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Here is a recap of Week 14 of the 2017 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Saints 17, Falcons 20
ATLANTA (AP) — With the season potentially hanging in the balance, Deion Jones leaped high in the air, about as high as he could go.
He reached even higher, snatching the ball away before it could reach the intended target.
Holding on for dear life with both arms, the Atlanta Falcons linebacker landed flat on his back in the end zone, the ball secured tightly against his chest.
No way he was letting go.
Jones made a leaping interception in the end zone with 1:25 remaining and the Falcons held on for a crucial 20-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, setting up a three-way race for the NFC South title.
“It was all about the ball,” Jones said. “I just opened up my eyes, and all my brothers were right there, standing over me. It was great.”
Matt Ryan shook off three interceptions to guide the Falcons to Matt Bryant’s 52-yard field goal with 3:49 to go. The Saints (9-4) were in position to pull out the victory, driving to the Atlanta 11 after Drew Brees converted on fourth-and-1 with a quarterback sneak, as coach Sean Payton passed on attempting a tying field goal.
On second down, Brees attempted to hit tight end Josh Hill in the back of the end zone.
Jones had other ideas.
“When it takes a while to land, you know you’re up there,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He definitely went up and reached for it.”
The Falcons (8-5) climbed within one game of the division-leading Saints with three weeks to go, as New Orleans squandered a chance to build a three-game lead on the defending division champs. Atlanta is back in the race and gets another crack at New Orleans when the teams meet again in the next-to-last week of the regular season at the Superdome.
The Carolina Panthers (8-4) also are right in the thick of things.
Ryan had three interceptions in a stretch of nine plays at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. But he tied the game with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 9:55 remaining , finishing 15 of 27 for 221 yards.
Brees was 26 of 35 for 271 yards and two TDs. Yet he was kicking himself for trying to force one at the end.
On the opening possession, New Orleans lost half of its dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield when rookie Alvin Kamara took a shot to the helmet and staggered off with a concussion.
Mark Ingram was left to carry the load as the “Boom and Zoom” duo became simply “Boom.” He was held to 49 yards on 12 carries as the Saints largely abandoned one of the league’s top rushing attacks. Michael Thomas had 10 catches for 117 yards and a TD .
With Atlanta trying to drive into position for a tiebreaking field goal in the waning seconds of the opening half, Ryan threw a terrible pass that was picked off by rookie Marshon Lattimore, who was back in the lineup after missing two games with an ankle injury.
Lattimore returned it 33 yards to the Atlanta 29 with 4 seconds remaining, setting up Wil Lutz to boot a 47-yard field goal as time expired. But the Falcons caught a break when the Saints failed to have seven blocked on the line of scrimmage, and the penalty resulted in a mandatory 10-second runoff that ended the half with the score tied at 10.
After getting picked off on Atlanta’s last play of the first half, Ryan went to the air again on the first play of the second half.
Same result, though it wasn’t Ryan’s fault.
The ball went through the arms of tight end Austin Hooper, rolled up on his back and was intercepted by Chris Banjo, setting up the 1-yard scoring pass to Thomas.
On Atlanta’s next possession, Ryan guided the Falcons to the New Orleans 9. On third down, he attempted to force a pass into the end zone for Julio Jones only to be picked off again by Marcus Williams.
It was the second time this season and ninth time in his career that Ryan has thrown three interceptions in a game.
It was a brutal night for the Saints, which is sure to raise more questions after the health risks of playing on Thursday nights.
In addition to Kamara’s injury, New Orleans lost another offensive guard and three starters on defense.
Guard Senio Kelemete, filling in for injured starter Andrus Peat (groin), left with a concussion. That forced the Saints to go with Josh LeRibeus, the backup center.
On defense, the Saints lost linebacker A.J. Klein in the first half with a groin injury. Starting defensive end Trey Hendrickson left with an ankle injury and strong safety Kenny Vaccaro was sidelined with a groin injury.
“A lot of different guys go down,” coach Sean Payton said. “That became challenging.”
Saints: Host the New York Jets (5-7) on Dec. 17 in the first of two straight home games.
Falcons: After a short turnaround for the Thursday night game, Atlanta has an 11-day break before returning to action with a Monday night contest at Tampa Bay (4-8) on Dec. 18.
Cowboys 30, Giants 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys needed a big win to stay in the playoff hunt and they got it with the big play in spoiling Steve Spagnuolo’s debut as New York interim coach and the return of quarterback Eli Manning to the Giants’ starting lineup.
Dak Prescott threw two of his three touchdown passes, including a go-ahead 20-yarder to Giants’ nemesis Jason Witten, and linebacker Sean Lee set up a touchdown run by Rod Smith as the Cowboys scored three times in a 4:41 span late in the fourth quarter to beat the still reeling Giants 30-10 on Sunday.
“To me, the biggest part of this game was the finish,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “That’s always a huge emphasis for us, finishing plays, finishing drives and ultimately finishing the game.”
The Cowboys (7-6) did just that in keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.
The biggest play might have been Prescott’s 54-yard third down pass play to Cole Beasley. Witten scored on the next play to break a 10-all tie with 7:38 to play and it seemed to take the air out of the Giants (2-11).
“We know what we got to do,” Beasley said. “We can’t play that way. We have to focus on Dallas Cowboy football, taking it one at a time. You can’t think ahead. We could win all of them and not get in.”
After a punt, Rod Smith scored on an 81-yard pass play on third down with 4:08 to play and he closed out the scoring with 2:57 to play with his run on a play that looked as if no one on the Giants wanted to tackle him.
“We knew we needed a play. Guys aren’t panicking,” Beasley said. “I wouldn’t say we were desperate. When you’re desperate, you start reaching a little bit, maybe start trying too hard. You have to stay within the system and stay within the game and keep playing and eventually have faith that those things will happen.”
Prescott, who was 20 of 30 for a career-high 332 yards also threw a 50-yard scoring pass to Dez Bryant as the Cowboys stayed in the playoff hunt with three games left in the regular season. Dan Bailey added a 21-yard field goal as the Cowboys finished with 454 yards.
Manning, who got a standing ovation taking the field, threw a 1-yard TD pass to Rhett Ellison late in the second quarter that gave New York a brief 10-3 lead. Aldrick Rosas had a 39-yard field goal. Manning finished 31 of 46 for 228 yards with a touchdown and two late interceptions.
“Nothing’s easy, but we hung in there and have played tough,” Manning said. “Dallas made a couple big plays, and we didn’t.”
The game capped a hectic week for the Giants that started Monday with the firing of second-year coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese and saw Spagnuolo promoted from defensive coordinator to interim coach. He coached the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11.
The moves came with the Giants spiraling out of control in a season where much was expected following their first playoff appearance since 2011.
Fans were also upset with the benching of Manning days earlier in a loss to Oakland, a decision that ended the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s streak of 210 consecutive starts.
“I’m really proud of the men in that locker room. I told them that,” Spagnuolo said. “After all we went through this week, I thought the way we came out and the way we played for three and a half quarters was something we could be proud of. We do have to figure out a way in the fourth quarter when it gets down to gut-wrenching time to make a play or two.”
Losing close games has been a theme for the Giants this season, and it happened again despite all the changes.
“We knew the situation that they were in,” Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “We knew that they had to come and get this win to keep the run going for the playoffs and we just couldn’t execute and finish right.”
Bailey, who usually never misses a field goal against the Giants, had a 53-yarder hit the right upright in the second quarter and he was wide right from 50 in the third.
The first half ended 10-all with both teams having long opening drives that ended in field goals and then getting late touchdowns passes.
Manning found Ellison from a yard out to cap a 68-yard drive and Prescott drove the Cowboys 75 yards in four plays with Bryant breaking a tackle and scoring from 50.
Cowboy: at Oakland on Sunday night.
Giants: host Philadelphia on Sunday.
Lions 24. Buccaneers 21
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With the clock running down in a tie game, the Detroit Lions didn’t have any qualms about the ball being in Matthew Stafford’s injured throwing hand.
