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Here is a recap of Week 12 of the 2017 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Vikings 30, Lions 23
DETROIT (AP) — Case Keenum stood in the pocket to take a hit, dipped his right shoulder to slip out of a sack and shuffled his feet in the pocket to give his receivers more time to get open.
Looking like a savvy winner, instead of a journeyman, he picked apart Detroit’s defense with his arm and made plays with his legs to help the Minnesota Vikings beat the Lions 30-23 Thursday.
Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half to give the Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to win a seventh straight game.
They took a huge step toward winning the NFC North by taking a three-game lead over the second-place Lions.
Keenum, undrafted out of Houston in 2012, is suddenly 7-2 this season after going 9-15 with the Houston Texas and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.
“I want to be great and I have confidence in myself that I can be great,” he said.
The Vikings signed him to be a backup and he has made the most of his opportunities with Sam Bradford injured and Teddy Bridgewater recovering from a knee injury.
Keenum was 21 of 30 for 282 yards with both TD passes going to Kyle Rudolph, giving the Vikings a 20-3 lead late in the second quarter.
“Case is amazing because he does so many small things to pick up first downs and keep drives alive,” Rudolph said.
“Every time he finds a way to convert another third down, it means we’ve got three more plays to attack the defense. With the number of big-play guys we’ve got now, we can do a lot of damage with those three plays.”
Detroit (6-5) made mistakes in every phase of the game and Minnesota took advantage. Keenum’s 1-yard pass to Rudolph was made a little easier because the Lions had just 10 defenders on the field.
And, Keenum’s 9-yard run came after Matthew Stafford was charged with a fumble while trying to hand off to Ameer Abdullah.
Instead of winning to pull within a game of Minnesota and having a potential tiebreaker, the Lions’ loss hurts their chances of making a second straight postseason appearance.
“Don’t count us out just yet,” Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said. “We’ve got a lot of football yet to play.”
The Lions rallied to pull within four points early in the fourth quarter on Stafford’s second TD pass to Marvin Jones, who leaped to beat two defensive backs for the 43-yard score as his quarterback was on the turf with an injured right ankle.
Xavier Rhodes sidetracked Detroit’s comeback hopes with an interception at the Detroit 37 late in the game.
Detroit’s Darius Slay blocked a field goal with 1:15 left and teammate Nevin Lawson recovered the ball and returned it 77 yards for an apparent TD, but it was negated by Slay being offside and that quieted a roaring crowd.
BY THE NUMBERS
Latavius Murray had 84 yards rushing and a 2-yard score, giving the Vikings a 27-10 lead early in the third quarter.
Minnesota’s Adam Thielen had eight receptions for 89 yards and deflected credit to his quarterback.
“Case Keenum is one tough human being,” he said. “When he’s hanging in there — giving you time to get open — you feel like you’re letting him down if you can’t do it. He’s willing to get crushed to make a play, and that makes us want to come though on our end.”
Everson Griffen had two sacks, tying his career high with 12 on the season, for the Vikings.
Stafford struggled even before he was hurt late in the game, missing open receivers, and finished 20 of 35 for 250 yards with two TDs and an interception on fourth down with just under three minutes left. Jones had six catches for 109 yards and two TDs. The Lions were held to a total of 53 yards rushing.
Vikings: CB Trae Waynes left the game with an injured right shoulder, but was able to return. RT Mike Remmers was inactive with a concussion and Rashod Hill replaced him.
Lions: Stafford, with a lot of tape covering his right cleat, stayed in the game after hurting his right ankle on his second touchdown when DT Tom Johnson fell on him. S Tavon Wilson (shoulder) and C Travis Swanson (knee) left the game in the third quarter with injuries.
Vikings: Play Dec. 3 at Atlanta.
Lions: Travel Dec. 3 to Baltimore.
Chargers 28, Cowboys 6
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Philip Rivers was more than comfortable on the Thanksgiving stage for the first time in his 14 NFL seasons.
Same with Keenan Allen, who didn’t have to wait nearly that long.
Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns, Allen had a career-high 172 yards in his second straight huge game and the Los Angeles Chargers beat the fading Dallas Cowboys 28-6 on Thursday.
Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for the punctuating touchdown. The Chargers (5-6) moved within 1 1/2 games of AFC West-leading Kansas City after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs won their first five.erything it was cranked up to be,” said Rivers, who was 27 of 33 in his ninth career 400-yard game . “As a quarterback, you want to play well and throw it to your guys, and we did a lot today. But I’m more excited about our team.”
The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-6) have lost three straight games by at least 20 points for the first time since 2004, all without suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott in a damaging slide for their fading playoff hopes.
Dallas, playing its 50th Thanksgiving game, finally ended a touchdown drought at a team-record 10 quarters on Rod Smith’s 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have been outscored 72-6 in the second half of the three losses.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has looked lost without Elliott, his backfield mate for a pair of remarkable rookie seasons that led the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC last season. Prescott had two interceptions, giving him five in two games after throwing just four a year ago.
Last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has nine picks for the season and the Cowboys already have twice as many losses as a year ago with Elliott only halfway through a six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence.
“The last thing I’m doing is pointing a finger and saying, ‘We need this guy, we need that to happen,'” said Prescott, who was 20 of 27 for 179 yards in his third straight game without a TD pass. “I’m going to say we’ve just got to figure out what’s going on and get out of this slump.”
Rivers had seven completions of at least 22 yards, including Allen’s 42-yard catch-and-run when he weaved through five defenders for a 22-6 lead.
Allen, in his fifth season, has two of his three biggest yardage games in the past two weeks. He had 11 catches and a score after 12 grabs for 159 yards and two TDs in a 54-24 win over Buffalo.
“When I first got here, he was a little heavy,” first-year coach Anthony Lynn said. “I think once he got his weight down, you could see the run after catch, the quickness, all those things you see in a No. 1 receiver.”
LA, with 500-plus total yards (515) for the first time in two years, overcame the loss of kicker Nick Novak to a back injury, the second straight game that Dallas’ opposing kicker was injured and in the same game that Dallas’ Dan Bailey returned after missing four games with a groin injury.
Just like last week in the Cowboys’ blowout loss to division-leading Philadelphia, neither of the kickers mattered much with the Dallas offense sputtering and the defense not getting key stops.
Novak returned to make a 22-yard field goal after the injury, but left for good after missing an extra point . Punter Drew Kaser was 1 of 3 on extra points. The Chargers went for a fourth-and-13 in field goal range in a scoreless game early in the second quarter with Novak’s status in doubt, coming up a yard short.
Four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith returned for Dallas after missing two games with back and groin injuries, but the Cowboys lost 2014 All-Pro right guard Zack Martin to a concussion in the first half.
Austin Ekeler had a 38-yard catch to set up San Diego’s first touchdown in the third quarter, and Tyrell Williams added a 31-yard grab before making a 27-yard scoring catch.
LA has a Thanksgiving winning streak in Texas, because the Chargers’ previous holiday showing was a 21-17 AFL win at Houston in 1969, the year before the merger. It was the longest gap (48 years) for a team between Thanksgiving games in NFL history.
Dallas tight end Jason Witten, already the Thanksgiving record-holder in catches, passed Detroit’s Herman Moore for the most yards on the holiday. Witten now has 80 catches for 853 yards.
Chargers LT Russell Okung was the only player from either team with a display during the national anthem, raising his fist while he was a step behind teammates lined up on the sideline.
Chargers: Browns on Dec. 3 in first of two straight home games.
Cowboys: Redskins next Thursday in last of three straight home games.
Giants 10, Redskins 20
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — In one particularly embarrassing fourth-quarter sequence that drew boos from the home crowd, Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins went from planning to punt on fourth-and-1 to calling timeout and deciding to go for it, to drawing a delay-of-game penalty and, in the end, punting anyway.
Which, naturally, elicited more jeers.
