Texans win 1st-ever AFC South title: NFL roundup
Tebow leads Broncos to 6th straight win, Packers still undefeated
Texans 20, Bengals 19
Rookie T.J. Yates led the biggest drive in Houston Texans history on Sunday, throwing a six-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left for a 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that brought the first playoff berth in franchise history.
With their seventh straight win, the Texans (10-3) moved to the threshold of their first playoff berth. They clinched the AFC South title a few minutes later when Tennessee lost to New Orleans.
Cincinnati (7-6) couldn't prevent the Texans from going 80 yards in the closing minutes behind their third quarterback in the last four games. Yates' 6-yard throw to Kevin Walter — uncovered at the goal line — set off a celebration on the Houston sideline.
Broncos 13, Bears 10
Tim Tebow led the Denver Broncos to another comeback victory, with Matt Prater's 51-yard field goal in overtime giving the Denver Broncos a 13-10 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Prater's 59-yarder with two seconds left in regulation tied the score.
It was Denver's sixth straight win, and half of them have come in OT since Tebow was promoted to starter.
After failing to score on their first 11 possessions, the Broncos (8-5) erased a 10-0 deficit in the final 2:08 of regulation.
Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas with a 10-yard touchdown pass, then got the ball back with 58 seconds left and drove Denver downfield for Prater's kick.
The Bears (7-6) won the toss in overtime and were in field goal range when Marion Barber coughed up the football at the Broncos 34 and Elvis Dumervil recovered.
Patriots 34, Redskins 27
Tom Brady threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns, and Rob Gronkowski set an NFL single-season record for most touchdown catches by a tight end as the New England Patriots won their fifth straight, beating the Washington Redskins.
Gronkowski snagged his 14th and 15th scoring receptions, moving him past Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis. Gates had 13 in 2004, and Davis matched that total in 2009.
The Patriots (10-3) again overcame their bend-but-don't-break defence. The Redskins drove to the New England 5-yard line late before Rex Grossman's pass went off Santana Moss' hands and was intercepted by Jerod Mayo with 22 seconds to play.
Washington (4-9) has lost eight of its last nine.
Packers 46, Raiders 16
Aaron Rodgers threw for 281 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in less than three full quarters' worth of work, Ryan Grant ran for two touchdowns and Charles Woodson picked off a pass against his former team as the Green Bay Packers trounced the Oakland Raiders 46-16 on Sunday.
With the win, the Packers ran their record to 13-0 — leaving them only three games short of completing a perfect regular season. And they did it with a near-perfect performance.
Carson Palmer threw for 245 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions for the Raiders (7-6), who looked like anything but legitimate contenders in the AFC West.
The biggest concern for the Packers was an apparent left knee injury to wide receiver Greg Jennings in the third quarter. Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett also walked to the locker room after sustaining a head injury in the third quarter.
Ravens 24, Colts 10
Terrell Suggs had three sacks and forced three fumbles as part of an overwhelming defensive performance by the Baltimore Ravens, who kept the Indianapolis Colts winless with a victory.
Baltimore (10-3) limited the Colts (0-13) to 154 yards, including just 53 through three quarters. Were it not for a touchdown on the game's final play, Indianapolis would have been held without a TD for the second time since the 2003 season opener.
Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes and Ray Rice ran for 103 yards to help the Ravens win their fourth straight and improve to 7-0 at home.
Dan Orlovsky, the third Colts quarterback to start in place of the injured Peyton Manning this season, went 17 for 37 for 136 yards and an interception. He was sacked four times.
Falcons 31, Panthers 23
Matt Ryan threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rookie Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons erased a 16-point deficit to defeat the Carolina Panthers.
Ryan threw for 318 yards and tied a career high with four touchdowns passing. Atlanta (8-5) avoided a costly loss to stay alive in the NFC wild card race.
It was the second time this season the Falcons defeated the Panthers after trailing entering the fourth quarter.
For the Panthers (4-8), it was the sixth time this season they've lost after being ahead or tied in the fourth quarter. In October they fell 31-17 to Atlanta despite leading 17-14 going into the fourth quarter.
It was a similar ending Sunday.
Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes as the Panthers built a 23-7 halftime lead but was intercepted twice in the second half.
Jaguars 41, Buccaneers 14
Maurice Jones-Drew scored four times, setting the franchise record for career touchdowns, and the Jacksonville Jaguars rolled up 41 unanswered points to beat the turnover-prone Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-14 Sunday.
Jones-Drew finished with 136 total yards, including 85 on the ground against one of the league's worst run defences.
Tampa Bay's bigger problem in its seventh consecutive loss was turnovers.
The Buccaneers (4-9) had seven of them, helping set up each of Jacksonville's four touchdowns in the second quarter. The Jaguars (4-9), who hadn't scored more than 20 points all season, scored four times in a span of 7:32. They scored on offence, defence and special teams in the same game for the first time since Nov. 1, 1998, at Baltimore.
That also was the last time Jacksonville had scored 28 points in a quarter.
Josh Freeman and Preston Parker had a lot to do with Jacksonville's latest scoring frenzy.
