Steelers survive Titans rally after missed FG, move to 6-0
By The Associated Press
Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to Diontae Johnson, and the Pittsburgh Steelers remained perfect by holding off Tennessee for a 27-24 victory Sunday in a game originally postponed when the Titans came down with the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak of the season.
In a matchup of the AFC’s two remaining undefeated teams, the Titans rallied from 17 down. They failed to complete the comeback when Stephen Gostkowski, who made a 51-yarder earlier, missed from 45 yards wide right with 14 seconds left. That sent the Steelers running around the field in celebration and the Titans (5-1) stunned.
The Steelers improved to 6-0 for their best start since 1978, when Pittsburgh won its first seven on the way to the Super Bowl. This was just the fifth time undefeated teams had met in Week 7 or later, and the winner of the previous four all made the Super Bowl.
Benny Snell Jr. added a 1-yard TD run and Ray-Ray McCloud set up a touchdown with a 57-yard punt return.
Pittsburgh outgained Tennessee 362-292 and held the NFL’s second-best scoring offense under 31 points for the first time since the opening week of the season.
But the Titans had won four of their first five by rallying in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime, and they scored 17 straight to pull within 27-24.
Ryan Tannehill hit A.J. Brown on a short pass that the receiver took to the end zone for a 73-yard TD. Jayon Brown picked off a batted pass, setting up Gostkowski’s field goal. Derrick Henry capped a 12-play drive with a 1-yard TD with 10:13 left.
The Titans had their final chance after Amani Hooker intercepted Roethlisberger in the back of the end zone with 2:35 left. It was Roethlisberger’s third of the game, which Tennessee turned into only a field goal.
LIONS 23, FALCONS 22
ATLANTA (AP) — Detroit let Atlanta score a touchdown. It worked — and the Falcons found another stunning way to lose.
Matthew Stafford connected with T.J. Hockenson on an 11-yard touchdown pass as time expired and Matt Prater booted a 48-yard extra point to give Detroit the improbable victory. The Lions (3-3) won their second in a row — their first winning streak since early in the 2019 season.
Trailing 16-14, the Falcons (1-6) were positioned to run down the clock and kick a chip-shot field goal for the win when they picked up a first down at the Lions 10 with just over a minute remaining.
Detroit had used up all its timeouts on the drive, so there was no further way to stop the clock. Knowing their only chance was to allow a quick TD, the Lions made no attempt to stop Todd Gurley after he took a handoff from Matt Ryan.
Gurley realized what the Lions were doing — but too late. He started to fall but landed on the goal line with 1:04 remaining.
The Falcons converted a 2-point conversion to make it 22-16, but the Lions still had a chance against a team that had already become the first in NFL history to lose two straight games when leading by at least 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Stafford drove his team 75 yards in eight plays. Detroit spiked the ball with 2 seconds to go, setting up the final play. Stafford was pressured in the pocket, rolled to his left and spotted Hockenson breaking free across the end zone.
BUCCANEERS 45, RAIDERS 20
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes to move past Drew Brees for the most in NFL history and ran for another to lead Tampa Bay past Las Vegas.
Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter and on a perfectly placed 33-yarder to Scotty Miller later in the first half. He then helped seal the game with the throw to Chris Godwin that put the Bucs (5-2) up 31-20 midway through the fourth quarter.
Brady added a fourth to rookie Tyler Johnson with 3:08 to play to give him 559 in his career, passing Brees for the most ever. Brees threw two earlier in the day for New Orleans.
The 4-yard pass to Godwin was part of a key stretch when it appeared the Raiders were in position for a comeback after cutting the deficit to 24-17 on Derek Carr’s second TD pass of the game.
The Raiders (3-3) were driving for the potential tying score before coming up 1 yard short of a first down on a third-and-4 pass to Darren Waller. Coach Jon Gruden opted for a field goal to make it 24-20.
Brady then engineered another TD drive and the Bucs put it away when Carr threw an interception on Las Vegas’ next play to set up Ronald Jones’ 1-yard run.
Brady finished 33 for 45 for 369 yards. Carr went 24 for 36 for 284 yards, two TDs and one interception.
BROWNS 37, BENGALS 34
CINCINNATI (AP) — Baker Mayfield overcame a terrible start to throw for five touchdowns, including a 24-yard go-ahead score to Donovan Peoples-Jones with 15 seconds left, and Cleveland outdueled Cincinnati.
