Ben Roethlisberger was far from perfect until the fourth quarter, and that was all that mattered for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One week after Roethlisberger had a perfect quarterback rating, he overcame three interceptions and a 16-0 deficit by leading two late scoring drives. He lunged in from the 1 for the winning score with 5 seconds left for a 20-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, at Jacksonville, Fla.
The Steelers (7-2-1) won their sixth straight and likely ended any playoff hopes for the Jaguars, who eliminated Pittsburgh in the divisional round last year. The Jaguars (3-7) dropped their sixth in a row in a game they controlled until the final five minutes.
Leonard Fournette ran for 95 yards and caught two passes for 46 yards that led to the Jaguars’ only touchdown when he launched himself from the 4 and scored for a 16-0 lead with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Roethlisberger, who now has 10 turnovers in his last three games against Jacksonville, took over from there.
He got safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. to bite on a pump fake and found Antonio Brown open deep in the middle of the field for a 78-yard touchdown.
Still trailing by 10 points with just under six minutes remaining, Roethlisberger found tight end Vance McDonald in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 16-13 with 2:28 remaining.
The Jaguars went three-and-out, and Roethlisberger led a 68-yard drive. He hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on the left sideline for a 35-yard gain to the 27 that at least got the Steelers in field goal position.
James Conner dropped a sure touchdown when he got behind linebacker Telvin Smith Sr., but Roethlisberger hit Brown over the middle to the 2.
Texans 23, Redskins 21: Justin Reid returned an interception 101 yards to help the Texans overcome a mistake-prone Deshaun Watson for their seventh consecutive victory.
Washington’s loss came at a significant price when quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome ankle injury on a sack in the third quarter. Smith’s right ankle turned the wrong way as he was sacked by Kareem Jackson and J.J. Watt on a play eerily similar to Joe Theismann’s broken leg that came exactly 33 years ago to the day.
Colt McCoy replaced Smith and threw for a touchdown pass and led a long scoring drive for Washington (6-4), which likely will have to rely on the journeyman quarterback the rest of the way.
Adrian Peterson’s touchdown that put the Redskins up 21-20 early in the fourth quarter was the first lead change in a game involving the Redskins all season.
Watson threw for a touchdown and had two interceptions, completing 16 of 24 passes and taking three sacks. Houston (7-3) turned over the ball three times, but kept its winning streak going after Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 63-yard field-goal attempt with 3 seconds left.
Peterson ran for two touchdowns to continue climbing the NFL rushing chart, but was bottled up on a lot of his other carries. Peterson’s 3- and 7-yard TD runs gave him 105 in his career and moved him past former Redskins star John Riggins into sole possession of sixth, one behind Jim Brown for fifth.
Peterson finished with 51 yards on 16 carries.
Cowboys 22, Falcons 19: Brett Maher shook off a missed extra point and kicked a 42-yard field goal on the final play, at Atlanta.
Matt Ryan threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones for Atlanta’s only touchdown with 1:52 remaining to tie the game. But Dallas drove 51 yards in 10 plays, setting up Maher’s winning kick as time expired .
The Cowboys (5-5), who gained a game on Washington in the NFC East, gave their playoff hopes a boost. Atlanta (4-6) lost its second straight game and now faces long odds to reach the postseason – especially playing in the NFC South, where the Falcons trail New Orleans and Carolina.
After a field goal battle between Maher and Atlanta’s Matt Bryant left the Falcons with a 9-6 lead heading to the final period, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott scored on a pair of runs to push the Cowboys to a 19-9 lead.
Grinding for every yard, Dallas needed 14 plays to cover 75 yards for the game’s first TD, Prescott’s 4-yard run after faking a handoff to Elliott. Prescott had a couple of 17-yard passes – one to Amari Cooper, another to Cole Beasley – but no other play on the possession went for more than 5 yards.
Maher hooked the extra point, however, leaving the Cowboys with a 12-9 lead.
They quickly extended the margin. On Atlanta’s next possession, Ryan threw a short pass to Calvin Ridley cutting over the middle. The ball was thrown a bit too hard, the rookie couldn’t hang on and it ricocheted into the arms of Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch . He returned the interception 28 yards to the Atlanta 31.