Lions 34, Vikings 28
Backup quarterback Joe Webb fumbled deep in Lions territory in the final seconds, and Detroit escaped with a win over the Minnesota Vikings.
DeAndre Levy appeared to get away with grabbing Webb's facemask before the fumble.
Matthew Stafford threw for two scores in the first quarter to give Detroit one of its three-touchdown leads. The Lions (8-5) won a game — barely — they needed to improve playoff positioning after losing five of seven.
Webb led the Vikings (2-11) to touchdowns on his first two drives after rookie Christian Ponder was benched and was a yard away from another TD.
On first-and-goal from the 1 with 9 seconds left, a replay appeared to show Levy grabbing Webb's facemask, but a flag wasn't thrown. The ball popped free and was batted back toward midfield by Detroit's Stephen Tulloch. Webb ran it down and tried to pick it up, but the ball came loose again and Cliff Avril finally fell on it to end the game.
Eagles 26, Dolphins 10
The Philadelphia Eagles forced three turnovers while scoring four times during a nine-minute span in the second quarter, and they totalled nine sacks to beat the Miami Dolphins 26-10 Sunday.
Michael Vick, back after missing three games with broken ribs, threw for 208 yards and a touchdown. LeSean McCoy scored two touchdowns to hike his season total to 17.
The Eagles (5-8) won for only the second time in the past six games and still need a sweep of the final three games to have any chance of repeating as NFC East champions. The Dolphins (4-9) had a three-game home winning streak snapped and sank deeper into last place in the AFC East.
Philadelphia sent quarterback Matt Moore to the sideline in the second half with a head injury.
Jets 37, Chiefs 10
Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as the New York Jets kept pace in the AFC playoff race by cruising to a 37-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The Jets, plagued by slow starts all season, got things started quickly in this one by scoring 28 points in the first half and were helped by an inept Chiefs offence that managed four total yards in the first two quarters.
Shonn Greene had a season-high 129 yards rushing and a score, and Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson each caught touchdown passes for the Jets (8-5), who have won three straight and improved to 6-1 at home.
Tyler Palko was sacked five times for the Jets in a miserable outing by the penalty-plagued Chiefs (5-8), a week after he earned his first victory as a starter against Chicago.
Cardinals 21, 49ers 19
John Skelton stepped in for the injured Kevin Kolb and threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns, and the Arizona Cardinals rallied to hand the San Francisco 49ers just their third loss of the season, 21-19 on Sunday.
Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 149 yards, including a 46-yarder for a touchdown and a 53-yarder to set up the go-ahead score in the fifth victory in six games for Arizona (6-7).
Kolb left the game after a blow to the head on Arizona's third play. Skelton, benched after throwing three interceptions in the Cardinals' 23-7 loss at San Francisco on Nov. 20, had a 60-yard TD pass to Early Doucet and a three-yard toss to Andre Roberts for what proved to be the winning score early in the fourth quarter.
Chargers 37, Bills 10
Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Antonio Gates, and the San Diego Chargers beat the Buffalo Bills 37-10 Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Buffalo (5-8) lost its sixth straight game and was eliminated from playoff contention for the 12th straight year.
The Chargers (6-7) have won two straight following their six-game losing streak.
Rivers was 24 of 33 for 240 yards. Ryan Mathews gained 114 yards on 20 carries, the first time he's had three straight 100-yard games.
The Bills made it a game when Rivers fumbled while going back to pass early in the third quarter, with Bryan Scott recovering in the end zone to pull the Bills to 16-10.
San Diego bounced back with a fake punt that led to Rivers' two-yard TD pass to Gates. On the first play of the ensuing Buffalo drive, Steve Gregory intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick and returned it 26 yards for a TD and a 30-10 lead.
Saints 22, Titans 17
Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes to Marques Colston in the fourth quarter to lead the New Orleans Saints to their fifth straight victory with a 22-17 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday
The NFC South-leading Saints (10-3) had little trouble picking up yards, but struggled to score until Brees and Colston connected on passes of 35 and 28 yards.
The Titans (7-6) twice had the ball in the final minutes with a chance to win. The first time, New Orleans stopped backup Jake Locker on fourth-and-1 at the Saints 24 with 2:18 left. The second time, Jo-Lonn Dunbar sacked a scrambling Locker on third-and-goal as time expired.
The Titans' loss helped clinch the AFC South for the Houston Texans.
Brees threw for 347 yards and joined Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas as the only quarterbacks to throw a touchdown pass in 40 straight games.
Locker replaced Matt Hasselbeck, who hurt his left calf after chasing a tipped pass in the second quarter.
Giants 37, Cowboys 34
Eli Manning ended New York's four-game losing streak in style, leading the Giants to two touchdowns in the final 3:14 to beat the Dallas Cowboys 37-34 Sunday night in a showdown for first place in the NFC East.
Dallas appeared to tie the game with a 47-yard field goal as time expired, but New York called a timeout. Given another chance to force overtime, rookie Dan Bailey's kick was blocked by Jason Pierre-Paul — who also had a sack for a safety and forced a fumble.
The Giants (7-6) and Cowboys are tied atop the division, but this victory gives New York the inside track. The teams will meet again in the season finale, on New Year's Day, at the Giants' home field.
Dallas lost its second straight.