NFL: Steelers turn back Patriots, 49ers upset Seahawks, Cowboys are shut out and Bears clinch NFC North
The Pittsburgh Steelers have beaten the New England Patriots, 17-10, for the first time since 2011.
The Steelers’ win at Heinz Field kept the Pittsburgh (8-5-1) ahead of the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) in the AFC North. A loss would have put the Steelers on the outside of the playoff picture with two weeks remaining.
The Patriots were denied their 10th consecutive AFC East title.
Rookie running back Jaylen Samuels, making his second start in place of injured James Conner, ran for a career-high 142 yards and made a critical third-down reception in the fourth quarter as Pittsburgh snapped a three-game losing streak.
New England (9-5) lost back-to-back games in December for the first time since 2002. The Patriots lost at Miami last week. They finished 3-5 on the road this season.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with two first-half touchdowns and two interceptions. Chris Boswell, who has struggled so badly this season the team held open tryouts during the week, atoned for a 32-yard miss in the third quarter by drilling a 48-yarder with 2:30 remaining.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made a rare mistake for the second straight week. Pressured on second-and-goal from the Pittsburgh 17 midway through the fourth quarter Brady heaved the ball toward the sideline. Steelers cornerback Joe Hayden came down with it inside the 5-yard line before tumbling out of bounds with two Patriots receivers.
That was the first red zone interception thrown by Brady in 180 attempts, since Dec. 12, 2016, against the Ravens.
Last week, Brady forgot he was out of timeouts and took a sack on third-and-goal at the Miami 2 with 14 seconds left in the first half. The points he left on the field proved costly in a one-point loss to the Dolphins.
Brady finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards with a touchdown and an interception while losing to the Steelers for the first time since 2011 and just the third time in 14 career meetings. The uncharacteristically sloppy Patriots were flagged 14 times for 106 yards.
at 49ers 26, Seahawks 23 (OT): Robbie Gould kicked a 36-yard field goal with 3:06 left in overtime and San Francisco snapped a 10-game losing streak against Seattle.
Nick Mullens threw for 275 yards and a touchdown to help the 49ers (4-10) win consecutive games for the first time this season. Richie James Jr. returned a kick 97 yards for a touchdown and Gould kicked four field goals to give San Francisco its first win in the rivalry since 2013 when Jim Harbaugh was still coach.
The Seahawks (8-6) had their four-game winning streak snapped and missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth with the loss to the Niners.
Russell Wilson threw for 237 yards with two TD passes to Doug Baldwin and Chris Carson ran for 119 yards and a score for Seattle. But Wilson was unable to generate any points on his final three drives, leading to the loss.
at Colts 23, Cowboys 0: Marlon Mack rushed for a career-high 139 yards and two scores and Indianapolis’ defense shut out one of the league’s hottest offenses.
The Colts (8-6) stayed in the AFC playoff hunt with their seventh win in eight games and their first shutout since a 27-0 victory over Cincinnati on Oct. 19, 2014.
Dallas (8-6) failed to clinch the NFC East as its five-game winning streak ended.
But Mack starred in Sunday’s big show.
He set the tone by running through a tackle for a 19-yard gain on his first carry, wound up carrying 22 times and matching a career high with the two scoring runs — all against the league’s No. 3 rushing defense.
It marked the first time since Week 9 that Dallas allowed a team to top the 100-yard mark, and the Cowboys were shutout for the first time in more than 15 years. New England was the previous team to achieve the feat with a 12-0 victory on Nov. 16, 2003.
at Bills 14, Lions 13: Josh Allen threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster early in the fourth quarter Sunday to rally the Buffalo Bills to a 14-13 win over Detroit that eliminated the Lions from playoff contention.
Allen also scored on a 3-yard run and finished 13 of 26 for 204 yards passing and no turnovers. Foster had four catches for 108 yards to top 100 for the third time in five games since being promoted from the practice squad.
With Buffalo (5-9) trailing 13-7, Allen stayed patient in the pocket and waited for Foster to complete an up-and-out to the right side of the field. Foster was wide open as he reached the right hash mark and caught Allen’s pass in stride, and then beat a defender to the pylon with 10:56 remaining.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford responded by marching the Lions (5-9) 45 yards on the next possession only to have kicker Matt Prater miss a 48-yard field goal wide right.
Special teams also cost the Lions a point after Stafford hit Andy Jones for a 4-yard touchdown to open the scoring. A bad snap by veteran Don Muhlbach led to Prater throwing the ball away on a failed extra-point attempt.
