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49ers and Raiders star in 'Trading Places' in 24-13 Oakland victory

Oakland Raiders are the surprise Bay City Rollers as San Francisco 49ers fail to get anything going

The San Francisco 49ers, locked in a tight race for a playoff spot, made a short trip Sunday to the one-win Oakland Raiders.

One team looked defeated, completely devoid of passion and ready for the NFL season to be over.

The other team was the Raiders.

On the first play of the game, Colin Kaepernick was intercepted. On the last play of the game, he was sacked. In between, it was often just as ugly, with the heavily favored 49ers falling, 24-13, and now almost sure to miss the postseason for the first time in four years.

There's rampant speculation 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh could wind up coaching in Oakland next season, and this game might have given him some serious food for thought. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr certainly looked like a solid cornerstone to build a franchise around, completing 22 of 28 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

He was far more effective and efficient than Kaepernick, who completed 18 of 33 for 174 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, and was sacked five times.

At 7-6, the 49ers are third in the NFC West behind Arizona and Seattle — both of whom won Sunday — and two games out of the second wild-card spot with three games remaining. St. Louis also won, meaning the division went 3-1.

San Francisco fans were left to repeatedly refresh the Twitter feed of 49ers owner Jed York in case he were to say something as he did at the end of the Thanksgiving loss to Seattle, when he tweeted the performance "wasn't acceptable." His account was barely active Sunday.

Rest of the West

The Cardinals came up huge Sunday, stopping their two-game losing slide with a 17-14 victory at home over Kansas City.

The victory was Arizona's 10th of the season, helping them tighten their grip on a playoff berth, and ensuring them of back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1975-76. Seven of the Cardinals wins came at home, the most for the franchise in a single season since 1925, when the team won 11 of its 13 home games.

Meanwhile, Seattle traveled across the country and knocked off Philadelphia, 24-14. It was the Seahawks' sixth victory in seven games and included phenomenal performances by quarterback Russell Wilson and a Seattle defense that limited the Eagles to 139 yards, the fewest of the Chip Kelly era. Philadelphia converted just two of 14 third downs.


It was the spin that saved Indy.

On a Sunday when Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck was hurried and hammered by a relentless Cleveland defense, Colts running back Daniel "Boom" Herron came up with a breathtakingly big play.

The Colts were trailing by five with 44 seconds left, and had a fourth-and-inches at the Cleveland 3. Herron took a handoff, ran right and looked as if he'd be stuffed behind the line of scrimmage. He spun out of tackle, though, and dived forward across the line of scrimmage. Luck hit T.Y. Hilton with a one-yard touchdown pass on the next play, and the Colts escaped with a 25-24 victory.

"That was all Boom Herron right there," Luck said. "That was a great run and probably one of the best half-a-yard runs I've ever seen in my life."

In coming back from a 21-7 hole in the third quarter, the Colts took a step closer to claiming the AFC South title, and dealt a heavy blow to the Browns, whose defense assembled a masterful performance.

The game was also yet another triumph for a visiting team. In the nine early games Sunday, victorious road teams included Pittsburgh, Houston, Baltimore, Carolina, St. Louis and the New York Giants. Only Detroit and Minnesota picked up home wins.

The Browns, who stuck with Brian Hoyer at quarterback instead of switching to rookie Johnny Manziel, but their offense was unimpressive. The day was dominated by Cleveland's defense, which forced four turnovers, scored two touchdowns, and never let Luck set his feet to throw.

At 7-6, Cleveland slipped into the cellar of the NFL's most tightly knotted division.

"It's a kick in the gut," Browns Coach Mike Pettine said of the loss. "It's an opportunity that we let go. We know our margin for error is now zero, that we've got to win our last three or we're done."

Pittsburgh thumped Cincinnati, 42-21, and Baltimore blew open a back-and-forth game at Miami to win, 28-13.

The Bengals are leading the division by a fingernail at 8-4-1, with the Steelers and Ravens tailgating them at 8-5.

Ouch! That smarts!

Not only did St. Louis humiliate Washington at home, 24-0, but it opened the game with a not-so-subtle slap.

Rams Coach Jeff Fisher appointed six captains — the six players the club drafted with the picks acquired in the 2012 swap for the No. 2 pick in 2012, the one the Redskins used to select the now-struggling Robert Griffin III.

Overseeing the coin toss for the Rams were defensive tackles Michael Brockers and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, selected in 2012; running back Zac Stacy, wide receiver Stedman Bailey, and linebacker Alec Ogletree, all taken in 2013; and this year's first-round pick, tackle Greg Robinson.

"I will always be remembered as [being a part of] that blockbuster trade," Brockers said. "And, you know, the Rams won. The Rams won that one."

St. Louis, which was coming off a 52-0 victory over Oakland, has recorded consecutive shutout victories for the first time since 1945. The Rams are the first team to post back-to-back blankings since Dallas in 2009.

Falling just short

Denver held on at home to beat Buffalo, 24-17, but the Bills denied Peyton Manning a touchdown pass. He hadn't been blanked in that department since Week 10 of the 2010 season.

That ended Manning's streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass at 51. Drew Brees holds the NFL record at 54 straight games, and Tom Brady has the AFC's best mark of 52.

Motoring city

Here's a switch: The Detroit Lions are winning the games they're supposed to win. That's a big step for a franchise that toppled two-win Tampa Bay, 34-17, without ever making the home fans sweat.

At 9-4, the Lions are guaranteed a winning season. That's only happened three times in the last 14 years, with the team finishing 9-7 in 2000 and 10-6 in 2011.

Give him a hand

Quickly ascending to NFL superstardom is New York Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whose how-did-he-do-that grabs are ideal highlight-reel fodder.

His most memorable catch was straight out of "The Matrix," a one-handed touchdown grab against Dallas on Nov. 23, when he leaped backward, bowed his body, and somehow latched onto the ball. Instantly, this much was clear: Nobody bends it like Beckham Jr.

Sunday, he was on display in a 36-7 blowout of Tennessee. In the first half alone, Beckham had nine catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 11 catches for 130, his sixth consecutive game with at least 90 yards receiving. He's something for the Giants to be happy about in an otherwise throwaway season.

House of Plain

Not so long ago, the Saints dominated games played in New Orleans. The Superdome rocked, and visitors quaked.

Anymore, though, it's the Stupordome.

For the first time since 1999, the Saints have lost four in a row at home, the latest defeat the most undignified, a 41-10 blowout by Carolina. New Orleans had two turnovers on its first three offensive plays.

"We've got to look closely at everything — preparation, who we're asking to do it," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "We're not that good. That's painfully obvious."

Amazingly, in the watered-down NFC South, the 5-8 Saints are still in the playoff hunt, just behind 5-7 Atlanta, which plays at Green Bay on Monday.

New Orleans plays Chicago in Week 15. Mercifully for the Saints, it's a road game.

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