NFL roundup: 49ers topple Saints in offensive slugfest; Chiefs defeat Patriots
Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 349 yards and four touchdowns, Robbie Gould kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired, and the San Francisco 49ers pulled out a 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Garoppolo’s clutch completion to tight end George Kittle for a 39-yard gain — plus a defensive facemask penalty — on fourth-and-2 from the San Francisco 33 helped set up Gould’s winning kick.
The Saints took their last lead on Drew Brees’ fifth touchdown pass of the game — an 18-yarder to Tre'Quan Smith with 53 seconds left. But Brees’ pass on an attempted 2-point conversion fell incomplete, leaving New Orleans’ lead at one point.
The victory kept San Francisco (11-2) in strong position to capture the top seed in the NFC playoffs. The Niners can clinch a playoff berth if Seattle loses to the Rams in a night game.
Niners receiver Emmanuel Sanders had a 75-yard touchdown and added his second-career touchdown pass after taking a handoff on a reverse.
Two of Garoppolo’s touchdown passes went to Kendrick Bourne. Kittle also had a touchdown catch. Sanders finished with seven catches for 157 yards.
Brees finished 29 of 40 for 349 yards and also dived across the goal line for a touchdown. Michael Thomas caught 11 passes for 134 yards and a score, but the Saints, 10-3 and already the NFC South champions, were done in by a few critical failures.
Kamara’s fumble, recovered by DeForest Buckner on the New Orleans 20, set up Garoppolo’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Kittle in the third quarter.
Another Saints risk backfired at the end of the third quarter when Taysom Hill’s long pass on a fake punt fell incomplete. Smith, the intended receiver, was being physically impeded as he tried to make the catch. But officials noted that pass interference could not be called on a pass made out of apparent punt formation.
The 49ers took over on their 45 and parlayed the turnover on downs into a 14-play touchdown drive that ate up seven minutes, ending with Bourne’s second score on a 6-yard catch.
Brees had forecast that the Saints would have a plan to handle the Niners’ vaunted defensive line. They backed it up early with TD drives on New Orleans first four possessions. The first two ended with scoring passes of 38 and 26 yards to Cook. But on Cook’s second TD, he was knocked out of the game on a hard hit to the head from cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.
The Saints elected to take the penalty immediately rather than on the kickoff and move the ball to the 1-yard line for a 2-point try that failed.
The 49ers kept pace and ultimately took a narrow lead with touchdowns on four of their first five possessions. During that stretch, Sanders had a 75-yard TD reception in which he and safety Marcus Williams both fell before Sanders got up and withstood safety Vonn Bell’s strip attempt on his way into the end zone.
Chiefs 23, Patriots 16
Kansas City clinched the AFC West when Bashaud Breeland knocked away Tom Brady’s fourth-down pass attempt to Julian Edelman in the end zone to preserve the Chiefs’ victory at Foxborough, Mass.
The Chiefs (9-4) survived a series of mistakes and questionable calls by the officials to end the Patriots’ 21-game home win streak in the regular season and playoffs, which was tied for the longest in team history. It also was the third-longest string in NFL history.
New England (10-3) has lost two in a row.
Patrick Mahomes was 26 of 40 for 283 yards, a touchdown and interception. Travis Kelce added a 10-yard TD run. Tom Brady was under pressure all night and finished 19 of 36 for 169 yards, a touchdown and interception.
Trailing 23-16, New England got the ball back on their 32 with 5:04 to play. The Patriots immediately gained 35 yards on a pass from halfback James White to Jakobi Meyers to get into Kansas City territory. Officials appeared to miss a clear pass interference call on a deep pass to Phillip Dorsett and the Chiefs forced a fourth-and-6 at the 29.
But the 42-year-old Brady got free and scrambled 17 yards for a first down.
The Patriots couldn’t get into the end zone, however, losing the rematch of January’s AFC title game.
Ravens 24, Bills 17
Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes and Baltimore became the AFC’s first team to clinch a playoff berth following a win over Buffalo at Orchard Park, N.Y.
