Saturday’s NFL Capsules
Sunday, December 25, 2011
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Victor Cruz set two franchise receiving records, and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for two touchdowns as the Giants kept their playoff hopes alive by winning the New York-area bragging rights with a 29-14 victory over the Jets on Saturday.
After a week of trash talk about who ruled the city, neither team did much to boast about. But the Giants (8-7) did more than the Jets (8-7) and can win the NFC East with a victory next week against Dallas.
The Jets’ playoff hopes took a serious hit, and they will need to win at Miami next week and get help from several other teams.
Cruz, who had three catches for 164 yards, broke Amani Toomer’s single-season mark for yards receiving — and the team’s record for longest touchdown reception, a 99-yarder that gave the Giants the lead for good in the second quarter.
LIONS 38, CHARGERS 10
DETROIT (AP) — The Lions made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 as Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes in the first half.
Detroit (10-5) has won three straight after a seven-game slump to earn a wild-card spot.
According to the Chargers (7-8), they will not be in the postseason for a second straight year after making it five times in a six-season stretch. And that might cost coach Norv Turner his job.
The Lions held San Diego scoreless until midway through the third quarter, when Philip Rivers threw an 11-yard pass to Malcom Floyd to make it 24-7.
PATRIOTS 27, DOLPHINS 24
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady ran for two touchdowns and threw for another and New England rallied to clinch a playoff bye.
The Patriots trailed 17-0 at halftime then scored on their first five possessions in the second half. The Dolphins helped when Matt Moore lost a fumble at his 38-yard line then threw an interception that Devin McCourty picked off at the Patriots 2.
New England (12-3) won its seventh straight game. After the Texans lost to the Colts on Thursday night, the Patriots needed a win or a tie to lock up one of the AFC’s top two spots.
Miami (5-10) lost for the third time in eight games after opening at 0-7 and is 1-1 under Todd Bowles, who took over when Tony Sparano was fired.
RAIDERS 16, CHIEFS 13, OT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 36-yard field goal 2:13 into overtime, eliminating Kansas City from the playoff race and keeping Oakland’s AFC West title hopes alive.
Carson Palmer threw for 237 yards and a touchdown for the Raiders (8-7). His perfectly thrown 53-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey early in overtime set up Janikowski’s winning kick, allowing Oakland to avoid a second straight late-game meltdown.
Kyle Orton threw for 300 yards for Kansas City, his only TD pass going to Dwayne Bowe with 1:02 left to tie the game. The Raiders went three-and-out, giving Kansas City the ball back, and Orton hit Bowe for 25 yards and Terrance Copper for 11 more to set up Ryan Succop for a potential winning field goal on the final play of the game.
Succop’s 49-yard try was blocked by Trevor Scott to send the game to overtime.
BILLS 40, BRONCOS 14
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Jairus Byrd and Spencer Johnson returned Tim Tebow interceptions for touchdowns on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter to help Buffalo snap a seven-game losing streak.
Tebow finished with a career-worst four interceptions as the Broncos (8-7) fell into a tie with Oakland for first place in the AFC West. Denver lost its second in a row while squandering a chance to inch closer to its first playoff berth since 2005.
Byrd scored on a 37-yard return with 8:03 left and Johnson had a 17-yarder 18 seconds later for Buffalo (6-9). C.J. Spiller ran for a career-best 111 yards and a touchdown, and Leodis McKelvin scored on an 80-yard punt return.
TITANS 23, JAGUARS 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Matt Hasselbeck threw for 240 of his 350 yards in the first half as Tennessee tried to keep its faint playoff hopes alive.
The Titans (8-7) snapped a two-game skid, and head to Houston with a chance at their first winning record since 2008.
Rob Bironas kicked three field goals, including a pair of 51-yarders, and Jamie Harper ran for a touchdown. Jared Cook had a 55-yard TD catch and finished with 169 yards receiving, a franchise high for a tight end.
Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL’s rushing leader, ran for 103 yards and a TD for the Jaguars (4-11). He now has a career-high 1,437 yards this season.
BENGALS 23, CARDINALS 16
CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes, and Cincinnati withstood yet another fourth-quarter comeback by Arizona that kept the Bengals in playoff contention.
Another small crowd at Paul Brown Stadium saw the Bengals (9-6) secure only their third winning record in the last 21 years and stay in the running for the final AFC wild card.