By the end, Cousins was hearing cheers, because he made up for a pick-6 by showing the patience to produce a pair of second-half TD passes on slow-developing plays, helping the Redskins beat the New York Giants 20-10 on Thursday night on a drab field in a drab game between two injury-depleted teams that did not look ready for prime time.
“There were several plays that I would chalk up to the fact that they were sloppy because it was a short week. We just didn’t have the reps that we needed to,” said Cousins, who was 19 for 31 for 242 yards. “I’m just glad we found a way to win.”
The two NFC East rivals combined for more punts (nine) than points (six) in the first half, which ended 3-all on a pair of short field goals — from 30 yards by New York’s Aldrick Rosas, and 28 by Washington’s Nick Rose. The big play on Washington’s lone scoring “drive” of the half? A 37-yard flag for pass interference on New York’s Ross Cockrell; the entire possession covered 38 yards.
But Cousins, for whom every game is seemingly a referendum on whether Washington (5-6) should sign him to a long-term deal, connected with Jamison Crowder on a 15-yard pass in the third quarter that broke a 3-all tie, and with Josh Doctson on a 14-yarder with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.
On the Crowder play, Cousins was flushed out of the pocket and bought time by moving to his right before throwing into the end zone, where his receiver was “pretty wide open,” according to the QB. On the one to Doctson, Cousins looked for another receiver but eventually came back to last year’s first-round draft pick, saying, “He got separation and made a great catch.”
In between, cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Cousins’ pass and returned the ball 53 yards to make it 10-all.
That one play involved more yardage than Eli Manning and the Giants (2-9) generated in the entire second half.
“Not very good,” coach Ben McAdoo summed up.
They gained 47 yards and one solitary first down over the last two quarters. One possession ended with an interception by Manning, four ended with punts, and another dissolved when they turned the ball over on downs.
“It’s no fun losing. It’s no fun not scoring enough points offensively. It can wear you out. It can test you,” said Manning, who was 13 for 27 for 113 yards. “You have to keep going to the drawing board and find ways to play better.”
This was the first time the Redskins had hosted a game on Thanksgiving, and they and the Giants didn’t exactly treat the national TV audience to a thriller. More of a snoozer.
Given the ugliness, perhaps it was fitting that it was contested on a terrible-looking field. A large swath of brown ran down the middle, all the way from one end zone to the other.
Route-runners stumbled and fell for no apparent reason. Redskins back Samaje Perine gained 3 yards on five carries in the first half, although he did finish the game with 24 runs for 100 yards. Some fans on Twitter blamed the shaky footing for Cousins’ poor throw that turned into Jenkins’ score.
The ineptness was on display all night, never moreso than on what Redskins coach Jay Gruden called “football folly” — that botched fourth-down gong show that he blamed on a player who was supposed to be in the game but wasn’t because he had taken off a shoe.
Maybe all the issues were a result of being so depleted by injuries: Washington has placed 15 players on injured reserve this season, including its top two running backs, and New York’s total is 14, including star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Both offensive lines have been particular areas of concern, and Thursday was no different. The Redskins were missing three starters, while the Giants were using their eighth starting combination of the season.
So maybe it was no surprise that there were 10 sacks, plus penalties for false starts and holding.
In the game’s first eight possessions, the club combined for seven punts and one turnover on downs, when the Redskins failed to convert a fourth-and-1 in Giants territory thanks to Doctson’s dropped pass. Indeed, there were the same number of drops as first downs (four) in that stretch.
CROWDER COMES THROUGH
Crowder had a game-high seven catches — no other player on either team had more than three — for 141 yards and his first score of the season.
Giants: LB Deontae Skinner (hamstring), LB Curtis Grant (right leg), CB Donte Deayon (forearm and jaw).
Giants: At Oakland on Dec. 3. The Raiders are another playoff team a year ago that is under .500 currently.
Redskins: A second consecutive Thursday night game, this one Nov. 30 at the Dallas Cowboys, a team that won 33-19 at Washington last month.
Dolphins 17, Patriots 35
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Rob Gronkowski was upset that he didn’t get to sample any of the biscuits Tom Brady made for Thanksgiving.
They worked it out on Sunday.
Brady tossed four TD passes — including two to Gronkowski — and the New England Patriots pushed through injuries and a mistake-filled game for a 35-17 victory over the sliding Miami Dolphins.
“Anything (Gronkowski) wants I try to get for him,” Brady said. “So anything to keep him happy.”
New England (9-2) posted its seventh consecutive victory and third straight win over Miami. The Dolphins (4-7) have lost five straight for their longest slide since 2011.
It was Brady’s 28th career game with four or more touchdown passes — ranking third all-time. His 26 touchdowns passes are the most ever in a season after turning 40 years old.
Rex Burkhead also scored two TDs and Dion Lewis had 15 carries for 112 yards for New England, marking his first career 100-yard game. The Patriots went 5 for 5 in the red zone.
“We know our biggest games are ahead of us,” Brady said. “All the good teams are gonna start playing really well. We’ve gotta be one of those teams.”
Miami got within 28-17 in the fourth quarter, but came up empty on a fourth-down pass play with 8:48 left. On the ensuing series, the Patriots scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Brandin Cooks.
The Dolphins played without quarterback Jay Cutler, who practiced Friday, but remained in the concussion protocol.
Matt Moore struggled to find a rhythm in his second start of the season. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, but also had two interceptions. He was sacked seven times.
Despite the losing streak, Moore said the locker room is staying together.
“The overall pulse is OK. I mean, the world’s not ending,” he said. “But it’s not what we want, for sure.”
Miami also lost more key players to injury.
Running back Damien Williams was carted off the field in the third quarter with a shoulder injury following an 11-yard run. Return man Senorise Perry was placed in the concussion protocol after what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet collision with New England’s Trevor Reilly on a second-half kickoff return.
The Patriots got tricky to set up their first score, using a fourth-down run by Nate Ebner on a fake punt to keep their opening drive alive. Burkhead finished it with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Following a quick three-and-out by Miami, New England made it 14-0 via a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski.
Miami rebounded late in the second quarter, taking advantage of a rare self-inflicted mistake by New England.
Patriots center Ted Karras sent a second-down shotgun snap flying past Brady , who was not ready for the ball. It was scooped up by Dolphins safety Reshad Jones and returned for a touchdown.
Karras was filling in for David Andrews, who sat out for the second straight week with an illness.
But New England bounced right back. A pair of defensive holding penalties, a 27-yard pass from Brady to Cooks and a 22-yard run by Burkhead helped the Patriots drive to the Dolphins 1. Two plays later, Brady hit Burkhead for a 1-yard score to push the lead to 21-7.
Miami cornerback Bobby McCain was ejected for throwing a punch at New England receiver Danny Amendola.
McCain and Amendola got into it at the bottom of the pile early in the second half. McCain, who intercepted Brady in the second quarter, was called for unnecessary roughness and thrown out for throwing the punch. He had a few words for the referee as he left the field, and then was walked off toward the Dolphins locker room.
The penalty put the Patriots at the Miami 12. Two plays later, Brady found Gronkowski for a 15-yard TD and a 28-10 lead.
MOVING ON UP
It was the 16th multi-touchdown game by Gronkowski, setting a franchise record. Randy Moss held the old record with 15.
Dolphins: DE Terrence Fede was helped off the field after being injured in the scrum during Jones’ fumble recovery touchdown run.
Patriots: Ebner left with a knee injury after his fake punt run in the first quarter. … Reilly left with a head injury after the collision with Perry. … DL Trey Flowers (ribs) and LB Marquis Flowers left in the third quarter after a collision. … OL LaAdrian Waddle left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. … LB Kyle Van Noy (leg) was able to walk off the field on his own after he was shaken up in the fourth.
Dolphins: Return home to host the Broncos next Sunday.
Patriots: Play first of three straight road games at Buffalo next Sunday.
Bills 16, Chiefs 10
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Tyrod Taylor did exactly what he spent the first half of the season doing, back when the Buffalo Bills were off to a hot start and his job was never in question.