Baltimore extended its franchise-best winning streak to nine straight and improved to 11-2, its best record through 13 games in team history. With the win, the Ravens can also clinch the AFC North title should the Pittsburgh Steelers lose or tie in their game at Arizona later in the day.
What began as a defensive struggle eventually lived up to its billing in a matchup of two of the NFL’s up-and-coming quarterbacks.
Jackson finished 16 of 25 for 145 yards and appeared to blow open the game by putting the Ravens up 24-9 following a 4-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead with 9:49 left.
Buffalo’s Josh Allen responded with a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive capped by his 3-yard pass to Cole Beasley, who dived inside the left pylon. The same two then hooked up on a 2-point conversion to make it a one-score game.
The outing wasn’t decided until there were 63 seconds remaining. Facing fourth-and-8 at the Baltimore 16, Allen’s pass over the middle intended for John Brown was broken up by Marcus Peters at the goal line.
Jackson upped his record to 17-3 since being selected with the final pick of the first round in the 2018 draft. Allen, drafted with the seventh pick overall, dropped to 14-10.
Buffalo (9-4) had a three-game winning streak snapped, and fell short 10 days since garnering national attention following a 26-15 win at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
Titans 42, Raiders 21
Ryan Tannehill threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns, Derrick Henry ran for two scores and the visiting Titans won their fourth straight game.
The Titans (8-5) bounced back from a deflected interception on the opening drive to score TDs on five of their next seven possessions to improve to 6-1 with Tannehill as the starting quarterback. The win moved them into a tie for first place in the AFC South with Houston, with the teams set to meet twice in the final three weeks.
Tennessee broke open a tight game with a three-touchdown barrage in a span of just over seven minutes of the second half that all but ended the playoff hopes for the Raiders (6-7) in their final season in Oakland.
Henry, who rushed for 103 yards, broke a 21-21 tie with a 10-yard TD run midway through the third quarter to cap an 89-yard drive.
What had been a promising season for the Raiders with a three-game win streak in November that improved them to 6-4 has gone off the rails the past three weeks. They lost by 31 points in successive road games against the Jets and Chiefs and then fell apart in the second half against Tennessee.
Vikings 20, Lions 7
Danielle Hunter had three of Minnesota’s five sacks to spearhead a resurgence by the defense, and the host Vikings sailed past Detroit to stick the Lions with their sixth straight loss.
Kirk Cousins passed for 242 yards and a touchdown in an efficient if unspectacular performance, and Dalvin Cook had 75 yards from scrimmage and a rushing score on 20 touches over three quarters as the Vikings (9-4) took it easy on their star tailback after an injury to his collarbone area forced him out of the previous game.
The defense stole the show, even though the opponent was undrafted rookie quarterback David Blough. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford was sidelined by hip and back injuries for the fifth straight game.
Blough went 24 for 40 for 205 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the second half, and the Vikings yielded their lowest score in 31 regular-season games since a 16-0 win at Green Bay on Dec. 23, 2017. The Lions entered the week averaging 5.8 yards per play, the fourth-best in the NFL, but the Vikings held them to 3.2 yards per play.
For the first time this season, the Lions (3-9-1) never held a lead. They entered the game with 92 first-quarter points, the most in the NFC, but they netted only 70 total yards on 32 plays in the first half and trailed 20-0 until Kenny Golladay’s 10-yard reception in the end zone with 2:09 left. That catch pushed the third-year wide receiver past the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.
Broncos 38, Texans 24
Rookie Drew Lock threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns, Kareem Jackson had an interception and returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown against his former team as visiting Denver built a huge first-half lead and coasted past Houston.
Lock, who made his NFL debut in a win over the Chargers last week, threw for 235 yards with three TDs in the first half. It was the most yards passing in a first half by the Broncos since Peyton Manning had 282 in Week 5 of 2014.
The Broncos (5-8) scored on their first five possessions to build 38-3 lead early in the third quarter. They scored more than 24 points for the first time since Oct. 19, 2018.
Houston’s hold on the AFC South took a hit as the Texans (8-5) came out flat in a terrible first half a week after downing the Patriots 28-22 for their first win in the series since 2010.
