Chiefs win emotional game over Panthers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Against the backdrop of an unthinkable tragedy, the Kansas City Chiefs earned their second win of the season.
Brady Quinn threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns, and Jamaal Charles ran for 127 yards in the Chiefs’ 27-21 victory over their Carolina Panthers. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak during one of the most difficult seasons the franchise has ever experienced.
The win came just one day after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend at a residence near Arrowhead Stadium, then drove to the team’s practice facility and turned the gun on himself as general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel looked on.
Pioli walked through the press box before the game and said he was doing “OK,” though he didn’t stop to talk. Crennel was on the sideline coaching his team to a victory.
MIAMI — Tom Brady had his least efficient game of the year and even threw an interception, but New England took advantage of Miami’s mistakes and clinched their fourth consecutive AFC East title.
A botched punt, roughing-the-punter penalty and fumble by Miami led to 17 New England points, and another penalty negated a Dolphins touchdown.
Brady finished 24-for-40 for 238 yards and was sacked four times. But with the Patriots nursing a 20-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter, he led a 16-play drive that took more than 7 minutes and led to a field goal.
The Patriots (9-3) have won six games in a row and are assured of their 12th consecutive winning season. Miami (5-7) lost to New England for the fifth consecutive time.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Houston Texans clinched their second straight playoff berth and set a franchise record for wins in a season.
Rookie linebacker Whitney Mercilus recovered a fumble and had two sacks, and the Texans (11-1) remain tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NFL with their sixth straight win. After needing overtime the past two games, the Texans forced six turnovers and had six sacks of Jake Locker when they weren’t batting down a handful of other passes.
The Texans swept Tennessee (4-8), the team they replaced in Houston, for only the second time. Matt Schaub threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and Arian Foster ran for a TD.
DENVER — Peyton Manning threw three touchdowns, including one to defensive tackle Mitch Unrein, to help Denver wrap up the AFC West.
The Broncos (9-3) won their seventh straight, and the Tampa Bay (6-6) loss clinched the NFC South for Atlanta, which won on Thursday.
Manning threw for 242 yards. He now has 29 touchdown passes on the season, moving past Jake Plummer and John Elway for the most by a Denver quarterback in a single year.
Manning threw two of the scores to Demaryius Thomas, who finished with eight catches for 99 yards. The Broncos held Tampa running back Doug Martin to 56 yards on 18 carries.
49ERS 13 (OT)
ST. LOUIS — Rookie Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in overtime after booting a 53-yarder as time expired in regulation.
The winning kick allowed the Rams to avoid a second tie in three weeks against the NFC West leaders.
The Rams (5-6-1) scored twice in the final 3:04 of regulation, getting their lone touchdown when rookie Janoris Jenkins returned an errant pitchout by Colin Kaepernick 2 yards for a score. They’ve won two straight after an 0-4-1 skid.
The 49ers (8-3-1) failed to take advantage of a 14-yard punt by rookie punter Johnny Hekker to midfield when David Akers was barely wide right on a 51-yard attempt with 4:11 to go in overtime. Akers is just 7-for-15 from 40 yards and beyond.
BEARS 17 (OT)
CHICAGO — Russell Wilson connected with Sidney Rice on a 13-yard touchdown with 7:33 left in overtime to lift Seattle.
Unbeaten in five home games, the Seahawks finally figured a way to win on the road after dropping five of their first six, and they knocked off the NFC North leaders in the process.
Seattle took a short-lived lead late in regulation on Wilson’s 14-yard pass to Golden Tate, only to watch the Bears’ Robbie Gould boot a 46-yard field goal as time expired to send it into OT.
The Seahawks (7-5) got their only other road win at Carolina.
DETROIT — Andrew Luck threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery with no time left to lift Indianapolis.
With the final seconds ticking away, the rookie quarterback moved up in the pocket, flipped a short pass to Avery, and the receiver ran untouched into the end zone to complete a rally that started with the Lions up 12 points midway through the fourth quarter.
The Colts (8-4) stayed in control of the AFC wild-card race with the win. Detroit (4-8) lost for the fourth straight time, including three in a row at home after leading in the final quarter.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — James Starks had Green Bay’s first rushing touchdown in almost two months, Morgan Burnett picked off Christian Ponder twice, and the Packers overcame a monster day by Adrian Peterson.
Peterson finished with 210 yards, the most he’s had since blowing out his ACL and MCL last December. But the Vikings (6-6) clearly felt the absence of Percy Harvin, who missed his third straight game with a sprained ankle.
The win also keeps the Packers’ hopes for the division title alive.
BALTIMORE — Shaun Suisham kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired.
Playing without injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a third straight week, the Steelers turned to the 37-year-old Batch for the second game in a row. He went 25-for-36 for 276 yards, threw a touchdown and moved the Steelers 61 yards before Suisham’s game-winning kick.
Pittsburgh trailed 13-3 in the first half and 20-13 in the fourth quarter before coming back.
Pittsburgh (7-5) snapped a two-game losing streak and kept alive its slim hopes of overtaking Baltimore (9-3) in the AFC North. The teams have split their games this season.
SAN DIEGO — Andy Dalton scrambled up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown with 4:11 left for the go-ahead score, and Cincinnati won its fourth straight game.
On second-and-goal, Dalton pump-faked right and then ran up the middle, dived for the end zone and got the ball across.
The Bengals (7-5) remained tied with Pittsburgh in the race for the AFC’s second wild-card berth.
The Chargers (4-8) lost their fourth straight game and for the seventh time in eight games, and remain only mathematically alive in the wild-card chase.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Brandon Weeden threw for a career-high 364 yards and a touchdown as Cleveland snapped a 12-game road losing streak.
Weeden hit fellow rookie Josh Gordon on a 44-yard score in the second quarter, and Trent Richardson scored on a 3-yard run after Sheldon Brown made a key interception deep in Cleveland territory when the Raiders (3-9) were driving for the potential tying or go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
It all added up to the first road win for the Browns (4-8) since beating Indianapolis 27-19 on Sept. 18, 2011.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Third-stringer Greg McElroy stepped in for a struggling Mark Sanchez and led New York to its only score.
With Tim Tebow inactive as he heals from two broken ribs, coach Rex Ryan pulled Sanchez for McElroy — as the crowd at MetLife Stadium cheered wildly — late in the third quarter. McElroy led the (5-7) Jets to their only points of the day with an impressive drive, connecting with Jeff Cumberland on a 1-yard touchdown. That ended up being the winning score.
Fans chanted “Mc-El-roy!” throughout the first three quarters as Sanchez went 10-for-21 for 97 yards and three interceptions.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Ryan Fitzpatrick directed five straight scoring drives in helping Buffalo keep alive its slim playoff hopes.
Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and scored on a 1-yard plunge in providing a spark to an injury-depleted offense that finished the game minus its top two receivers.
Fred Jackson had 101 yards rushing, and C.J. Spiller scored on a 44-yard run that put Buffalo (5-7) up 34-10 early in the fourth quarter.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes to break Troy Aikman’s career franchise record and lead Dallas past Philadelphia.
The Cowboys (6-6) trailed 27-24 when Romo led an 86-yard drive that was sparked by a 35-yard pass to Dez Bryant on third down. Bryant gave Dallas the lead when took a screen pass from the 6 and got inside the pylon with 5:40 remaining.