He threw for 183 yards and a touchdown. He kept plays alive with his feet. He made sure to avoid interceptions.
Taylor’s steady performance against Kansas City on Sunday dovetailed nicely with a stellar game by the Buffalo defense, capped off by Tre’Davious White’s interception with about a minute remaining that clinched a much-needed 16-10 victory over Alex Smith and the Chiefs.
“I just thought overall today we played good team offense,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “We ran the ball well at times. Tyrod used his feet well at times. We had some critical third-down conversions on drives, so there were some good things going on there. It wasn’t just one guy.”
Zay Jones had the touchdown reception and Stephen Hauschka kicked three field goals for the Bills (6-5), whose defense held Kansas City (6-5) to 236 yards of total offense.
“I think the three-game losing streak that we had has brought us closer and closer together than we already were,” White said, “the character of the guys we have in the locker room.”
Smith threw for 199 yards and a touchdown, but even the Chiefs’ lone score came on a catch-and-run by Albert Wilson. They were unable to complete much downfield, and with a ground game going nowhere, were ushered along to their fifth loss in six games.
The boos rang out when White stepped in front of Smith’s pass with 1:11 left and the Chiefs at the Buffalo 35. White nearly returned it for a touchdown before Smith finally tracked him down.
“A little shock there, no doubt,” Smith said. “Felt like we were going to bounce back, come back and get back into rhythm on offense. From the get-go, we didn’t do that.”
It was an especially gratifying win for McDermott, who spent 10-plus seasons working for Chiefs counterpart Andy Reid in Philadelphia. And it was even more so considering the heat McDermott had been under after his questionable quarterback change last week.
Taylor wasn’t spectacular against Kansas City. But he was better than Nathan Peterman was against the Chargers, when he threw five picks in his first 14 attempts.
“This just shows the resiliency that this team has, and the type of character we have,” Jones said. “All of our goals are still insight. We see the big picture. Sometimes you lose games but that doesn’t define you. I’m really proud of this team for getting a win on the road.”
The Chiefs’ offense was dismal in the first half against a defense that had surrendered more than 210 yards rushing per game the past three outings. Kansas City went three-and-out on its first five possessions and, taking away 14 yards of quarterback scrambling, gained 43 yards by the break.
The Bills fared marginally better.
Taylor threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jones late in the first quarter. But that was the only offense the Bills could muster as the Chiefs began to bottle up LeSean McCoy and put pressure on their elusive quarterback.
Kansas City finally snapped a streak of eight-plus quarters without a touchdown when Wilson hauled in a swing pass and went 19 yards midway through the third quarter. But the Bills answered quickly with a 49-yard field goal by Hauschka, giving them a 16-10 lead entering the fourth.
That was enough for the Bills’ defense.
“They did a little different thing with us, but it wasn’t anything we haven’t seen or been successful against,” Reid said. “It was just rough. We have to get through this and change it around.”
Hauschka missed a 52-yard field-goal try late in the first half, ending his NFL-record streak of 13 straight from at least 50 yards. The streak dated to 2014 when he was with Seattle. He bounced back to hit from 56 yards, giving him a Bills-record seven 50-plus makes this season.
RECORD KICKER, PART 2
Harrison Butker connected from 45 yards late in the first half, giving him a franchise-record 23 straight field-goal conversions. Butker hasn’t missed since his first attempt with Kansas City.
Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin did not make the trip after hurting his knee in last week’s loss to the Chargers. They were also missing LT Cordy Glenn (ankle) and RB Mike Tolbert (hamstring).
Seven-time Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis was inactive four days after signing with Kansas City. The Chiefs hope he’ll be ready to start opposite Marcus Peters next week against the Jets.
Bills: At home vs. Patriots next Sunday to start a three-game homestand.
Chiefs: A visit to the Jets next Sunday starts a stretch of three games in 13 days.
Browns 16, Bengals 30
CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals running back Joe Mixon and Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer exchanged jerseys at midfield, two rookies still looking to make their mark in the NFL.
Mixon finally had his moment, running for a career-high 114 yards during a 30-16 victory Sunday that kept the Bengals (5-6) with a flicker of hope for a playoff berth if they finish strong and get a lot of help.
“It doesn’t mean much, to be honest,” defensive end Carl Lawson said. “We can’t pull off the gas.”
For Kizer and the Browns, it’s another week of wondering if they’ll even win a game.
The Browns became the second team since the 1970 merger to go 0-11 in back-to-back years. The expansion Buccaneers did it in 1976-77. These Browns waited until the 15th game last season to get their only win, and they’re starting to run out of chances to avoid 0-16.
December is here, and they’re still 0-for-’17.
“Once we get over that hill, we’ll win a lot of games,” Kizer predicted.
All season long, the Browns have played well enough to keep it close, only to let it slip away with bad plays. The same thing happened at Paul Brown Stadium. Kizer threw for a career-high 268 yards and scored on a keeper with 6:57 left, getting the Browns within a touchdown.
Cincinnati went 75 yards for Mixon’s clinching 11-yard touchdown run, aided by a personal foul on safety Jabrill Peppers.
Next up is a Monday night game at home against the AFC North-leading Steelers with Cincinnati’s season on the line.
“The locker room’s going to be great, and this is a big one ahead of us,” Mixon said.
Some takeaways from the Bengals’ latest lopsided win in the intrastate series:
WIN GOING AWAY: Not only have the Bengals won the last seven in the series, they’ve also taken 21 of the last 27. The Bengals have scored 23 or more points in each game during the seven-game winning streak, including 30 six times. The only other time they scored more than 24 points in a game this season was Oct. 1, when they went to Cleveland and got a 31-7 victory.
UP AND RUNNING: Cincinnati’s running game was by far the worst in the league and the worst in franchise history heading into the game, averaging only 3 yards per carry. The Bengals had topped 100 yards rushing as a team only once all season, and were coming off a 49-yard effort at Denver.
“We put an emphasis on running the ball this week,” right tackle Andre Smith said.
KIZER BETTER, BUT STILL: The rookie made several nice throws to keep the offense moving — Cleveland piled up 405 yards — but the Browns wasted chances to make the Bengals sweat it out. Zane Gonzalez missed a field goal, and Corey Coleman dropped a pass in the end zone, forcing Cleveland to settle for a field goal on another possession.
BIG HIT: Peppers’ high hit on receiver Josh Malone down the sideline drew a 15-yard penalty that moved the Bengals into position to put the game away. The Browns’ sideline reacted angrily to the call.
“The officials said that our player’s helmet hit their player in the head,” Jackson said. “I didn’t see that. I thought our player’s shoulder hit him in the chest.
“That was a huge call at that juncture in the game, and the officials have to get that one right. I thought Jabrill did the right thing during that play.”
ON THE HORIZON: In order to stay in the playoff chase, the Bengals have to beat Pittsburgh next Monday. The Steelers have won five in a row and eight of nine in their series, including a 29-14 win in Pittsburgh on Oct. 22. The Browns play at the Los Angeles Chargers. Last year, they beat the Chargers in Cleveland for their only victory.
Bears 3, Eagles 31
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Before they pack their bags for a two-week trip to the West Coast and three straight games on the road, the Philadelphia Eagles could already be NFC East champions.
How they fare away from home will determine whether they stay here in January.
Carson Wentz tossed three touchdown passes and the NFL-leading Eagles dominated the Chicago Bears 31-3 Sunday for their ninth straight win and fourth in a row by at least 23 points.The Eagles (10-1) reduced their magic number to clinch the NFC East to one and would secure their first division title since 2013 if the Cowboys (5-6) lose or tie Washington on Thursday night.
That’s the first step. Securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs is the bigger goal.
“The next couple weeks, we have our work cut out,” Wentz said. “Those are good football teams ahead of us. The next three on the road will be a good challenge. It was good to get this home win before we head into that.”
