Sunday's NFL Capsules
Monday, December 5, 2011
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers engineered a last-minute drive to set up a 31-yard field goal by Mason Crosby on the final play of regulation, and the Green Bay Packers remained undefeated and clinched a playoff berth with a 38-35 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
Rodgers hit three passes of more than 18 yards on the drive in the final 58 seconds as the Super Bowl champion Packers (12-0) won their 18th straight game and handed the Giants (6-6) their fourth straight loss.
New York, which was blown out by New Orleans on Monday night, tied the game on Eli Manning's 2-yard touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion run by D.J. Ware with just under a minute to play.
BRONCOS 35, VIKINGS 32
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tim Tebow led yet another late rally, passing for a season-best 202 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns to help the Denver Broncos win their fifth straight game.
Matt Prater kicked two field goals in the final 93 seconds for the Broncos (7-5), who moved into a first-place tie in the AFC West with a loss by the Oakland Raiders. Christian Ponder set Minnesota's single-game rookie record with 381 yards passing, including a pair of touchdowns to Percy Harvin, but his sideline throw with 1:33 remaining was intercepted by Andre Goodman to set up the winner.
Harvin had a career-high 156 yards for the Vikings (2-10), who lost their fourth in a row.
Demaryius Thomas caught four passes for 144 yards and both touchdowns for the Broncos, who raised their record to 6-1 since Tebow took over for Kyle Orton as the starter. Tebow completed 10 of 15 passes.
STEELERS 35, BENGALS 7
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and set a team record for career completions against error-prone Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh (9-3) swept the season series from Cincinnati (7-5) for the second straight year behind a 28-point explosion in the second quarter fueled by Roethlisberger, running back Rashard Mendenhall and a 60-yard punt return for a score by Antonio Brown.
Mendenhall and wide receiver Mike Wallace scored two touchdowns for the Steelers, who won for the seventh time in their last eight games.
Cincinnati rookie quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 124 yards and a touchdown to A.J. Green but the Bengals couldn't overcome two turnovers and a handful of special team gaffes to all but end their hopes of winning the AFC North.
CARDINALS 19, COWBOYS 13, OT
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — LaRod Stephens-Howling caught a short pass from Kevin Kolb and zipped 52 yards for a touchdown in overtime, snapping the Cowboys' four-game winning streak.
It marked the third time since 2008 that the Cowboys have lost in Arizona in excruciating fashion.
Stephens-Howling dodged a host of would-be Cowboys tacklers to scamper in with the score. Kolb completed 16 of 25 for 247 yards in his first game in five weeks.
Tony Romo was 28 for 42 for 299 yards for the Cowboys.
Dan Bailey missed a 49-yard field goal at the end of regulation that would have won it for Dallas. He also missed a 53-yarder. The rookie kicker came into the game with one miss all season.
TEXANS 17, FALCONS 10
HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie T.J. Yates threw a touchdown pass in his first NFL start, Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and Houston overcame another hamstring injury to Andre Johnson.
The Texans (9-3) have won a franchise-record six straight games, a remarkable feat considering they're down to their third-string quarterback and have played the bulk of their streak without their star receiver. Johnson left in the third quarter after hurting his left hamstring. He injured his right hamstring in Week 4 and sat out six games.
The Falcons (7-5) sputtered offensively much of the day and lost for the second time in seven games. Houston's top-ranked defense knocked down two Matt Ryan passes in the end zone in the closing seconds.
49ERS 26, RAMS 0
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Frank Gore ran San Francisco right into the playoffs, becoming the 49ers' career rushing leader in a shutout that wrapped up the franchise's first NFC West crown and postseason berth since 2002.
Alex Smith threw second-half touchdowns of 52 and 56 yards to Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams and David Akers kicked four field goals for San Francisco (10-2) as coach Jim Harbaugh joined George Seifert (1989) and Steve Mariucci (1997) as the only rookie coaches in 49ers history to win the division.
The only downer came when star linebacker Patrick Willis left the game in the first half with a right hamstring injury.
Rams quarterback A.J. Feeley struggled in place of injured starter Sam Bradford for the reeling Rams (2-10).
SAINTS 31, LIONS 17
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees passed for 342 yards and three touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints won their fourth straight.
Brees' performance gave him 4,031 yards on the season, making him the first quarterback in NFL history to eclipse the 4,000-yard mark in the first 12 games of a season.
His touchdown passes went for 67 yards to Robert Meachem, 20 yards to Lance Moore and 6 yards to Darren Sproles. He also connected eight times with tight end Jimmy Graham for 89 yards as the Saints (9-3) improved to 6-0 at home.