They’ve come to expect their quarterback to find a way to lead them to victory in those situations, and Stafford didn’t disappoint Sunday, when he threw for 381 yards and set up Matt Prater for a 46-yard field goal in the closing seconds to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-21.
The victory stopped a two-game skid and kept the Lions (7-6) in playoff contention with three games remaining.
“I just think we have a lot of confidence. I think guys that have been around here have understood that sometimes that’s the way the game boils down. We go out there and make plays,” Stafford said after directing a winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime for the 32nd time in his career.
“When you have success, it breeds confidence,” he added, “Frankly, there’s been some times this year where we haven’t been successful in those situations, some really close calls in some other games. It feels good to get back out there and have a two-minute drive, go down there and win the game.”
Stafford made his 109th consecutive start despite being limited in practice after his right hand was stepped on during the previous week at Baltimore . He completed 36 of 44 attempts against the Bucs (4-9), and the Lions overcame two interceptions and a fumble to stay alive for a playoff spot.
Jameis Winston rallied Tampa Bay, which has lost eight of 10 following a 2-1 start, with a pair of fourth-quarter TD passes. But once again, the Bucs’ defense couldn’t hold off an opponent down the stretch.
A week ago, the Bucs led by a field goal in the closing minutes of regulation before losing 26-20 in overtime at Green Bay.
“This team is always going to fight. We’ve just got to learn how to come out on the other side of these things,” Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said.
“We fought back last week. We fought back this week,” McCoy, who left the game in the opening half with a biceps injury. “It’s a fine line between winning and losing. The fine line was a field goal today.”
Stafford moved the Lions 49 yards in eight plays to set up Prater’s winning kick with 20 seconds left — the fourth winning drive he’s led this season.
“Tough guy who heals quickly. It’s always been that way,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s a great leader. Did a tremendous out there for us under tough circumstances. … He threw the ball pretty well. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but he did a nice job.”
Stafford threw a 5-yard TD pass to Golden Tate and Theo Riddick scored on runs of 2 and 18 yards to help the Lions take a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
Winston, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, led a 75-yard drive that he finished with a 2-yard scoring pass to O.J. Howard and then used a 40-yard pass interference call against Detroit cornerback DJ Hayden to set a 2-yard TD throw to seldom-used offensive lineman Leonard Wester to make it 21-21 with eight minutes remaining.
Winston completed 26 of 38 passes for 285 yards. His fumble led to Riddick’s second TD run. Tampa Bay finished with five turnovers, and Winston was sacked three times.
The loss ensures the Bucs, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, will finish with a losing record . The team entered this season with heightened expectations after going 9-7 in their first year under coach Dirk Koetter, who now finds himself deflecting questions about whether his relationship with Winston — the top pick in the 2015 draft — is deteriorating.
“That’s obviously news to me. I think Jameis and I have an extremely consistent relationship for the last three years. I don’t think anything’s different about it, but that’s just my opinion,” the coach added before shrugging off another question about if he was concern about speculation about a possible riff between the two.
“It concerns me that we’re not winning enough games. That’s my biggest concern,” Koetter said. “I know the truth about our relationship. My big concern is our football team.”
Stafford’s streak of 109 consecutive starts is the third-longest among NFL quarterbacks behind Matt Ryan (128) and Philip Rivers (119).
It took two replay reviews for officials to get it right on a play initially ruled an incomplete pass and 15-yard penalty against the Lions for a hit on a defenseless receiver in the first half.
Officials first looked at Winston’s first-quarter completion to Howard, who fumbled after being hit in the shoulder by safety Quandre Diggs at Detroit’s 18-yard line. The Bucs retained possession when the play was ruled an incompletion and that a 15-yard penalty should be assessed from the spot of the previous play.
The Lions then successfully challenged the ruling of an incomplete pass. Following another review, referee Ed Hochuli announced Howard indeed caught the ball and took four steps before being hit, and the Lions were awarded the ball on the fumble recovery. There was no foul for the hit, which was legal.
Lions: Played without RT Rick Wagner (ankle), who was inactive.
Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy left in the first half with a shoulder/biceps injury and did not return.
Lions: Return home to face Chicago on Saturday.
Buccaneers: Begin a stretch of three consecutive games to end the season against NFC South rivals, hosting Atlanta next Monday night.
Packers 27, Browns 21 OT
CLEVELAND (AP) — Your turn, Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers saved their season just in time for their star’s return.
Brett Hundley threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams in overtime as the Packers rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter for a 27-21 win on Sunday over the winless and luckless Cleveland Browns.
Hundley pulled out his third win — and second straight in OT — since replacing Rodgers, and now the Packers (7-6) will get back their quarterback after their season appeared doomed when he broke his collarbone in October.
“My No. 1 thought going into it was to keep our hopes alive to make the playoffs,” said Hundley, who had three touchdown passes. “At the end of the day, whatever happens, happens. Whenever I’m called upon, I’ll be ready. In the meantime, we’re still in this.”
On third-and-6 in overtime, Hundley threw a short pass to Adams , who spun out of Myles Garrett’s arms and went in untouched with 5:05 left as the Packers set the stage for Rodgers’ return. He returned to practice this week, and as long as he’s cleared by Green Bay’s medical staff, Rodgers will be back on the field next Sunday when the Packers play Carolina.
“We kept the playoffs alive,” said safety Josh Jones, who intercepted rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to set up the winning score. “We got the best quarterback in the league coming back, so we feel a lot better.”
It was another devastating loss for the Browns (0-13), who made several critical mistakes late in regulation before Kizer’s poor decision on his final throw.
Kizer was rolling to his left and tried to throw across his body to Rashard Higgins when his arm was hit by linebacker Clay Matthews. If not for the contact, Kizer felt the Browns would have won.
“I thought we had control of the game pretty much the majority of the game,” Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “It’s definitely frustrating. Green Bay had the better team today. I don’t know why it keeps happening.”
Down 21-14 heading into the fourth period, the Packers, who beat Tampa Bay last week in overtime, rallied on Hundley’s 1-yard TD pass to Adams with 17 seconds left in regulation.
A 65-yard punt return by Trevor Davis set up Green Bay’s score, which came after Hundley was ruled down inside the 1 after an apparent 6-yard scoring run. Out of timeouts, coach Mike McCarthy elected not to risk a run and Hundley rifled his pass into the corner for Adams, who beat Jason McCourty on the play.
Hundley’s tight spiral was reminiscent of so many thrown by Rodgers, who stayed warm on the sideline inside a large green sideline jacket.
Hundley finished 35 of 46 with three touchdowns and made the big plays when he had to against the lowly Browns.
“He plays his best football when the game’s on the line,” McCarthy said of the young QB. “You can’t teach that. He’s a winner.”
Cleveland was in position to run out the clock before overtime but rookie tight end David Njoku dropped a key third-down pass. Cleveland’s punt team couldn’t bring down Davis, who weaved his way to the Browns 25.
Kizer threw three touchdown passes, one to Josh Gordon, and went 20 of 28 for 214 yards. But he’ll be haunted by the late pick.
“You can’t make that,” coach Hue Jackson said. “If it does not feel right, it probably is not right.”
Cleveland’s heartbreaking loss closed a turbulent week: The team fired Sashi Brown, its top front office executive, and owner Jimmy Haslam said Jackson will return next season.
Isaiah Crowell rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries. Gordon, playing his first home game since Dec. 14, 2014, had three catches for 69 yards and caught an 18-yard TD pass in the first quarter that he celebrated by putting on sunglasses.
After missing some scoring opportunities last week in Los Angeles, Gordon was confident he and Kizer would connect against the Packers. They did just that on Cleveland’s first play, hooking up for 38 yards. Moments later, Kizer threaded a perfect pass over the middle to Gordon, who made a leaping catch in the end zone for his first TD since Dec. 15, 2013. When he returned to the sideline, Gordon pulled off his helmet and put on a pair of dark sunglasses, then strutted in celebration before hugging Jackson.
Gordon did not speak to reporters.
They had to fake a punt to keep their first offensive drive going, but the Packers scored their league-leading seventh touchdown on their opening possession.
