PITTSBURGH — Not yet Cleveland. At least, not in Pittsburgh.
James Conner ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and the Steelers battered the Browns in a 38-7 blowout victory on Sunday to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1978. Ben Roethlisberger added 162 yards passing and a score.
Pittsburgh emphatically ended Cleveland’s four-game winning streak and extended the Browns’ skid at Heinz Field to 17 and counting.
The Browns (4-2) were unable to get anything going against a defense that sacked aching Baker Mayfield four times, picked him off twice and chased him late in the third quarter with the game out of reach. The NFL’s top rushing offense managed 75 yards on the ground — 113 below its season average — as the Steelers dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage in easily their best performance in 2020.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick stepped in front of a Mayfield pass and raced 33 yards to the end zone fors an early 10-0 lead. The Browns, off to the franchise’s best start since 1994, never really recovered in a stadium where they haven’t won since Mayfield was in elementary school.
Chargers rookie Justin Herbert plays the game much differently that predecessor Philip Rivers, and his measured approach has had its highs and lows.
Oct. 18, 2020
Mayfield spent a portion of the week nursing a rib injury but said he was going to be good to go because “mama didn’t raise no wuss.” Maybe, but Mayfield stood little chance against Pittsburgh’s relentless pressure. His second interception set up Roethlisberger’s ridiculously easy 28-yard touchdown throw to James Washington late in the second quarter. That gave the Steelers a 24-0 advantage they never flirted with giving away.
Mayfield finished 10 of 18 for 119 yards and a touchdown to go with the two interceptions. First-year Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski pulled Mayfield late in the third quarter after a 3-yard touchdown run by Pittsburgh rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool put the Steelers up 31-7.
Broncos 18, Patriots 12
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Brandon McManus kicked six field goals and linebacker Malik Reed came up with a big sack late in a game twice delayed following positive coronavirus tests for both teams.
Sunday’s game was originally scheduled for last week but got postponed twice, first by a day, then by seven. The delay was caused after multiple Patriots players tested positive for COVID-19, including quarterback Cam Newton and reigning Defensive Player of the Year cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
New England (2-3) rallied from an 18-3 deficit and nearly pulled off the comeback, but had three turnovers.
Drew Lock finished 10 of 24 for 189 yards in his first start since injuring his shoulder in Denver’s Week 2 loss to Pittsburgh. He was steady early, but had back-to-back interceptions in the fourth quarter to let the Patriots back into the game.
Denver’s defense entered the game with two takeaways on the season. It forced three on Sunday, coming up with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. That underscored a rough day for New England, which was held to 288 yards.
It was the first game back for Newton, who returned after missing New England’s Week 4 loss at Kansas City. He finished 17 of 25 for 157 yards. He also rushed 10 times for 76 yards and touchdown.
Ravens 30, Eagles 28
PHILADELPHIA — Lamar Jackson threw for a touchdown and ran for a score and Baltimore held on for victory over depleted Philadelphia.
The Eagles (1-4-1) came in missing seven offensive starters, including four offensive linemen, and then lost two more when running back Miles Sanders left in the third quarter and tight end Zach Ertz exited in the fourth.
Still, the Ravens (5-1) needed to prevent a 2-point conversion with 1:55 remaining to secure the win. Carson Wentz was stopped by L.J. Fort and Matthew Judon trying to run it in.
The Eagles wouldn’t have needed the conversion after Wentz sneaked in from the 1 if coach Doug Pederson kicked the extra point when they scored early in the third quarter to cut Baltimore’s deficit to 17-6.
Wentz tossed two TD passes, was sacked six times and managed to finish the game along with center Jason Kelce as Philadelphia’s only healthy starters.
Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, was efficient, passing for 186 yards. He ran for a 37-yard TD and had 108 yards on the ground.
Titans 42, Texans 36
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Derrick Henry took a direct snap and ran 5 yards for a touchdown 3:30 into overtime and Tennessee remained undefeated, rallying to beat Houston.
The Titans (5-0) overcame two turnovers, Stephen Gostkowski having a field goal blocked and missing another and the defense giving up 335 yards passing and four touchdown passes to Deshaun Watson.
