Rams win over Cardinals ensures first winning season since 2003
The Rams’ road to next week’s marquee matchup proved a little tougher than expected.
They had shut out the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7, and on Sunday were playing a depleted edition of the same team at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The offense did not have a prolific day, but the Rams created and took advantage of turnovers en route to a 32-16 victory that sets up a showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chargers hold off Browns 19-10 and move into tie for first in AFC West
There are few indignities in sports that would’ve matched this.
A second-straight loss to the winless Cleveland Browns in two-straight years would be worse than all the airballs, all the groundballs that roll through the wickets, all the missed empty-netters and all botched penalty kicks. Combined.
But thanks to more mastery from Keenan Allen, who made history, and a defense that forced a timely turnover, the Chargers avoided embarrassment in a 19-10 victory at StubHub Center.
Rams 32, Cardinals 16: Zuerlein keeps putting the game out of reach for Arizona
Rams 29, Cardinals 13: Zuerlein makes another field goal
Rams 26, Cardinals 16: Phil Dawson makes a 54-yard field goal
Chargers 19, Browns 10: Chargers hold Browns to a field goal
A couple of big penalties helped the Browns threaten, but the Chargers’ secondary held deep in their own territory.
Cleveland settled for a field goal, keeping it a two-possession game, 19-10, with 12:03 left.
Rams 26, Cardinals 13: Watkins catches an 11-yard pass for a touchdown
Chargers 19, Browns 7: Coons makes a 27-yard field goal
The floodgates haven’t opened in Carson, as the Chargers were able to put together another scoring drive but without another touchdown.
The invisible running game continued to hurt the Chargers in the red zone and the team had to settle for a 27-yard field goal.
The Chargers lead 19-7 with 1:02 left in the third quarter.
Chargers 16, Browns 7: Keenan Allen passes 1,000-yard mark en route to TD
The Chargers needed a big pickup on fourth down to extend the first drive of the second half, but they finally managed to score a touchdown.
Philip Rivers, who found Keenan Allen on fourth and three, hit him again for the seven-yard score.
The Chargers lead 16-7 with 10:35 left in the third.
Rams 19, Cardinals 13: Rams settle for field goal before halftime
Rams 16, Cardinals 13: Larry Fitzgerald catches a 15-yard pass for a touchdown
Chargers 9, Browns 7: L.A. keeps settling for field goals against Cleveland
The good news: The Chargers have scored on three of their four first-half possessions.
The bad news: They’ve only got nine points to show for it.
Kicker Travis Coons made his third field goal of the afternoon, but the team leads just 9-7 at halftime.
Rams 16, Cardinals 7: Arizona sticks to run game and scores
Browns 7, Chargers 6: Njoku catches a 28-yard touchdown pass
The Browns did something the Chargers couldn’t in their first three times with the ball — they got into the end zone.
Rookies DeShone Kizer and tight end David Njoku connected on a 28-yard pass for a touchdown.
After the kick, the Browns lead the Chargers 7-6 with 1:55 left in the half.
Chargers 6, Browns 0: New kicker Travis Coons is going to have to earn his paycheck
Another Chargers drive failed to get in the end zone, but Travis Coons hit from 40 yards to give his team a 6-0 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 3:45 left in the first half.
Rams 16, Cardinals 0: Ogletree comes up with the pick 6
Chargers 3, Browns 0: Chargers get on the board in second quarter
For the second time today, the Chargers offense moved the ball down the field, and for the second time today, they couldn’t find the end zone.
Unlike the first time, though, the drive did result in points, with new kicker Travis Coons rebounding from a miss on the team’s first possession to make a 28-yard kick on the second.
The Chargers lead Cleveland 3-0 with 9:03 left in the second quarter.
Rams 9, Cardinals 0: Rams turn interception into a touchdown
Zuerlein had missed three total extra-point attempts in five years prior to this season.
Rams 3, Cardinals 0: Zuerlein makes 56-yard field goal
Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters throws flag into stands
Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters lost his cool late in the fourth quarter and threw an official’s yellow flag into the stands.
Peters’ actions came after the Chiefs were called for defensive holding on a two-point conversion attempt by the New York Jets.
The fiery young cornerback then picked the laundry up off the field and made it a souvenir.
But did you know, some officials use the same flag their whole career?
“Most officials become attached to their flag,” former NFL referee Mike Carey told Sam Farmer earlier this season. “Most guys I know, they have their flag forever. I used the same flag I had in college.”
