Mike McCarthy said he was being evaluated for an undisclosed injury. … Rookie CB Kevin King left with a concussion in the first half.
Cowboys: Rookie CB Chidobe Awuzie left with a hamstring injury for the second time this season. He’s also missed two games with the injury.
Packers: First NFC North road game at Minnesota next Sunday.
Cowboys: Bye, then at San Francisco on Oct. 22.
Chiefs 42, Texans 34
HOUSTON (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs got another big game from Alex Smith and a little help on special teams to remain undefeated Sunday night.
Smith threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns and Tyreek Hill added a punt return score in the fourth quarter to lead the Chiefs to a 42-34 victory over the Houston Texans in a game where J.J. Watt broke his left leg.
Deshaun Watson’s 48-yard touchdown pass got the Texans within six early in the fourth quarter before Smith extended the lead for Kansas City (5-0) to 32-20 on a 10-yard pass to De’Anthony Thomas with about nine minutes left.
“Once they made it a one-score game, I knew the onus was back on us to go answer,” Smith said. “If you keep answering them, it kind of becomes demoralizing when you make it a two-score game again.”
It’s the second 300-yard passing game for Smith this season and gives him 11 touchdown throws.
Hill padded the lead when he returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown.
Watson threw for 261 yards and five touchdowns, but the Texans (2-3) failed to recreate the magic they found last week when they scored a franchise-record 57 points in a victory over Tennessee.
“I think every game is a learning experience for him,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “I really think he’s an excellent young quarterback and I thought he kept competing right to the end. He’s a great kid, he’s a lot of fun to coach and he’s obviously got a great future.”
Watt, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, was injured in the first quarter and the team announced that he sustained a tibial plateau fracture, but didn’t provide any details on how long he’ll be out. The defensive end returned this season after missing the final 13 games last year after his second back surgery.
“I feel terrible for the guy,” O’Brien said. “But … just knowing him and knowing the type of guy that he is, he’s an amazing human being. And he will work extremely hard to be back to play for this football team. I know that.”
The Texans cut their deficit when Watson threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Fuller in the third quarter. But the 2-point conversion failed, leaving them down 23-13.
Kansas City’s Charcandrick West caught two touchdown passes and Travis Kelce had eight receptions for 98 yards in the first half, but didn’t return after halftime and the team said he was being evaluated for a concussion.
The Chiefs were up by six when Smith found West on an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-0 in the second quarter. Houston rookie D’Onta Foreman fumbled two plays later to give Kansas City the ball right back and the Chiefs tacked on a field goal.
Foreman stepped out of one tackle before plowing over Marcus Peters as he tried to tackle him before two other Chiefs finally brought him down after a 25-yard gain that got Houston to the 10 on the Texans’ next drive. The Texans cut it to 16-7 when Watson found DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass with about two minutes left in the first half.
“We played a good team,” Hopkins said. “A team like that, you can’t make many mistakes because they’re a good team. They’re undefeated for a reason.”
Smith then connected with West again, this time on a 4-yard TD pass to put the Chiefs up 23-7 at halftime.
The Chiefs led 3-0 early after a 35-yard field goal by Harrison Butker on their first drive. Watt was injured on the play before the field goal and fell to the ground while being blocked. Watt remained on his hands and knees for a couple of minutes while trainers checked on him.
They flipped him onto his back and were looking at his left leg. He was then helped to his feet and looked to be in a lot of pain and didn’t appear to be able to put any weight on the leg as he was helped off the field by two Texans officials. He remained on the sideline under a tent for a few minutes before being taken to the locker room on a cart and then taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Butker added another field goal early in the second quarter to make it 6-0.
Kansas City rookie Kareem Hunt had 29 carries for 107 yards to give him four 100-yard rushing games this season.
“Hunt just continues to stay strong in the fourth quarter with his endurance. He’s got ball-carrying endurance,” Reid said. “I don’t know, for a big guy, he can skedaddle and we really needed him there.”
Hopkins had four receptions for 52 yards with three touchdowns after catching two late scoring passes when the game was out of reach.