Matthew Stafford passed for 408 yards and one touchdown for the Lions (7-5), who have lost five of their last seven, but remain in playoff contention.
PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 24
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes then scored on a lateral and New England then withstood a fourth-quarter rally to keep Indianapolis winless.
Trailing 31-3, the Colts rallied with a touchdown run by Donald Brown and two scoring passes from Dan Orlovsky to Pierre Garcon, the last a 40-yarder with 36 seconds to go. But Deion Branch recovered the onside kick and Tom Brady took a knee on the final play.
The Patriots (9-3) posted their fourth straight win and improved to 38-5 in December starting in 2001. The Colts (0-12) must beat Baltimore, Tennessee, Houston or Jacksonville to avoid a winless season.
DOLPHINS 34, RAIDERS 14
MIAMI (AP) — Reggie Bush rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown and once-woeful Miami won for the fourth time in the past five games.
Matt Moore had a hand in two TDs for Miami, and Kevin Burnett returned an interception 34 yards for a score.
The surge by the Dolphins (4-8) comes after they lost their first seven games. In the past five games they've outscored opponents 139-54, with the lone loss a one-point defeat at Dallas on Thanksgiving.
For the Raiders (7-5), who began the day leading the AFC West, the drubbing ended a three-game winning streak. They fell to 6-25 in regular-season games in the Eastern Time Zone since December 2002.
TITANS 23, BILLS 17
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Chris Johnson rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns as Tennessee remained in the playoff chase.
Johnson scored on runs of 48 and 4 yards to match his season touchdown total. It was his third 100-yard rushing game in four outings.
Rob Bironas did the rest, hitting three field goals, including a 44-yarder midway through the fourth quarter to put the Titans (7-5) ahead 23-10.
C.J. Spiller had a career-best 83 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Bills (5-7), who continue to spiral out of playoff contention after losing their fifth straight. Stevie Johnson made the game close with a 2-yard touchdown catch with 2:58 left.
CHIEFS 10, BEARS 3
CHICAGO (AP) — Tyler Palko shook off two miserable starts and threw for 157 yards and a touchdown even though he was briefly lifted for Kyle Orton.
Orton came on to start the second quarter and immediately left the game with an injured finger on his right hand. Palko connected with Dexter McCluster on a wild 38-yard pass to end the first half on a ball that got deflected by Brian Urlacher and Chris Conte, giving the Chiefs a 7-3 lead and their first touchdown in three games.
Kansas City (5-7) got a 21-yard field goal from Ryan Succop in the third quarter, and Jon McGraw intercepted struggling backup Caleb Hanie in the end zone in the fourth. The Chiefs also recorded seven sacks — three by Justin Houston.
Chicago (7-5) played most of the game without running back Matt Forter, who injured his right knee.
JETS 34, REDSKINS 19
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 4:49 to play, and Shonn Greene added a pair of insurance scores.
It was Sanchez's 10th career fourth-quarter comeback or overtime victory, including playoffs, and his second in as many weeks.
The win improves the Jets to 7-5 and keeps them in the hunt for an AFC playoff berth.
New York played another mistake-filled game and had only 168 total yards after three quarters. They trailed 16-13 after Washington's Graham Gano made his third field goal with 7:52 remaining.
The Redskins fell to 4-8. They have lost seven of eight.
RAVENS 24, BROWNS 10
CLEVELAND (AP) — Ray Rice rushed for a career-high 204 yards, breaking loose on a game-changing 67-yarder in the third quarter, and the Ravens kept pace with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North.
Rice and Ricky Williams had short touchdown runs and Lardarius Webb returned a punt 68 yards for a TD for the Ravens (9-3), who toyed with the Browns (4-8). Baltimore racked up 290 yards rushing.
The Ravens turned to Rice on a blustery, rainy day, when Joe Flacco had trouble throwing and kicker Billy Cundiff missed a pair of field goal attempts.
Cleveland lost for the fifth time in six games, and the Browns have just three days to prepare for the Steelers.
With the Ravens leading 10-3 in the third, Rice got loose on his longest run as a pro.
PANTHERS 38, BUCCANEERS 19
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Cam Newton ran for three touchdowns to set the NFL single-season record for rushing TDs by a quarterback.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner scored the 11th, 12th and 13th TDs of his career on a trio of 1-yard runs. The rookie also had a reception to set up a touchdown and threw a pass to Legedu Naanee to finish one of Carolina's three scoring drives of 80-plus yards.
The Panthers (4-8) have doubled their victory total for last season. Tampa Bay (4-8) has lost six straight and seven of eight following a 3-1 start.
The Bucs played without quarterback Josh Freeman, who sat out with an injury to his throwing shoulder.