Nursing sore ribs, Mayfield started 0 for 5 — including an interception on his first attempt of the game. He then completed 22 of his next 23 passes. The last was the leaping grab by People-Jones to win it for the Browns (5-2).
Cincinnati rookie Joe Burrow played another terrific game, but again it wasn’t enough. He hit 35 of 47 passes for a season-high 406 yards and three touchdowns, including a 3-yard scoring pass to Giovani Bernard on fourth-and-1 to give the Bengals a 34-31 lead with 1:06 left.
But the Bengals couldn’t stop Mayfield, who was roundly criticized after a poor performance in Cleveland’s loss to Pittsburgh last week, and Browns receivers who made some great catches as they worked down the field.
Mayfield was 22 for 28 for 297 yards. Rashard Higgins had six catches for 110 yards, and tight end Harrison Bryant had two touchdown catches.
Tyler Boyd had 11 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown for the Bengals (1-5-1).
SAINTS 27, PANTHERS 24
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns without two top receivers and rushed for another score to lead New Orleans past Carolina.
The Panthers had driven across midfield in the final minutes when Marcus Davenport’s sack of Teddy Bridgewater led coach Matt Rhule to send out kicker Joey Slye for a 65-yard field goal on fourth-and-19. The kick fell just short of the crossbar and the Saints (4-2) ran out the final 1:55 to send the Panthers (3-4) to their second straight loss.
Brees completed 29 of 36 passes to eight targets despite not having receivers Michael Thomas (hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) in the lineup. His decision-making and accuracy also helped New Orleans convert 12 of 14 third downs.
On their only two third-down failures, Wil Lutz came through with field goals of 41 and 43 yards.
Brees’ touchdown passes went for 4 yards to Jared Cook and 4 yards to Deonte Harris 2 seconds before halftime.
Alvin Kamara gained 148 yards from scrimmage, with 83 coming on 14 rushes.
That was just enough to overcome a strong showing by Bridgewater in his first game against the Saints since serving as Brees’ backup in New Orleans the past two seasons.
Bridgewater was 23 of 28 for 254 yards and two touchdowns, including a 74-yarder to DJ Moore, who also had a 7-yard catch-and run around the right end for a score.
CHIEFS 43, BRONCOS 16
DENVER (AP) — Kansas City didn’t need the usual heroics from Patrick Mahomes to rout Denver for its 10th straight win over its AFC West rival.
The Chiefs (6-1) found other ways to dominate Denver (2-4) on a snowy afternoon that began with a temperature of 14 degrees at kickoff.
Kansas City took a 24-9 halftime lead even though Mahomes completed just one pass in the second quarter, a 5-yarder, and had just 99 yards through the air in the first half.
Mahomes finally extended his NFL-leading streak to 17 consecutive games with a touchdown throw when he hit Tyreek Hill from 10 yards with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. That made it 37-9.
Mahomes’ TD throw to Hill followed the Chiefs’ fourth takeaway, an interception by Tyrann Mathieu when rookie KJ Hamler let Drew Lock’s pass bounce off him and right into the arms of the Chiefs’ star safety.
Mahomes finished a methodical 15 of 23 for 200 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and four sacks.
In the first half, the Chiefs scored touchdowns on Byron Pringle’s 102-yard kickoff return and Daniel Sorensen’s 50-yard interception return to go with Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 11-yard run in which he broke five tackles.
49ERS 33, PATRIOTS 6
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and 112 yards before leaving with an ankle injury and San Francisco dominated New England.
Jimmy Garoppolo finished 20 of 25 for 277 yards with two interceptions in his first game against his former team. San Francisco (4-3) has followed back-to-back losses with two wins and is 3-0 on the road.
The Patriots’ 27-point loss was their largest at home under Bill Belichick. They had gone 286 games without a three-game losing streak, the longest span between three-game slides in NFL history. New England fell to 2-4 for the first since Belichick’s first season in 2000, when the Patriots went 5-11.
New England was outgained 467-241 in total yards.
San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk had six catches for 115 yards and Deebo Samuel had five catches for 65 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.
Cam Newton struggled throughout for the Patriots, completing 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards and three interceptions before being replaced by Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Stidham was 6 of 10 for 64 yards and an interception.
San Francisco dominated the first half, taking a 23-3 lead, holding the ball for 22:30, and racking up a 301-59 advantage in total yards. The Patriots also managed just four first downs to the 49ers’ 18.
