Published December 16, 2014
Philadelphia, PA – Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes in his 200th career game and the New Orleans Saints vaulted into first place in the NFC South with a 31-15 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Monday. The Saints (6-8) climbed a half-game ahead of the Carolina Panthers for the top spot in the woeful division and control their own destiny with two games remaining against division foes Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Brees completed 29-of-36 passes for 375 yards and set an NFL record with his ninth straight season with at least 4,000 yards passing. Josh Hill caught two scores, Marques Colston finished with five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown and Mark Ingram ran in a late score. Jay Cutler turned in a sub- par performance as he threw for just 194 yards on 17-of-31 passing with two touchdown passes and three interceptions for the Bears (5-9), who have dropped their last three games. Alshon Jeffrey and Marquess Wilson each hauled in a touchdown pass in the loss.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14
Final Score: Carolina 19, Tampa Bay 17
Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Panthers won for the first time in seven games last week, were without Cam Newton due to a car accident this week, but somehow remain in contention in the NFC South. Derek Anderson filled in for Newton and threw for 277 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-17 on Sunday. Newton suffered two transverse process fractures in his lower back in a two-car accident Tuesday afternoon near the team's stadium. He was released from the hospital on Wednesday morning and will be re-evaluated next week. Anderson, who also started for Newton in the Panthers' Week 1 win at Tampa Bay, completed 25- of-40 passes. Greg Olsen caught 10 balls for 110 yards and Kelvin Benjamin added 104 yards on eight receptions for Carolina (5-8-1), which is one-half game behind New Orleans (6-8) for first place in the division. The Atlanta Falcons came into Sunday tied with the Saints for first place, but they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-20. Josh McCown completed 13-of-28 passes for 154 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Buccaneers (2-12), who have dropped four straight games. Doug Martin carried the ball 14 times for 96 yards and Vincent Jackson hauled in six passes for 70 yards in defeat.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 27, Atlanta 20
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Le'Veon Bell scored twice and set the Steelers franchise record for yards from scrimmage as Pittsburgh went into Atlanta and beat the Falcons 27-20 on Sunday. Bell didn't find much running room against an uncharacteristically stingy Atlanta front, but he did reach the end zone twice among 20 carries for 47 yards. He also made five catches for 72 yards and broke Barry Foster's single-season Steelers record for yards from scrimmage with 2,042. Ben Roethlisberger completed 27- of-35 passes for 360 yards, 123 of those going to his favorite target, Antonio Brown. Brown extended his streak of at least five catches and 50 yards to 30 games. With the win, the Steelers (9-5) kept pace in the tight AFC North race. Cincinnati, which blanked Johnny Manziel and the Browns on Sunday, maintained its half-game lead ahead of Pittsburgh and Baltimore, which took down Jacksonville. Matt Ryan threw for 310 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Falcons (5-9), who remain alive in the lowly NFC South. Harry Douglas filled in admirably for an injured Julio Jones, making 10 catches for 131 yards. Jones, who was coming off a career-high 259 yards against Green Bay last Monday, was unable to play through a hip pointer injury he suffered late in a loss to the Packers.
Final Score: Baltimore 20, Jacksonville 12
Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Joe Flacco threw for 221 yards with a touchdown and the Baltimore defense kept Jacksonville out of the end zone, as the Ravens strengthened their playoff hopes with a 20-12 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens (9-5) also scored on a blocked punt and picked up their second straight win to remain in contention for the AFC North title. Baltimore trails first-place Cincinnati by one-half game after the Bengals blanked the Browns on Sunday to reach 9-4-1. Pittsburgh also kept pace in the tight race and improved to 9-5 with a win over Atlanta on Sunday. Josh Scobee kicked four field goals to account for the entire offensive output for Jacksonville (2-12), which has lost two in a row. Blake Bortles threw for 210 yards with an interception for the Jaguars. He was also sacked eight times by a swarming Baltimore defense that limited Jacksonville to 248 total yards.
Final Score: Cincinnati 30, Cleveland 0
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - There were plenty of money signs flashed in Sunday's game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. Not one was made by the player associated with the gesture, Johnny Manziel. The Cleveland rookie quarterback's first career NFL start was a dud as the Browns were shut out 30-0 by the AFC North-leading Bengals. Jeremy Hill had 148 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries and Giovani Bernard amassed 79 yards on the ground for the Bengals (9-4-1), who produced points on each of their first four drives and remain a half-game ahead of Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the division standings. Andy Dalton completed 14-of-24 passes for 117 yards with one interception for Cincinnati, which won its fourth straight road game to tie a club record for the most consecutive wins away from home within a season. The Browns (7-7), in an effort to keep their fading playoff hopes alive, switched from Brian Hoyer to Manziel to spark the offense. However, the quarterback change didn't have the impact coach Mike Pettine was hoping on Sunday. Manziel was 10-of-18 for 80 yards with two first-half interceptions. A handful of Cincinnati players flashed the former Heisman Trophy winner's signature money sign to the FirstEnergy Stadium crowd. Cleveland, which has lost three in a row, totaled only 107 yards on offense and had six three-and-outs.