Watson’s final TD pass put Houston (1-5) up 36-29 with 1:50 left, but a 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Ryan Tannehill, who had three of his 19 career game-winning drives to start this season, drove the Titans 76 yards before finding A.J. Brown on a 6-yard TD pass with 4 seconds left. Gostkowski made the extra point, and the Texans fielded a squib kick to send it into overtime.
Coach Sean McVay has the Rams’ offense clicking, and up next is a game Sunday night against a San Francisco 49ers team hit hard by injuries.
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Henry, last season’s rushing leader, ran for 202 yards in regulation, including a 94-yard TD run. In overtime, he took a screen pass 53 yards on the second play. He capped the six-play, 82-yard drive with a wildcat snap for his second TD of the game, finishing with 212 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving.
Titans have their second-best start in franchise history since this franchise won its first 10 games in 2008. Their win, combined with Pittsburgh’s victory over Cleveland, sets up a showdown between the AFC’s last two undefeated teams here in a week.
The Texans (1-5) came in as the two-time defending AFC South champs and nearly gave interim coach Romeo Crennel a second straight victory.
Colts 31, Bengals 27
INDIANAPOLIS — After falling behind by 21 points, Indianapolis needed the biggest regular-season comeback in franchise history. Philip Rivers was up to the task.
After trailing 21-0, Rivers rallied the Colts with three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score on the first play of the fourth quarter, for a victory over Cincinnati.
It equaled the largest comeback in the franchise’s regular-season history. None of the previous four came at home, and the last time Indianapolis (4-2) achieved the feat came in 2003 at Tampa Bay. Only a 28-point comeback in the 2013 playoffs against Kansas City was a larger margin.
It’s the fifth time the Bengals (1-4-1) have blown a 21-point lead in franchise history, their second-worst all time.
Rivers was sensational. He wound up 29 of 44 with 371 yards, one interception, and threw the go-ahead 14-yard score to Jack Doyle on the first play of the fourth quarter. Rodrigo Sanchez added a 40-yard field goal and Julian Blackmon picked off Joe Burrow with 39 seconds left to seal it.
Cincinnati, down 28-27, could have taken the lead with a 48-yard field goal with 8:02 to play, but Randy Bullock hit the right upright.
Bears 23, Panthers 16
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nick Foles threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Chicago’s defense forced three turnovers and sacked Teddy Bridgewater four times.
Foles finished with 198 yards passing and a touchdown and David Montgomery added 58 yards on the ground as the Bears (5-1) opened the season 3-0 on the road for the first time since 2006, when they reached the Super Bowl.
Bridgewater was under duress most of the game. He was held to a season-low 216 yards passing and was intercepted twice.
Chicago improved to 2-1 with Foles as the starter. The 2018 Super Bowl MVP also rallied the Bears past the Falcons when coach Matt Nagy benched Mitchell Trubisky in Week 3.
The Panthers (3-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Falcons 40, Vikings 23
MINNEAPOLIS — Julio Jones returned from injury to catch two of Matt Ryan’s four touchdown passes, as Atlanta beat Minnesota for its first victory of the season — one week after the firing of head coach Dan Quinn.
Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions in the first half for the first time in his career, and the Falcons (1-5) turned those picks into 17 points to build a 20-0 lead at the break that proved to be solid enough for even this falter-prone team.
The depleted Vikings (1-5) surrendered 40-plus points for the second time this year after going five straight seasons without any such games. After another injury left them with only rookies available at cornerback for more than half of the game, Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 371 yards to rebound from a three-week stretch during which he only found the end zone once.
Jones, who missed all but one half of the previous three games with hamstring trouble, had eight receptions for 137 yards. Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurt each chipped in a touchdown catch, Younghoe Koo kicked four field goals, and the Falcons rewarded interim coach Raheem Morris with a win in his debut after Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were dismissed less than four years after the infamous blown 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl.
The Falcons held a 15-point lead over Dallas and a 16-point advantage on Chicago earlier this season, both times past the midpoint of the fourth quarter, and lost both.
Giants 20, Washington 19
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Joe Judge and the New York Giants have finally won, and they have rookie Tae Crowder and a risky gamble by Washington coach Ron Rivera for making them relevant again.