CHARGERS 39, JAGUARS 29
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Herbert got his first NFL win, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns as well as running for a score as Los Angeles beat Jacksonville to snap a four-game skid.
Herbert, the sixth overall pick in April’s draft, completed 27 of 43 passes. He also rushed for 66 yards, a single-game high for a Chargers QB.
Herbert joined Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history with 300 yards, at least three passing TDs, and one rushing in a game. Burrow did that earlier Sunday in the Bengals’ 37-34 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
More important for Herbert was that first win, despite Los Angeles blowing another large lead.
Jacksonville (1-6) tied an NFL record by allowing 30 or more points in six consecutive games.
The Chargers (2-4) jumped to a 16-0 second-quarter lead but squandered a double-digit advantage for the fourth time in five games. Jacksonville scored 21 straight points to go up by five early in the third quarter.
Jacksonville was ahead 29-22 late in the third quarter when Los Angeles regained control. Herbert connected with Jalen Guyton for a 70-yard touchdown up the right sideline to tie it. The Jaguars fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Herbert scrambled around right end from 5 yards to put the Chargers in front 36-29.
PACKERS 35, TEXANS 20
HOUSTON (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns Green Bay rebounded from its first loss, beating Houston.
Rodgers played a near-flawless game and tied his season high for TD passes. The performance came after he threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, with no TDs in a 38-10 loss to Tampa Bay last week.
Despite being without leading rusher Aaron Jones and left tackle David Bakhtiari, Green Bay (5-1) had no trouble handling the woeful Texans (1-6). The Packers built a 21-0 lead by halftime.
Green Bay’s strong day on offense was aided by a career-high 196 yards receiving by Davante Adams, who had touchdown receptions of 3 and 45 yards.
Green Bay made it 35-13 when Jamaal Williams scored on a 1-yard run with about four minutes to go.
Deshaun Watson threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller with about 90 seconds left before the Texans recovered an onside kick. But David Johnson fumbled after a reception on the next play and the Packers ran out the clock.
Watson threw for 309 yards with two touchdowns and former Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb had 95 yards receiving.
WASHINGTON 25, COWBOYS 3
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Washington’s defense finally clamped down on a struggling opponent, piling up six sacks, an interception and a forced fumble that became a safety in a 25-3 blowout of Dallas on Sunday that snapped a five-game skid.
Montez Sweat had two sacks for Washington (2-5), Cole Holcomb had one to go along with a red zone interception and Landon Collins knocked the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands for an early safety before leaving with an ankle injury. Dalton was under siege all day behind a patchwork offensive line before being knocked out of the game in the third quarter on a shoulder-to-head hit from Jon Bostic, who was ejected.
Dalton was 9 of 19 for 75 yards before being injured and walking off under his own power to undergo concussion evaluation.
Washington allowed 142 total yards to win a game by double digits for the first time since November 2018.
Dallas (2-5) lost back-to-back games after Washington held Ezekiel Elliott to 45 yards rushing on 12 carries and rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb dropped a handful of passes thrown his way.
A dominant defensive performance combined with rookie Antonio Gibson’s first 100-yard rushing game and a touchdown and a well-managed game by Kyle Allen were enough to put Washington back in the thick of the race in the dreadful NFC East.
Allen was 15 of 25 for 194 yards with TD passes to Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas in his third consecutive start since taking over as starting quarterback.
BILLS 18, JETS 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Josh Allen and the Bills were held out of the end zone for the first time this season, but Tyler Bass tied a franchise record with six field goals and Buffalo ended a two-game skid by beating winless New York.
It was the third game in 13 days for the Bills (5-2), who lost to Tennessee and Kansas City before their ugly win against the league-worst Jets (0-7).
The Bills fell behind 10-0 early and looked sluggish for most of the game, and the victory marked their first without getting a touchdown since they beat Washington 17-16 in 2007 on five field goals by Rian Lindell and a safety.
It was also the first time the Jets lost without giving up a touchdown since a 9-6 loss to the Rams in 2016.
Bass kicked a 40-yarder with 1:56 left after also making kicks of 53, 48, 46, 37 and 29 yards. He also missed from 45 and 37 yards, but made enough to tie Steve Christie’s team mark set against New York in 1996.
New York had a chance late after Micah Hyde was called for an unnecessary hit on Breshad Perriman, who appeared unconscious for a few moments. But Sam Darnold was intercepted by Jerry Hughes on a tipped pass to seal it.
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