Two plays later, Elliott darted through a big hole up the middle, shook off an attempted tackle from Damontae Kazee at the 15 and powered in for a 23-yard touchdown . Maher connected on this extra point, giving the Cowboys a 10-point lead with 12:26 remaining.
Broncos 23, Chargers 22: Brandon McManus kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired and snapped the Chargers’ six-game winning streak, at Carson, Calif.
Denver got the ball at its 8 with 1:51 remaining, and Case Keenum orchestrated a seven-play, 76-yard drive. Keenum, who was 19 of 32 for 205 yards, completed five passes for 86 yards during the drive, including a 30-yarder to Courtland Sutton to the Denver 16. Keenum then spiked the ball and McManus kicked the field goal as time expired.
Phillip Lindsay had 11 carries for 79 yards and Sutton had three receptions for 78 yards. Denver (4-6) had lost six of seven coming into the game.
Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and two touchdowns. The 15-year veteran, who completed 28 of 43 passes, also became the sixth quarterback in league history to throw at least two touchdown passes in each of his team’s first 10 games to start a season.
It was not one of the cleanest games for Rivers or the Chargers (7-3), though. Rivers threw two interceptions and Los Angeles committed 14 penalties, including 10 in the first half. Mike Badgley, who made three field goals, also missed an extra point that ended up looming large.
Saints 48, Eagles 7: Drew Brees passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns, and the Saints won their ninth straight with a demolition of Philadelphia that was the Eagles’ worst loss by far since they won last season’s Super Bowl, at New Orleans.
Brees completed 22 of 30 passes and did not turn over the ball, giving him 25 TD passes and only one interception this season. Brees’ fourth touchdown seemed to encapsulate New Orleans’ audacious approach to the game. He hit running back Alvin Kamara in stride down the right sideline for a 37 yards on a fourth-and-7 play that gave the Saints (9-1) a 45-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Brees’ other touchdown passes went for 3 yards to Austin Carr, 15 yards to rookie Tre’Quan Smith, and 23 yards to Michael Thomas. Smith finished with 10 catches for 157 yards, while Thomas’ four catches for 92 yards made him the first receiver in Saints history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first three seasons.
Mark Ingram rushed 16 times for 103 yards, including touchdowns of 14 yards and 1 yard. Kamara added 71 yards to help New Orleans finish with 546 total yards and score at least 40 for the sixth time this season.
Carson Wentz was intercepted three times. Time will tell if the lopsided loss marked the beginning of the end of the Eagles’ title defense. Philadelphia (4-6) remained two games behind Washington (6-4) for first place in the NFC East, but more injuries befell its already-depleted lineup.
Colts 38, Titans 10: Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes and Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins both ran for scores. Indy (5-5) has won four straight for the first time since November 2014. Luck remained unbeaten in 10 starts against the Titans, at Indianapolis.
Tennessee (5-5) lost quarterback Marcus Mariota in the final minute of the first half after he reinjured his right elbow. Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees also was taken to a nearby hospital for observation after medical workers were called to the coaches’ box during the first quarter.
The 69-year-old Pees retired briefly after last season.
Luck’s mastery over Tennessee did not change. He shredded the league’s best scoring defense by going 23 of 29 with 297 yards with two TD passes to T.Y. Hilton. Luck has thrown at least one TD pass in a league-high 33 consecutive games and three or more in seven straight.
Adam Vinatieri added another milestone to his growing list by celebrating his 210th career win over a 23-season career with New England and Indy. That’s one more than George Blanda won during a 26-year career that spanned four decades. Earlier this season, Vinatieri, the league’s oldest active player at age 45, also broke Morten Andersen’s career records for field goals and scoring earlier this season.
Ravens 24, Bengals 21: Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson juked and sprinted for 117 yards in his first NFL start, Gus Edwards ran for 115 and the Ravens ended a three-game losing streak, at Baltimore.
Flashing the moves that enabled him to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy at Louisville, Jackson zipped in and out of the pocket for 27 carries. Though the Ravens (5-5) relied heavily on the run, Jackson also completed 13 of 19 passes for 150 yards with an interception.
Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco did not practice all week and was inactive with a right hip injury. That created an opening for Jackson, the 32nd overall pick in the NFL draft.
