2018 NFL Week 14 Tuesday Afternoon QB

Demarus Dye| BKD TV Insiders

Here is a recap of Week 14 of the 2018 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.

Jaguars 9, Titans 30

Jaguars Titans Football

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs against Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Henry scored a touchdown on the 99-yard run. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Under center at the 1-yard line, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota checked out of a quarterback sneak, and Derrick Henry did the rest — as much with his arms as his legs.

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry sped and stiff-armed his way to a record-tying 99-yard touchdown run , and Tennessee routed the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9 on Thursday night to stay in the playoff chase.

Henry matched Tony Dorsett’s 99-yarder on Jan. 3, 1983, for Dallas against Minnesota for the longest TD run in NFL history. Henry ran to his left and went up the sideline, stiff-arming cornerback A.J. Bouye, then rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs twice and finally shoving linebacker Myles Jack to finish off the second of his four TDs.

“Once I got in the open field on that 99-yard run, it was going to take all of them,” Henry said. “I definitely wasn’t going to go down easy, so I definitely wanted to use my stiff-arm to my advantage, and it worked.”

The Titans talked before the possession about going 99 yards, so left tackle Taylor Lewan was a bit surprised to hear the call for a quarterback sneak.

“I was like, ‘That ain’t going to get us 99 yards, boys,'” Lewan said. “But it was checked, so it was cool.”

The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner celebrated by striking the Heisman pose not once, but twice. Dorsett didn’t keep the ball from his run, but Henry said he’d definitely keep his.

“He’s a legend,” Henry said of his fellow Heisman winner. “It’s cool to be in that company with Tony Dorsett.”

Henry set a franchise record with 238 yards on 16 carries, topping the previous mark of 228 yards set by Chris Johnson in 2009 against, yes, the Jaguars.

Johnson called Henry’s 99-yarder “amazing” and congratulated Henry on the team record.

Henry tied Lorenzo White and Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell for most rushing TDs in a single game in franchisehistory. Henry also became the first player in the NFL with four rushing TDs in a game since Jonas Gray of the Patriots in Week 11 in 2014.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel called Henry’s night “very impressive.”

“He just ran out of guys to stiff-arm,” Vrabel said.

With the rout and second win in a row, the Titans (7-6) stayed in AFC playoff contention with their fourth straight victory over their oldest division rival. They’ve won six of their last seven against Jacksonville.

The Jaguars (4-9) have lost eight of their last nine, and coach Doug Marrone said he was “heavily disappointed.”

“Obviously, we had a difficult time on first, second and third (downs), and sometimes in the fourth tackling (Henry),” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “He had, obviously, a career night.”

Mariota, wearing black tape on the back of his right hand, threw for 162 yards. The Titans outgained the Jaguars 426-255, and they also had four sacks.

Jacksonville came in with the league’s fifth-best scoring defense after shutting out Andrew Luck for the first time in the NFL. But Jacksonville has been susceptible against the run, ranked 16th by giving up 108.4 yards. Henry nearly matched that on his record-tying run.

“For the rest of his life, I’ll be on his highlights,” Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said about Henry.

The record-tying TD capped a huge swing over two plays.

Titans rookie Cameron Batson muffed the punt at the Titans 7 before recovering at the 1 and being tackled in the end zone for a safety. The Jaguars took the ensuing free kick and drove downfield, where they picked up a fourth-and-1 at the Titans 5. Then the Titans stopped the Jaguars on the next four plays, the last with rookie linebacker Rashaan Evans tripping up Leonard Fournette.

On the very next play, Henry started toward the middle before turning left for a TD run where he simply couldn’t be stopped. Henry had 129 yards on six carries with two TDs by halftime to become the Titans’ first 100-yard rusher this season. Before his night ended, he added TD runs of 16 and 54 yards .

HENRY’S RUNS

The Titans running back has three TDs of 70 yards or more rushing since 2017, the most in the NFL. Fournette, who has two such TDs, is the only other player with more than one in that span. According to the NFL, no player in the Super Bowl era had rushed for 200 or more yards and four or more TDs on 20 or fewer carries.

INJURIES

Lewan hurt his left arm or shoulder midway through the third quarter. When he got up, he yelled at the Jaguars’ sideline before going to the medical tent, but he returned. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith hurt a knee on Henry’s 99-yard TD run. He was down on the field for a few minutes before being helped off the field and straight to the locker room. He did not return. Receiver Tajae Sharpe hurt an ankle, and right tackle Jack Conklin hurt a knee did not return.

Jacobs hurt a quadriceps muscle and did not return. Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus left with an illness.

UP NEXT

Jaguars: Host Washington in Jacksonville’s home finale.

Titans: Visit Giants on Dec. 16.

Falcons 20, Packers 34

Falcons Packers Football

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers scrambles during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A tough week for the Green Bay Packers ended with a sorely needed win that relied on a familiar formula.

They beat a warm-weather team on a chilly afternoon at Lambeau Field by building a big lead and winning the turnover margin.

Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and set an NFL record for interception-free football, and the Packers beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-20 on Sunday to win their first game under interim head coach Joe Philbin.

Aaron Jones ran for a 29-yard score in the third quarter. The defense forced two turnovers — their first takeaways in three games — and limited quarterback Matt Ryan after a game-opening touchdown drive to hand Atlanta its fifth straight loss and guarantee the Falcons a losing record for the first time since 2014.

The Packers (5-7-1) regained some swagger with Philbin taking over for the fired Mike McCarthy. They’ve still got work to do to avoid a losing record, but at least Green Bay snapped a three-game losing streak.

“It was an emotional week, we all know that. I feel very happy for the organization, players and staff that work so hard to make this a unique place,” Philbin said. “I told the team I was very proud to be their head coach today.”

In return, the team gave the game ball to Philbin.

“He’s a great man. I love Joe. I love everything that he’s about, and it was a lot of fun,” said receiver Randall Cobb, who caught a 24-yard touchdown pass with 12:44 left in the third quarter to make it 27-7.

That pass also turned out to be momentous for other reasons for Rodgers, giving him 359 consecutive attempts without an interception to break the league record previously held by New England’s Tom Brady (358 in 2010-11).

Rodgers finished 21 of 32 for 196 yards and two scores. Linebacker Deion Jones had a couple chances to snap Rodgers’ interception streak, but couldn’t hang on either time.

“You need a little bit of good fortune when you have a streak like that,” Rodgers said.

The Falcons (4-9) had trouble keeping up after their first series. When they did, they hurt themselves with eight defensive penalties.

“It’s definitely frustrating, maddening, disbelief, all of those things when we don’t execute on those,” coach Dan Quinn said.

FRUSTRATED FALCONS

Atlanta found some semblance of a running game that it hoped to get to open up play action. Yet the Falcons still endured a long drought after Ryan found Julio Jones for a 16-yard touchdown passon an easy opening series.

By the time Ryan and Jones connected for another score, from 12 yards with 13:34 left in the game, Atlanta was still down by 20.

Their frustrating and injury-filled season was epitomized by a botched snap in the red zone later in the fourth.

Atlanta drove to the 8 when the shotgun snap from center Alex Mack hit Mohamed Sanu’s leg while the receiver was in motion. Bashaud Breeland recovered.

“That was tough, but that’s on me,” Ryan said. “The whole operation starts and ends with me, so I’ve got to do a better job of that and making sure that we don’t have things like that coming up.”

He finished 28 of 42 for 262 yards and three scores, connecting with Justin Hardy for a 19-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left. Ryan also tossed a 22-yard interception returned for a score by Breeland in the second quarter.

ON THE RUN

Ryan was outplayed by Rodgers, who also hurt Atlanta on the ground with trademark scrambles. A scrum broke out in the second quarter after cornerback Brian Poole hit Rodgers as the quarterback slid near the end of a 21-yard run to the Atlanta 27.

Pushing and shoving ensued, with Deion Jones and Packers center Corey Linsley each whistled for offsetting personal fouls. After a sack, the Packers still got a 48-yard field goal as time expired to take a 13-point halftime lead.

Guard Lucas Patrick, one of three backups filling in up front because of injuries, also got physical after Rodgers went down.

“To take a cheap shot, as we felt, I didn’t like that, so I wanted to go down there and let the guy know and kind of lock him up and let him know that’s not going to fly,” Patrick said.

UNDER PRESSURE

Rodgers was sacked four times, but all four hits came in the first half. Overall, it turned into a good day for the line, even with left guard Lane Taylor (foot), right guard Byron Bell (knee) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee/illness) out with injuries.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 16.

Packers: Visit the Chicago Bears on Dec. 16.

Saints 28, Buccaneers 14

Saints Buccaneers Football

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) leaps over Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Jordan Whitehead (31) on a run during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The New Orleans Saints are a long way from where they want to be.

For now, though, repeating as NFC South champions for the first time in franchise history feels pretty good.

“Goal No. 1 was to win the division again and we were able to do that,” Drew Brees said Sunday after throwing for one touchdown and running for another to help the Saints rally from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-14.

“I like the way we won this game. We didn’t play well in the first half and (faced) a big deficit,” Brees added. “We were able to come together with all sides making plays in that second half. I think that was the epitome of a great team win.”

Music blared in the winning locker room.

