Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a 60-yard pass to set up Mason Crosby’s 32-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Green Bay Packers to a 30-27 victory over the Bears in one of the coldest games ever played in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.
Wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery ran for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers (8-6) earned their fourth straight victory despite blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.
They also moved ahead of Minnesota for sole possession of second place in the NFC North and pulled within a game of division leader Detroit, with the Vikings getting pounded by Indianapolis and the Lions losing to the New York Giants.
The Bears (3-11) had tied it on a field goal by Connor Barth with 1:19 left. The Packers took over at their 27, and on third down at the 26, Rodgers unleashed a deep pass down the middle of the field to Nelson, who got behind Cre’Von LeBlanc.
With no timeouts, the Packers downed the ball before Crosby booted his winner.
The game-time temperature on Sunday was 11 degrees with a minus-4 wind chill.
Chicago hosted the Packers in 3-degree temperature and a minus-15 wind chill — the lowest ever for a Bears home game — on Dec. 18, 1983. The Bears’ coldest home game, temperature-wise, was against Green Bay on Dec. 22, 2008, when it was 2 degrees with a minus-13 wind chill.
Green Bay, of course, played the coldest NFL game on record when it beat Dallas in the 1967 NFL championship game — the “Ice Bowl.”
Rodgers threw for 252 yards despite problems his left hamstring and right calf that kept him out of practice during the week.
Montgomery had several big runs, including a 61-yarder, after coach Mike McCarthy announced he is now a full-time running back. He also scored from the 4 on the game’s opening possession and added a 3-yard TD in the third quarter that made it 20-10.
Christine Michael ran for a 42-yard touchdown. Julius Peppers had a strip-sack that led to a field goal. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix added two interceptions, and the Packers tied the NFL’s oldest rivalry for the first time since 1933 at 94-94-6.
Chicago’s Matt Barkley threw for 362 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off three times.
Bills 33, Browns 13
The bumbling Cleveland Browns are two losses short from becoming the NFL’s second team to go 0-16 in one season.
LeSean McCoy had a season-best 153 yards rushing and scored twice, and the Buffalo Bills kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 33-13 win on Sunday.
The Browns dropped to 0-14, matching the second-worst start to a season set by the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 1980 New Orleans Saints. The 2008 Detroit Lions , meanwhile, are the NFL’s only team to go without a win in a 16-game season.
Cleveland has also lost 17 straight dating to last year, moving into a tie with the St. Louis Rams (2008-09) and Houston Oilers (1982-83) for the league’s sixth-longest skid. The Browns have now gone a calendar year since their last win, a 24-10 victory over San Francisco on Dec. 13, 2015.
The Browns have been so bad they haven’t had a lead in 17-plus quarters, dating to a 7-6 edge in the third quarter of a 28-7 loss at Baltimore on Nov. 10.
Steelers 24, Bengals 20
Chris Boswell tied the club record with six field goals, and Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter Sunday, rallying Pittsburgh to a 24-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that kept the Steelers in control of the AFC North.
The Steelers (9-5) have won five straight and can clinch the division title with a victory at home next Sunday against Baltimore (8-6). As a first step, they rallied from a 14-point deficit — kick by kick — and eliminated the defending champions at a place where they’re right at home.
They beat the Bengals (5-8-1) in the opening round of the playoffs 18-16 last January, getting the winning field goal with the help of penalties on Vontaze Burfict and Adam “Pacman” Jones. Burfict and Jones each got a personal foul on Sunday — Pittsburgh’s Marcus Gilbert had one as well — as the animosity continued.
So did the Steelers’ dominance at Paul Brown Stadium, where they’ve won four in a row.
Running back Jeremy Hill had an early take-that moment as the Bengals scored on each of their first four possessions for a 20-6 lead. As part of his touchdown celebration, he grabbed a Terrible Towel a fan threw on the field, tried to tear it, and then threw it to the ground.
Boswell accounted for Pittsburgh’s first 15 points with kicks from 45, 49, 49, 40, 49 and 30 yards.
In the end, there was another Bengals meltdown. They had penalties on four consecutive plays — including Pat Sims’ personal foul — that set up Roethlisberger’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Eli Rogers for a 24-20 lead.
Giants 17, Lions 6
Odell Beckham Jr. made another one-hand touchdown catch to delight replay fanatics, the defense turned in another stifling performance and the New York Giants inched closer to their first playoff berth since 2011 with a 17-6 win over Detroit on Sunday that snapped a five-game winning for the NFC North-leading Lions.
The win was the eighth in nine games for the Giants (10-4) and it gave them their best record through 14 games since 2008, when they opened 11-3.
The formula was the one the team has followed in Ben McAdoo’s first season: Just enough offense and a tough stingy, pass-rushing defense that has now come up with big back-to-back efforts against two division leaders in Dallas (11-2) and Detroit (9-5), giving up nine total points.
Eli Manning (20 of 28 for 201 yards) threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard on a 75-yard opening drive and then the iced the game with a 4-yard TD pass that Beckham caught with his left hand and then pranced into the end zone for a 11-point lead with 5:20 to play.
Beckham, who had six catches for 64 yards, almost wasn’t done. He reversed field about three times on a 63-yard punt return that brought the remaining fans to their seats less than a minute later. The electrifying return was nullified by an illegal block, but was simply a thrill to watch.