Packers 20, Redskins 15
Aaron Jones rushed for a season-high 134 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries, Aaron Rodgers threw for 195 yards and host Green Bay (10-3) did enough to beat Washington.
Jones had his third 100-yard rushing game of the season and hauled in six catches for 58 yards. With fewer than 3 minutes left in the game, the third-year running back had more total yards (192) than the Redskins (187).
Dwayne Haskins completed 16 of 27 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown with an interception for Washington (3-10), which was officially eliminated from playoff contention. The rookie quarterback was sacked four times.
Adrian Peterson became just the sixth back in NFL history to reach the 14,000-yard mark, running for 76 yards and a score. He now has 14,036 yards in a 13-year career. Curtis Martin is fifth all-time with 14,101 yards.
Steelers 23, Cardinals 17
Diontae Johnson ran for an 85-yard touchdown on a punt return and caught a pass for another score to lead Pittsburgh over Arizona in Glendale, Ariz.
Pittsburgh’s defense had three crucial interceptions in the second half — two by Joe Haden and another by T.J. Watt —- to end Arizona drives, including two that had ventured into Steelers’ territory.
Pittsburgh (8-5) won for the seventh time in eight games to stay in the AFC playoff race. Rookie free agent quarterback Devlin Hodges made his third career start, completing 16 of 19 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Hodges also finished with 34 yards rushing.
Arizona’s Kyler Murray completed 20 of 30 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns, but his three interceptions were very costly. The Cardinals (3-9-1) lost their sixth consecutive game.
Buccaneers 38, Colts 35
Jameis Winston threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns, helping host Tampa Bay rally against reeling Indianapolis.
Winston overcame throwing three more interceptions and having one returned for a TD for the fifth time season to wipe out a 14-point , second-half deficit. He led the Bucs (6-7) to their third straight win and fourth in five games.
The Colts (6-7) have dropped five of six following a 5-2 start, falling from first place to third in the AFC South.
Winston threw for TDs of 61 yards to Mike Evans, 3 yards to Cameron Brate and 17 yards to Justin Watson before putting the Bucs ahead for good with a 12-yarder to Breshad Perriman with 3:51 remaining.
Browns 27, Bengals 19
Nick Chubb ran for 106 yards — 99 after halftime — and Baker Mayfield and Kareem Hunt had rushing touchdowns as host Cleveland kept its faint playoff hopes alive.
The Bengals have lost 10 straight AFC North games.
Denzel Ward returned an interception 61 yards for Cleveland’s first score and the Browns (6-7) got a huge late break. Mayfield’s third interception was reversed with a rare interference call to bounce back after a discouraging loss at Pittsburgh last week.
Cleveland needs to run the table to have any chance of ending its 17-year postseason drought, the NFL’s current longest. The Bengals (1-12) couldn’t build on their win last week over the Jets and have dropped 19 of 21 over the past two seasons.
Jets 22, Dolphins 21
Sam Ficken kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired to give New York a comeback win over Miami at East Rutherford, N.J.
Sam Darnold got the winning drive going with a short pass to Vyncint Smith, who turned it into a 37-yard gain that included a high-step over a would-be tackler. After a sack two plays later put the ball at the Dolphins 46, Darnold threw an incomplete pass to Smith — but the Jets argued that Nik Needham interfered with the receiver by wrapping his right arm around Smith’s right shoulder.
Officials overturned the call after a video review — giving the Jets a first down and new life. A 12-yard catch by Ty Montgomery got the ball to the 26. Two plays later, Ficken won it, helping the Jets (5-8) avoid a season sweep by the lowly Dolphins (3-10).
Falcons 40, Panthers 20
Matt Ryan threw the longest touchdown pass of his career and became the 10th quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000 yards, leading host Atlanta to a dominating win over Carolina.
The Panthers (5-8) were officially eliminated from playoff contention with their fifth straight loss, which ruined the debut of interim coach Perry Fewell. He took over at the beginning of the week after longtime coach Ron Rivera was fired.
Atlanta (4-9) snapped a two-game losing streak and swept the season series with their I-85 rival. The Falcons won the first meeting 29-3 at Charlotte on Nov. 17.
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