Final Score: Buffalo 21, Green Bay 13
Orchard Park, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Marcus Thigpen had a punt return for a touchdown and Dan Carpenter hit four field goals as the Buffalo Bills pulled off a 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Kyle Orton went just 14-for-27 for 158 yards with an interception, while Fred Jackson added 71 yards on 20 carries for the Bills (8-6), who have won three of their last four games and also finished 4-0 against the NFC North this season. Buffalo was able to keep pace in the hunt for a wild card spot, and got some help thanks to losses by Miami and Houston. Pittsburgh and Baltimore currently hold the wild card spots with nine wins apiece. Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the year, as he was a paltry 17-for-42 for 185 yards with two interceptions, along with a fumble on his final possession that turned into a safety. The Packers (10-4) had a five-game winning streak stopped and now sit tied with Detroit for first place in the NFC North as the Lions defeated the Vikings on Sunday. The Lions currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to a Week 3 win over the Packers, but the two will meet in Green Bay on the final week of the season.
Final Score: Detroit 16, Minnesota 14
Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Prater hit a late field goal to give the Detroit Lions a 16-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in a tough NFC North matchup. Matthew Stafford went 17-for-28 for 153 yards and a touchdown, while Joique Bell totaled 103 combined yards for the Lions (10-4), who moved into a tie with Green Bay for first place in the NFC North thanks to their third win in a row. The Packers lost to the Bills earlier on Sunday, and the Lions currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to a win at home against the Packers in Week 3. Detroit and Green Bay both play on the road next week before they meet in Green Bay on the final week of the season. Teddy Bridgewater went 31-for-41 for 315 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Vikings (6-8), who had won their previous two coming into the game.
Final Score: Indianapolis 17, Houston 10
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Indianapolis Colts captured their second straight AFC South crown with a 17-10 win over the Houston Texans. Indianapolis' defense held the Texans to 289 total yards and forced a couple of turnovers, including an interception late that ended Houston's last chance to make a comeback. Andrew Luck was held under 200 yards passing for the second time this season for the Colts (10-4), who only had 278 yards of offense themselves. Luck did connect with Hakeem Nicks and Dwayne Allen on second-quarter touchdown passes, while finishing 18-of-34 for 187 yards and an interception. Dan Herron led the Colts with 60 yards on the ground. T.Y. Hilton added 50 receiving yards on four catches. Houston (7-7) lost starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with a leg injury in the second quarter, forcing rookie Tom Savage into duty. Savage completed 10-of-19 passes for 127 yards and an interception in his NFL debut. Arian Foster ran for 99 yards on 26 carries for the Texans, while DeAndre Hopkins caught five passes for 77 yards.
Final Score: New England 41, Miami 13
Foxboro, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Whatever adjustments the New England Patriots made at halftime sure worked. Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes during a 24-point third quarter, as New England clinched its sixth straight AFC East title with a 41-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. LeGarrette Blount also ran for a score during the dominant stanza, as the Patriots turned a tenuous one-point lead into a laugher. Brady finished the game 21-of-35 passing for 287 yards with the two scores and an interception. Rob Gronkowski, held without a reception in the first half, caught three passes for 96 yards with a score for New England (11-3), which gained a split of the season series with Miami. The Dolphins (7-7) saw their already slim playoff hopes dashed further with a second straight loss. Ryan Tannehill completed 29-of-47 passes for 346 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for Miami, which had beaten New England in the season opener 33-20. The Dolphins outscored the Patriots 23-0 in the second half of that game and had the tables turned to a tune of 27-0 in the final 30 minutes of this one.
Final Score: Denver 22, San Diego 10
San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Peyton Manning got plenty of support from his Broncos teammates as Denver wrapped up another AFC West title with a 22-10 victory over the San Diego Chargers. Manning briefly exited the game late in the first half and produced a modest 233 yards with a touchdown, but five Connor Barth field goals and a strong defensive effort helped Denver (11-3) sew up its fourth straight division crown. The Broncos limited San Diego to 288 total yards, with the Chargers failing to mount a sustained rushing attack with top back Ryan Mathews out with an ankle injury. Philip Rivers finished 24-of-41 for 232 yards and a touchdown to Antonio Gates, but threw two late interceptions. Reliable kicker Nick Novak also missed a pair of field goal tries in a costly loss that now has San Diego (8-6) on the outside of the AFC playoff picture. Demaryius Thomas also stepped up for the Broncos, recording 123 yards and a touchdown on six catches, with C.J. Anderson adding 85 rushing yards on a workmanlike 29 carries.