The Eagles play at Seattle next Sunday night and will stay out West to practice in California before facing the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 10. They play at the New York Giants in Week 15 and return home against Oakland on Christmas night.
“We have a unique set of challenges coming up,” coach Doug Pederson said of the trip. “It’s just one week at a time, one game at a time. That’s what this team has embraced all season long. They are going to be prepared and ready to go up there.”
Here’s some things we learned from Philadelphia’s rout over Chicago (3-8):
ZACH ATTACK: Zach Ertz caught 10 passes for 103 yards and one TD to become the first player to surpass 100 yards receiving for the Eagles this season. Ertz leads the team with 55 receptions for 639 yards and his seven TD catches are tied with Alshon Jeffery.
“It just shows you how unselfish this team is,” Pederson said. “The fact that it’s not all about one guy. It’s everybody. Everybody’s making plays on offense. The fact that we’re spreading the ball around and everybody’s involved and we’re still being efficient on offense is a tribute to the way these guys work and practice each week.”
Ertz was on the sideline with most of the regulars before going in the game on third down to make his final catch on a pass from Nick Foles.
“It shows how close these guys are, how much we truly care about one another,” Ertz said. “Everyone is happy for the other man’s success. I think that’s a testament to this team.”
GROUND AND POUND: LeGarrette Blount ran for 97 yards, Jay Ajayi had a 30-yard run that ended with Nelson Agholor recovering his fumble in the end zone for a TD, and the Eagles racked up 176 yards rushing. Meanwhile, Philly’s defense held the Bears to just 6 yards rushing. Jordan Howard, who entered leading the NFC with 841 yards rushing, had 6 on seven carries.
ROOKIE MISTAKES: Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, making his seventh start, was overwhelmed by Philadelphia’s ferocious defense. He was 17 of 33 for 147 yards, threw two interceptions and was sacked twice.
“I don’t like losing, and that’s a big motivator for me,” Trubisky said. “You just get that sick feeling from it. Hopefully a lot of those guys in the locker room feel the same way. It motivates us to go back to work and get better for this week. You go out there and get embarrassed, and you know you’re capable of better. So hopefully we look within ourselves and get better for next week because I know we’re capable of playing better.”
FLIPPING AWESOME: Wentz had a 15-yard TD pass to Agholor, who flipped over defenders into the end zone to make it 14-0 in the second quarter. Before that play, Wentz had a spectacular run when he spun awayfrom a blitzer and scrambled 16 yards on third-and-9 to extend the drive.
SUPPORTING COACH: Bears coach John Fox is 12-31 in three seasons and faces questions about his future on a weekly basis. But players have his back.
“I would love to have Foxy back for many years,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “He’s one of my favorite head coaches I have ever had.”
Panthers 35, Jets 27
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers’ offense were far from their usual playmaking selves.
Thanks to the opportunistic defense and special teams — and some big-time mistakes by the New York Jets — they didn’t need to be.
Luke Kuechly returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown and Kaelin Clay had a 60-yard punt return for a score, capping a stunning swing in the fourth quarter that lifted the Panthers to a 35-27 comeback win on Sunday.
“I always hear, ‘That was an ugly win,’ but I’ve never heard such a thing as a pretty loss,” Newton said. “Either way it goes, we would prefer to get a win today. A great team win. It wasn’t a blockbuster outing offensively for us, statistics-wise. But at the end of the day, we found ways to win the football game.”
It was the fourth straight victory for the Panthers (8-3), who are now tied with the Saints in the NFC South after New Orleans lost 26-20 to the Los Angeles Rams. The teams meet next Sunday at New Orleans.
“To have the guys pick it up and do things that they needed to on defense and on special teams,” coach Ron Rivera said, “it was a big boost to the offense.”
This one turned in a span of 2 minutes, 11 seconds on mistakes by the Jets — and the Panthers taking advantage.
First, Kuechly scooped up a fumble by Josh McCown , who was sacked by Wes Horton and had the ball slip out of his hand as he was about to throw, and rumbled to the end zone for a touchdown.
“Luke was luckily in position to scoop the ball up and take it to the house,” Horton said.
Newton then hurdled linebacker Jordan Jenkins for the 2-point conversion to give the Panthers a 26-20 lead with 12:05 left.
After New York’s next drive stalled, the Jets were forced to punt. Clay fielded Lachlan Edwards’ kick and spun out of a tackle attempt and sped into the end zone . Newton’s pass on the 2-point conversion fell short, but Carolina was suddenly up 32-20 with 9:54 remaining.
“We didn’t panic,” Clay said. “The game is never over. We just kept playing and we made plays.”
The Jets (4-7) weren’t done yet, though.
McCown drove the Jets down the field, connecting with Jermaine Kearse on a 3-yard touchdown pass to cut New York’s deficit to five at 32-27 with 5:32 left.
The Panthers were able to add to their lead, getting a 45-yard field goal from Graham Gano with 21 seconds remaining. The drive was extended when Mike Pennel was called for roughing the passer on third-and-12, and helped seal the Jets’ fifth loss in their past six games and severely damaging their playoff hopes.
“This one stings,” McCown said. “To be up in the fourth quarter and not finish it, we’ve got to find a way to execute that and be better.”
Newton was mostly contained by the Jets’ defense, finishing 11 of 28 for 168 yards along with 28 yards rushing — including a 1-yard TD — on nine carries.
“I’m not going to be Debbie Downer spoiling a great win today,” Newton said, “but it’s great to see this team be resilient and find a way to win a football game in a very hostile environment.”
Tight end Greg Olsen left with a foot injury in the second half and didn’t return. Olsen had missed the previous eight games with a broken foot, but returned Sunday. He had one catch for 10 yards before leaving.
“I felt fine,” Olsen said. “It just got a little sore. It flared up. I went back out and played a little bit, but we just thought it would be best to live to play another day.”
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis also left in the second half with a thigh injury, but Rivera said he was also just sore.
McCown was 19 of 36 for 307 yards with three touchdowns, including two to Robby Anderson. The second, a 54-yarder, gave New York a 17-12 lead in the third quarter when McCown rolled out of trouble and then pointed to Anderson to keep running down the field . McCown then threw a perfectly placed ball to the wide-open Anderson for a TD.
Anderson’s first TD catch was a 33-yarder that the receiver was able to grab despite fighting off both Mike Adams and James Bradberry.
Anderson has a TD reception in five straight games, and lobbied for Pro Bowl votes to the TV cameras late in the game.
“I was just excited,” Anderson said. “I wasn’t trying to come off in a bad way.”
Both teams were coming off bye-week breaks, and the Panthers improved to 3-4 under Rivera in such games, while the Jets dropped to 1-2 under Bowles.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins appeared to have his fourth touchdown catch of the season — until it got wiped away by video review.
The Jets tight end stretched out in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard TD reception, but the call on the field was overturned when officials determined that the tight end didn’t maintain control of the ball.
“I dropped it,” Seferian-Jenkins said, “by what the refs said.”
It was reminiscent of his reversed TD against New England in Week 6, when it was ruled he fumbled out of bounds in the end zone.
Newton gave the Panthers a 9-3 lead when he ran left on a bootleg and walked into the end zone past linebacker Bruce Carter. Rookie safety Jamal Adams appeared to take exception to Newton’s celebratory “Superman” pose and pushed the Panthers quarterback, and an official intervened before anything escalated. Gano was wide right on the extra point.
Panthers: at New Orleans next Sunday.
Jets: home vs. Kansas City next Sunday.
Titans 20, Colts 16
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry took it personally when Tennessee started slowly Sunday.
The two running backs made sure they finished with a flurry.
Henry delivered the body blows with five strong runs midway through the fourth quarter and Murray finally punched it in from 1 yard with 5:59 left, giving the Titans a 20-16 win and their first victory in 10 tries at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Derrick came in and made some good runs,” Marcus Mariota said. “When you have a front like we do and you can lean on those guys, it’s huge. Their abilities and the way they can dominate the line of scrimmage is huge.”