There’s still a lot of work ahead for the Saints (10-2), however clinching any division title — much less with three weeks remaining in the regular season — is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

“This is what guys look forward to. This is fun,” said Brees, who shrugged off a pair of turnovers to throw a 1-yard TD pass to Zach Line, then scored on a 1-yard sneak as the Saints avenged a season-opening loss to the Bucs (5-8) and also rebounded from a defeat the previous week at Dallas.

“This is the stuff you remember, especially road games — you know, road locker rooms, bus rides, back on the plane. Those moments together,” Brees added. “It’s hard to win in this league, it’s hard to win on the road. We’re going to enjoy these moments and continue to build on ’em.”

New Orleans’ defense did its part after allowing two first-half TDs, too, sacking Jameis Winston four times and limiting the NFL’s No. 1-ranked offense to 81 yards in the second half — most of that on the final drive of the game

“We got dominated in the second half,” said Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, whose team won a high-scoring shootout 48-40 at New Orleans in Week 1. “We haven’t been shut down like that in a long time.”

Brees completed 24 of 31 passes for 201 yards and one interception. Michael Thomas had 11 receptions for 98 yards, giving him 298 catches since entering the league in 2016 — surpassing Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, both with 288, for the most by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history.

A week after being held to a season-low 176 yards total offense in a 13-10 loss to Dallas that ended a 10-game winning streak, the Saints started slowly again.

Winston threw a pair of TD passes to Cameron Brate, the latter a 1-yarder set up by Adarius Taylor’s interception to put the Bucs up 14-3 at halftime. The fourth-year pro also threw an 11-yarder to Brate on the opening drive of the game.

The game turned in the third quarter when Brees weathered losing a fumble at his own 27 and later took advantage of the Saints blocking a punt to set up his TD pass to Line, along with Alvin Kamara’s 2-point conversion that trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 14-11.

In addition to missing a 40-yard field goal after Carl Nassib sacked Brees, forcing a fumble Jason Pierre-Paul recovered early in the third quarter, Cairo Santos also had a 46-yard attempt deflect off the right upright in the first half for Tampa Bay, which finished with 279 yards — more than 160 below its league-leading season average.

“Going into the second half I thought that we had an opportunity to put a fork into them, but they got a boost of confidence from a missed field goal, a punt blocked,” Bucs tackle Demar Dotson said.

“We couldn’t get anything going on offense,” coach Dirk Koetter added. “Fourteen points isn’t going to do it against the Saints.”

Brees’ TD run put the Saints ahead early in the fourth quarter. Mark Ingram scored on a 17-yard run to make it 25-14. Will Lutz tacked on a 36-yard field goal in the closing minutes.

Pressured relentlessly in the second while the Saints were taking control of the game, Winston finished 18 of 38 for 213 yards, two touchdowns and one interception — an end-zone throw picked off by Marshon Lattimore with 1 second remaining.

The Bucs had 32 yards in the second half until Winston completed passes of 16, 12 and 21 to march into Saints territory on the final drive.

And, penalties hurt Tampa Bay all day long, including an unnecessary roughness penalty on Bucs center Ryan Jensen late in the second quarter.

At one point, a frustrated Winston was seen arguing on the sideline with Jensen.

“Brothers have disagreements,” Winston said of the exchange. “It wasn’t that much.”

PERSISTENCE

The Saints ran the ball nine times for just 3 yards in the first half. They stuck with the game plan, though, and finished with 100 on 30 attempts. Ingram had 52 yards on 13 carries, and Kamara rushed for 51 yards on 12 attempts.

TAKEAWAYS

Since failing to force a turnover on defense for seven consecutive games, the Bucs have 10 takeaways over the last three weeks. The Bucs have seven interceptions over that stretch after only having one in the first 10.

INJURIES

Saints: LT Terron Armstead was inactive, replaced by Jermon Bushrod.

Buccaneers: With WR DeSean Jackson (thumb) inactive for the second straight week, Chris Godwin started. Andrew Adams started in place of S Justin Evans (toe) and CB Carlton Davis II (knee) was replaced by Ryan Smith. … LB Kevin Minter left in the second quarter with a calf injury and did not return.

UP NEXT

Saints: at Carolina next Monday, last of three consecutive road games.

Buccaneers: at Baltimore next Sunday.

Giants 40, Redskins 16

Saquon Barkley, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs away from Washington Redskins strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (20) for a 78-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Saquon Barkley was so upset at himself about dropping a pass he apologized to the rest of the New York Giants’ offense.

“I went to line, quarterback, wide receivers and I said: ‘That series is on me. I’m going to make up for it. I promise you guys,'” Barkley said. “And we were able to do that.”

Barkley more than made up for that early mistake, rushing for 170 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown, to surpass 1,000 for the season to lead the Giants to a 40-16 rout of the Redskins on Sunday to effectively end Washington’s already-slim playoff hopes.

Barkley gashed the Redskins’ defense for 12.1 yards a carry to become the first Giants rookie to break 1,000 yards and set a single-season franchise rookie record with his 13th touchdown. The second overall pick also had four catches for 27 yards against a Washington defense that’s a shell of the unit that led the league early in the season.

“We’re starting to figure out that kind of this offense runs through him,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who threw for three touchdowns. “When we’re running the ball well, it just sets up everything else. It sets up the play action and it sets up so much.”

Manning was 14 of 22 for 197 yards in helping New York take a 40-0 lead in the third quarter before giving way to rookie Kyle Lauletta early in the fourth. Sterling Shepard, Bernie Fowler and Russell Shepard caught TD passes from Manning as the Giants (5-8) put up 40 points in a game for the first time since Nov. 1, 2015, and won for the fourth time in the past five games.

“We came down here as a 4-8 team that I feel like we’re getting better,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “We’re playing more in a way that’s evidence that we’re getting better and we’re on the right track.”

The Giants intercepted new Redskins quarterback Mark Sanchez twice with Curtis Riley scoring on a 9-yard pick-6 in the first quarter. It was Sanchez’s ninth career interception returned for a touchdown.

Sanchez, making his first NFL start since 2015, was 6 of 14 for 38 yards and the two interceptions and didn’t have a completion longer than 10 yards. He was sacked five times behind a patchwork offensive line as the Redskins (6-7) lost their fourth in a row.

“It was tough sledding, for sure,” Sanchez said.

SANCHIZE TO JOHNSON

Coach Jay Gruden said “nothing” worked for Sanchez and pulled the plug on his appearance with 5½ minutes remaining in the third quarter. In came newly signed Josh Johnson, the Redskins’ fourth QB this season. Johnson hadn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2013 or thrown a pass since 2011.

Signed after Alex Smith and Colt McCoy each broke a leg and because of his familiarity with Gruden’s offense, Johnson completed 11 of 16 passes for 195 yards, a touchdown and an interception and ran for 45 yards and his first career rushing TD in garbage time.

Gruden said Johnson will start the next game against Jacksonville.

“We’ll get Josh ready to go,” Gruden said. “I think the element that he brings is a little bit of knowing the system.”

LAULETTA’S DEBUT

When Lauletta relieved Manning, it marked the fourth-round pick out of Richmond’s NFL debut. Lauletta, who is vying to be Manning’s eventual replacement, was 0 of 5 with an interception.

“Obviously I didn’t do very well,” Lauletta said. “Obviously in that situation we’re going to try and just run the clock, some runs, some boots and stuff like that. There’s no excuse. We went in there and just didn’t execute, didn’t get first downs.”

GIANTS TURNOVERS

With his pick-6, Riley got some retribution after dropping a would-be interception last week against Chicago. Alec Ogletree’s interception — after Sanchez’s pass went off Redskins receiver Jamison Crowder — was his fourth in the past four games.

EMPTINESS

Even with all the blue in the stands, FedEx Field had large swaths of empty seats, something that has become the norm this season. The Redskins are 0-4 since cornerback Josh Norman called outhome fans for a lack of enthusiasm and said the team played better on the road.

REDSKINS LACK DISCIPLINE

Washington was penalized 15 times for 135 yards. Right tackle Morgan Moses was flagged twice for a false start and became the NFL’s leader in accepted penalties.

INJURIES

Giants: WR Odell Beckham Jr. was out with a quadriceps injury. Shurmur felt earlier in the week Beckham had a good chance of playing, but an evaluation by doctors Friday kept him out.

Redskins: TE Jordan Reed injured his right foot in the first quarter and did not return. … Rookie LB Shaun Dion Hamilton left with a shoulder injury.

UP NEXT

Giants: Look for a fifth win in six games when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Redskins: Try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Panthers 20, Browns 26

Panthers Browns Football

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield took the snap in victory formation and dropped to one knee. The cocky rookie quarterback urged the crowd to make more noise, and when the clock hit zeroes, the stadium’s sound system blasted “Danger Zone.”

The Browns have become hazardous to your playoff health.

Mayfield outplayed Cam Newton, Jarvis Landry caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score and the Cleveland Browns damaged Carolina’s postseason hopes with a 26-20 win Sunday over the Panthers, who dropped their fifth straight.

Mayfield bravely threw a 51-yard TD pass into traffic to Landry, who had a 3-yard scoring run and added a long run — on a similar call — early in the fourth quarter to set up a go-ahead touchdown.