Cleveland’s halftime lead was its second this season, and first on American soil. The Browns led the Vikings 13-12 at halftime of their Oct. 29 game in London before losing 33-16.
Packers: CB Davon House was carted off in the fourth quarter with a back injury. House’s feet got tangled and he fell hard to the turf. … TE Lance Kendricks returned after sustaining a jaw injury in the third quarter.
Packers: At Carolina on Sunday
Browns: Host Baltimore in their final home game Sunday.
49ers 26, Texans 16
HOUSTON (AP) — After years of struggles at the position, the San Francisco 49ers may have finally found their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo.
But even after leading the team to its second straight win, 26-16, over the Houston Texans on Sunday, the former backup to Tom Brady wasn’t convinced the job is his to keep.
“We’ll see what happens this week. That’s on (coach) Kyle (Shanahan),” he said when asked about starting next week. “I don’t know.”
It’s pretty safe to say that Garoppolo will be under center for the rest of the season after throwing for a career-high 334 yards and a touchdown as the 49ers (3-10) won their second straight game.
Garoppolo was 20 of 33 in his second start for a team that hasn’t had consistent play at quarterback since Colin Kaepernick’s great 2013 season. Acquired before the trade deadline from New England, Garoppolo threw for 293 yards in his debut with the team last week to help the 49ers to a 15-14 win at Chicago.
“You’ve got to have guys who are fearless, can hang in there and keep their eyes down the field. He does that very, very well,” Shanahan said. “But he also has the foot quickness and agility to get out of there and extend some plays.”
The game was tied when he found Garrett Celek on a 6-yard touchdown pass with about two minutes left in the third quarter to make it 23-16. Celek had a big play earlier in that drive on a 61-yard reception on third down.
“We knew it was kind of feast or famine against this defense because they’re very physical,” Shanahan said. “But sometimes, you get your opportunities, and we were fortunate enough to come down with them.”
DeAndre Hopkins had 149 yards receiving and two touchdowns, but lost a fumble in the fourth quarter with the Texans down by 7 . San Francisco added 41-yard field goal after that to secure the victory.
T.J. Yates threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns after Tom Savage left with a concussion in the second quarter. Texans (4-9) lost their third straight and sixth in seven games.
Savage was injured when he was driven to the ground on a hit by Elvis Dumervil with about nine minutes left in the second. Replays showed Savage looking dazed after his head hit the ground with both of his arms lifted upward shaking.
He was taken to the medical tent, where he stayed for less than three minutes before returning to the bench and going back in for the next series. He threw two incompletions on that drive, and Houston’s team doctor approached him after he returned to the sideline after that possession.
Savage tried repeatedly to enter the game on the next series. But a team official kept grabbing Savage’s jersey and finally his arm and pulled him away from the field. He then could be seen arguing with that person and the team’s trainer before being escorted to the locker room.
Coach Bill O’Brien said he was evaluated for a concussion after the hit and cleared to return, but that he was evaluated again after he returned because “because of what they saw,” without providing details of what that was.
“They try to make the best decision for the player,” O’Brien said. “Whatever they see and the testing that they do they try to make the best decision with the player and they weren’t satisfied with the results of the second test so they decided to pull him, and that’s when he went into the locker room.”
Yates, who hadn’t appeared in a game since Nov. 16, 2015, was signed last month after Deshaun Watson went out with a knee injury. Houston went up 16-13 when Hopkins grabbed a 29-yard touchdown reception on the Texans’ first drive of the second half.
The 49ers took a 10-3 lead when Carlos Hyde ran 2 yards for a touchdown with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Yates connected with Hopkins for a 7-yard touchdown on Houston’s next drive, but the kick failed to leave Houston down 10-9.
Robbie Gould added a 35-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter to leave San Francisco up 13-9.
INJURIES: Houston offensive tackle Kendall Lamm sustained a concussion in the first quarter. The Texans have had six players sustain concussions in the last two games combined. … 49ers rookie receiver Victor Bolden injured his ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. … San Francisco cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon injured his knee in the fourth quarter.
MEMORIES: Sunday was Shanahan’s first visit to NRG Stadium since losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl when he was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons. He said he didn’t think about that game, where the Falcons blew a 25-point lead, until he got to the stadium on Sunday.
“We got off the bus and were walking across the field, and that’s when I remembered,” he said. “I got some feelings of that. I had some real good feelings in that game, but not toward the end. The feelings today were definitely much better at the end.”
49ERS: Host the Titans next Sunday.
TEXANS: Visit Jaguars next Sunday.
Bears 33, Bengals 7
CINCINNATI (AP) — Rookie Mitchell Trubisky knew there would be plenty of openings against Cincinnati’s depleted defense.
The Bears exploited every one of them for their most-lopsided victory in five years.
Trubisky threw for a touchdown and ran for another in his best showing yet, and Chicago ended a five-game losing streak by routing the lackluster Cincinnati Bengals 33-7 on Sunday.
Jordan Howard ran for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Bears (4-9) dominated a matchup of the NFL’s worst offenses.
Their rookie quarterback took full advantage of an aggressive game plan, completing a career-high 25 passes out of 32 attempts for 271 yards. He also ran 4 yards for a score.
“We just had fun doing it,” said Trubisky, who has completed 37 of 47 passes in the past two games without an interception. “We trusted the plan, went out there and let it loose.”
The Bengals (5-8) were coming off a 23-20 loss to the Steelers on Monday night that crushed their playoff hopes and gutted their defense.
The Bears piled up a season-high 482 yards against a unit missing starting cornerbacks Adam “Pacman” Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick as well as linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil.
“We knew they were banged up on that side of the ball and we wanted to take advantage,” Trubisky said.
The Bengals described themselves as embarrassed by their worst home drubbing since a 34-3 loss to Baltimore in 2008. Many of the 52,002 fans headed for the exits early in the fourth quarter.
“I’m at a loss for words today,” said coach Marvin Lewis, whose contract is up at the end of the season.
Everyone in the NFL’s lowest-ranked offense had a big game. Tarik Cohen ran for 80 yards, and Kendall Wright caught 10 passes for 107 yards — the first Bears receiver to top 100 yards this season.
Andy Dalton was picked off for the first time since Oct. 22 in Pittsburgh, ending his career-best streak of 193 attempts without an interception.
The interception set up Trubisky’s 1-yard touchdown pass that put the Bears in control 26-7 early in the fourth quarter, their biggest lead of the season.
“Definitely embarrassing,” said Bengals receiver A.J. Green, who had a dozen passes thrown his way but managed only five catches for 64 yards. “It’s been a strange season for me.”
Howard has rushed for 1,032 yards this season. He’s the first Bears running back to start their career with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
“There’s a great running back tradition here, a lot to live up to,” Howard said. “So to do so, it’s a great feeling.”
The Bears signed kicker Mike Nugent after Cairo Santos went on injured reserve with a groin injury during the week. Nugent spent seven seasons with the Bengals, who released him last season after a streak of missed field goals and extra points. He was booed loudly whenever he came onto the field to kick.
Nugent missed an extra-point attempt — he hit the right upright — after Chicago’s first touchdown, but was good on every other kick, including field goals of 34 and 27 yards.
“You’re going to think of some of the negative stuff, but I had a really good time playing here in Cincinnati,” Nugent said. “I hated to see my run here end.”
The Bears’ big offensive game came on the heels of two of their worst. They managed only 140 and 147 yards in losses to the Eagles and 49ers the past two weeks.
AJ & AJ
Green went in to play defense on Chicago’s desperation pass at the end of the first half, which fell incomplete — Green wound up with the ball. Backup quarterback AJ McCarron got his first playing time of the season, filling in during the closing minutes. He was 4 of 8 for 47 yards with a sack.
Bengals safety George Iloka initially was suspended one game for his hit to Antonio Brown’s head during the Steelers’ win on Monday. The suspension was overturned on appeal. Iloka had eight tackles, third on the team.
Bears: Right guard Kyle Long went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, but the Bears’ offensive line had its way as Chicago piled up 29 first downs, more than double Cincinnati’s total.