This was far from a dominant performance, though.
The Titans (7-4) finished with 276 total yards, and the first half was a debacle.
Mariota was picked off twice, the league’s No. 12 rushing offense produced 9 yards on 11 carries, and all Tennessee could muster was two field goals.
During a 30-minute stretch, from late in the first quarter till late in the third, the Titans managed just one first down. And for the second straight game against the Colts (3-8), Tennessee trailed by 10 in the third quarter.
But the defense came up with eight sacks, the key fumble recovery late in the third quarter and kept it close enough to let the Murray-Henry combination to make a difference late.
All those shots eventually wore down Indy’s defense — as it did six weeks earlier in Nashville when the Titans snapped an 11-game losing streak in the series.
This time, Tennessee got its first season sweep since 2002 and its first win since the Colts’ stadium opened in 2008 . And now they have their best 11-game record since going 10-1 in 2008, a share of the AFC South lead with Jacksonville, and the current tiebreaker courtesy of a 37-16 road win over the Jaguars in Week 2.
“They did an outstanding job of stuffing us,” coach Mike Mularkey said, referring to the Colts’ run defense. “We came in at halftime and made some adjustments. The guys took it personally that we didn’t run the ball very well and it helped win the game for us.”
The Colts have lost three straight at home and five of six overall in frustratingly familiar fashion.
They took a 13-6 lead on Frank Gore’s 14-yard run late in the first half and extended the lead to 16-6 on Adam Vinatieri’s 42-yard field goal with 6:05 left in the third.
Then things slipped away.
Rookie running back Marlon Mack lost the ball on a pitch and Kevin Byard recovered the ball at the Colts’ 4-yard line. After an offside penalty moved the ball to the 2, Mariota connected with Delanie Walker in the corner of the end zone to cut the deficit to 16-13 with 1:50 left.
Indy only picked up only one more first down.
“These are 60-minute ballgames. They are not 30 minutes; they are not 45 minutes. They are 60-minute games,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “Plenty of opportunities to put that team away, we didn’t take advantage of those opportunities.”
Instead Murray and Henry handled the ball on 13 of the Titans’ last 15 plays, including the TD run, before Mariota dropped to his knee three straight times to close it out.
Titans: Tennessee ran 28 times for 92 yards. … Mariota was 17 of 25 for 184 yards with one TD. … The Titans came up one sack short of matching the franchise record, which had been achieved twice previously, most recently in 1971 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Colts: Frank Gore ran 17 times for 62 yards and one touchdown, the 77th of his career to tie Tony Dorsett for No. 22 on the league’s career list. … Tight end Jack Doyle had seven catches for 94 yards. … The Colts have blown double-digit second-half leads four times this season. … Indy has allowed 47 sacks this season, three more than it gave up all of last season.
Titans: Receiver Rishard Mathews missed the game with a hamstring injury. Walker, left tackle Taylor Lewan and linebacker Jayon Brown all left briefly but returned. Safety Da’Norris Searcy hurt his ankle in the second half and did not return. Mularkey said he believes it’s not serious.
Colts: Cornerback Rashaan Melvin left after injuring his hand on the first Mariota interception and did not return after having an X-ray. Starting center Ryan Kelly was held out in the second half because of a concussion.
THEY SAID IT
Titans: “If you want to win the division, you have to win the division games, especially on the road,” Mularkey said.
Colts: “I just took my eye off the ball,” Mack said of the fumble. “I should have just locked in and squeezed it in tight.”
Titans: Continue their AFC march by hosting Houston next Sunday.
Colts: Can even the season series at Jacksonville next Sunday.
Buccaneers 20, Falcons 34
ATLANTA (AP) — Julio Jones is getting hot, and so are the Atlanta Falcons.
Suddenly, things are looking up for the defending NFC champions.
Jones turned in one of the best games of his career, hauling in 12 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns, and the Falcons won their third in a row Sunday with a 34-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The goal is to get better as you’re playing,” coach Dan Quinn said. “We’re going to keep working like crazy to do that.”
It would be hard for Jones to get much better.
After managing only one touchdown catch through the first 10 games, he doubled that total in the first half. Jones hauled in a 51-yard scoring pass from fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu and went 25 yards for a TD on a throw from Matt Ryan, finishing the play with a soaring dive for the pylon, somehow managing to stay in bounds before sticking out the ball with his right hand.
“I’m feeling better,” Jones said. “A couple weeks ago, I had an ankle (injury) and it was bothering me. But right now, I’m good.”
That’s an understatement.
Jones now has three games in his brilliant career with at least 250 yards receiving. No other player in NFL history has more than one.
“Man, if we could just dial up 250 from him every week, that would be pretty good recipe for success,” said Ryan, who was 26 of 35 for 317 yards. “He’s an unbelievable talent, an unbelievable competitor. Obviously, he gets us going.”
The Falcons (7-4) began the day two games behind New Orleans in the NFC South but holding a wild-card spot.
That’s a big improvement over where they were at the beginning of the month, having lost four of five games to raise serious questions about whether they’d even get back to the playoffs, much less duplicate their run to the Super Bowl.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, the Falcons rekindled some ugly memories by nearly squandering a big lead to a team playing its third consecutive game without injured quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Buccaneers (4-7) rebounded from a 27-6 deficit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and drove deep into Atlanta territory after forcing a fumble at the other end of the field. But Keanu Neal battled down Fitzpatrick’s pass on fourth-and-1 at the Atlanta 18 with just over seven minutes remaining, and the Falcons drove for a clinching touchdown on Tevin Coleman’s 14-yard run with just under two minutes to go.
“We did a good job of battling back and giving ourselves a chance to win,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said.
If only they could’ve figured out some way to stop Jones.
“We tried rolling the coverage to him. We tried pressing him,” Koetter said. “We didn’t have an answer for him.”
Coleman, filling in for again for injured Devonta Freeman, rushed for 97 yards and two TDs. He had a 3-yard scoring run in the third quarter, staking the Falcons to a seemingly comfortable lead in the first of three straight home games for the Falcons.
Fitzpatrick made the Atlanta crowd a bit uncomfortable. Looking for his third straight victory since taking over for Winston, the backup quarterback finished 27 of 44 for 283 yards, setting up a pair of short touchdown runs by Peyton Barber.
Sanu remained perfect in his career when throwing. He is 6 of 6 for 228 yards with three touchdowns.
On the throw to Jones, Sanu took the snap out of shotgun on third-and-1, while Ryan lined up wide right in a receiver slot. The play nearly got derailed when Sanu bobbled the ball faking a handoff to Coleman, but he managed to snag it out of the air and deliver a perfect throw down the middle of the field.
“We’re just having fun,” Sanu said. “We’ve got a little swag back.”
JULIO THE FENCER
Jones looks as if he might have a second career as a fencer if this football thing doesn’t work out for him.
After his second TD, Jones celebrated by doing some faux jousting with teammate Justin Hardy.
Of course, Jones wound up delivering the winning blow, sending Hardy tumbling backward to the turf.
“We’re just trying to be creative,” Jones said. “It’s one of those things that brings us together.”
Tampa Bay: The Bucs sustained some huge blows during the game, losing RB Doug Martin (concussion), S T.J. Ward (concussion), S Josh Robinson (hamstring) and DT Clinton McDonald (back).
Atlanta: CB Desmond Trufant went out with a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet collision with teammate Neal in the second quarter. DB Brian Poole also went out with a lower back injury.
Tampa Bay: Play their third straight road game at Green Bay next Sunday.
Atlanta: Stay home to face first-place Minnesota (9-2).
Seahawks 24, 49ers 13
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Russell Wilson realized as they tirelessly worked out together in the offseason just what a special connection he has with Jimmy Graham.
Seattle’s quarterback saw it again during training camp, and now their mutual trust is leading to spectacular and timely successes on the field during a push for the playoffs.