Playing the spoiler role down the stretch, the Browns (5-7-1) kept their faint playoff hopes alive while improving to 3-2 under interim coach Gregg Williams, who needed just five games to match former Browns coach Hue Jackson’s win total over two-plus seasons.

“Everybody loves winning,” said defensive end Myles Garrett. “It’s different for us because of the negatives we’ve been through, but that’s all in the past.”

Mayfield finished 18 of 22 for 238 yards, continuing his bounce back after throwing three interceptions in the first half last week at Houston. The brash No. 1 overall pick continues to develop and the Browns are growing with him.

Mayfield was asked if he woke up feeling as dangerous as he did three weeks ago before beating Atlanta.

“I think you know the answer to that one,” he said, drawing laughter.

Landry felt that way, too.

“I guess waking up feeling dangerous is contagious,” he said. “We pulled together as a team.”

There were no smiles or laughs in Carolina’s locker room as the Panthers (6-7) suffered a loss that could haunt them for months and will increase the heat on coach Ron Rivera.

Newton passed for 265 yards, but overthrew Jarius Wright on 4th-and-goal at the 3 with 2:35 left. Carolina got the ball back, but Newton, who has been playing with a sore right shoulder, badly missed Devin Funchess and was intercepted by Damarious Randall with 57 seconds left.

Following the game, a glum Newton didn’t offer any excuses.

“We’re done with the cliche sayings, it just comes down to doing our jobs,” Newton said. “I’m not talking about nobody but myself.”

Carolina came in just a half-game out of the second wild-card spot in the NFC, but with only three games left, including two against New Orleans, the Panthers are going to need help to make the postseason.

Christian McCaffrey had two TD runs for Carolina and finished with 101 total yards.

“It stinks,” McCaffrey said. “A lot of people are against us right now, but I’ll fight for every one of these guys. That’s exactly what I’m going to do and I know a lot of guys will do as well. We lost. We’ve lost a few in a row. It’s kind of us against the world right now.”

Browns rookie Nick Chubb scored on a 1-yard run to give the Browns a 23-20 lead with 13:05 left. The score came one play after Landry took an inside handoff and weaved his way down field. Greg Joseph clanged the extra point off the left upright, keeping the Panthers within three.

Newton drove the Panthers to the 3 before throwing two straight incompletions, ending Carolina’s best chance to take the lead.

Mayfield’s 51-yard TD pass to Landry tied it 14-all with 8:27 left in the second quarter.

Rolling left out of the pocket to buy some time, Mayfield stepped up and confidently delivered a perfect strike to Landry, who was well covered on the play by safety Eric Reid, his former LSU teammate. As fans celebrated, Landry and several teammates sat down in the end zone’s corner and pretended to warm themselves around a camp fire.

“It was cold outside,” Landry said, smiling.

FAST START

On Cleveland’s first play, Mayfield unloaded a pass that traveled more than 60 yards in the air to wide receiver Breshad Perriman for a 66-yard pickup. Two plays later, Landry scored on his short run.

HOME SWEET HOME

The Browns improved to 4-2-1 at FirstEnergy Stadium, clinching their first winning home season since going 7-1 under coach Romeo Crennel in 2007.

“That’s pretty cool because the Dawg Pound has always been loyal to us,” said guard Joel Bitonio, who has spent all five of his NFL seasons with the team. “We want every team to say, ‘We don’t want to go to Cleveland to play.'”

NEWTON’S LAW

With his first completion, Newton eclipsed 3,000 yards passing for the eighth straight season. He came in needing 1 yard to reach the plateau and surpassed it on a 25-yarder to Curtis Samuel on Carolina’s second snap.

Newton joined Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks in history to reach 3,000 yards in each of their first eight seasons.

PAY DIRT

Chubb became the first Browns player to score a rushing TD in five consecutive games since Greg Pruitt in 1975.

ROOKIE RECORD

Mayfield joined Kurt Warner (1999) and Brad Johnson (1996-97) as the only players since 1966 to throw at least one TD pass in each of their first 10 career starts.

INJURIES:

Panthers: No significant injuries.

Browns: C JC Tretter barely made it off the field in the third quarter before dropping to his knees. Tretter, who has played several weeks with a severely sprained right ankle, returned to the game.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Host New Orleans on Sunday.

Browns: At Denver on Saturday.

Ravens 24, Chiefs 27 OT

Ravens Chiefs Football

Kansas City Chiefs linebackers Justin Houston (50) and Reggie Ragland (59) sack Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The fourth-down play was designed to go left, yet there was Patrick Mahomes scrambling to his right with a phalanx of Ravens in pursuit, his eyes trained on Tyreek Hill deep downfield.

Mahomes heaved an audacious throw. Hill made an incredible catch.

The Chiefs proceeded to score a tying touchdown on a pass to Damien Williams on another fourth-down play to force overtime. Then they watched as Harrison Butker booted a 36-yard field goal — atoning for a miss as time expired — and their maligned defense stuffed Baltimore to escape with a 27-24 victory Sunday.

“You always want to be in a position to go win a game,” said Mahomes, who threw for 377 yards and two scores as the Chiefs clinched a playoff berth. “These are the best wins when you have to battle, when you trade plays. These are the ones that you remember the most.”

The Ravens looked as if they might match Butker’s field goal, marching across midfield in overtime, but Ronnie Stanley’s holding penalty put them in a bind. Jackson was then sacked by Justin Houston and Dee Ford — and left with an ankle injury — before Robert Griffin III threw two incompletions to end it.

“We played a heck of a game. Just didn’t get it down,” said Jackson, who insisted after X-rays came back negative that he would be OK. “We’ve got to regroup next week and get ready for our next game.”

Tyreek Hill caught eight passes for 139 yards for Kansas City (11-2), including three in overtime to set up the eventual winning field goal. Travis Kelce had seven catches for 77 yards and another score, becoming the first tight end in league history with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons.

Jackson finished with 147 yards and two touchdowns for the Ravens, who had never lost in three trips to Arrowhead Stadium. Jackson also had 71 yards rushing in his fourth start in place of Joe Flacco .

“We didn’t come here for no moral victory,” Ravens pass rusher Terrell Suggs said. “We didn’t come here to ‘do well’ against a 10-2 team, now 11-2. No, we came to win.”

Both teams looked as if they had the game won in regulation.

The Ravens (7-6) took the lead with 4:04 to go when a long punt return gave them a short field, and Jackson threw a third-down touchdown pass to John Brown. But the NFL’s top-ranked defense twice allowed the league’s highest-scoring offense to convert on fourth down .

The first came on fourth-and-9 at the Chiefs 40, when Mahomes scrambled to his right and threw his absurd cross-body heave to a hobbled Hill for a 40-yard gain. The second came on fourth-and-3 at the Ravens 5, when Mahomes threw his dump-off to Williams for the tying touchdown.

“I mean, Pat makes unbelievable throws every game, it’s just the kind of player he is,” Kelce said. “You’re never dead on any play as a wide receiver, tight end or running back in the routes.”

As the Ravens tried to get into range for kicker Justin Tucker, Houston strip-sacked Jackson to give Kansas City the ball. Butker proceeded to miss his second field goal of the game to force overtime.

He made up for that miss a few minutes later.

“All I’m trying to do is make it through the uprights. That’s what I do every time,” he said. “I try to split up the kicks, so I’m not thinking about the past. Every kick is a new kick.”

The Chiefs at times had no problem slicing up the Ravens’ staunch defense, putting together a pair of long TD drives to take a 17-10 lead into the break. Williams capped the first with his short TD plunge and Kelce finished the other with a nice over-the-shoulder catch.

At other times, the Ravens got enough pressure on Mahomes to make him look like a rookie.

The Chiefs, whose own defense ranks near the bottom of the league, held their own much of the game. They allowed a 75-yard drive entirely on the ground in the first half, which Kenneth Dixon finished with a 3-yard run, but otherwise kept Jackson and Co. from making big plays.

“We played really well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “and they made some plays.”

HUNT NEWS

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the organization was aware of three separate off-field incidents that led to the release of star running back Kareem Hunt nine days ago. That includes the alleged assault in a Cleveland hotel that was captured on a security camera. All three cases were reported to the NFL. “The NFL was investigating them,” Clark Hunt said in his first comments on the case. “The league has spent a lot of time and resources trying to build a department that can handle these types of situations. Obviously it is imperfect. I’m not sure you can ever reach perfection.”

TWEET TROUBLE

Ravens FB-DL Patrick Ricard apologized after the game for racist and homophobic tweets that he made in high school and surfaced late Saturday, calling them “inappropriate and unacceptable.” The Ravens said in a statement before the game that they condemned the tweets. Ricard was a healthy scratch for the game.

SACKS STREAK

Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones recorded a sack, giving him at least one in each of the Chiefs’ past nine games — the first player with a sack in at least nine consecutive games in a single season since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. He’s also the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games at any point.

SELECT COMPANY

Mahomes joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino (1984) and Kurt Warner (1999) as the only first- or second-year quarterbacks in league history with at least 4,000 yards passing and 40 touchdown passes in a single season.

INJURIES

Ravens: Flacco (hip) and SS Tony Jefferson (ankle) were inactive for the game.