Bengals: Running back Joe Mixon was inactive because of a concussion suffered on Monday night. Giovani Bernard carried 11 times for 62 yards as Cincinnati’s offense managed only 234 yards.
The Bears play at Detroit on Saturday. They lost to the Lions 27-24 on Nov. 19.
The Bengals play at Minnesota on Sunday, facing former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Vikings 24, Panthers 31
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton delivered the body blow and Jonathan Stewart provided the knockout punch for Carolina.
Newton’s 62-yard run set up Stewart’s 1-yard touchdown leap — his third TD run of the day — with 1:47 remaining to lift the Panthers to a 31-24 victory Sunday, snapping the Minnesota Vikings’ eight-game win streak.
Stewart accounted for 103 of Carolina’s 216 yards rushing — including a 60-yard touchdown burst in the first quarter — against the league’s second-ranked defense, as the Panthers prevented the Vikings (10-3) from clinching the NFC North division title.
But it was Newton’s run that turned out to be the play of the game.
After Carolina squandered an 11-point fourth-quarter lead, Newton rolled out to his left, saw an opening and the 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback was off to the races before being pulled down from behind at the Vikings 8-yard line .
Newton joked after the game that he got tackled on purpose.
“It was very strategic, when I think back,” the 2015 league MVP said with a smile. “Because if I would have scored, they would have had all of their timeouts left. So I felt like, hey, let me flip this car back into third gear.”
The Vikings did use all of their timeouts, but the Panthers still scored. The Vikings turned the ball over on downs on their final possession.
“There’s only one guy in the league that is doing that,” tight end Greg Olsen said of Newton’s scramble. “We had everything against us and we had struggled out last three possessions. And for him to pop something that like, that was huge.”
Said Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph: “He is big, strong, and can throw the ball. He is a first-round draft pick, a Heisman Trophy winner and a great player. He makes plays.”
Newton threw for 137 yards and a touchdown and ran for 75 yards as the Panthers (9-4) recorded their third 200-yard rushing game of the season to move into a tie with the New Orleans Saints atop the NFC South.
Carolina’s defense did its job , too.
They sacked Case Keenum six times, forced three turnovers and came up with a crucial stop late to force a field goal.
“We turned the ball over three times and gave up 200-plus yards rushing. That’s not like us,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
LATE STOP: The Panthers seemed in control midway through the fourth quarter leading 24-13, but the Vikings came charging back to tie it as Keenum hooked up on a 52-yard scoring strike with Adam Thielen on a crossing route. Blake Bell added 2-point conversion catch to cut the lead to three.
On Carolina’s next possession, Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo intercepted Newton on a ball that sailed off the hands of Christian McCaffrey and returned it to the Carolina 6. But Carolina’s defense had a huge stop, holding the Vikings to minus-3 years on three plays to force a field goal with 3:07 left.
NO DIVISION TITLE: Even with the loss, the Vikings could have wrapped up the division had the Packers and Lions also both lost. Instead, both division foes won in overtime.
“We need to get this division wrapped up, but to do that, we have to play better football,” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said.
McKINNON OVER MURRAY: The Vikings turned to Jerick McKinnon after Latavius Murray could find no room on the ground and was held to 14 yards rushing on nine carries. McKinnon was the more effective back, rushing for 46 yards on seven carries.
FINALLY, A PICK: It took 13 games, but the Panthers finally got at an interception from their starting cornerbacks. Daryl Worley and James Bradberry both intercepted Keenum on Sunday after being shut out the previous 12 games.
“Hopefully now everyone will stop talking about it,” Bradberry quipped.
JUMBO PACKAGE: Stewart had a 60-yard TD run on Carolina’s first possession on a third-and-1. The Panthers shifted four offensive linemen, including left tackle Matt Kalil, to the right side of center Ryan Kalil and ran that way. Once Stewart got through the line, it was clear sailing. He sealed the run by stopping and falling back into the end zone, like a kid falling into a pool.
“When you see a team that is lined up like that in the box, you just hope to see a hole because you know there is no one else in the secondary,” Stewart said.
Vikings: Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur left with a foot injury and did not return. … Left tackle Riley Reiff left with a left ankle injury and did not return.
Panthers: Tight end Greg Olsen left briefly after re-injuring his foot, but returned.
Vikings: Host the Bengals next Sunday.
Panthers: Host the Packers next Sunday.
Raiders 15, Chiefs 26
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs had lost four straight games, suspended arguably their best defensive player and reached such a nadir offensively that Andy Reid recently turned over play-calling duties to his coordinator.
Makes perfect sense this would be the week they’d turn everything around.
Kareem Hunt churned for 116 yards and a touchdown in a performance reminiscent of earlier this season, the Kansas City defense fared just fine without star cornerback Marcus Peters, and the Chiefs beat Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders 26-15 on Sunday in a crucial AFC West showdown.
“To play the way we know we can play early, then to get challenged and get a rough patch and find our way out of it, I think guys have that confidence now,” said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who threw for 268 yards. “All three phases were playing off each other, all three playing good team football.”
The Chiefs (7-6) entered the game tied atop the division standings with the Raiders (6-7) and the Chargers, who played Washington later Sunday and visit Kansas City on Saturday night.
Now, they have some momentum heading into another important game.
“Any time you have a divisional game, you know you’re going to have to come out and play. That’s just the accountability factor,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “You know if you win the division, you get a ticket to the dance.”
The Raiders likewise knew the importance of Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium.
“There’s definitely a moment when you say, ‘What’s going on here?'” said Carr, who was 24 of 41 for 211 yards with a touchdown and two picks. “Was there a moment when we thought we didn’t have it? No.”
Carr’s performance was a far cry from when the teams met in October. He threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns that day, including the winning toss to Michael Crabtree on the final play of the game.
That loss was part of a midseason swoon for Kansas City, which started 5-0 but lost six of seven to fall into a tie for the division lead — and put its once-solid playoff prospects in peril.
They’re looking a lot better now.
The Chiefs should also have Peters back next week. The volatile young star was suspended by Reid this week for a series of embarrassing incidents, including the throwing of an official’s flag into the stands in the Meadowlands. And while the trio of Steven Nelson, Darrelle Revis and Terrance Mitchell more than made up for him, Peters at his best offers unique game-changing ability.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ offense produced for the second straight week with offensive coordinator Matt Nagy calling the shots. The Chiefs got four field goals from Harrison Butker with their two TD runs, and they didn’t have to punt until the fourth quarter.
“They executed better than us,” said Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin, who had two sacks. “Our objective is to win the game and that was unfortunate. So we have to keep pushing.”
The Raiders did make it interesting late, recovering an onside kick after Lynch’s TD run. Carr connected with Jared Cook on fourth down for another score, and the 2-point conversion trimmed what had been a 26-0 deficit to 26-15 in a matter of minutes.
But after receiving the kickoff, the Chiefs’ Albert Wilson made a juggling catch to convert a third down, and that allowed the reigning AFC West champs to mostly run out the clock.
“We need to control the things we can control. Get ready for the Cowboys,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “That’s what we do. That’s what you do in this business. It’s a tough one today. We obviously came in with high hopes. Everything we wanted to accomplish in our season was in front of us. It was a big day and big moment, and we did not play well.”
Hunt’s performance gave him 1,046 yards rushing for the season, making him the second Chiefs rookie to top the 1,000-yard. Joe Delaney, whose career was cut tragically short when he drowned while trying to save three kids in a Louisiana pond, accomplished the feat in 1981.
Raiders WR Amari Cooper was active after he was cleared of a concussion and a sprained left ankle was deemed OK. But he left in the second quarter with a right leg injury when he was blocking downfield on a run by DeAndre Washington, and a defender rolled into the back of him.
The Raiders also were missing two defensive starters in CB David Amerson (foot sprain) and LB Cory James (knee), while DE Mario Edwards Jr. (ankle) left early in the second quarter and TE Clive Walford went down in the fourth. The Chiefs missed starting C Mitch Morse with a sprained foot.
Raiders: return home to face the Cowboys next Sunday night.