Peters then walked himself to the locker room, perhaps under the impression he had been ejected, and the Jets were able to successfully convert on their next two-point attempt.
Then, in another bizarre twist, Peters returned to the field sans socks.
Ultimately, the Chiefs lost to the Jets 38-31 for the sixth loss in seven games after rattling off five straight wins to begin the season.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor carted off with a knee injury
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was carted away from the sideline with what the team said was a knee injury early in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots.
The Bills said Taylor wouldn’t return to the game.
It wasn’t immediately clear when Taylor was hurt, although he came up limping and favoring his right leg after being sacked on the game’s opening play.
He continued until the second half, when he left the field after a possession and headed to the sideline tent where players can be evaluated for injuries. Then he was driven away.
Taylor finished 9 of 18 for 65 yards passing and an interception before giving way to rookie Nathan Peterman.
This was Peterman’s first appearance in a game since throwing five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 19.
Who’s in, who’s out? Rams-Cardinals inactives
Who’s in, who’s out? Chargers-Browns inactives
Bears’ Tarik Cohen makes history with looping 61-yard punt return for a touchdown
Do not kick the ball to Chicago Bears rookie Tarik Cohen.
The Bears running back looped around and shook the San Francisco 49ers’ special teams unit on his way to a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Cohen had 413 kick-return yards (eighth overall) and 155 punt-return yards (18th) before Sunday’s game.
But what makes him special is the fact that he also has two rushing and a receiving touchdown this season.
Vikings’ Jerick McKinnon busts out ‘Dirty bird’ celebration against his hometown Falcons
Disrespectful or no?
Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon pulled out the “Dirty bird” for his touchdown celebration on a two-yard touchdown reception against the Falcons in Atlanta.
McKinnon was born in Atlanta and attended Georgia Southern before he was drafted by the Vikings with a third-round pick in 2014.
So it seems like his celebration was more a throwback to his hometown.
McKinnon has three rushing and now two receiving touchdowns this season.
Fat-guy touchdown alert: Packers’ Dean Lowry scores on 62-yard fumble recovery
Defensive end Dean Lowry is listed at 6-foot-6, 296 pounds. But that man can move. Lowry picked up a Jameis Winston fumble caused by former UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark and ran 62 yards for his first career touchdown.
But the best part is Lowry’s Lambeau leap at the end.
In two professional seasons, Lowry had made nine total starts before today’s game and had registered just three sacks — one this season — and 16 total tackles.
Lowry, 23, was a fourth-round pick out of Northwestern in 2016.
Bitter much? Julius Thomas celebrates touchdown against former team with Bronco ride
The Dolphins and Broncos don’t have much to play for at this point, but you wouldn’t know it given the way tight end Julius Thomas celebrated after catching a nine-yard touchdown pass against Denver in the second quarter.
Thomas celebrated his score with a “Bronco ride,” a subtle jab at his former employer. He spent four years in Denver, where he posted back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons before signing a five-year, $46-million deal with the Jaguars, which at the time made him the highest-paid tight end in the league.
The Dolphins (4-7) and Broncos (3-8) both occupy last place in their respective divisions.
In two seasons with Jacksonville, Thomas had 736 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. The Jaguars traded Thomas to the Dolphins.
Miami’s offense has been putrid this season, managing just 285.8 total yards per game, which ranks 30th in the league.
Going into Sunday’s game, Thomas had just 34 catches for 342 yards and two touchdowns.
Video: Rams vs. Cardinals preview
Calais Campbell becomes Jaguars’ franchise leader in sacks
Calais Campbell is now the Jaguars’ single-season sack leader.
The veteran defensive lineman picked up a sack on Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the first quarter, pushing his total to 12 1/2 through 11-plus games.
That’s a franchise record for the Jaguars, who signed the former Cardinal to a four-year deal worth $60 million in the off-season.
Campbell spent nine seasons in Arizona where he collected 56 1/2 sacks with a previous career-high of nine in 2013.
Jacksonville entered Sunday’s games the NFL leaders in sacks (41).
Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and Alex Smith connect for two quick, huge touchdowns early
We’re just a few minutes into the Chiefs-Jets game, but it appears Alex Smith and Travis Kelce are doing their best to reverse their team’s fortune.
After losing five of their last six games, Smith and Kelce have already teamed up for two touchdown passes in the first three minutes of play in New York.