Final Score: Kansas City 31, Oakland 13
Kansas City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Knile Davis scored two touchdowns and the Kansas City Chiefs avenged a Week 12 loss with a 31-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Davis caught a 70-yard touchdown pass and also had a 3-yard rushing score, while Travis Kelce caught five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown for the Chiefs (8-6), who ended a three-game skid which began with a 24-20 loss to the Raiders on Nov. 20. Alex Smith completed 18- of-30 passes for a season-high 297 yards and two touchdowns, Jamaal Charles carried the ball 12 times for 52 yards and Dwayne Bowe and Albert Wilson each finished with three catches for 69 yards in the win. Derek Carr threw for 222 yards and a score on 27-of-56 passing, James Jones caught a short TD pass and Sebastian Janikowski made two field goals for Oakland (2-12), which has dropped two of its last three games.
Final Score: NY Giants 24, Washington 13
East Rutherford, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Odell Beckham Jr. caught three touchdown passes from Eli Manning as the New York Giants rallied for a 24-13 victory over the Washington Redskins, who saw another change at quarterback come to no avail. Robert Griffin III replaced an injured Colt McCoy after one possession and gave the Redskins a brief spark, putting together a pair of scoring drives that gave Washington a 13-10 edge late in the third quarter. Beckham then hauled in two touchdowns from Manning in yet another dazzling display for the rookie receiver, who finished with 12 receptions totaling 143 yards. Nine of those grabs came in the second half, enabling New York (5-9) to deal the reeling Redskins (3-11) a sixth straight loss. Griffin completed 18-of-27 attempts for 236 yards and a touchdown in place of McCoy, who aggravated a previous neck strain on Washington's opening series. The embattled quarterback also had a rushing touchdown overturned late in the first half, with a replay review determining that he fumbled prior to crossing the goal line. Manning ended with 250 yards on 23-of-34 passing in the Giants' second consecutive win following a seven-game losing skid.
Final Score: NY Jets 16, Tennessee 11
Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Ivory scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:09 remaining in the fourth quarter to lift the New York Jets to a 16-11 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Titans made it interesting and nearly came up with another Music City Miracle on the game's last play. Delanie Walker took the final lateral to the Jets' 9-yard line. Geno Smith completed 16-of-28 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown for the Jets (3-11), who snapped a three-game losing streak. Quarterback Jake Locker made his first start for the Titans (2-12) since Week 5, but left the game late in the second quarter with a left shoulder injury. Locker started because rookie Zach Mettenberger re-injured his right shoulder last week. Charlie Whitehurst replaced Locker and was 10-of-24 for 203 yards in his first action since Week 7. Tennessee has dropped eight in a row, the club's longest skid since the 1994 Houston Oilers lost 11 straight.
Final Score: Dallas 38, Philadelphia 27
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys moved into the driver's seat in the NFC East after knocking off the Philadelphia Eagles 38-27 on Sunday night. The slugfest had all the elements of a heavyweight bout, with the Cowboys jumping out to a 21-0 lead and the Eagles countering with 24 straight points. Lincoln Financial Field was quickly quieted, however, as Dallas (10-4) dealt the knockout blow with 17 of the final 20 points to seize control in the two-team race atop the standings. Bryant caught all three of Tony Romo's touchdown passes and finished with 114 yards on six catches. The Eagles (9-5) have dropped consecutive games for the first time all season after losing to the Seahawks at home last week. They turned it over four times and only held the ball for 18 minutes.
Final Score: Seattle 17, San Francisco 7
Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Seattle Seahawks rode their defense to beat the San Francisco 49ers again as the bitter rivals continue heading in opposite directions. Marshawn Lynch ran for 91 yards and a touchdown and the Seahawks stifled the 49ers in the second half, eliminating them from playoff contention with a 17-7 victory on Sunday. Seattle (10-4) allowed 178 yards to San Francisco (7-7) in the first half, but clamped down and limited the 49ers to a meager 67 over the final 30 minutes. The Seahawks outscored the 49ers 14-0 in the second half. The Seahawks, winners of four in a row, clash with Arizona in Glendale next Sunday night with first place in the NFC West on the line. Russell Wilson was 12-of-24 for 168 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Jermaine Kearse caught five passes for 78 yards for Seattle, which has beaten San Francisco four straight times at home and recorded its first season sweep in the series since 2007. Colin Kaepernick completed 11-of-19 passes for 141 yards for the 49ers, who lost running backs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) along with linebacker Chris Borland (ankle) to injury.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11
Final Score: Arizona 12, St. Louis 6
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Chandler Catanzaro made four field goals as the Arizona Cardinals moved closer to clinching a playoff spot despite not scoring a touchdown in a 12-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday. The Cardinals (11-3) now own the league's best record and on Sunday secured a postseason berth when Dallas beat Philadelphia. Arizona, however, suffered another injury at quarterback at the hands of the St. Louis defense as Drew Stanton left the game with a right knee injury in the third quarter. He was carted to the locker room and did not return. Stanton, who was 12-of-20 for 109 yards before exiting, started his fifth straight game after Carson Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a 31-14 win over the Rams on Nov. 9. Ryan Lindley took over for Stanton and completed four of his 10 passes for 30 yards. Larry Fitzgerald (31 years, 102 days old) became the youngest player in NFL history to compile 900 career receptions after finishing with seven catches for 30 yards. Arizona's 11 wins ties a franchise record which was also set in 1975 and 1948.