Chiefs: get another AFC West contender when the Chargers visit Saturday night.
Colts 7, Bills 13 OT
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The snow sure suits Shady.
LeSean McCoy scored on a 21-yard run with 1:33 left in overtime to secure the Buffalo Bills’ 13-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in a wintry, white-out setting best suited for snow shoes and sled dogs.
He finished with 156 yards rushing, a career-best in his two-plus seasons in Buffalo. And it came nearly four years to the day the former Philadelphia running back set the Eagles franchise record with 217 yards rushing, also in a snowstorm.
“Is that right?” McCoy said when reminded of his feat.
“This is probably the best snow game I have ever played in,” he said. “Now, I’m no expert at it. I just run how I feel. And that’s what I did today.”
McCoy’s touchdown led to the Bills’ sideline erupting in celebration. Some players ran on the field to make snow angels . Others playfully engaged in snowball fights.
And then there was McCoy, who was mobbed by numerous teammates in the corner of the stands, where fans tossed up handfuls of snow as if it was confetti.
McCoy’s touchdown capped Buffalo’s second possession of overtime, and after receiver Deonte Thompson reached to his right to make a 35-yard catch while being interfered with by Kenny Moore.
Three plays later, facing third-and-2, McCoy burst through the middle, made a cut to his left and ran untouched into the end zone.
“Buffalo weather, right?” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “I’ve been part of some wind and some rain games. I think we had all but sun today.”
There was even a dose of “thunder snow,” a meteorological event that occasionally accompanies lake-effect enhanced snowstorm. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed early in the third quarter, but the game was not stopped.
As much as two feet of snow was in the forecast when the storm hit about 90 minutes before kickoff. Within an hour, the flakes fell so fast that fans sitting in New Era Field’s east-end stands were unable to make out the large video scoreboard directly across from them.
Punted balls stuck in the snow. Colts receiver Chester Rogers disappeared into a snowbank in the end zone after being unable to stop on a deep pass from Jacoby Brissett. Rogers made the catch, but couldn’t keep both feet inbounds.
A parade of stadium workers regularly made their way on the field with snow blowers on their backs to uncover the yard lines.
So much snow accumulated on the roof of the first-level suites that fans began building snowmen.
Mother Nature played havoc with any semblance of a game plan, leaving both teams to lean heavily on their running attacks.
McCoy upped his season total to 1,007 in reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time of his 13-year career.
The Colts were led by Frank Gore, who finished with 130 yards rushing on a career-high 36 carries.
Buffalo (7-6) stayed alive in the AFC playoff picture, while the Colts (3-10) were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
“Tough one to say the least. I’m so disappointed and sick for these guys,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
After squandering double-digit leads in the second half four times already this season, the Colts found a different way to blow an outcome.
First, there was an offensive pass interference penalty against Colts receiver Kamar Aiken to negate what would’ve been a two-point conversion with 1:16 left. It happened after Brissett capped a 19-play, 77-yard march with a 3-yard touchdown to Jack Doyle.
That led to the Colts scrambling to settle for a 43-yard extra point into the wind. Indianapolis used its final timeout for players to clear a spot for Adam Vinatieri.
The NFL’s oldest player hit a 43-yard wobbler that hooked in from the right and just sneaked over the crossbar.
Vinatieri, however, missed a field-goal wide left from the exact same spot with 1 second remaining after the Colts regained possession when Matthias Farley intercepted Webb’s pass over the middle with 52 seconds left.
Pagano blamed himself for the missed field goal.
“End of the game, that’s on me. We should’ve won that thing,” Pagano said. “They deserve better.”
Colts: Brissett went 11 of 22 for 69 yards and had three carries for 10 yards.
Bills: Rookie Nathan Peterman went 5 of 10 for 57 yards before being sidelined by a head injury late in the third quarter. Peterman started in place of Tyrod Taylor, who was sidelined by a bruised left knee in a 23-3 loss to New England last weekend. Webb finished 2 of 6 for 35 yards and an interception.
ON THE RUN
Gore finished with a career-high 36 carries for 130 yards. It was his first 100-yard game in 15 outings, since gaining 101 yards in a 34-6 win at Miami on Dec. 12. It was also Gore’s 42nd career 100-yard game, tying him with O.J. Simpson for 16th on the NFL list.
The 97 combined rushing attempts were the most in an NFL game since the Chiefs and Bears combined for 100 attempts in Week 10 of the 1981 season.
Colts: Host Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
Bills: Close out home schedule hosting Miami Dolphins on Dec. 17.
Redskins 13, Chargers 30
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Although the Los Angeles Chargers’ offense is constantly running over its opponents these days, Philip Rivers wasn’t sure how he ended up as a lead blocker for receiver Travis Benjamin on a 22-yard reverse run.
“Gracious, I’ve never been this far down the field in my life since high school,” Rivers thought to himself as he looked for somebody to hit — and his coaches cringed.
But just about everything the Chargers do is working out well lately. After a 30-13 rout of the Redskins on Sunday for their fourth straight victory, they’re finding themselves in prime position to compete for a playoff spot.
After their 0-4 start, that’s something that seemed even more unlikely than Rivers becoming a blocker.
Rivers passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the Chargers continued their ferocious playoff push with their seventh win in nine games.
Tyrell Williams caught a 75-yard touchdown pass and Hunter Henry had another scoring grab for the Chargers (7-6), who have been largely outstanding ever since that rocky start to their relocation season. This one wasn’t in much doubt for the Chargers as they took a 24-point lead and racked up 429 yards of offense midway through the third quarter.
“It’s exactly where we want to be,” said Williams, who had four catches for 132 yards. “We hold our own destiny.”
While outscoring their opponents 131-53 during their winning streak, the Chargers also moved above .500 for the first time since September 2015 with a dominant offensive performance against Washington.
With their fourth straight home victory, the Chargers stayed atop the AFC West alongside the Chiefs (7-6), their opponents Saturday in Kansas City.
“I want players to always know what they’re playing for, and right now, we’re playing for our division,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.
Kirk Cousins hit Vernon Davis with an early TD pass for the Redskins (5-8), who have lost two straight and six of eight. Washington was officially eliminated from playoff contention with three games to go, and this effort rankled several veterans.
“There’s no excuse why we’re playing like this, because we’ve played good in the past,” Washington safety D.J. Swearinger said. “You’ve got to prepare for when you step out on the field Sunday, or you’re going to get embarrassed. We got embarrassed today, so guys didn’t prepare. Guys didn’t take it in. … We’ve definitely taken steps back (on defense). We had 30 put on us today. Dallas put (38) on us last week. We’ve taken major steps back.”
Although Bashaud Breeland returned an interception of Kellen Clemens’ pass 96 yards for a touchdown with 2:36 to play, Washington’s defense had few answers.
“I’m at a loss for words, quite honestly,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “I never thought we’d get beat like this two weeks in a row.”
Melvin Gordon rushed for a third-quarter score before several Los Angeles regulars took most of the fourth quarter off, banking rest for Saturday.
They earned it: Rivers’ offense played with confidence and flair, executing reverses and flea-flickers while thoroughly entertaining a crowd with distinctly fewer fans of the opposition than in the Chargers’ first few games at StubHub Center.
Los Angeles jumped to a 13-0 lead while scoring on its first three drives and getting a first-quarter interception by Kyle Emanuel, but Washington kept it close by forcing two field goals.
But on the Chargers’ first snap after Davis’ TD catch, Rivers hit Williams deep downfield for an untouched, 75-yard score.
Los Angeles had a 23-6 lead when it drove 81 yards in the final 1:25 before halftime. The Chargers only missed out on even more points because Austin Ekeler was tackled on a 33-yard run at the Washington 4 as time ran out. Lynn blamed Ekeler for risking a run to end zone despite knowing he needed to get down.
Keenan Allen had six catches for 111 yards in his quietest performance during the Bolts’ four-game winning streak. He still set single-season career highs for receptions and yards during the first half for Los Angeles.