Kelce’s first score came on a 36-yard catch and run followed by a 22-yarder on play action. He now has seven touchdown receptions.
Smith is now five-of-five passing for 111 yards, with Kelce responsible for 90 yards on three catches.
Fantasy owners rejoice.
Rams linebacker from Nigeria is latest rookie stepping up to become starter
As pep talks go, this one was short and to the point.
Wade Phillips, the Rams’ veteran defensive coordinator, wanted to gauge linebacker Samson Ebukam’s frame of mind this week as the rookie prepared for his first NFL start on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
“Are you nervous?” Phillips asked.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers may not have the best looking mechanics, but results tell a different story
An expert would watch Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball shoot a basketball and wince. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers would watch the funky release and, in a way, relate.
While Lakers coaches and management scratch their heads and wonder how to get their prized pick to shoot the ball more conventionally, there’s a working example of what happens if you don’t change a release — if you let weird stay weird.
Rivers has thrown for 48,781 yards — or 27.7 miles worth — in regular-season NFL games. That’s more than all but nine quarterbacks in the league’s history, and Sunday against the Cleveland Browns at StubHub Center, Rivers will continue his path up that ladder.
Rams and Chargers will put their best feet forward on ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ day in the NFL on Sunday
When the big-toe injury that hobbled Corey Liuget all week flares up in Sunday’s game, as he suspects it will, the Chargers’ defensive tackle will flash back to the grit and determination his 6-week-old son, Corey Jr., showed when he came out of open-heart surgery five years ago.
And he’ll draw strength from it.
“Him fighting, giving all he had and going through all that pain inspires me,” Liuget, 27, said after Friday’s practice in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
Video: Implosion fails to bring down old Pontiac Silverdome
A partial implosion of the Silverdome has failed to bring down the upper section of the former Detroit Lions’ former home.
Demolition company Adamo said that Sunday morning’s blasts in Pontiac, Mich., did weaken the Silverdome and that it could still fall, but it is unclear when that might happen.
Rick Cuppetilli is executive vice president with Adamo. He told the Detroit Free Press that 10% of the explosive charges failed to detonate due to wiring issues that crews are investigating.
Cuppetilli said that unless gravity causes the building to fall on its own, excavators will start taking down the structure this week.
The Lions played in the suburban Detroit facility from 1975 through 2001. The Silverdome also was the home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and hosted the Super Bowl in 1982.
Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals: How they match up
RAMS (8-3) AT ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-6)
When Rams have the ball
After falling out of rhythm and scoring only one touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings, the Rams put up 26 points against the New Orleans Saints. They rank second in the NFL at 29.9 points per game. Quarterback Jared Goff seemed to take another step in last week’s victory over the Saints. He played with poise and passed for two touchdowns while outdueling future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Goff is completing 62% of his passes, 18 for touchdowns, with five interceptions. Goff passed for 235 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 when the Rams routed the Cardinals 33-0 in London. He has eclipsed 300 yards passing in a game four times this season, including three times in the last four games. With Robert Woods still sidelined because of a shoulder injury, Goff will rely on Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins and Josh Reynolds. Todd Gurley has not rushed for 100 yards in the last four games. McVay reintroduced tight ends in the last game, with Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett both getting opportunities. The Rams must protect Goff from Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones, who has 12 sacks. Antoine Bethea has three interceptions for a defense that is giving up 25.3 points a game, which ranks 26 in the NFL. The Cardinals are 18th against the pass, 10th against the run.
When Cardinals have the ball
The Cardinals were in trouble when running back David Johnson suffered a Week 1 wrist injury. Their season all but ended when the Rams broke quarterback Carson Palmer’s arm in London. Or did it? Quarterback Blaine Gabbert last week led the Cardinals to a last-second victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. In two games, Gabbert has completed 44 of 72 passes for 498 yards and five touchdowns, with three interceptions. Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald has 72 catches for 780 yards and four touchdowns for an offense that averages only 18.5 points per game. No teammate has more than 25 catches. Jaron Brown is averaging 16 yards per catch and has scored four touchdowns. The Cardinals rank last in the league in rushing. Adrian Peterson has twice rushed for more than 100 yards, but the Rams shut him down in London. He gained 74 yards against the Jaguars. The Rams are coming off an impressive defensive performance against the Saints, but they will be without veteran linebacker Connor Barwin, who suffered an arm injury. Rookie Samson Ebukam will start in his place. Lineman Aaron Donald has a team-best six sacks for a unit that has 19 takeaways. Linebacker Mark Barron has a team-best three interceptions.