Chiefs: RB Spencer Ware left late in the first half after FS Eric Weddle forced him out of bounds and he landed hard on his right shoulder. He returned after halftime. … Hill (heel) also left late in the half before returning. … WR Sammy Watkins (foot) and SS Eric Berry (heel) were inactive.

UP NEXT

Ravens: Return home to face the Buccaneers next Sunday.

Chiefs: Play the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night.

 

Patriots 33, Dolphins 34

Patriots Dolphins Football

Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) scores to defeat the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The celebratory mob scene in the corner of the end zone broke out far from Ryan Tannehill, leaving him in the open field, running and screaming as he waved his arms. Since he couldn’t find anyone to hug, he flopped to the grass on his back, the job done and the game won.

“I collapsed — just the emotion of the whole thing,” Tannehill said.

Sixteen seconds from defeat, Tannehill threw a short pass and then watched his teammates save the season with the “Drake Escape.”

Kenyan Drake ran the last 52 yards as the Dolphins scored on a pass and double lateral on the final play Sunday to beat the New England Patriots 34-33. With that, Miami lived up to its nickname — the Magic City.

“They just made one more play than we did,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

And what a play. The Patriots were on the verge of clinching their 10th consecutive AFC East title when the Dolphins lined up at their 31 after a kickoff return trailing 33-28.

“We had them right where we wanted,” Tannehill said dryly. “Not really surprised with how things turned out.”

He threw a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who quickly lateraled to Drake along the sideline. He cut toward the middle and found a seam, helped by a block from guard Ted Larsen at the 30.

Drake beat two Patriots to the corner of the end zone — defensive back J.C. Jackson and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was on the field as part of New England’s prevent defense.

“Drake runs a 4.3, and Gronk probably runs a 4.6 or 4.7, so you feel good about that matchup,” Tannehill said.

Then came one last pass to punctuate the play — Drake reared back for a celebratory heave into the stands as the Dolphins’ bench emptied and teammates swarmed him.

“Football,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, “is a crazy game.”

The Dolphins call the play “Boise” because it was borrowed from the Boise State playbook, and they had been working on it all year.

“You rep it in practice over and over,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Why are we doing this?’ And now we know why.”

It brought to mind other NFL last-second stunners, including Roger Staubach’s “Hail Mary”, the “Miracle in the Meadowlands” and the “Immaculate Reception”. The play was the longest from scrimmage to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter since the 1970 merger.

Brady threw for 358 yards and three scores, but the stunned Patriots (9-4) lost in Miami for the fifth time in their past six visits. The Dolphins (7-6) came from behind five times to help their slim wild-card chances.

“We’re playing one week at a time right now,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “Any loss could be the end.”

The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point for the first time in 38 tries this season early in the game, and also missed a 42-yard field goal try. But his 32-yarder to cap a 55-yard drive put the Patriots ahead 30-28 with 6:45 left.

Belichick opted to have Gostkowski kick a 22-yarder in the closing seconds rather than pin the Dolphins near their goal line. Instead, Miami returned the ensuing kickoff to the 31 — and on the next play pulled off a miracle.

Brady broke the NFL record for career touchdown passes including postseason and now has 582, three more than Peyton Manning. His scores covered 2 yards to Julian Edelman, 37 to Cordarrelle Patterson and 16 to Gronkowski .

Tannehill missed two plays at the end of the first half after a teammate stepped on his right foot . He returned to start the second half, and his 23-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler put the Dolphins ahead 28-27 late in the third quarter.

But they managed only three first downs and no points thereafter — until the final play.

FRANTIC SEQUENCE

The teams swapped touchdowns and the lead for five consecutive possessions in the second quarter over an entertaining span covering less than 11 minutes.

Miami’s fourth-string running back Brandon Bolden, who spent six years with the Patriots, scored untouched on a career-long 54-yard run up the middle, and added a 6-yard scoring run.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

The Patriots squandered a scoring chance at the end of the first half. With 14 seconds left and no timeouts, Brady took the snap at the Miami 2, and when he was sacked by Robert Quinn the clock ran out, leaving the Patriots with a 27-21 lead.

MOVING UP

Miami’s Frank Gore ran for 92 yards and had a 24-yard catch, giving him 18,530 career yards from scrimmage, surpassing LaDainian Tomlinson (18,456) for the fifth-most in NFL history. Next up for Gore are Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk (19,154), Walter Payton (21,264), Emmitt Smith (21,579) and Jerry Rice (23,540).

INJURY REPORT

X-rays of Tannehill’s right ankle were negative, but he acknowledged it didn’t feel good after the game. “I rolled it pretty good,” he said. “Got X-rays and buttoned it up tight.”

Tannehill finished 14 for 19 for 265 yards, three scores and no turnovers. He has won nine consecutive home starts.

UP NEXT

New England plays Sunday at Pittsburgh. The Patriots also traveled there in Week 15 last year, and won 27-24.

Miami plays Sunday at Minnesota.

Colts 24, Texans 21

Colts Texans Football

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal (14) makes a touchdown catch as Houston Texans defensive back Shareece Wright (43) defends during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

 

HOUSTON (AP) — Indianapolis receiver T.Y. Hilton missed multiple practices with a shoulder injury in the week leading up to Sunday’s trip to NRG Stadium for a critical AFC South matchup. The Colts said his status was up in the air.

Hilton knew he couldn’t possibly miss a game at a place where he’s had more success than any receiver since the stadium opened in 2002.

He played, and in Indianapolis’ 24-21 win over Houston, Hilton had 199 receiving yards and Andrew Luck threw for 399 yards and two touchdowns.

“This is my second home, man,” Hilton said, laughing. “This is my second home. I don’t know. Every time I come here, I just go off. I don’t know what it is.”

Hilton entered as the all-time leader in receiving yards per game at NRG Stadium with 122.3 yards and finished Sunday just shy of 200 yards with nine catches on 12 targets. In seven career games in Houston, Hilton has topped 100 yards four times, with three of those for more than 175 yards.

The Colts (7-6) snapped a nine-game winning streak by the Texans (9-4), trimming Houston’s lead over the AFC South to two games with three remaining.

Luck said throughout the week, the Colts were seeing things in the Texans’ defense that led them to believe Hilton’s “speed and maneuverability” could again be a key to success in Houston.

“Once we got that first one, it was like, ‘OK, here we go,'” Luck said. “When T.Y.’s in the zone, he’s in a zone, man. It’s fun to play with him and it’s an honor to play with him.”

Hilton’s performance gave him his 11th 150-yard game, setting a franchise record. He has also topped 800 receiving yards for a seventh consecutive season, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Colts started slow and didn’t have a first down until early in the second quarter. They went to a no-huddle offense and found momentum on that drive before a pass from Luck was tipped by Kareem Jackson and intercepted by Andre Hal.

Indianapolis finally ended a lengthy scoring drought after a 60-yard completion to Hilton set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Marlon Mack.

The Colts entered Sunday having allowed just 14 sacks, second only to New Orleans. Houston’s usually menacing pass rush was largely neutralized with just two sacks from J.J. Watt and Christian Covington after being held without a sack against Cleveland last week.

“They did a good job, they played good football,” Watt said. “T.Y. obviously had a huge day. We knew going in that’s a guy we had to stop and we didn’t. That’s on everybody. Luck did a good job spreading it around, guys got open and he found them. We have to play better.”

Indianapolis’ defense, on the other hand, gave Houston fits both in the passing and running game. The Colts sacked Watson five times for a loss of 41 yards and held Houston’s rushing offense to just 89 yards on 25 carries.

“There was a confidence all week,” Reich said. “What was best about this was, we expected to win this game. We really did.”

Watson had 267 yards passing and 35 yards rushing. Tight end Ryan Griffin led Houston receivers with 80 yards on five catches, while Hopkins was held to 36 yards on four catches.

“We’re good. I mean, it’s the NFL — every game is tough,” Watson said. “It’s tough to go on a two-game winning streak. We went on nine. Today it ended, but it’s a new task to put this game behind us. Next week, we’re 0-0 and we’ll try to get 1-0. It’s no panic button for us. We’ll keep moving and try to flip the script next week and get back to the winning column.”

Houston cut Indianapolis’ lead to 24-21 with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Hopkins with less than three minutes remaining. With the Colts facing a critical third-and-1 at midfield, Luck drew Jadeveon Clowney offside to secure a first down and the win.

Clowney refused to comment when approached by reporters.

Houston scored first on a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Alfred Blue. The Colts then scored 17 straight before Houston opened the third quarter with a long drive to a 1-yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Lamar Miller to cut the Colts’ lead to 17-14.

The Colts took a 14-7 lead late in the first half on a 14-yard pass from Luck to Eric Ebron. It was Luck’s fourth straight touchdown pass to a tight end, three of which went to Ebron.

Luck had not thrown a touchdown pass to a non-tight end since the Nov. 18 win over Tennessee until the third quarter, when he found receiver Zach Pascal for a 12-yarder to put the Colts up 24-14.

Indianapolis had a 54-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead. During Houston’s winning streak, the team never trailed at halftime.

“I don’t like what happened today, but I’m fine with where we are,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “This is the NFL. We did not do a good enough job today. The Colts did a much better job than us. There’s a lot of football left.”