Rivers passed for 256 yards in the first half. He also moved ahead of Warren Moon for ninth place in NFL history in career yards passing. During the four-game winning streak, Rivers has passed for 1,348 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
Redskins: Kick returner Byron Marshall’s leg buckled underneath him while he moved to field a kickoff in the first quarter. He injured his hamstring and didn’t return. … Key LB Zach Brown sprained his toe in the second half and left in a walking boot. He blamed the StubHub Center turf: “That field is crap. It’s made for soccer.” … LB Chris Carter broke his leg in the second half.
Chargers: Left tackle Russell Okung went down heavily in the first quarter and limped off the field with a knee injury. He returned later in the first half, however.
Redskins: Host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Chargers: Travel to Kansas City on short rest for a first-place showdown with the Chiefs on Saturday.
Jets 0, Broncos 23
DENVER (AP) — This was the way the Denver Broncos thought they’d play against that other New York team all those months ago.
“This is the kind of game we expected to play against everyone, not just New York,” Shane Ray said after the Broncos snapped their longest losing streak since joining the NFL in 1970 with a 23-0 shutout of the Jets on Sunday. “Everybody that we play, we should beat them like this. Period. We just haven’t been able to find that formula.”
Their skid began with a shocking 23-10 loss at home to the then-winless Giants, one of seven double-digit losses during a losing streak that cost offensive coordinator Mike McCoy his job and put rookie head coach Vance Joseph on the hot seat.
It was the Broncos’ first win in 70 days.
“It feels like 100 years,” declared quarterback Trevor Siemian, who hooked up with Demaryius Thomas eight times for 93 yards and a touchdown as the Broncos (4-9) avoided tying their franchise futility record of nine consecutive losses set way back in 1967.
The all-round dominance left Joseph wondering where that team had been.
“Somewhat, but we knew if we played clean football, it could look like that,” Joseph said. “… Our defense can be a difference if we’re in the football game.”
Of the 480 minutes of game clocking during their eight-game losing streak, the Broncos had led a mere 12 minutes, 36 seconds and they came into the game with 16 more turnovers than takeaways. They were plus-2 Sunday.
The Broncos’ first shutout since Nov. 20, 2005, a 27-0 win over the Jets, was fueled by a defense that held the Jets in check all afternoon.
Coming off a big win over the Chiefs in which they scored 38 points and had over 500 yards of offense, the Jets (5-8) were limited to just 100 yards — 59 on the ground and 41 through the air — by a defense missing injured linemen Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe.
Jets quarterback Josh McCown was knocked from the game twice by hard hits, including a clean shot by Ray in the third quarter that left McCown with a broken left hand and fighting back tears at the postgame podium.
McCown finished just 6 of 12 for 46 yards, and his replacement, Bryce Petty was 2 of 9 for 14 yards.
After Denver’s opening drive resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Brandon McManus, Denver’s defense took over. On the Jets’ third snap of their first possession, linebacker Brandon Marshall sliced through for a strip sack and defensive end Adam Gotsis recovered McCown’s fumble at the Jets 20-yard line.
Two plays later, Siemian hit Thomas for the 20-yard score, giving Denver its first double-digit lead since Oct. 1 against Oakland, the date of their last victory.
McManus added a 53-yarder just before halftime that gave the Broncos a 13-0 lead heading into the locker room, and fullback Andy Janovich bulled his way in from the 1 to make it 20-0 before McManus capped the scoring with a 40-yard field goal.
“I don’t know what happened,” Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said after catching just one pass for a single yard. “This week, we were the worst offense. We played terrible. We didn’t do our jobs. It was embarrassing, frustrating and it’s on all of us. I don’t know what to say.”
Down the hallway, the Broncos finally had something to celebrate.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Aqib Talib said. “We were due for a win. We ain’t THAT bad.”
MOVIN’ ON UP: Thomas’ TD catch was the 56th of his career, surpassing Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe for second in franchise history. Wide receiver Rod Smith’s 68 TD receptions are the most all-time.
“I challenged our guys last night, all of our team leaders to play better football. And he came out and he played inspired football,” Joseph said of Thomas, who received a game ball, as did the entire defense.
TERRIFIC TAYLOR: The Broncos finally benched rookie punt returner Isaiah McKenzie for good after he returned from his first benching last week only to fumble for the sixth time, this one for a safety in a loss at Miami.
So, they went back to Jordan Taylor, who had done nothing wrong for two weeks to get supplanted by McKenzie, and he rewarded them by returning five punts for 62 yards Sunday, an average of 12.4 yards.
That helped give the Broncos great field position all afternoon.
“Aside from D.T., Jordan Taylor’s the MVP of the game,” Siemian said.
INJURIES: Jets running back Elijah McGuire (ankle) and long snapper Thomas Hennessy (head) were knocked out of the game in the first half.
The Broncos lost starting safety Justin Simmons to an ankle injury in the first quarter and he was replaced by Will Parks. Inside linebacker Todd Davis was evaluated for a possible concussion in the fourth quarter, and safety Jamal Carter (left shoulder) also was knocked from the game.
Titans 7, Cardinals 12
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Phil Dawson hasn’t had the greatest season and missed another field goal on Sunday.
He made the other four, though, all the offense the Arizona Cardinals needed in a 12-7 victory that knocked the Tennessee Titans out of first place in the AFC South.
Dawson connected from 47, 23, 32 and 35 yards and missed from 40 for the Cardinals (6-7), whose victory came two weeks after they beat then-AFC South leader Jacksonville on the same field.
“It wasn’t our most fancy or nifty offensive performance I’ve ever been a part of,” Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald said. “But it’s a win and we’ll take them.”
The Cardinals intercepted Marcus Mariota twice in the second half after the Titans (8-5) nursed a 7-0 lead at halftime.
Mariota completed 16 of 31 passes for 159 yards. Tennessee managed 65 yards rushing against the Cardinals after gaining 198 on the ground in a win over Houston a week ago.
Mariota was 6 of 16 for 60 yards with two picks in the second half.
“Frustration is an understatement,” Mariota said. “Defense played lights-out, special teams did their job and I’ve been hurting our team. I’ve got to find ways to be better.”
Mariota said he hurt his knee in the first half when he didn’t slide soon enough to protect himself, but he wouldn’t use that as an excuse for his performance.
The Cardinals gained 64 yards in the first half and 197 in the second.
Blaine Gabbert completed 17 of 26 for 178 yards for Arizona with no interceptions, but was sacked eight times, most by a Cardinals quarterback this season. Kerwynn Williams rushed for 73 yards as Arizona, ranked last in the NFL in rushing, outgained Tennessee on the ground 136-65.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians improved to 7-1 against the AFC South.
“I know what everybody is going to say. ‘It’s an ugly win,'” Arians said. “There is no such thing.”
The game’s lone TD came after Andy Lee’s 33-yard punt gave Tennessee the ball at the 50. The Titans needed nine plays, Derrick Henry sweeping right and diving at the pylon on the 6-yard touchdown play in the second quarter.
Mariota directed the Titans on a drive from their 26-yard line to the Arizona 40 in the final 49 seconds of the half, but Ryan Succop’s 58-yard field-goal try bounced off the crossbar.
Arizona took the second-half kickoff and, despite Tennessee getting two sacks, got a 47-yard field goal from Dawson to cut the lead to 7-3.
Then came a big Tennessee gamble.
After the subsequent kickoff, the Titans faked a punt on fourth-and-1 from their 35. Initially, officials ruled that Eric Weems had made the first down. But Arians challenged the spot and, after a review, it was determined the runner came up a few inches short.
Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey said he probably got “a little over-aggressive” with the fake punt call.
But, he said, “We should have got it. I thought we had it. Both officials had the mark as a first down. I was standing right behind them. I don’t know how it got overturned.”
The Cardinals took over and Dawson’s 23-yard field goal cut the lead to 7-6.
Dawson missed a 40 yarder that would have given the Cardinals the lead with 12:04 to play. But the 42-year-old kicker would get another chance.
Rookie Chad Williams ran 33 yards on an end-around to ignite an eight-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in Dawson’s 32-yard field goal to put Arizona ahead 9-7 with 5:59 to play.