When they kick
Against the Saints, the Rams’ Pharoh Cooper returned a kickoff 40 yards, and also returned a punt 40 yards. He is averaging 29.7 yards per kickoff return, 12.1 yards per punt return. A week after getting no field-goal opportunities, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein converted all four of his attempts against the Saints. Zuerlein has made 32 of 34 attempts and remains the NFL’s leading scorer with 129 points. Phil Dawson has made 17 of 23 field-goal attempts for the Cardinals, including a game-winner last week. Andy Lee averages 46.4 yards per punt.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams opened as six-point favorites. As long as they don’t look past the Cardinals and ahead to next week’s showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles, they should win this NFC West game at University of Phoenix Stadium to sweep the Cardinals.
RAMS 33, CARDINALS 13
Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns: How they match up
CHARGERS (5-6) VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-11)
When Chargers have the ball
As the Chargers enter the final month of the season, their offense finally has shown signs of life in consecutive weeks, against Buffalo and Dallas. The big reasons why the Chargers are legitimately threatening with the football are Philip Rivers and receiver Keenan Allen. Rivers has found Allen all over the field in the past two weeks, mostly without defenders in sight. Allen’s dominance against the Bills and Cowboys should have the Browns’ attention, and it could really open things up for Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. Cleveland has been a lot of not great things this season, but they’ve always competed on defense. While he’s been slowed with injuries, rookie Myles Garrett has looked worthy of the No. 1 pick. If the Chargers can avoid the Cleveland pass rush and get ahead early, they’d really like to get Melvin Gordon on track and run the ball with better efficiency than they did in Dallas.
When Browns have the ball
For the second time in three weeks, the Chargers’ impactful defense gets to face a rookie quarterback. But, unlike Nathan Peterman, DeShone Kizer won’t be being thrown into the fire without experience. He’s had 10 starts, albeit all losing all of them. Still, the rookie is a dual-threat that’ll force the Chargers to stay disciplined. Running back Isaiah Crowell is coming off his best game of the season and Duke Johnson is a threat in the passing game out of the backfield. The big question mark will be Josh Gordon, who will be returning to the field for the first time in three years after a long history of drug abuse. At one time, the receiver was among the best in the NFL. He’ll be a test for the Chargers’ secondary. Still, it’s hard to imagine that Cleveland will have a lot of success stopping edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram from getting into the backfield and forcing Kizer into taking sacks or throwing picks.
When they kick
The Chargers will use their third kicker of the year, with Travis Coons getting his shot after Nick Novak couldn’t recover from the back injury he suffered in the win in Dallas. Coons was pretty accurate in his only year in the NFL, in 2015, and he returns to the league to face his former team. Punter Drew Kaser could help with the kickoff duties, though the team won’t want him taking anymore extra points unless absolutely necessary considering he missed the warmup net after being pushed into emergency duty last week. When Kaser punts, the Chargers will have to worry about rookie Jabrill Peppers, who will be returning punts for the Browns. Former Brown Travis Benjamin would love to have a big return against his former team.
Dan Woike’s prediction
OK, enough playing around. The Chargers should absolutely win this game. The Browns are winless for a lot of reasons, and if you were worried about the Chargers’ looking past them, they just have to look back one year to when they lost to the winless Browns. Cleveland, if you listen to the Chargers’ coaches, is better than its record suggests; a young team that’ll eventually win. If it happens Sunday, the Chargers’ rollercoaster season will take an unexpected dip that would severely hurt their playoff chances. It could happen. It’s happened to teams before. It’s obviously already happened to the Chargers. But, it won’t happen again — at least not this Sunday.
CHARGERS 31, BROWNS 14
AFC notes: From A to Z
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens lead the NFL in interceptions (18) and takeaways (26). Baltimore is seeking its first three-game winning streak of the season.
Buffalo Bills: LeSean McCoy has 402 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in four meetings with the Patriots. He has 1,053 total yards this season.
Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton is first Bengals QB since Akili Smith in 2000 to go five games without an interception. But he was picked off four times in the season opener.
CHARGERS: The Chargers were responsible for the Browns’ sole win last season when kicker Josh Lambo missed two field goals in a 20-17 loss .
Cleveland Browns: The Browns are the second team to start 0-11 in consecutive seasons, joining the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were an expansion team the first season.