Chiefs’ safety Steven Terrell suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff. … Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus injured his chest in the first quarter and didn’t return. O’Brien said he is concerned about the injury, but didn’t provide any details on it. … Houston safety Corey Moore suffered a concussion. … Reid said that he thinks receiver Chris Conley has a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Chiefs: Host Steelers next Sunday.
Texans: Host Cleveland next Sunday.
Vikings 20, Bears 17
CHICAGO (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings know they have an insurance policy if Sam Bradford’s knee remains a problem.
Case Keenum has proven this before and did it again Monday against the Chicago Bears in a 20-17 victory.
“I’ve tried to prepare like I’ve been the starter,” Keenum said. “I think that helps when you’re called upon and need to step in, so you can do the same job as the guy that’s been doing it.
“Be able to see the defense the same way and make the calls the same way. Being prepared like that helps.”
With a game against the Green Bay Packers coming Sunday, the Vikings won’t know Bradford’s status until later in the week. Bradford failed to make it through his first game back since suffering swelling and soreness in a surgically repaired left knee.
Sacked four times, an obviously immobile Bradford came out just before halftime after a 5-for-11 performance.
“It just got to a point where it was hurting him bad enough where he couldn’t finish,” Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon said.
Keenum came in and led the win by completing 17 of 21 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. He was 14 for 18 and 119 yards in the second half.
Keenum was 1-2 in three starts before Monday’s Vikings win.
“He did a great job executing,” McKinnon said. “It’s real tough in this league to come into that situation and do what he did.
“Everybody believes in him and he showed why.”
Keenum threw a 13-yard TD pass to Kyle Rudolph in the third quarter for a 10-2 lead, and in the fourth quarter the Vikings benefited from Harrison Smith’s interception to score the winning points on a 26-yard Kai Forbath field goal with 12 seconds remaining.
The interception spoiled Mitchell Trubisky’s — he completed 12 of 25 for 128 yards.
“I just have to do a better job of taking care of the football,” Trubisky said. “We need to work on the little things, really.”
Other notes and takeaways from the game:
Even with running back Dalvin Cook out for the year with a torn ACL, the Vikings showed they have breakaway speed in the backfield. McKinnon had a 58-yard TD run around the right side in the third quarter for a 17-9 lead. It was the Vikings’ longest run of the season.
McKinnon finished with 95 yards on 16 carries.
“My main focus was to make plays, feed off Latavius (Murray), C.J. (Ham), those guys, the running backs, bring the energy and make plays,” McKinnon said.
The Bears stayed in the game with trick plays. One came from special teams and the other from offense on a two-point conversion.
Punter Pat O’Donnell threw a 38-yard TD pass to Benny Cunningham to pull the Bears within 10-9 in the third quarter. Cunningham was wide open 10 yards downfield on a fake punt and dodged one tackle try before going to the end zone.
“Whether it’s a turnover, steal, a first down — whatever it is you just want to make an impact throughout the game to kind of help those guys on offense and defense,” Cunningham said.
A trick two-point conversion tied the score at 17-17 when Trubisky handed to Jordan Howard and he handed it to Zach Miller on a reverse. Miller pitched it to Trubisky and he walked into the end zone.
“That’s fun,” Miller said. “Takes me back to my college days: great call and design.”
Trubisky was down about his fourth-quarter interception, but Bears coach John Fox called it an upbeat debut regardless of the big mistake. Trubisky’s leadership was a key. He also scrambled for 22 yards in addition to his passing.
“I think our guys feel it,” Fox said. “I think they feel his presence.”
Smith, who made the decisive interception, was equally impressed with Trubisky.
“You can tell he definitely has some skill and he is going to be a player,” Smith said.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and teammates had planned an unconventional TD celebration, and Rudolph’s 13-yard TD catch in the third quarter gave them a chance to do it.
“Duck, duck, goose was planned in the huddle right before we went out,” Rudolph said. “We called the play, the play we run all week in practice. I knew somebody was going to score.
“I said whoever scores here you’re the duck. Everybody else sit down here in a circle and we will have some fun.”
Playing without suspended Danny Trevathan and with Jerrell Freeman and Nick Kwiatkoski injured, the Bears lost a fourth inside linebacker when John Timu went out with a knee injury. They finished with Christian Jones and Jon Anderson on the field.