Josh Bynes intercepted Mariota over the middle on the next possession and returned it 25 yards. A late-hit penalty against the Titans play moved the ball to the Tennessee 7. Jurrell Casey’s second sack of the game forced yet another field goal by Dawson, good from 35 yards to finish the scoring.
The Titans will stay in the desert and practice next week at Arizona State University to prepare for next Sunday’s game at San Francisco.
FITZ MOVES UP
With his 23-yard catch on the Cardinals’ first possession of the second half, Fitzgerald moved past his boyhood idol Randy Moss into third place on the NFL career yards receiving list, trailing only Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice.
Fitzgerald was a ball boy for the Vikings and used to wash Moss’ cars for cash, and even borrowed his BMW to go to the high school prom.
The Titans lost starting left tackle Taylor Lewan in the second quarter with a lower back injury. Arizona outside linebacker Gabe Martin left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.
Titans: at San Francisco next Sunday.
Cardinals: at Washington next Sunday.
Eagles 43, Rams 35
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles might have lost star quarterback Carson Wentz for the rest of the season even as they clinched the NFC East title.
Wentz threw for 291 yards and four touchdowns before leaving with an injured left knee and Jake Elliott kicked the go-ahead 33-yard field goal with 3:45 left for the Eagles, who beat the Los Angeles Rams 43-35 in a thriller Sunday to clinch their first division title since 2013.
Two sources familiar with the injury tell The Associated Press that doctors believe Wentz has torn his left anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season and playoffs.
“I don’t know anything yet until we evaluate him fully tomorrow,” said coach Doug Pederson, adding that Wentz will have an MRI on Monday. “It’s just a report. You’re speculating that he’s going to be out. I was really blocked on the play so I’ve got to check out the tape tonight on the way home. He did get up a little hobbly. I knew something was up but didn’t know the extent of it, obviously.”
Wentz had a brace on his left knee as he was driven up the tunnel at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on a golf cart. He got off and hobbled about 30 feet to one of the team buses.
Asked about Wentz’s mood, Pederson said: “He’s excited. NFC East champs, he’s fired up.”
Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.
Wentz was hit hard as he dived into the end zone on a play that was called back because of holding. He stayed in the game and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery four plays later to give the Eagles a 31-28 lead.
Nick Foles replaced Wentz on the next drive for Philadelphia (11-2).
“I just saw him favoring his leg a little bit and it’s just one of those things where he toughed it out, threw a touchdown,” Foles said. “He’s one of the toughest players I’ve played with. He came to the side and got checked and I was told be ready to go in.”
Foles said Wentz was waiting for the team when it came into the locker room after the game.
“The guy’s really rallied. It means a lot to this team, it means a lot to me. Excited we’re NFC East champs but it’s emotional, a guy you work with every day who you think the world of, you know I think he’s the MVP; it’s not easy but I know this team will step up and rally no matter what.”
The NFC West-leading Rams (9-4) then went up 35-31 on Todd Gurley’s second short TD run.
Elliott kicked a 41-yard field goal to pull the Eagles to 35-34. His go-ahead field goal was set up when Chris Long, a second-round draft pick of the then-St. Louis Rams in 2008, had a strip-sack of Jared Goff, with Rodney McLeod recovering.
Seeing Wentz go out didn’t change the Rams’ thoughts on their chances to win.
“There was still the whole fourth quarter left, and Nick’s no slouch himself,” Goff said. “He’s played in the league for a long time and can do some things and clearly showed that tonight.”
The game ended on a crazy play, when Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham grabbed a lateral by Tavon Austin out of the air and scored what was ruled a 16-yard fumble return.
WENTZ AND GOFF
This was the eighth time in the Super Bowl era that quarterbacks taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the same draft squared off, with the No. 1 dropping to 5-3. Goff was the first pick overall in 2016, followed by Wentz.
Goff threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
Wentz bounced back from throwing an interception on the game’s third play to throw touchdown passes on the Eagles’ next three possessions for a 21-7 lead. He threw a 5-yarder to tight end Brent Celek and a beautifully threaded 20-yarder to Trey Burton in the first quarter, and then another nicely thrown scoring pass to Burton in the second quarter, this one for 11 yards. Wentz’s 33 TD passes are a franchise single-season record.
The Rams scored twice in a span of less than two minutes early in the third quarter to take a 28-24 lead. The big momentum swing came when Blake Countess returned a blocked punt 16 yards for a touchdown. The punt was blocked by Michael Thomas, and the ball bounced right to Countess in stride.
Eagles: Aside from Wentz, starting tight end Zach Ertz missed the game with a concussion.
Rams: CB Kayvon Webster, who intercepted Wentz on the game’s third play, ruptured an Achilles tendon and was taken off the field on a cart late in the first quarter. Tackle Andrew Whitworth also suffered an ankle injury but returned. Trumaine Johnson was in the concussion protocol.
Eagles: At New York Giants on Sunday.
Rams: At Seattle on Sunday.
Seahawks 24, Jaguars 30
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — After his second interception, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye ran to the sideline and started high-fiving fans.
Just when it seemed like he was done, he turned around, grabbed a cheerleader’s pompoms and started dancing.
Bouye and the Jaguars had plenty to celebrate.
Blake Bortles threw two perfect passes for touchdowns, Jaydon Mickens set up another score with a 72-yard punt return , and Jacksonville beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-24 on Sunday to claim sole possession of first place in the AFC South and secure the franchise’s first winning season since 2007.
The Jaguars (9-4) intercepted three of Russell Wilson’s passes, including two on deep balls , and won for the sixth time in their last seven games. The latest victory coupled with Tennessee’s loss at Arizona moved Jacksonville atop the division. It’s the first time since 2010 the Jaguars have had the outright lead this late in a season.
“We really should have (blown) them out if we’re being real about it,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said.
The Seahawks (8-5) scored twice on long passes in the fourth quarter, with Wilson finding Paul Richardson for 61 yards and Tyler Lockett for 74 yards. The second one cut the lead to 30-24, and Seattle got one last chance to tie or take the lead. But Wilson misfired on a fourth-and-9 play near midfield.
“We had it exactly where we wanted to at the end of the game,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if it can get any better than that. That’s got to be one of the most exciting games you can watch. Shoot man, we should have won. We felt like we should have won.”
Leonard Fournette iced the game with a 13-yard run on a third-and-11 play, which gave him 101 yards on the ground. Jacksonville tried to run out the clock from there, but the Seahawks wouldn’t go quietly.
Seattle defensive tackle Michael Bennett dived at center Brandon Linder’s knees, setting off a near-melee. Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch , and Fournette went after Bennett.
More pushing and shoving ensued after Bortles’ next kneel-down, and defensive end Quinton Jefferson was tossed. Jefferson tried to climb into the stands after getting hit with what looked like a plastic bottle. Seattle coach Pete Carroll also got flagged for coming onto the field. Carroll walked into Seattle’s huddle, possibly to calm his players down.
“Nobody likes to lose, but at the end of the day, this is our profession,” Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “We have to start acting right and be professionals. That’s twice now that teams have gone against us and wanted to act out. We’re just socking them in the mouth and getting them a little upset. We’re going to keep doing it. That doesn’t bother us.”
Added Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis: “There’s no room in the game for that. You see we’re kneeling. You can get somebody hurt. We’re out there trying to kneel. There are no timeouts. You guys can’t stop the clock, so why try to hurt somebody?
“We had 60 minutes to handle that. The last 30 seconds, while we’re kneeling, you’re going to spear somebody in the legs? That’s not cool.”
During the week, the Jaguars refused to call it a “statement game” even though it was a meaningful home contest in December against a perennial playoff contender and recent Super Bowl champion.
They relented afterward, acknowledging the significance of the victory before a sellout crowd of 64,431, first full building since 2016 season opener against Green Bay.
“This is not the old Jaguars team,” Fournette said. “We are not pushovers and are going to fight back.”
Bortles played one of his best games in four seasons. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 268 yards, with TD passes to rookies Dede Westbrook and Keelen Cole. He wasn’t sacked and didn’t have a turnover.