They are clicking in a way Pete Carroll can only admire: eight touchdowns over seven games.
Lots of synchronicity.
Wilson found Graham for one of his two touchdown throws to give him 150 career TDs passing, and also ran for a short score as the Seahawks overcame a sloppy start to beat the San Francisco 49ers 24-13 on Sunday.
“Jimmy Graham’s playing phenomenal football,” Wilson said. “He’s one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. I think that he really stands out and he can do some special things.
Wilson connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Nick Vannett in the third quarter for the second-year tight end’s first career TD and a 1-yarder early in the fourth to Graham, whose 16 TD receptions passed Jerramy Stevens for most by a Seattle tight end.
“The chemistry between he and Russ has reached the level that makes them really on top of their games,” Carroll said. “We’ll keep going.”
Jimmy Garoppolo made his 49ers debut with 1:07 remaining after starting quarterback C.J. Beathard went down with a left leg injury on a hit by Michael Bennett as he threw a pass. Garoppolo — acquired from New England at the trade deadline last month and intended to stay on the shelf a little longer given the lost season — immediately scrambled to gain 4 yards and found Louis Murphy for a 10-yard touchdown as time expired.
“There’s never an easy situation to go into,” Garoppolo said. “Being the backup, I’ve experienced both ends of it. But you always have to be ready.”
Wilson completed 20 of 34 passes for 228 yards and moved past Joe Flacco to become the winningest quarterback in his first six seasons with 63 victories. He got going in the second half on a gray — even Seattle-like — Bay Area day that featured a light rain in the early going and more when the clock wound down.
The Seahawks (7-4) won their ninth straight in the series in a streak that began with the NFC title game in January 2014 at Seattle. These are hardly the anticipated matchups they used to be in what had been one of the NFL’s best rivalries.
Seattle was 2 of 8 on third-down chances before Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 23-yard gain midway through the third period. That was followed by Tanner McEvoy’s 24-yard reception.
Things didn’t start well for Seattle.
Wilson threw an interception on the Seahawks’ first play from scrimmage, then struggling kicker Blair Walsh hooked a 48-yard field-goal try wide left. Ahkello Witherspoon broke up a pass intended for Tyler Lockett in the end zone late as Seattle failed to score in the opening quarter, yet San Francisco (1-10) couldn’t capitalize until getting on the board with Robbie Gould’s 38-yard field goal moments before halftime. Trent Taylor’s 29-yard reception put the Niners in good position.
Gould converted a 42-yarder in the third quarter to make it a one-point game. The Seahawks then took control.
About a minute into the second quarter, replay confirmed an interception by Bobby Wagner after he hadn’t practiced all week. He ran it into the end zone but got called back after the review. Wilson scurried into the end zone two plays later for the first points of the game.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan stuck with Beathard following the team’s bye week, allowing Garoppolo time to get comfortable in a new system. San Francisco managed just 16 yards of total offense in the opening quarter.
Carlos Hyde was held to 9 yards on eight rushes in the first half, then ended up with 47 yards rushing on 16 carries, including a 14-yard run early in the third.
Beathard was 22 of 38 for 201 yards Sunday before the injury.
Before a 34-yard field goal late, Walsh had failed on two straight field goals after missing from 52 yards late in the final seconds in Monday’s 34-31 loss to Atlanta. He also missed three against Washington in another three-point Seahawks defeat Nov. 5. He is 18 for 24 on the year.
Seahawks tight end Luke Willson was lost in the first half and evaluated for a concussion and will be in the protocol, while linebacker Josh Forrest sprained a foot “fairly significantly” in the first half according to Carroll.
Running back Raheem Mostert was lost to a knee injury for San Francisco, already without right tackle Trent Brown because of a shoulder injury sustained Wednesday. Wideout Marquise Goodwin injured a foot in the third quarter.
Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley went down early in the fourth period with what looked like a scary knee injury, but he later returned.
Seahawks: Host Philadelphia on Sunday.
49ers: At Chicago on Sunday.
Saints 20, Rams 26
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams methodically drove downfield on their opening possession, and Sammy Watkins caught a precise slant from Jared Goff for a touchdown.
Drew Brees then got the ball for New Orleans’ first drive, and the Rams sacked him on back-to-back plays.
From that auspicious start to the recovery of the Saints’ final onside kick, the Rams emerged from a dismal decade of losing football on Sunday with their most impressive win of the season.
And Goff’s squad seems capable of accomplishing a whole lot more.
Goff passed for 354 yards and hit rookie Josh Reynolds for another touchdown , and the Rams snapped the Saints’ eight-game winning streak with a 26-20 victory in a meeting of NFC division leaders.
The Rams (8-3) also ended a streak of their own: This franchise’s 10-year run of losing regular seasons is finally over.
For the first time since 2006, the Rams will finish at least at .500 after doubling their win total from their relocation season in 2016.
“That’s the best feeling ever, just being on a winning team,” said Watkins, who had four catches for 82 yards. “It makes it easy to go out there every week and work hard.”
The victory was an enormous statement about the Rams’ ability to play with the NFC’s best, but their fifth win in six games has put them in position for much bigger accomplishments.
After bouncing back soundly from a loss at Minnesota, this revitalized franchise is steaming toward its first playoff berth since 2004 and its first winning season since 2003.
“There were some games this year where we realized we could play with anybody,” Goff said. “This was, for sure, one of them.”
Alvin Kamara made a brilliant 74-yard touchdown run and a late TD reception for the Saints (8-3), who finally lost for the first time since Sept. 17.
Veteran coordinator Wade Phillips’ defense turned in a gritty effort against the high-scoring Saints, holding Brees to 246 yards passing — just 96 in the first three quarters.
“We never found a good rhythm of run-pass,” Brees said. “It just felt like everything was really tough sledding. The minute we’d get something going, there would be a penalty that would set us back, and then we’d be off the field.”
One week after rallying from 15 points down late in the fourth quarter to beat Washington in overtime, the Saints fell behind on the opening drive and never caught up.
New Orleans struggled to stop Goff’s passing game with its top two cornerbacks sidelined by injuries, and the Rams steadily moved the ball to win a meeting between two of the NFL’s top three highest-scoring teams.
“You could point to a number of things, but really, in so many areas, I thought we were sloppy,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said.
“We hurt ourselves. … We’ve got a big game coming up next week (against NFC South co-leader Carolina), and we’ll get ready to play it, but we can’t gloss over this, though. We’ve got to look at this closely.”
The Rams made two lengthy drives ending in fourth-quarter field goals, and Watkins recovered the onside kick after the Saints finally trimmed Los Angeles’ lead to one score on Kamara’s TD catch with 1:45 to play.
Aside from Kamara’s remarkable capacity for big plays, the Rams largely limited the NFL’s most prolific offense. Even with Brees getting rid of the ball quickly, Los Angeles held the Saints to 346 yards — 69 below their average, and just 189 in the first three quarters.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was his usual nightmare, getting his fifth sack in six games along with two tackles for loss.
“I thought our defense did a great job today making them earn tough yards,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We’ve got some pretty good players on defense.”
CARVING IT UP
Goff went 28 of 43, patiently picking at the Saints’ defense in his fourth 300-yard game of the season despite the absence of top receiver Robert Woods. Rookie Cooper Kupp set career highs with eight catches for 116 yards, and Reynolds made his first career TD catch in the second quarter.
GREG THE LEG
NFL scoring leader Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals for the Rams, giving him 127 points in 11 games this season. He also missed a 63-yard attempt into the wind at the halftime gun, but McVay didn’t regret trying it: “More times than not, he’s going to hit that kick.”
Saints: Starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore (ankle) and Ken Crawley (abdomen) sat out as expected. … LT Terron Armstead injured his hamstring during the third quarter.
Rams: Linebacker Connor Barwin was ruled out shortly after halftime with an arm injury. … Woods (shoulder) missed his first game of the season.