PLAYOFF RACE

Indianapolis will host the Cowboys and Giants before closing out the season in Tennessee, while Houston visits the Jets and Eagles before hosting Jacksonville in the finale.

HOPKINS’ MILESTONE

With a 10-yard reception in the third quarter, Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins topped 7,000 receiving yards in his career. At 26 years, 6 months, 3 days, Hopkins became the second-youngest player in NFL history to surpass 7,000 yards, behind only Larry Fitzgerald who was 26 years, 3 months and 20 days when he reached the mark.

EBRON IN THE END ZONE

With his 12th receiving touchdown of the season, Colts tight end Eric Ebron set a franchise record for the position. The record was previously held by Dallas Clark. Ebron also has one rushing touchdown on the season. In four seasons with the Lions, Ebron totaled 11 touchdown catches and one rushing touchdown.

ASTROS IN ATTENDANCE

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez and pitcher Lance McCullers were all in attendance, with Bregman wearing a custom No. 2 Texans jersey with his name on the back. Bregman also briefly played catch with Watt on the sidelines during pre-game warmups.

INJURIES

Texans receiver and kick returner Deandre Carter left in the first quarter and was later ruled out with a concussion. . Colts right guard Mark Glowinski was carted to the locker room in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

UP NEXT

Colts: Host the Cowboys next Sunday.

Texans: Visit the Jets next Saturday.

 

Jets 27, Bills 23

APTOPIX Jets Bills Football

New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) catches a touchdown pass in front of Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White (27) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Sam Darnold had difficulty containing his excitement after the New York Jets rookie enjoyed his first fourth-quarter comeback victory in the NFL.

On the other side of the tunnel, Buffalo rookie Josh Allen had difficulty keeping his frustrations in check after his three turnovers contributed to costing the Bills.

Darnold, drafted third overall, one-upped Allen in their first meeting as AFC East rivals by rallying the Jets to a 27-23 win Sunday.

“As a kid, you dream of converting two-minute drives and going down there and scoring,” Darnold said. “To be able to score a touchdown and put the ball in their hands at the end of the game was awesome.”

Allen, drafted seventh overall, was left dejected in a game he outran, out-passed and ultimately out-turnovered Darnold.

“I’ve got to be smarter with the football,” said Allen, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. His fumble and first interception led to the Jets kicking two field goals.

His second interception sealed the loss with 59 seconds left, when he was picked off by Trumaine Johnson at Buffalo’s 45.

Running back Elijah McGuire scored on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1 with 1:17 remaining to cap a drive during which Darnold completed three of five passes for 52 yards. The rookie quarterback particularly showed off his deft touch on a 37-yard pass to Robby Anderson, who made an over-the-shoulder catch up the right sideline.

Darnold finished 16 of 24 for 170 yards with a 7-yard touchdown to Anderson and an interception in his first start since missing three with a strained right foot. Aside from shaking off the rust, Darnold also overcame a scare in the first quarter when he left for one series after hurting the same foot.

Darnold was cleared to return after having the injury examined.

The Jets (4-9) snapped a six-game losing streak, and bounced back a week after squandering a 16-0 lead in a 26-22 loss at Tennessee.

The Jets won when embattled coach Todd Bowles elected to gamble after Darnold was stopped at the 1 on third-and-goal from the 4.

McGuire scored by taking a handoff and running to his right before finding a crease to squeeze his way into the end zone. He finished with 60 yards and was playing in place of starter Isaiah Crowell, who left with a shoulder injury in the second quarter.

“No decision whatsoever. We came up here to win the game,” Bowles said on deciding to go for the touchdown. “I’m just happy for them. … To see them smile makes me smile.”

Buffalo dropped to 4-9.

Allen went 18 of 36 for 206 yards and scored on a 6-yard run. He also had 101 yards rushing to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to top 90 yards in three consecutive games, joining Tobin Rote, who did that with Green Bay in 1951.

Allen didn’t care much for the feat, and wasn’t in the mood to discuss the matchup with Darnold. The two became friends while spending the pre-draft process working out with each other.

“I mean, it was cool,” Allen said. “But, I’m playing against their defense, and we just didn’t make as many plays as we needed to.”

Buffalo squandered a 14-3 lead, and was undone by a special teams unit that allowed Andre Roberts to return five kickoffs for 176 yards. Roberts’ 86-yard return set up Trenton Cannon’s 4-yard run, which cut Buffalo’s lead to 17-13 with 6:31 left in the second quarter.

It was the first touchdown scored by the Jets’ offense in 24 possessions, dating to the first quarter of a 27-13 loss to New England two weeks ago.

The Jets’ special teams also blocked Stephen Hauschka’s 49-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the first half.

New York trailed until Darnold capped an 11-play, 85-yard drive by hitting Anderson for a 7-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 20 with 12:06 left.

The Bills responded with Hauschka hitting a 36-yard field goal with 2:31 remaining.

Allen scored on a 7-yard run and Isaiah McKenzie also scored on a 15-yard run.

BANGED UP BILLS

Buffalo was down to third-string running back Marcus Murphy after LeSean McCoy was sidelined by a hamstring injury in the first quarter and Chris Ivory hurt his ankle in the third quarter. Starting linebacker Matt Milano was carted off the field after getting his leg tangled while stopping Darnold at the goal line. Coach Sean McDermott provided no updates on his injured players.

CATCHING ON

Bills undrafted rookie Robert Foster had 104 yards receiving in his first career start after the Bills released Kelvin Benjamin on Tuesday. Foster now has two 100-yard outings, both of them coming against the Jets. He had 105 yards receiving in a 41-10 win at the Meadowlands on Nov. 11.

LEE SUSPENDED

Jets linebacker Darron Lee served the first game of a four-game NFL suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. “A great disappointment,” Bowles said. “He made a big mistake and only time will tell whether he will learn from it or not.”

UP NEXT

Jets: Host Houston on Saturday.

Bills: Close their non-conference schedule by hosting Detroit on Dec. 16.

 

Bengals 21, Chargers 26

Keenan Allen, Darqueze Dennard

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) makes a touchdown catch in front of Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Darqueze Dennard during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong )

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers had every reason to be susceptible to a trap game against Cincinnati.

The Chargers were coming off an emotional, come-from-behind victory against Pittsburgh last Sunday and a key AFC West showdown at Kansas City was fast approaching.

Sunday’s 26-21 victory over the Bengals was not one of Los Angeles’ best-played games of the season, but it does improve the record to 10-3 going into Thursday night’s game against the 11-2 Chiefs for the division lead.

“Everyone wanted to talk about Pittsburgh and if it wasn’t Pittsburgh then it was Kansas City. This team was dangerous and we got out of there with a win,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.

The Chargers scored touchdowns on their first two drives and then got four field goals from Michael Badgley — including a team-record 59-yarder — to deal the Bengals (5-8) their fifth straight loss.

“We did enough to win. Shoot, they all count the same. We found a way to win, in a different way,” said Philip Rivers, who was 19 of 29 for 220 yards and a touchdown.

The Chargers had 160 yards of offense on their first two drives — which ended in a Keenan Allen 14-yard TD catch and 5-yard score by Austin Ekeler — but had 128 the remainder of the game. Three of the last eight drives started at or inside the Chargers 7.

Ekeler rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries with Melvin Gordon missing his second straight game due to a knee injury. Allen had five receptions for 78 yards and has a touchdown in five straight games.

“Sometimes you just have to play complementary football. Defensively we stopped them when we needed to,” Lynn said. “Offensively we started out, but then slowed down and kicked field goals the rest of the day.”

Cincinnati had good field position for most of the day with an average drive start of its 35. Joe Mixon had 111 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Jeff Driskel, who was making his second straight start since Andy Dalton’s season-ending thumb injury, was 18 of 27 for 170 yards and a touchdown.

“The decisions I made today didn’t work out. We didn’t get to make the break. This or that decision put us in situations, whether it’s fourth down and we’ve got to make the stop, the 2-point (conversion) and so forth, those things today, we didn’t get to make the breaks,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

Cincinnati got within two points at 14-12 late in the first half on a pair of field goal by Bullock — one came after an apparent TD run by Driskel was overturned by replay — and Driskel’s 5-yard TD pass to John Ross (the 2-point attempt was no good). The Chargers, though, would take a 17-12 lead when Badgley made his 59-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

The Chargers led 23-15 late in the fourth quarter when Mixon scored from a yard out. The 2-point attempt, which would have tied the game, failed when Driskel was sacked by Darius Philon.

BIG OVERTURN

Driskel appeared to score a touchdown with about five minutes remaining in the second quarter on a 1-yard scramble that would have brought the Bengals within four, but replay overturned it saying he was short of the goal line.

In the past, quarterbacks were safe to go head-first and not be considered to be giving himself up, but that was changed this season.

“He dove forward to the goal line and as soon as his knee hit the ground, he was ruled to have given himself up. The ball was short of the goal line,” referee John Hussey said after the game.

The overturn meant the ball was spotted inches short of the goal line and brought up fourth-and-goal. Bengals guard Alex Redmond was then called for a false start and Cincinnati had to settle for a Bullock 23-yard field goal that cut the Chargers’ margin to 14-6.