The Bears (10-4) secured their first playoff appearance since the 2010 team won the NFC North, and clinching with a rare victory over their heated rivals made it all the more sweet.
The loss coupled with Minnesota’s 41-17 victory over Miami keeps the Packers out of the postseason for the second year in a row.
Chicago had dropped nine of 10 against Green Bay (5-8-1). But the Bears secured their first trip to the playoffs in eight years with their seventh win in eight games.
For a team that came into the season with four straight last-place finishes, it’s quite a turnaround. But with the hiring of coach Matt Nagy and trade for Khalil Mack in a busy offseason, the Bears made a huge jump.
at Falcons 40, Cardinals 14: Julio Jones made an acrobatic touchdown catch on a pass from Matt Ryan, Deion Jones returned an interception for an early score, and the Atlanta Falcons snapped a five-game losing streak with a 40-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Falcons (5-9) forced three turnovers and sacked Arizona’s Josh Rosen seven times, a single-game season high for both teams. Arizona (3-11) has dropped two straight and five of six under first-year coach Steve Wilks.
Julio Jones caught six passes for 82 yards, all in the first half. His 22-yard score in the closing seconds before intermission put the Falcons up 26-7. Jones beat Patrick Peterson’s bump-and-run coverage down the left sideline, turning the cornerback around and twisting around him to make a diving catch.
Ryan ran for a 1-yard score early the second quarter and finished with 231 yards passing. Matt Bryant added two short field goals and Tevin Coleman had a 43-yard TD run in the third quarter as Atlanta won for the first time since Week 9 at Washington.
Grady Jarrett had two of the Falcons’ season-high seven sacks, and Arizona’s run defenses allowed 215 yards to the NFL’s worst rushing attack.
Latavius Murray added 68 rushing yards and a score on 15 of the team’s season-high 40 attempts. The Vikings (7-6-1) converted each of their first three drives under interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski into touchdowns before turning the game over to the defense.
Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter each had two of the nine sacks of Ryan Tannehill, totaling 71 lost yards for the Dolphins (7-7). Miami came crashing down from the euphoria of defeating New England with that double-lateral 69-yard score on the final play last week.
Minkah Fitzpatrick returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and Kalen Ballage scored on a 75-yard run on the first snap of the second half to bring the Dolphins within 21-17. But on their next five possessions they netted a staggering minus-27 yards on 16 plays.
Titans 17, at Giants 0: Bruising halfback Derrick Henry had his second straight big game with a career-high 33 carries for 170 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Tennessee Titans kept their late-season playoff push alive and ended the New York Giants’ postseason hopes with a 17-0 victory on Sunday.
Henry, who had a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Jacksonville on Dec. 6, scored on 1-yard runs in the first and third quarters.
That was all the Titans’ defense needed on a wet and rainy day at MetLife Stadium as it shut down Saquon Barkley (31 yards on 14 carries) in helping Tennessee win its third straight game, matching its season high.
The defense limited New York to 260 yards, had three sacks, a third-quarter interception that stopped a New York drive inside the red zone with the score 7-0, and a forced fumble that set up Henry’s second TD.
Johnson and Adrian Peterson drove the Redskins (7-7) into field-goal range in the closing minutes, and Dustin Hopkins made a 36-yard field goal on the final play to win it.
Washington had lost every game since quarterback Alex Smith sustained a season-ending leg injury.
The Jaguars (4-11) have dropped nine of 10, raising more questions about the future of coach Doug Marrone, decision-maker Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell.
Jacksonville managed 192 yards, another anemic performance under Marrone.
at Ravens 20, Buccaneers 12: Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson picked apart the Tampa Bay defense on a soggy field, running for 95 yards and throwing for 131 to carry the Baltimore Ravens to a 20-12 victory Sunday.
Anointed the starter over veteran Joe Flacco earlier in the week, Jackson justified the decision with a riveting performance. Slipping between and sliding around potential tacklers, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner operated the run-pass option in much the same fashion as during his glory days at Louisville.
Jackson directed two drives that lasted more than seven minutes, carried 18 times and completed 14 of 23 passes, one of them for a touchdown.
Baltimore (8-6) is 4-1 since Jackson took over for the injured Flacco, the only loss in overtime at Kansas City. Jackson has rushed for 427 yards in those five games.
Tampa Bay (5-9) simply couldn’t find a way to stop Jackson and the running game, which amassed 242 yards on 49 attempts. Baltimore is the first team since the 1976 Steelers to rush for at least 190 yards in five straight games, according to the Ravens.
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