Dalton threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham and a 19-yarder to Jerome Simpson, who did a somersault over a defender and landed on both feet in the end zone. Dalton joined Peyton Manning (26), Charlie Conerly (22) and Dan Marino (20) as the only NFL rookies to throw 20 touchdowns.
Arizona (7-8) rallied from a 23-0 deficit and had a chance to tie. Receiver Early Doucet was uncovered at the goal line but tripped as he ran, letting a fourth-down pass fall incomplete with 1:11 left.
VIKINGS 33, REDSKINS 26
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings overcame injuries to Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder on back-to-back plays to end a six-game losing streak.
Toby Gerhart filled in for Peterson and set up a touchdown with a 67-yard run, and Joe Webb threw for two TDs and ran for another while subbing for Ponder.
Webb’s 8-yard pass to Percy Harvin broke a 23-all tie early in the fourth quarter, and rookie Mistral Raymond’s first career interception set up Ryan Longwell’s 23-yard field goal that gave the Vikings a 10-point lead with 4:05 to play.
The Vikings are 3-12. The Redskins lost their sixth straight home game to fall to 5-10.
Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the first offensive play of the second half. Ponder sustained a concussion.
PANTHERS 48, BUCCANEERS 16
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton broke Peyton Manning’s rookie record for yards passing in a season and set a franchise record with a 91-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.
Newton threw for 171 yards and three touchdowns and scored on a remarkable 49-yard run up the middle in which he outraced smaller defensive backs to the end zone.
The Panthers (6-9) scored on eight of their first nine possessions and piled up 397 yards in three quarters against the league’s 30th-ranked defense. Coach Ron Rivera pulled Newton and the other key starters early in the fourth quarter.
DeAngelo Williams scored on runs of 8 and 22 yards, his sixth and seventh of the season, and Jonathan Stewart ran for 88 yards and caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Newton.
Tampa Bay (4-11) lost its ninth in a row.
STEELERS 27, RAMS 0
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Rashard Mendenhall ran for 116 yards and a touchdown and backup quarterback Charlie Batch played efficiently in place of an injured Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers (11-4) kept their hopes of an AFC North title alive even with Roethlisberger’s sprained left ankle forcing him to watch the game from the sideline as the team’s third quarterback.
Pittsburgh hardly needed him. The defense had little trouble dominating the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense.
St. Louis (2-13) managed just 232 yards while getting shut out for the second time this month. Steven Jackson rushed for 103 yards to top 1,000 for the seventh straight season, but backup quarterback Kellen Clemens sputtered in place of the injured Sam Bradford. The Rams lost their sixth straight.
RAVENS 20, BROWNS 14
BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes, and Baltimore moved one step closer to winning the AFC North.
Ray Rice ran for 87 yards and caught a TD pass for the Ravens (11-4), who led 17-0 at halftime and held on against the bumbling Browns. Baltimore completed its first unbeaten season at home (8-0).
The Ravens would win the AFC North by defeating Cincinnati next week. That would also give them a first-round bye and a home playoff game.
Josh Cribbs had a career-high 84-yard punt return for Cleveland (4-11). But the Browns generated little offense and were victimized by questionable play calling, bad clock management and untimely penalties in their fifth straight loss.
49ERS 19, SEAHAWKS 17
SEATTLE (AP) — David Akers kicked four field goals, including a 39-yarder with 2:57 left, and San Francisco hung on against Seattle (7-8).
Larry Grant sealed the win by forcing Tarvaris Jackson’s fumble that was recovered by Donte Whitner with 1:07 left. San Francisco (12-3), which already clinched the NFC West, remained in position for the No. 2 seed in the conference and a first-round playoff bye.
Akers set an NFL record with his 42nd field goal of the season. Frank Gore had a 4-yard touchdown run on the 49ers’ first drive of the second half.
Marshawn Lynch scored on a 4-yard run with 6:41 left to give Seattle a 17-16 lead. It was the first TD rushing allowed by the 49ers this season.
EAGLES 20, COWBOYS 7
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes in a game that had all the intensity of a preseason dress rehearsal.
This game became somewhat meaningless midway through the first quarter. A victory by the Giants eliminated the Eagles (7-8) from the playoffs and turned the Dallas-New York game next weekend into a showdown to decide the NFC East title.
The Cowboys (8-7) sat quarterback Tony Romo after one series and running back Felix Jones after two.
Vick threw a touchdown pass on the opening series and again just before halftime. Alex Henery kicked field goals of 43 and 51 yards for the Eagles.