BIG LEG BADGLEY

Badgley, who had the winning field goal last Sunday at Pittsburgh, now has the longest field goal in Chargers history.

The Chargers attempted a Hail Mary with a second remaining, which resulted in Rivers being sacked, but Bengals defensive end Jordan Willis was called for a false start, which brought out Badgley, who said he was very confident about making it.

“You got to go out there with that kind of confidence. If you’re going out there thinking you’re going to miss it you probably shouldn’t be kicking it,” said Badgley, who is 14 of 15 on field goals since joining the Chargers last month. “But going out there, it was a way for us to steal momentum from them at the end of the half, go into the second half with more points. It was definitely good for us to get those points at the end of the half.”

The former team record was a 57-yarder by Nate Kaeding at Tampa Bay on Dec. 21, 2008.

UP NEXT

Bengals: Host Oakland next Sunday before concluding the season with two straight road games.

Chargers: Travel to Kansas City on Thursday night in a matchup of two of the top teams in the AFC.

Broncos 14, 49ers 20

Broncos 49ers Football

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle runs into the end zone to score a touchdown as Denver Broncos cornerback Isaac Yiadom (41) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Kyle Shanahan pulled aside his star tight end and apologized to George Kittle for not getting him more opportunities in the second half to set an NFL record.

The coach even said sorry a second time.

Quarterback Nick Mullens placed the blame on himself after Kittle fell 4 yards short of Shannon Sharpe’s NFL record by a tight end of 214 yards receiving.

Kittle still had a brilliant Sunday afternoon, making an 85-yard touchdown reception on the way to 210 yards receiving and becoming the 49ers’ first tight end to reach the 1,000-yard milestone to lead San Francisco past the sluggish, injury-plagued Denver Broncos 20-14.

“Four yards, ahhh, it’s all right,” Kittle shrugged nonchalantly, unfazed by a near miss. “Next time. Just talk to Nick and Coach Shanahan, they’ll figure it out.”

Kittle’s long TD reception on a pass from Mullens early in the second quarter put the Niners up 13-0 — “George flashed in my eyes,” his QB said — and Denver (6-7) never found a groove in seeing its three-game winning streak snapped.

Kittle had all of his yards and seven receptions in the first half and was targeted just once after halftime. Again, no big deal.

“We won. That’s about all that matters,” Kittle said.

Broncos quarterback Case Keenum struggled to find any rhythm after the Broncos lost top wideout Emmanuel Sanders to a torn Achilles tendon in practice during the week.

Dante Pettis added a 1-yard touchdown reception just before halftime for the Niners (3-10).

But this was Kittle’s sparkling afternoon from the very start. He has provided a major lift for an offense that dealt with the blow of losing starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Week 3 at Kansas City.

“We had one blown coverage, and a couple where we just didn’t cover him,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said.

Mullens connected on eight of his first 12 throws for 124 yards and wound up 20 of 33 for 332 yards and a 102.1 rating.

“George had one heck of a day, 4 yards short of the record. You can blame that on me, I guess,” Mullens said.

Denver (6-7), which sought its first four-game winning streak since starting the 2016 season 4-0, fell behind 20-0 at halftime then managed two second-half touchdowns to make things interesting.

Phillip Lindsay ran for a 3-yard score in the third then Case Keenum hit DaeSean Hamilton on a 1-yard TD toss with 3:53 remaining. Keenum went 24 of 42 for 186 yards.

San Francisco ended a three-game skid. The 49ers had lost their previous two games by 18 and 27 points, including a 43-16 defeat at rival Seattle last week.

SACK TIME

Denver’s Von Miller sacked Mullens for a 9-yard loss late in the second quarter. Including the postseason, Miller’s 103½ sacks matched the franchise record held by Simon Fletcher.

Meanwhile, linebacker Bradley Chubb had two more sacks for 12 on the season to break Miller’s franchise rookie record of 11½ set in 2011.

KITTLE’S CATCHES

The previous time any 49ers player had 1,000 yards was in 2014, when Anquan Boldin had 1,062 yards receiving and Frank Gore 1,106 yards rushing.

In addition, Kittle’s 52-yard catch and run to end the first quarter moved him past Vernon Davis for the 49ers franchise record for yards receiving by a tight end in a season.

Kittle came in needing 73 yards to top Davis’ mark of 965 yards set in 2009.

“It’s an honor. … He set the standard,” Kittle said.

On San Francisco’s nine-play opening scoring drive — capped by Robbie Gould’s 40-yard field goal — Kittle made receptions of 31 and 5 yards.

Gould made a 29-yarder early in the second.

ANOTHER RECEPTION

Niners left tackle Joe Staley celebrated a rare catch, the third of his 12-year career, late in the first half when he got his hands on a tipped pass by a defender for a 5-yard loss.

He will be fined for it, Shanahan insisted. Because of the chance of injury on such plays, trying for the ball isn’t advised. Staley called it a “dumb decision,” but explained it like this: “It’s like telling me ‘Hey, there’s pizza here, don’t have slice.’ I’m going to have a slice.”

“Joe refuses to believe he’s an O-lineman,” Shanahan said. “… It was not a smart play.”

INJURIES

Broncos: Cornerback Isaac Yiadom suffered a shoulder injury. Wideout Courtland Sutton nursed a thigh injury.

49ers: Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was able to return after landing hard on his left ankle late in the game when he went down defending a pass on the sideline.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Host Cleveland on Saturday.

49ers: Host Seattle on Sunday.

Eagles 23, Cowboys 29 OT

Amari Cooper

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) scores a 15-yard touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in overtime of an NFL football game, in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Dallas won 29-23. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Amari Cooper’s impact on Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has been dramatic.

The new No. 1 receiver for the Cowboys shook up the NFC East race, too.

Prescott threw his third touchdown pass to Cooper on the first possession of overtime, and the Cowboys took a big step toward the division title with a 29-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

On third down, Rasul Douglas tipped the pass into the air by getting inside the slant route, and Cooper grabbed it and had a clear path to the end zone from the Philadelphia 7 for the 15-yard score. The Cowboys used almost all of the 10-minute overtime, scoring with 1:55 remaining.

“I knew I had the slant route there, but I knew he would sit on it,” Cooper said. “I tried to sell the fade. It didn’t really work, but I just stayed with the ball and there you have it.”

By winning the third overtime game in the past four seasons at A&T Stadium between these division rivals, the Cowboys (8-5) won their fifth straight game and took a two-game lead over the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (6-7) and Washington with three games left.

Carson Wentz threw for three touchdowns, including a pair of tying scores in the fourth quarter. But he never got a chance in overtime because Prescott engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive.

Prescott overcame two interceptions and a lost fumble to set career highs in completions (42), attempts (54) and yards passing (455).

“Helpless feeling,” Wentz said. “I’ve got a lot of lot of confidence in the defense. They were making plays today. We just didn’t do enough early offensively and that cost us.”

The Cowboys dominated almost from the start, but let the Eagles stay close to set up a wild fourth quarter. Dallas, which can clinch the NFC East title with a win at Indianapolis next Sunday, finished with 576 yards, the most since gaining 578 against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973.

Cooper finished with a career-high 217 yards receiving on 10 catches in his second game in the past three with at least 180 yards and two scores. All three of Cooper’s touchdowns — the others from 75 and 28 yards — were in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Acquired from Oakland for a 2019 first-round draft pick seven games into the season, Cooper leads the NFL with 642 yards receiving since Week 9, his first game with the Cowboys. He had nine catches for 190 yards after halftime.

The Cowboys went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Eagles 19 in overtime and got it with a 1-yard plunge from Ezekiel Elliott, who had 192 yards from scrimmage on 40 touches — 28 carries for 113 yards and 12 catches for 79.

Cooper converted a pair of third downs on the winning drive. The first one was big, too — a 12-yarder on third-and-9 from the Philadelphia 40.

“I was almost I guess I would say astonished that we were able to get that trade,” said Prescott, whose has seen a significant jump in completion percentage, yards per game and passer rating in six games with Cooper.

“So I guess if you say that, when we’re getting a trade, well, what’s wrong? And then to get him and see everything turning out and playing out the way it is, we’re very, very fortunate.”

Brett Maher set a Dallas franchise record with a 62-yard field goalon the final play of the first half and had three field goals.

The game went from a defensive struggle with missed Dallas opportunities that kept the Eagles close to a wild fourth-quarter shootout.

Wentz thought he had answered the 75-yard touchdown to Cooperwith 3:01 remaining with a matching 75-yarder to tight end Dallas Goedert.

But Goedert was called for pass interference, apparently for pushing off against Jeff Heath before bouncing off a helmet-to-helmet hit from Xavier Woods that wasn’t called and running to the end zone from midfield.

Philadelphia scored anyway, with Wentz leading a more methodical march to his third touchdown pass, a 6-yarder to Darren Sprolesfor a 23-23 tie with 1:39 to go in regulation.

Douglas had the first interception of Prescott in the first half, but couldn’t get a second hand on the ball for the depleted Philadelphia secondary against Cooper with the game on the line.

“I played it perfectly,” he said. “I couldn’t get the other hand in there to get the pick. I tried to bat it down.”