Saints: Return home to host the Panthers on Sunday in a showdown for first place in the division.
Rams: A trip to Arizona on Sunday to face the Cardinals, who got blown out by the Rams in London earlier this season.
Broncos 14, Raiders 21
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — For everything that has gone wrong for Oakland this season, from a four-game losing streak to the defensive coordinator getting fired to the offense regressing, the Raiders somehow find themselves in contention in the mediocre AFC West.
Oakland got a boost Sunday when it eked out a 21-14 win over the Denver Broncos despite losing star receiver Michael Crabtree to an ejection for his role in a brawl and nearly squandering a 21-point lead to a last-place team.
“It’s just a lot of relief,” said Carr, who threw two TD passes . “And now, we sit where we sit and we know what’s ahead of us. It was just a lot of relief getting this win, getting back on the right track, and hopefully we can go on a run.”
With Kansas City (6-5) losing for the fifth time in six games, the Raiders (5-6) are now tied with the Chargers for second place and only need to win their own games to take the division title thanks to this latest win.
It was a wild one, starting with the first-quarter brawl between Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib that overshadowed a week of turmoil for both teams. Denver fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and made another quarterback change to give Paxton Lynch the start, and Oakland fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.
The fight was a continuation of a dispute that started last season when Talib ripped Crabtree’s chain off during the season finale. Crabtree missed the first game between the teams this year but wasted little time seeking revenge.
On the second play of Oakland’s second drive, Crabtree aggressively blocked Talib on a running play and drove him to the ground on the Broncos sideline. Talib ripped Crabtree’s chain off his neck while they were tangled up, and a brawl ensued . Guard Gabe Jackson pushed an official while trying to join in and got ejected, along with Crabtree and Talib.
“I guess his initiative was to come out there and fight today,” said Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who said Crabtree “sucker-punched” him on the previous play. “I guess it wasn’t to play football.”
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
PAXTON’S PROBLEMS: The switch to Lynch provided no spark for the Broncos. He threw for just 41 yards on 14 attempts while taking four sacks before leaving with an ankle injury. Trevor Siemian came in and threw two TD passes in the fourth quarter. But coach Vance Joseph wasn’t ready to commit to a quarterback for next week.
“This was the first week I had played with all these guys in a while,” Lynch said. “It felt good out there to get out there and play with them, but obviously this isn’t the result we all wanted.”
STEPPING UP: With Crabtree ejected and Amari Cooper out with a concussion, the Raiders had to rely on some lesser-used receivers. Johnny Holton and Cordarrelle Patterson both stepped up with big plays. Holton had a 47-yard catch on a deep throw to set up Oakland’s third touchdown and Patterson had a 54-yard, catch-and-run on a late third down that allowed Oakland to run out the clock.
“We just stepped up and did what we are supposed to do,” Patterson said. “We know what we can do that’s why when people go down its next man up.”
HISTORIC SKID: It has been a long time since things have been this bad for the Broncos . Their seven-game losing streak is their longest since a franchise-record nine-gamer in 1967.
“I am just irritated man,” linebacker Shane Ray said. “I don’t like losing. My teammates don’t like losing. … We are doing everything that we possibly can try to do to be better and fight for our teammates, and you know it is frustrating when these losses come like this.”
BEAST MODE: Oakland kept giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch even if it didn’t lead to much success. He had 26 carries for 67 yards, averaging just 2.6 yards in his busiest day since coming out of retirement this season. But he scored on a 1-yard TD and added 44 yards on three catches.
BIG HIT: The Raiders were upset about the hit that sidelined Cooper. On a pass over the middle, safety Darian Stewart ran up from his deep position and delivered a big hit that knocked Cooper out. Cooper stayed on the ground for several minutes before a cart came out on the field. He ended up walking off on his own but is in the concussion protocol.
“It was a vicious hit, the kind we’re trying to remove from our game quite frankly,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m sure the league will take a hard look at it.”
Jaguars 24, Cardinals 27
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — It was one special afternoon for Phil Dawson and Blaine Gabbert.
Dawson kicked a 57-yard field goal with 1 second left and the Arizona Cardinals beat Jacksonville 27-24 on Sunday, snapping the Jaguars’ four-game winning streak and dropping them into a first-place tie with Tennessee in the AFC South.
It was the longest field goal of the 42-year-old kicker’s career and came in a maddeningly inconsistent season with six misses.
“I make it a habit not to evaluate a season in its entirety until it’s over,” Dawson said. “But today was sweet for our team.”
It also lifted Gabbert to a win against the franchise that had given up on the quarterback.
“It’s great, I love it,” guard Alex Boone said of Gabbert’s victory. “It’s like revenge all over. It’s so awesome. That (Jacksonville) is a good team out there. They are playing well and getting this win is what we needed.”
The Jaguars traded up six places to draft Gabbert 10th overall in 2011, but they got rid of him after three seasons, sending him to San Francisco for a sixth-round draft pick. Gabbert signed with Arizona in the offseason as the No. 3 quarterback, and then got a chance to play when Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton got hurt.
Gabbert was 22 of 38 for 241 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while improving to 10-31 as an NFL starter.
Dawson also was good from 34, 42 and 48 yards as the Cardinals (5-6) beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season.
Jacksonville (7-4) trailed most of the game, but took a 17-16 lead when ex-Cardinal Calais Campbell returned Gabbert’s fumble 10 yards for a touchdown with 12:10 to play.
“I just knew we had the game locked up,” Campbell said, “but at the end of the day, they made a few big-time plays. … I felt like I didn’t play my best game today.”
Gabbert responded with a 52-yard TD pass to Jaron Brown. He then found Larry Fitzgerald for the 2-point conversion, giving Arizona a 24-17 lead.
Corey Grant’s 68-yard return of the ensuing kickoff led to Blake Bortles’ second rushing touchdown of the day, a 17-yarder that tied it at 24 with 7:26 left.
Jacksonville’s Barry Church and Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu each had an interception in the final 3:38, but neither team could turn it into a score.
The Cardinals got the ball back on a punt with 16 seconds to play at their 39.
Gabbert threw two sideline completions, the second one to D.J. Foster with 6 seconds to go — Foster made a lunging tippy-toe catch that had to be reviewed — to get close enough for the winning field goal.
Coach Doug Marrone blamed himself for giving Arizona that final chance.
“If I had to do it all over again, I just would have ran the clock out and went to overtime,” he said. “That is my fault.”
Bortles also had a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter. He was 19 of 33 for 160 yards and an interception.
The Cardinals took the lead with a short drive on their first possession. Gabbert completed 4 of 5 for 43 yards to set up Dawson’s 34-yarder.
Dawson kicked another field goal in the second quarter and Kerwynn Williams’ 21-yard punt return set up Gabbert’s 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, making it 13-0 Arizona.
Jacksonville finally got on the board on Josh Lambo’s 43-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the half.
Jacksonville entered as the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL at 160 yards per game, but managed a season-low 91 against the Cardinals.
Leonard Fournette carried 12 times for 25 yards. Bortles was the team’s leading rusher with 62 yards on six carries.
Seals-Jones no doubt has enjoyed having Gabbert as his quarterback. Promoted from the practice squad on Sept. 25, the undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M didn’t have an NFL catch until a week ago, when he caught three, two for touchdowns, from Gabbert in a loss at Houston.
Seals-Jones was back at it Sunday, catching four passes for 72 yards.
Already without starting offensive linemen Patrick Omameh and Jermey Parnell, the Jaguars lost linebacker Telvin Smith to a concussion in the first half. Arizona inside linebacker Deone Bucannon left in the first half with an ankle injury and Williams departed with a rib injury.
Campbell got his wish, trading jerseys with his old friend Fitzgerald when the game ended.
Jaguars: Play Indianapolis next Sunday in first of three straight home games.
Cardinals: Host NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
Packers 28, Steelers 31
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers had the ball, 17 seconds and about 30 yards to go to avoid overtime against relentlessly resilient Green Bay.