Crowder, the last player taken in the NFL draft — Mr. Irrelevant — scooped up a fumble and ran 43 yards for a touchdown with 3:28 to play. That gave the Giants a victory over Washington in a battle of the two of the NFL’s worst teams.
The game wasn’t decided until Rivera rolled the dice after a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with :36 left in regulation to cap a 10-play, 75-yard march.
Instead of playing for overtime, Rivera had Washington (1-5) go for the win with a 2-point conversion in an attempt to get back in the mediocre NFC East race. Allen found no one open, scrambled to his left and had his pass under pressure fall incomplete.
It gave the 38-year-old Judge his first win as an NFL coach and allowed the Giants (1-5) to avoid a second 0-6 start since 2013.
Lions 34, Jaguars 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Rookie D’Andre Swift ran for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns, Matthew Stafford got an elusive TD pass against the only team he hadn’t thrown one against in 12 NFL seasons and the Lions hammered Jacksonville.
Detroit (2-3) made this one look easy, somewhat surprising considering the Lions had lost six straight in which they led by double digits. They’ve already done it three times this season, collapsing in losses to Chicago, Green Bay and New Orleans.
It probably helped that this one came against hapless Jacksonville (1-5), which has now lost five straight and allowed at least 30 points in each. It’s the first time in franchise history the Jaguars have done that, putting the jobs of coach Doug Marrone and defensive coordinator Todd Wash in more jeopardy.
Lions coach Matt Patricia can breathe easy for a week. He had lost 15 of his previous 17 games, raising speculation about his future with the franchise.
Buccaneers 38, Packers 10
TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady outplayed Aaron Rodgers in a rare meeting between the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers erased an early double-digit deficit to rout the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
He got his favorite target from his days with New England into the mix, throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 28-10 halftime lead. It was Gronkowski’s first touchdown since December 2018 and the 79th for the quarterback/tight end tandem — tied for fourth on the all-time list with Miami’s Dan Marino and Mark Clayton.
Brady also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to rookie Tyler Johnson and Ronald Jones had a pair of rushing touchdowns for Tampa Bay (4-2), which got an even more impressive performance from its defense.
Rodgers threw two interceptions — Green Bay’s (4-1) first turnovers of the season — within a three-pass span of the second quarter to turn a 10-0 Packers lead into a 14-10 deficit.
Cornerback Jamel Dean broke on Rodgers’ sideline throw intended for Davante Adams and returned the pick 32 yards to get the Bucs rolling. Safety Mike Edwards returned a second interception on a throw also intended for Adams 38 yards to the Green Bay 2 to set up Jones’ rushing touchdown on the next play.
Rodgers finished 16 of 35 for 160 yards and no touchdowns after completing 70.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 13 TDs and no interceptions in Green Bay’s first four games.
Brady was 17 of 27 for 166 yards and two TDs without an interception. Jones rushed for 113 yards and Gronkowski led the Bucs with five receptions for 78 yards — his best game since ending a one-year retirement to join Brady in Tampa Bay.
Dolphins 24, Jets 0
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Ryan Fitzpatrick blocked on a running play, improvised a left-handed completion and led cheers for his replacement during mop-up time Sunday.
Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes against the New York Jets, one of his many former teams, and the Miami Dolphins held the winless Jets without a third-down conversion until the fourth quarter to get their first shutout in six years.
Rookie Tua Tagovailoa made his NFL debut as Fitzpatrick’s replacement with 2:27 left. The Dolphins’ potential franchise quarterback ran onto the field to a big roar from the crowd of 10,772, and a grinning Fitzpatrick waved to encourage more cheers.
The Dolphins (3-3) reached .500 for the first time under second-year coach Brian Flores and moved into second place in the AFC East behind Buffalo. The Jets (0-6) continued their worst start since 1996, increasing the heat on embattled second-year coach Adam Gase.
Fitzpatrick was 18 for 27 for 191 yards. He also blocked for Myles Gaskins on a run and flipped a left-handed completion under pressure for a short gain.
Joe Flacco, making his second start for the injured Sam Darnold, went 21 for 44 for 186 and an interception. He was sacked three times, once by Emmanuel Ogbah for 28 yards.