DEJA VU

Two years ago, the Cowboys won by the same score with a touchdown on the first possession of overtime. Prescott was on his way to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, and Elliott went on to win the league rushing title as a rookie. The 12-play, 75-yard drive took 7:12 and was capped by Prescott’s 5-yard TD to now-retired tight end Jason Witten.

LOPSIDED STATS, CLOSE GAME

The Cowboys outgained the Eagles 576-256 and had twice as many first downs (32-16). Dallas ran 93 plays to 48 for Philadelphia and had the ball for 45:33 compared to 22:32 for the Eagles.

“Give them credit for fighting and scratching and clawing and doing the things necessary to stay in the ballgame,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.

INJURIES

Cowboys RG Zack Martin left in the second half with a knee injury. The four-time Pro Bowler has been battling a knee issue all season. … Philadelphia RB Corey Clement injured his right knee when he was stopped for a 4-yard loss late in the first quarter and didn’t return. … Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat left in the first half with an ankle injury and didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Eagles: At LA Rams next Sunday.

Cowboys: At Indianapolis next Sunday.

 

Steelers 21, Raiders 24

APTOPIX Steelers Raiders Football

Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell (9) slips on the turf while attempting a field goal against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Coach Jon Gruden ran off the field high-fiving Oakland fans on the way to the locker room.

In a season with very little to celebrate, the Raiders had plenty to feel good about Sunday.

Derek Carr threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Derek Carrier with 21 seconds left before Chris Boswell slipped on a potential game-tying 40-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the Raiders’ 24-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Carr threw two touchdown passes to overcome fourth-quarter deficits and the Raiders (3-10) then survived after allowing a 48-yard hook-and-lateral pass play that set up the final field goal try.

“The character of this team is impressive,” Gruden said. “No matter what anybody says or saw today, the character in there is special.”

Carr threw for 322 yards, including a 3-yard TD to Lee Smith that put Oakland up 17-14 with 5:20 to play. His second TD to Carrier capped his 16th career fourth-quarter game-winning drive.

“What we’ve kind of been preaching as a team is just resiliency because we’ve definitely faced adversity this year, and finishing strong, and that’s what we did today,” Carrier said. “We’ve been in position to win games and the ball just hasn’t rolled our way for one reason or another.”

Roethlisberger returned from a rib injury to lead a go-ahead touchdown drive that Carr answered. Big Ben then connected on a short pass to James Washington. Washington then flipped the ball to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who raced down the sideline for 43 more yards to set up Boswell’s chance.

But his lost his footing on the approach, sending the Steelers (7-5-1) to their third straight loss, all decided in the final minutes.

“Sometimes it makes it worse when it’s right there,” Roethlisberger said. “If you get blown out it doesn’t seem to hurt as bad as when you have a chance.”

Roethlisberger missed the first four drives of the second half before returning to drive the Steelers to the go-ahead score on a 1-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster before once again ending up on the losing end in a trip to Oakland. He is 0-4 at the Coliseum and the Raiders remain the only AFC opponent he has never beaten on the road.

Pittsburgh went scoreless on four drives with backup Joshua Dobbs.

“(Roethlisberger) probably could’ve come in a series or so sooner, but we were in a rhythm and flow of the game,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “He was ready to go when he got back out there.

Roethlisberger finished 25 for 29 for 282 yards and two TDs, but the Steelers failed to open up ground on Baltimore in the AFC North. Pittsburgh has a half-game lead over the Ravens.

He also threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster with 10 seconds remaining in the first half. Smith-Schuster deflected the high pass to himself and deftly managed to get both feet down with a toe tap in the back of the end zone.

The play was ruled incomplete on the field, but was overturned on replay to the delight of the thousands of yellow-towel waving Steelers fans who filled the Coliseum.

But it was the Raiders fans who cheered at the end after Boswell’s missed kick that came after the Steelers got in position thanks to the short pass to James Washington, who lateraled to Smith-Schuster, who raced 43 yards to the 22.

Boswell has now missed six field goals and five extra points, with his 11 missed kicks ranking worst in the NFL.

“It’s terrible, what else do you want me to say,” Boswell said.

GROUNDED

Pittsburgh got little from its running game with James Conner sidelined by an ankle injury. They gained 40 yards on 19 carries with Stevan Ridley scoring on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.

FUMBLE OR NOT

The Raiders found themselves on the wrong end of replay reviews during an odd sequence late in the third quarter. With Oakland at the Pittsburgh 22, Carr lost the ball just before trying to throw it for a fumble that was recovered by Pittsburgh upheld on replay. Just a few plays later, Dobbs was hit by Arden Key as he tried to throw and the ball came loose. Oakland recovered that, but officials ruled it an incomplete pass and the call stood after a challenge by the Raiders. It turned out not to matter much when Tahir Whitehead intercepted Dobbs on the next play.

PRESSURE POINT

The Raiders got a rare sack in the second quarter when Clinton McDonald brought down Roethlisberger on a third down. That was the league-low 11th sack of the season for Oakland. The play proved pivotal when Boswell missed a 39-yard field goal on the following play for his first miss inside of 40 yards this season.

FAST START

The Raiders again got off to a fast start on offense with a 1-yard TD run by Doug Martin on the opening drive. That gave Oakland 41 points on the first drive this season, fourth best in the league.

HOLDING ON

The Raiders committed three facemask penalties in a span of 13 plays in the second quarter. Before the infractions from Tahir Whitehead, Johnathan Hankins and Erik Harris, Oakland hadn’t been penalized for a facemask all season.

UP NEXT

Steelers: Host Patriots on Sunday.

Raiders: Visit Bengals on Sunday.

Lions 17, Cardinals 3

Lions Cardinals Football

Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (23) runs back his interception for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — It’s an NFL cliche, the crafty cornerback fooling the rookie quarterback.

That’s exactly what happened in the biggest play of Detroit’s 17-3 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Darius Slay, who tied for the lead in the NFL with eight interceptions last season, stepped in front of intended receiver Trent Sherfield, picked off Rosen’s pass and returned it 67 yards for the game’s first touchdown, putting his team up 10-0 in the third quarter.

“I kind of baited him,” Slay said. “I knew it was coming. I knew it before the play even happened. The only thing I was concerned about was if I was going to score with it. I knew it was coming and I made a play on it.”

Rosen said Slay “made it seem like he was giving him (Sherfield) space. It made it seem like he was playing really soft because it was third-and-long. But right when our receiver broke at the sticks, he just made a really good play.

“He’s a veteran. That’s why maybe go away from him next time.”

The Lions (5-8), losers of five of their previous six overall, ended an eight-game losing streak in Arizona that dated to 1993. It was a matchup of two first-year coaches who are having their struggles and this one clearly went to Detroit’s Matt Patricia over the Cardinals’ Steve Wilks.

“It is great to get the win,” Patricia said. “It is great to see some of the improvement in some of the things we have been doing in the last month or last three weeks or so.”

Arizona (3-10), which fell flat coming off its biggest win of the season a week earlier at Green Bay, avoided being shut out with Zane Gonzalez’s 22-yard field goal that cut the lead to 10-3 with 8:14 to play.

Rosen completed four of six passes as Arizona drove to the 5-yard line, but a fade pass to Larry Fitzgerald was incomplete and the Cardinals, who fell to 1-6 at home, settled for the field goal.

Detroit took the subsequent kickoff and went 75 yards in seven plays, with the help of a pass interference penalty against Budda Baker, and Zach Zenner’s 1-yard touchdown run with 4:05 to play put the game safely in the Lions’ control.

“It was missed tackles and penalties that got them down there,” Wilks said. “I thought the defense kept us in the game pretty much to that point.”

Matt Prater’s 47-yard field goal in the first half accounted for the other Detroit points on a day neither offense could do much.

“It was one of the games you had to kind of wear them out,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “They got some good players up there. That fourth quarter our guys really started leaning on them, dominating.”

Fitzgerald caught five passes, all in the second half and most when the game had been all but decided, to move ahead of Jerry Rice for most receptions by a player for one team at 1,286.

Detroit took the opening kickoff and moved downfield with a strong running game. But after a short pass from Stafford, LeGarrette Blount had the ball knocked loose by Baker, who recovered at the Cardinals 30.

Neither team threatened again until the Lions used up 7 minutes, 55 seconds to drive 65 yards and set up Prater’s field goal with 9:35 left in the first half.

Arizona took the kickoff and got a 19-yard pass from Rosen to Sherfield, combined with a facemask penalty against Detroit, moved the ball to the Lions 30. But a pass to David Johnson lost 6 yards and Gonzalez’s 54-yard field goal try had plenty of distance but bounced off the left upright.

FINALLY FITZGERALD

Fitzgerald, who entered the game with at least one catch in 223 consecutive games, was targeted once and didn’t have a catch in the first half. Finally, with 5:48 left in the third quarter, Fitzgerald’s 14-yard reception kept the streak alive and moved him ahead of Rice. Three of his catches came the last time Arizona had the ball.

INJURIES

Detroit was hit hard by injuries. In the span of three plays, the Lions lost defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah (knee) and Da’Shawn Hand (shoulder). Later in the half, right tackle Rick Wagner left with a concussion. The team also lost fullback Nick Bellore (ankle), wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring), cornerback Marcus Cooper (back) and safety Charles Washington (hamstring).

