NFL roundup: Bills beat Broncos for AFC East crown; Packers hold off Panthers
The Buffalo Bills captured their first AFC East title in a quarter-century Saturday when 24-year-old quarterback Josh Allen threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in a 48-19 rout of the Denver Broncos.
The Bills (11-3) scored twice in a 17-second span in the third quarter to ice their fourth straight victory that officially ended the New England Patriots’ 11-year reign atop the division.
“It’s great that we’re able to do it the first time in 25 years,” Allen said. “To be the team and to be the quarterback on the team that does it, obviously feels really good. At the same time, that’s not our end goal. We set out to do this in order to get the chance to do what we really want to do, and that’s to win a Super Bowl championship.“
The Broncos (5-9) have their fourth consecutive losing season for the first time since they had 10 consecutive sub-.500 campaigns from 1963 to 1972. They also became the first team ever to go five years without making the playoffs following a Super Bowl title.
It seems as if Sam Darnold’s time with the New York Jets might soon be coming to an end, considering the winless team proabably will earn the top pick in the NFL draft and could take quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Allen threw for 359 yards, hitting Stefon Diggs 11 times for 147 yards before Diggs suffered a foot injury in the fourth quarter, and Cole Beasley eight times for 112 yards.
Allen also tied Jack Kemp’s record of 25 career touchdown runs with his second TD scamper, a one-yard keeper to the right that was set up by Andre Roberts’ 55-yard return of Taylor Russilino’s short second-half kickoff.
The Broncos turned to Russolino, whose vagabond career included stops in the XFL, the Canadian Football League and even the Chinese arena league after Brandon McManus went on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Russolino missed a 51-yard field-goal try and two extra points on a windy day that didn’t adversely affect Bills kicker Tyler Bass, who made both field-goal attempts and all six extra points.
A year after failing to make the playoffs coming off a trip to the Super Bowl, the Rams are primed to clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Jets.
After Allen’s one-yard touchdown run to start the second half, cornerback Tre’Davious White strip-sacked Drew Lock on Denver’s first offensive play. Defensive end Jerry Hughes scooped up the ball at the 21 and weaved his way through several Broncos to make it 35-13.
Allen dismantled Denver’s makeshift secondary that had lost five cornerbacks in two weeks, picking on De’Vante Bausby all afternoon while completing 28 of 40 passes. Rookie cornerback Michael Ojemudia held his own but was ejected in the third quarter for slapping Bills rookie wide receiver Gabriel Davis.
Packers 24, Panthers 16
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Jones rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown, and Green Bay reached the end zone on its first three series before hanging on to beat Carolina.
Aaron Rodgers threw for a season-low 143 yards but produced a touchdown pass — his 40th of the season — and a touchdown run for the Packers. Rodgers is the first player in NFL history to throw at least 40 touchdown passes in three separate seasons; he had 45 during his 2011 MVP campaign and 40 in 2016.
“We just know that type of football in the second half is not going to get it done in the playoffs, where we’re going,” Rodgers said.
Green Bay (11-3) won its fourth straight and took a half-game lead over New Orleans (10-3) in the race for the NFC’s best record. The Packers own a tiebreaker over the Saints after winning 37-30 at New Orleans on Sept. 27.
Under the NFL’s new 14-team playoff format this year, only the No. 1 seed in each conference earns a first-round bye.
“It’s very critical,” Jones said. “We want everything to run through Lambeau. We know we control what happens.“
The Packers built a 21-3 halftime lead before withstanding a comeback attempt from a gritty Carolina team playing without injured 2019 all-pro running back Christian McCaffrey and left tackle Russell Okung.
Carolina had a chance to force overtime when it got the ball at its 20-yard line with 55 seconds and no timeouts remaining. But the Panthers only got to the 26 before losing the ball on downs.
The Panthers (4-10) have lost eight of their last nine games.
Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater was 21 for 35 for 258 yards with a touchdown run, but he also had a critical fumble. D.J. Moore caught six passes for 131 yards, and Joey Slye kicked three field goals.
Rodgers capped Green Bay’s first series with a one-yard pass to tight end Robert Tonyan, who has scored in five consecutive games.
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