Wilson was 17 of 31 for 271 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked twice, but knocked down way more often. It was the fourth time in 105 career games that Wilson threw three interceptions.
Seahawks: Seattle lost LB Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and LB K.J. Wright (concussion). … RB Mike Davis (ribs) was knocked out of the game briefly but returned.
Jaguars: TE Marcedes Lewis dislocated the middle finger on his left hand. … WR Larry Pinkard (concussion) was ruled out at halftime.
Seahawks: Host the Los Angeles Rams in a game that could help determine the NFC West champion.
Jaguars: Wrap up a three-game homestand against Houston.
Ravens 38, Steelers 39
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ryan Shazier was everywhere. His helmet rested on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bench. His jersey too. His face and #Shalieve stitched on specially-designed cleats. His familiar No. 50 printed in white in the middle of a gold circle on T-shirts worn by teammates searching for a way to let Shazier know he is never far from their mind as he recovers from a spinal injury that put the linebacker’s blossoming career in jeopardy.
Shazier may never play football again. That doesn’t make him any less of a Steeler. And the men who have taken so much from him over the last three-plus years decided it was time they gave him something back in return: the AFC North title he ordered them to lock down without him.
Chris Boswell made a 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left and Pittsburgh’s defense overcame a shaky night without their most dynamic player to shut down Baltimore’s last-gasp drive and hold on for a 39-38 victory on Sunday night to capture their third division title in the last four years.
“We are riding with that guy,” head coach Mike Tomlin said of Shazier. “He is strong. He is strengthening us.”
Looked like it.
The Steelers (11-2) trailed by 11 points going into the fourth quarter but capped an emotionally draining week to rally for their eighth straight victory, one they couldn’t wait to share with Shazier, who joined the giddy postgame celebration via Facetime.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards, including two long gains in the fourth quarter that allowed the Steelers to recover after blowing an early 14-point lead. Le’Veon Bell had 125 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns .
“We can win a shootout against anybody,” Bell said. “I feel like we can score points whenever we need to.”
Good thing, because Pittsburgh might have to. The Ravens (7-6) rolled up 414 yards against the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense and recovered from a slow start to score on five consecutive drives and six out of seven to take a 38-29 lead on Javorius Allen’s second touchdown with 6:44 left.
Not much time against most teams. Far too much against the Steelers.
Roethlisberger and Brown, who is mounting a legitimate MVP candidacy, hooked up on a 57-yard connection set up an 11-yard sprint by Bell with 3:29 to go. The Steelers forced the Ravens into a three-and-out and Roethlisberger calmly led Pittsburgh within field goal range, including a 34-yard lob down the sideline to Brown that set up Boswell’s winner.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception but was strip-sacked by rookie linebacker T.J. Watt on the Ravens’ final snap.
“This one hurts,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We lose to them the same way we did last year. This one sucks, but we’ve got to get over it. Yeah, this one’s going to hurt but it’s best for us to have a short memory on this one because if we win out there’s a good chance we’ll be in (the playoffs).”
Shazier, who’s been in the hospital since injuring his spine in the first quarter of last week’s victory over Cincinnati, told his teammates to finish the work he helped start. Even as they celebrated an important step in a journey they hope will carry them deep into the postseason, they were making plans to keep Shazier involved, starting with a late-night trip to the hospital to deliver him his AFC North champions’ swag.
“We are going to give him the hat and T-shirt tonight,” good friend and fellow inside linebacker Vince Williams said.
When someone mentioned visitor’s hours were probably over, Williams repeated “tonight.” Then, it was home to rest before preparing for a showdown with New England next Sunday.
“That’s the crazy part about the NFL, things constantly change and you’ve got to keep rolling,” Williams said. “So you’ve got to find a way to roll with the punches even though it may be a haymaker, got to find a way to recover.”
Linebacker James Harrison took to the field shirtless during warmups even as temperatures hovered in the low-30s, a nod to one of Shazier’s pregame rituals. When Roosevelt Nix drilled Moore on the opening kickoff, Nix lifted his jersey to show the T-shirt most of the Steelers wore at some point during the night.
BRING ON THE PATS
The Steelers fell to New England in a one-sided loss in the AFC championship game 10 months ago. They’re not exactly intimidated by the prospect of facing Tom Brady and company.
“You act like they’re coming in with Kryptonite, Superman and Batman and Avatars and stuff,” Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey said. “Heck yeah, it’s a regular football game, what do you mean? We’re going to go out there, tackle the football and run the football.”
Ravens: Visit winless Cleveland next Sunday. Baltimore beat the Browns 24-10 on Sept. 17.
Steelers: Will try to beat Brady and New England for the first time since 2011 next Sunday.
Patriots 20, Dolphins 27
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins wore their perfect season uniforms, and for at least one game in 2017, they looked the part.
Tom Brady was intercepted twice by Xavien Howard and held without a third-down conversion Monday night, and Miami snapped the New England Patriots’ eight-game winning streak with a surprising 27-20 victory.
The Dolphins (6-7) were 11-point underdogs at home, but they kept the Patriots (10-3) from clinching their ninth consecutive AFC East title — at least for another week.
“It was a bad night,” Brady said. “We’ve had a lot of good nights this year. This was a bad night.”
Brady went 24 for 43 for 233 yards and one touchdown. Miami sacked him twice and hit him five times, and held the Patriots to 25 yards rushing. New England was 0 for 11 on third down.
“Our focus every game is to hit the quarterback as hard as we can and make him uncomfortable,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “I think we did a pretty good job of it.”
The Dolphins’ Jay Cutler threw for 263 yards and three scores, including two to Jarvis Landry. Kenyan Drake had 114 yards rushing and 79 receiving.
A Brady touchdown pass cut the deficit to 10 points with 13 minutes left, but the Patriots’ next three possessions netted 5 yards. After a New England field goal, Miami sealed the victory by recovering an onside kick with 53 seconds to go.
“This gives us a boost,” Cutler said. “Winning is what keeps you in this game. The locker room after a game, there’s nothing like it.”
The Dolphins wore their 1972 uniforms, and for the first time in four prime-time appearances this season, they rose to the occasion. Miami tried to turn the game into a laugher in the third quarter when Landry caught a touchdown pass and then set the ball down in the end zone and pumped it repeatedly — a reference to the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal.
“It’s all about taking the air out of the ball,” Landry said.
Coach Adam Gase beat New England for the first time in four tries. His team snapped the Patriots’ 14-game road winning streak, second-best ever behind San Francisco’s 18 in a row from 1988-90.
Gase threw a lot of wrinkles at the Patriots early, with tight end MarQueis Gray and receivers Landry and Jakeem Grant taking turns lining up in the backfield.
“We used a lot of guys,” Cutler said. “We were mixing it up. Adam was dialing it up well.”
Cutler spun out of the grasp of blitzing safety Jordan Richards to throw a completion that kept Miami’s first touchdown drive going.
The 5-foot-7 Grant made a leaping catch against Malcolm Butler his first career touchdown reception, a 25-yarder.
Meanwhile, the Patriots sputtered without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who served a one-game suspension for a late hit to the head of an opponent.
“We got beat in all three areas of the game,” coach Bill Belichick said.
Brady underthrew an open Brandin Cooks deep, and Howard closed for the interception and a 29-yard return to set up a touchdown. Howard also had two interceptions a week ago against Denver.
Brady came into the game with only four interceptions all season.
The temperature was 55 degrees at kickoff — frosty by Miami standards — and the Patriots were sluggish from the outset. They were outgained 123 yards to 2 in the first quarter, when Brady went 0 for 4 with an interception.
The Dolphins’ Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas knelt in protest during the national anthem, as they’ve done for most of the season. Stills was nominated by his teammates last week for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Patriots DT Alan Branch left the game with a knee injury. Starting S Patrick Chung limped off in the final minute.
The Patriots visit AFC North champion Pittsburgh on Sunday in a possible playoff preview.
The Dolphins play the Bills in two of their final three games, including Sunday at Buffalo.