“Injuries happen,” Patricia said. “Certainly we had a couple of them today. It is just important for us to always maintain our philosophy of everybody has to be ready to go.”

Arizona wide receiver Chad Williams was inactive after aggravating a hamstring injury late last week.

UP NEXT

Lions: at Buffalo next Sunday.

Cardinals: at Atlanta next Sunday.

Rams 15, Bears 6

Rams Bears Football

Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson (39) intercepts a pass intended for Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Josh Reynolds (83) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears harassed Jared Goff and squashed the Los Angeles Rams’ high-powered offense while shuffling their way to a surprising victory over the team that came in with the NFL’s best record.

In a season of huge strides, this might be their biggest one yet.

Eddie Goldman led a dominant effort by the defense and the NFC North-leading Bears beat the NFC West champion Rams 15-6 on Sunday night.

“Our play on defense — all I can say is wow,” coach Matt Nagy said.

The Rams (11-2) missed a chance to secure a first-round playoff bye and fell into a tie with New Orleans for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Goff threw a career-high four interceptions and was sacked three times, with Goldman getting to him for a tiebreaking safety early in the third quarter.

Bradley Sowell became the first Bears offensive lineman in 11 years with a touchdown reception when he caught a 2-yarder from Mitchell Trubisky in the third quarter. And after four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North, Chicago continued to close in on its first division title and playoff appearance since 2010.

“For them to go out and do it (against) a team that had only one loss all year long … is so powerful for our guys now because it helps us grow,” Nagy said. “It helps us grow with confidence. It helps us grow togetherness. When you teach that and you talk about it over and over and over — as a culture, as a building, everyone together as a family — and then they do it, it lights a fire. It puts us in a great position. We do talk about one game at a time. They’re gonna enjoy tonight and then we’re gonna get right back in it and get ready for next week.”

Coming off a shaky outing against Detroit, Goff was 20 of 44 for 180 yards with a 19.1 rating. NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley ran for a season-low 28 yards on 11 carries, and the Rams’ three-game win streak came to an end.

The Rams’ only other loss was at New Orleans. But against the Monsters of the Midway, they managed just 214 yards.

“Really, consistently over and over I continue to put our players in bad spots,” Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said. “Certainly a humbling night, but it’s one you get a chance to look at yourself critically, find a way to get better and move forward accordingly and that’s exactly what we’re going to do and that’s all I know how to do. And I have to be better for our football team. This loss is on me. I didn’t do a nearly good enough job for us today. I trust we will respond the right way.”

The Bears (9-4) bounced back from a wild overtime loss at the New York Giants and won for the sixth time in seven games.

Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks had sacks. Roquan Smith, Prince Amukamara, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller had interceptions, helping Chicago come away with the win despite a shaky effort from Trubisky.

“All 11 guys collectively going against the offense, it was going to be a big challenge for us,” Mack said. “We stepped up to the challenge.”

The Bears needed it with Trubisky struggling about as badly as Goff.

After missing the previous two games because of a right shoulder injury, he was 16 of 30 for 110 yards and three interceptions.

“It’s hard to be down when you get such a big win like that,” Trubisky said. “You’ve just got to put your own selfish thoughts about how you played aside. … I’m just very proud of the way the team had my back.”

PULLING AHEAD

Goldman broke a 6-6 tie in the opening minute of the third quarter when he sacked Goff for Chicago’s first safety this season.

The Bears then used a trick play they call “Santa’s Sleigh” to make it 15-6, when Sowell hauled in a 2-yarder from Trubisky on a play-action with defensive end Hicks. That made him the first Bears offensive lineman with a TD reception since John St. Clair against Kansas City on Sept. 16, 2017.

“We needed a play so they gave it to the play-maker,” Sowell said.

The Rams had a big opportunity late in the third when John Johnson III returned an interception 35 yards to the Chicago 27. But Fuller picked off a wobbly pass from Goff intended for Josh Reynolds on the next play.

Los Angeles’ Greg Zuerlein missed a 40-yard field goal off the right upright in the opening minutes of the fourth after making a 50-yarder earlier in the game.

INJURIES

Rams: CB Dominique Hatfield was taken from the field on a cart with an ankle injury in the third quarter. He was hurt on the kickoff following Sowell’s TD. … C John Sullivan was evaluated for a concussion after being shaken up blocking on a run by Gurley late in the first quarter. But he returned in the second half.

Bears: CB Bryce Callahan left the game with a foot injury late in the first half.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host Philadelphia on Dec. 16.

Bears: Host Green Bay on Dec. 16.

Vikings 7, Seahawks 21

Chris Carson

Seattle Seahawks’ Chris Carson, left, dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE (AP) — Bobby Wagner leaped over the line of scrimmage, swatted Dan Bailey’s field goal attempt and sparked the Seattle Seahawks to two late touchdowns.

Whether or not what Wagner did was entirely legal, he frankly didn’t care.

“I’m not stressing about that. I made the play. They called what they called,” Wagner said. “There’s times in games where things happen all the time. I’m not stressing on it. It was a big block and we’ll definitely take it. It was amazing.”

Wagner’s block midway through the fourth quarter was the catalyst in a 21-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night that pushed Seattle to the brink of a playoff berth.

Chris Carson followed the blocked kick with a 2-yard TD run with 2:53 left, and Justin Coleman capped off the Seahawks’ fourth straight victory with a 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown 18 seconds later.

What was an ugly and mostly forgettable first three quarters turned into a Seattle party in the fourth as the Seahawks (8-5) moved to the brink of wrapping up a wild-card spot in the NFC. One win in Seattle’s final three games — including matchups with lowly San Francisco and Arizona — should be enough to put the Seahawks into the postseason.

“It’s really about the defense. I loved the way they played, they played so hard and so spirited,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It was almost poetic after last week’s game that Bobby would get to block the field goal and he pulled it off and did it. That was an incredible play.”

Minnesota (6-6-1) twice had scoring chances in the fourth quarter when it was still a one-score game but was turned away each time. Minnesota’s chances of winning the NFC North took a major hit with its second straight loss, but the Vikings still hold the No. 6 spot in the NFC.

“Part of it is being better on third downs. We haven’t really done a good job there. Part of it is being better in the red zone,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We had the ball on the 2-yard line and didn’t score.”

But much of the conversation centered on Wagner’s block of Bailey’s 47-yard attempt with 5:38 left and whether it was entirely legal. Wagner’s jump through a gap in Minnesota’s offensive line was fine, but it appeared he used his teammates to gain leverage, which allowed him to come through and block the kick. A flag was initially thrown but was picked up by the officials.

Wagner said he attempted it four times in practice without a problem but acknowledged it could be tough to pull off the play during the fourth quarter of a tight game.

“When I did it in practice I was pretty fresh,” Wagner said.

Zimmer said he asked for an explanation of what happened but wasn’t given one. He was told he couldn’t challenge.

“Quite honestly, I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened,” Zimmer said.

Seattle took possession and Russell Wilson immediately scrambled 40 yards deep into Minnesota territory. Five plays later, Carson scored and Seattle finally had a cushion. Two plays after that, Jacob Martin sacked Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and the ball popped to Coleman, who weaved his way for the clinching touchdown.

Cousins threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 remaining, but Seattle recovered the onside kick.

“I feel like all of our losses we, as an offense, we are so slow,” Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “Our defense is keeping us in games. And we’re not pulling our side of the bargain.”

Wilson had one of the worst passing games of his career, completing 10 of 20 attempts for career-low 72 yards and a baffling interception late in the first half, one of the many mistakes by Seattle that allowed Minnesota to hang around. But Seattle’s ground game was outstanding against one of the better run defenses in the NFL. The Seahawks finished with 214 yards rushing, led by 90 yards from Carson.

Sebastian Janikowski hit field goals of 37 and 35 yards to account for all of Seattle’s scoring until the closing minutes.

“If you run it 40-something times, you ought to win. That was pretty good,” Carroll said.

FOURTH QUARTER WOES

Minnesota hung around despite failing to run a play in Seattle territory until there was 4:16 left in the third quarter. Cousins was 20 of 33 for 208 yards, most of that coming late. But he failed to get the Vikings into the end zone from inside the Seattle 5 while trailing 6-0 early in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings had first-and-goal at the Seattle 4 but turned the ball over on downs with 9:06 remaining. Two short runs and an incompletion brought up fourth-and-goal at the 1, and Cousins’ pass for Kyle Rudolph was knocked away by Bradley McDougald. Bailey’s field goal was blocked on Minnesota’s next drive.

REACHING 100

Minnesota fell to 0-6 when allowing its opponents to run for at least 100 yards. The Vikings came in to the week giving up 99 yards per game on the ground, good for seventh-best in the NFL. Seattle had 136 yards rushing in the first half.

OTHER CENTURY MARK

Thielen tied Cris Carter as the fastest Minnesota player to reach 100 receptions in a season, both accomplishing the feat in 13 games. Carter did it in 1994 when he finished the year with 122 catches. Thielen is the first Minnesota receiver to get to 100 catches since Randy Moss in 2003. But Thielen didn’t get his first catch until midway through the third quarter. He finished with five catches for 70 yards.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: The Vikings return home to host Miami on Sunday.

Seattle: The Seahawks play their final road game Sunday at San Francisco.

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