Denver Broncos: Trevor Siemian will be third quarterback to start for the Broncos in as many games. Coach Vance Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator last year.
Houston Texans: The Texans scored a franchise-high 57 points earlier this season against the Titans, and their 43-point victory was largest in team history.
Indianapolis Colts: Receiver T.Y. Hilton needs one 150-yard receiving game to tie Marvin Harrison for the most such games in Colts history (11).
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars open the first of three straight home games and seek their eighth regular-season win for first time since 2010, when they finished 8-8.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tight end Travis Kelce has had at least one catch in 59 straight games. He has 62 catches for 777 yards with five touchdowns this season.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are are on pace for their lowest-scoring season in 50 years. They are tied for the second-most points allowed and third-worst in points scored.
New England Patriots: Bill Belichick — 15-2 vs. Bills since 2002— has more wins at Orchard Park than any Bills coach since Wade Phillips went 17-7 from 1998-2000.
N.Y. Jets: Robby Anderson is the seventh player in Jets history with a touchdown catch in five straight games, and leads the NFL with four of 20 yards or more.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders will be without two of their three top receivers Amari Cooper (concussion) and Michael Crabtree (suspension) against the Giants.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Le’Veon Bell leads league in yards rushing (981) and combined yards (1,377). Defensive end Cam Heyward has nine sacks.
Tennessee Titans: Tight end Delanie Walker had his first touchdown reception of the season last week, but he’s had 53 catches for 613 yards receiving.
NFC notes: From A to Z
Arizona Cardinals: Chandler Jones is tied for the league lead with 12 sacks — a half sack shy of his career- high — and leads NFL in tackles for loss (20) and quarterback hits (25).
Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones had 253 yards receiving with two touchdowns last week against the Buccaneers. He has three career games with more than 250 yards.
Carolina Panthers: Linebacker Luke Kuechly had a 34-yard scoop and score last week and leads the league with 15 interceptions since 2012, when he was drafted.
Chicago Bears: The Bears had six yards rushing last week, the second-lowest in team history. Chicago will finish with a record no better than .500 for the fifth straight year.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are expected to get All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) back next week after missing three games. He has 52 total tackles.
Detroit Lions: Quarterback Matthew Stafford has an ankle injury but intends to make his 108th consecutive regular-season start this week against the Ravens.
Green Bay Packers: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned to practice Saturday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair his broken right collarbone.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have topped more than 400 total yards in three straight games for the first time since 2010 when they had Brett Favre at quarterback .
New Orleans Saints: Saints are the first team with two RBs, Alvin Kamara (1,094) and Mark Ingram (1,055), with more than 1,000 scrimmage yards in 11 games.
N.Y. Giants: The Giants, who have yet to score 30 or more points under coach Ben McAdoo in two seasons, have benched QB Eli Manning for Geno Smith.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles could become second team in Super Bowl era to win five straight games by 20 or more points. The other was the 1999 Rams.
RAMS: The Rams are seeking their first season-sweep of the Cardinals since 2012. They’ve won the series with Arizona once in the last 13 years.
San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde is one of two players leading his team in rushing attempts (157) and receptions (49). Buffalo’s Lesean McCoy (192, 46) is the other.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have lost two straight at home for the first time since 2015. They have not lost three straight home games since 2008, when they finished 4-12.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans and Steelers’ Antonio Brown are only two NFL receivers with at least 2,000 yards receiving and 15 touchdown catches since 2016.
Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins had two passes intercepted and was sacked four times in the Redskins’ 38-14 loss to the Cowboys on Thursday night.
Video: Rams players will wear custom cleats for NFL’s ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ campaign
NFL Week 13 scores and schedule
at CHARGERS 19, Cleveland Browns 10
RAMS 32, at Arizona Cardinals 16
Vikings 14, at Falcons 9
New England Patriots 23, at Buffalo Bills 3
San Francisco 49ers 15, at Chicago Bears 14
at Green Bay Packers 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, OT
at Tennessee Titans 24, Houston Texas 13
at Miami Dolphins 35, Denver Broncos 9
at New York Jets 38,Kansas City Chiefs 31
at Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Indianapolis Colts 10
at Baltimore Ravens 44, Detroit Lions 20
at Oakland Raiders 24, New York Giants 17
at New Orleans Saints 31, Carolina Panthers 21
Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks, 5:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals, 5:30 p.m.
at Dallas Cowboys 38, Washington Redskins 14