Oh, and the Steelers had Antonio Brown. The Packers did not. And 17 seconds, 30ish yards provided entirely by Pittsburgh’s do-everything wide receiver and one 53-yard field goal from Chris Boswell later, the Steelers were dancing on the logo at midfield following a 31-28 escape on Sunday night.
Pittsburgh (9-2) won its sixth straight behind Brown, who finished with 10 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Yet the biggest grab was a 23-yard toe-tap along the sideline on the first snap of his team’s last-gasp drive that put the Steelers near the fringe of Boswell’s range.
At first, it looked as if Brown was out of bounds. Two officials conferred for more than 15 seconds before ruling Brown somehow managed to get both feet down. The call stood on replay.
A more conventional 14-yard reception on the next snap pushed the Steelers closer. Boswell’s career-long blast slipped inside the left upright to keep Pittsburgh tied with New England atop the AFC and keep Brown’s teammates searching for superlatives.
“It’s one thing to do it in practice on a Thursday,” guard David Decastro said. “To do it in that situation to get into field goal range? I just, I guess how can you not be surprised?”
“I knew right away I had it,” Brown said. “I got my hand on the ball. I knew it was a catch.”
One the Steelers needed to avoid perhaps another mystifying loss. Even though the Packers were missing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Ty Montgomery and linebacker Clay Matthews, they pushed Pittsburgh to the limit.
Brett Hundley completed 17 of 26 for 245 yards and three touchdowns for the Packers (5-6) in his best start since taking over when Rodgers went on injured reserve with a broken collarbone last month. Jamaal William ran for 66 yards, including a 4-yard leap into the end zone with 2:02 that tied it at 28.
“I just want to give this team an opportunity to win,” Hundley said. “And I feel like we were really close.”
Hundley actually had a chance to pull off a Rodgers-like winning drive. But Green Bay went three-and-out after getting the ball with 1:20 to go. The Packers punted it back to Pittsburgh with 17 seconds left. Just enough time, it turns out, for Brown to do his thing and for Boswell to do his.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and special teams coordinator Danny Smith didn’t approach Boswell before Boswell headed onto the field to kick into the tricky closed end of Heinz Field. That’s not what they do.
“I don’t tell them numbers, they don’t ask me numbers,” Boswell said. “If we need it, we need it and I kick it. That’s about it.”
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Le’Veon Bell ran for 95 yards and added another 88 yards receiving but also had a fumble that stalled a drive early in the fourth quarter. The Steelers outgained Green Bay 462-307 and had the ball for nearly 34 minutes.
Yet the Packers counterpunched repeatedly behind Hundley, who threw touchdown passes of 39, 54 and 55 yards then later guided Green Bay on a 12-play, 77-yard drive that was nearly enough to send the game to overtime.
“It was a close game and it came down to the wire and it hurts when you don’t finish it off,” Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams said. “I think this team can rally together and finish strong.”
“THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM”
The usually taciturn (at least when cameras are rolling) Tomlin raised eyebrows during a pregame interview in which he stressed he believes his team can win the Super Bowl and allowed there’s a part of him thinking about New England’s visit to Heinz Field on Dec. 17.
“We’ve got a good football team,” Tomlin said. “I’ve got a great deal of confidence in them. Everybody in America knows it’s a big game. We couldn’t deny it if we wanted to.”
The Packers were up 21-14 and had the ball in Pittsburgh territory in the third quarter when head coach Mike McCarthy sent Mason Crosby out to attempt a 57-yard field goal, a risky move at best let alone in perhaps the hardest stadium in the league to kick.
Crosby’s low knuckler was never close and the Steelers took advantage of the short field to even the score at 21 on the first of Brown’s two touchdown grabs.
“We needed points,” McCarthy said. “You look at the flow of the game … that’s the right decision.”
With Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster out with a hamstring problem, Martavis Bryant and had his most productive game since returning from a year-long drug suspension that cost him the entire 2016 season. Bryant finished with 99 total yards and his first touchdown since Week 2.
Packers: Host Tampa Bay next Sunday. Green Bay is 0-3 at home since Rogers was injured.
Steelers: At Cincinnati on Monday, Dec. 4. Pittsburgh beat the Bengals 29-14 on Oct. 22.
Texans 16, Ravens 23
BALTIMORE (AP) — Take the ball away from the other guys, hold onto it yourself and make sure nothing happens to Justin Tucker.
That, apparently, is the formula the Baltimore Ravens intend to use to reach the playoffs.
Terrell Suggs led an aggressive defense that kept Houston out of the end zone for the final 51 minutes, and the Ravens forced two turnovers in the final 5 minutes to secure a 23-16 victory on Monday night.
“If the game’s on the line, you’ve got to be comfortable when your defense is out there,” Suggs said. “It feels good.”
After Suggs stripped the ball from quarterback Tom Savage and Baltimore recovered, Tucker kicked his third field goal with 2:53 remaining for a seven-point cushion.
Anthony Levine then intercepted a Savage pass to clinch it.
The Ravens picked off two passes to increase their NFL-leading total to 18, and their three takeaways upped their league-best total to 26.
Asked to assess Savage’s performance, Houston coach Bill O’Brien said: “Can’t turn it over. I thought he did some good things, but he turned it over too many times.”
Baltimore, in turn, did not commit a turnover.
Suggs had two sacks, Alex Collins ran for 60 yards and a touchdown, and punter Sam Koch threw perhaps Baltimore’s most significant pass of the game.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called for a fake punt, converted a fourth down with a rarely used pitchout and had quarterback Joe Flacco line up at wide receiver on a play in which Collins took a direct snap.
“You always have them in the game plan,” Flacco said. “It’s just the flow of the game.”
All of this added spice to a stagnant offense that protected the ball and did just enough to win.
Flacco went 20 for 32 for 141 yards.
The Ravens (6-5) have won consecutive games for the first time since they opened the season 2-0. They are now above .500 for the first time since Oct. 8 and tied with Buffalo for the final AFC wild-card spot.
Houston (4-7) has lost four of five.
Savage, who has started the last four games in place of injured DeShaun Watson, completed 22 of 37 passes for 252 yards. But he gave the ball away three times, and that was the difference.
“You’re not going to win any games when you turn it over and you don’t get any turnovers,” O’Brien said.
Aided by three penalties against Baltimore, the Texans traveled the length of the field and went up 7-0 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller.
That would be Houston’s last sniff of the end zone.
“It’s hard to run the ball on these guys,” O’Brien said. “You try to stay balanced and we couldn’t really run it.”
Early in the second quarter, after a third-down incompletion, the Ravens appeared poised to punt for the fourth time in four series. But Koch lofted a pass to Chris Moore , a play that went for 22 yards to the Houston 19. That set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Javorius Allen, who reached the end zone with a healthy push from several of his teammates.
An interception by Tony Jefferson was followed by a fourth-and-1 gamble in which Collins took a quick pitch and ran for 29 yards to the Houston 8. Collins covered the final 8 yards on the following play for a 14-7 lead.
The teams traded field goals in the final two minutes before halftime.
GET THE BALL
Suggs joked about how former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis loved pouncing on loose balls.
“Every time I’m ready to get the ball, I can hear Ray Lewis say, ‘Sizzle, get the ball. I want the ball,'” Suggs said. “Ray Lewis, he probably made a tackle tonight. He’s always gotten credit.”
PRIMED TO WIN
Baltimore has won 10 straight games in prime time and is 12-1 under the lights since Harbaugh took over in 2008.
Texans: LB Brennan Scarlett (foot) and OT Chris Clark (ankle) left in the second quarter. LB Ben Heeney (hamstring) left in the third quarter.
Ravens: LB C.J. Mosley was placed in the concussion protocol in the third quarter and quickly cleared.
Texans: At Tennessee on Sunday.
Ravens: Host Detroit on Sunday.