Colts 34, Vikings 6
Andrew Luck threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and the Indianapolis Colts rolled to a 34-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Robert Turbin rushed for two touchdowns, Mike Adams forced a fumble and added an interception for the Colts (7-7).
Frank Gore rushed for 101 yards and Indianapolis won on the road for the fourth time this season, dominating a Vikings defense that is among the best in the league.
Adrian Peterson had just 22 yards on six carries and lost a fumble in his first game back from a knee injury for the Vikings (7-7).
The Vikings entered the game believing they needed to win the final three games of the season to make the playoffs. Sam Bradford threw for 291 yards with one interception and one lost fumble for Minnesota.
Titans 19, Chiefs 17
Ryan Succop kicked a 53-yard field goal into the wind as time expired Sunday to give the Tennessee Titans a 19-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on a frigid afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
Succop, who spent the first part of his career with Kansas City, came up short on his first try at the winner, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid had called a timeout just before the snap. Given a second chance, Succop knocked it through with a couple feet to spare as the Titans poured off the bench to celebrate.
The Titans’ rallied from a 17-7 hole, and Derrick Henry’s second touchdown got Tennessee (8-6) within 17-16 with just over three minutes left. But Titans coach Mike Mularkey went for the 2-point conversion and the lead. Marcus Mariota was pressured immediately and his pass never reached the end zone.
But the Chiefs (10-4), trying to clinch a playoff spot, were unable to pick up enough first downs to run out the clock and Tennessee got the ball back with a minute left. With no timeouts, Mariota calmly found Rishard Matthews for 19 yards and Delanie Walker twice to set up Succop’s field-goal attempt.
Texans 21, Jaguars 20
Tom Savage threw for 260 yards after Brock Osweiler was benched in the second quarter, and Lamar Miller scored Houston’s only with less than three minutes remaining as the Texans rallied for a 21-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The win was Houston’s 10th straight in the division and left the Texans (8-6) tied with Tennessee for the AFC South lead. But Houston controls its playoff future with a 5-0 mark in the division.
Osweiler threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the second quarter to help Jacksonville build a 13-0 lead. Coach Bill O’Brien had insisted all season he hadn’t thought about benching Osweiler, but he’d seen enough after that and brought in Savage. The move was met with a huge ovation from the home crowd that had been booing Osweiler for most of the day.
Houston trailed by nine entering the fourth quarter and Nick Novak made his fourth field goal before Miller bulled in for the go-ahead touchdown. The Jaguars were flagged for pass interference twice on that drive to set up the score.
The Jaguars got the ball back twice, but they failed on a fourth-down conversion the first time and Blake Bortles was intercepted the second time.
Bortles threw for 92 yards and ran for a touchdown for the Jaguars (2-12), who dropped their ninth straight.
Falcons 41, 49ers 13
Devonta Freeman ran for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two more and the Atlanta Falcons clinched their first winning season since 2012 with a 41-13 rout of the hapless San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Freeman rushed for 139 yards and capped his big day with a 34-yard touchdown run.
Ryan completed 17 of 23 passes for 286 yards, including a pair of 9-yard scoring tosses to Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hooper.
Aldrick Robinson, stepping up with Atlanta star Julio Jones missing his second straight game with a toe injury, had a career-best 111 yards on four receptions.
Atlanta (9-5) began the day tied with Tampa Bay for the NFC South lead.
The Falcons’ previous winning season ended with a loss to San Francisco in the NFC championship game. The 49ers (1-13) have totally fallen apart since that trip to the Super Bowl.
They extended a franchise record with their 13th straight loss, keeping the heat on first-year coach Chip Kelly.
Saints 48, Cardinals 41
Drew Brees snapped out of a two-game funk to throw for 389 yards and four touchdowns, leading the New Orleans Saints past the Arizona Cardinals 48-41 Sunday in the highest-scoring game in the NFL this season.
Brees, who had no TDs and six interceptions his previous two games, completed 37 of 48 with no picks.
Brandin Cooks caught seven passes for a career-best 186 yards for the Saints (6-8), including touchdown plays of 65 and 45 yards.
David Johnson rushed for 53 yards and caught four passes for 55 yards for Arizona (5-8-1). The second-year back became the first player in NFL history to have at least 100 yards from scrimmage in the first 14 games of a season.
Johnson rushed for two touchdowns, giving him 17 TDs this season and 30 in the first 30 games as a pro.
The Cardinals’ Carson Palmer threw for 318 yards and two scores.
The teams amassed 913 yards, 488 by New Orleans, 425 by Arizona, which finished 4-3-1 at home.
Patriots 16, Broncos 3
Tom Brady overcame a slow start to lead the New England Patriots to a rare win in Denver on Sunday, a 16-3 grinder that dealt a crushing blow to the Broncos’ playoff hopes.
Brady missed his first six passes for just the second time his career — the first was way back on Oct. 12, 2003, against the Giants — but he came back to lead the Patriots (12-2) to a record eighth consecutive division title and a first-round bye.
Brady returned to the site of his worst beating, a 20-18 loss in the AFC championship 11 months ago when he was hit a career-high 23 times. This time, he brought a power run game and a much-improved O-line with him.
The result was just his third win in Denver in 10 tries, and it was the Broncos’ hopes of defending their Super Bowl title that took a beating.
The Broncos (8-6) lost for the third time in four games and were supplanted by the Dolphins for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC race with two weeks remaining.