Before Sunday, the former Louisville star occasionally took snaps in running situations and replaced Flacco in the fourth quarter of two blowouts. Having to carry the load by himself, Jackson responded with a solid performance in a game the Ravens had to win.
Down 21-13 in the second half, Baltimore rallied to hand the sinking Bengals (5-5) their fourth loss in five games.
Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent, scored on an 11-yard run and barreled in for the conversion late in the third quarter. Jackson then directed a 55-yard drive that ended with a field goal by Justin Tucker with 8:12 remaining.
Cincinnati’s Randy Bullock missed a potential tying 52-yard field goal with 3:59 left, and Andy Dalton’s fourth-down pass from the Baltimore 37 with 1:42 to go was knocked away by Marlon Humphrey.
Lions 20, Panthers 19: Cam Newton threw an incomplete pass on a 2-point conversion with 1:07 left, letting the Lions hold on, at Detroit. Newton had time and receiver Jarius Wright open in the end zone, but the star quarterback sailed the pass high. Carolina coach Ron Rivera went for the win after Newton threw his third touchdown pass to DJ Moore, perhaps because usually reliable kicker Graham Gano missed an extra point and a field goal earlier in the game.
The Lions (4-6) recovered an onside kick to seal the victory and end a season-high three-game losing streak. They were in a position to win after Matthew Stafford threw a go-ahead, 19-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay with 5:19 left.
The Panthers (6-4) have lost two straight for the first time this season.
Newton was 25 of 37 for 357 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Moore had seven receptions for 157 yards and a score.
Stafford was 23 of 37 for 220 yards with a touchdown. Golladay had eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Giants 38, Buccaneers 35: Saquon Barkley ran for a career-high 142 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Giants got consecutive games for the first time since December 2016, at East Rutherford, N.J.
Eli Manning also threw two touchdowns and linebacker Alec Ogletree returned one of the Giants’ four interceptions 15 yards for another score in New York’s biggest point output of the season.
The Giants (3-7) never trailed as Manning found a wide-open Barkley on a 6-yard TD pass on the opening series, and the No. 2 overall pick in the draft scored from 5 yards on the second possession to give New York the lead for good.
Odell Beckham Jr. had four catches for 74 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Tampa Bay (3-7) made things interesting after Jameis Winston replaced a turnover-plagued Ryan Fitzpatrick in the third quarter and led four touchdown drives. The last score came on a 41-yard pass to Mike Evans with 2:22 to play and got the Bucs within 38-35.
The Bucs got the ball back at their 20 with 23 seconds to play, but B.W. Webb intercepted Winston’s long throw down the sideline to ice the win and send Tampa Bay (3-7) to its fourth straight loss.
Raiders 23, Cardinals 21: Daniel Carlson kicked a 35-yard field goal as the game ended in a matchup of teams scraping the bottom of the NFL standings, at Glendale, Ariz.
The Raiders (2-8), who had lost five straight, matched the record of the Cardinals.
Derek Carr threw for two touchdowns and had completions of 32 and 20 yards on the final drive that led to Carlson’s winning kick. Carlson also had field goals of 49 and 21 yards in the second half.
Arizona rookie Josh Rosen threw for three touchdowns, two to Larry Fitzgerald, but was intercepted twice. Both picks led to first-half touchdowns for Oakland. David Johnson rushed for a season-best 137 yards, including a 53-yarder that set up Rosen’s 5-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald that gave the Cardinals a 21-20 lead with 5:02 to play.
Later, Johnson had a 57-yard touchdown run called back by a holding penalty and also had a key drop. That possession also featured an unnecessary roughness penalty on tight end Jermaine Gresham that helped force the punt to Oakland.
Bears 25, Vikings 20: Khalil Mack had a sack and fumble recovery, Eddie Jackson returned an interception for a touchdown and Chicago beat Minnesota to tighten its grip on the NFC North, at Chicago.
Mack and Jackson led a dominant effort by the defense. And Chicago (7-3) took a big step toward its first division championship since 2010. The Bears have won a season-high four in a row. And the past two have come against the NFC North after they dropped 10 straight to division opponents.
Chicago simply suffocated the Vikings (5-4-1), dominating in total yards (308-268) and time of possession (34:29-25:31) even though quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had his difficulties.
Trubisky was 20 of 31 for 165 yards and a touchdown, but had two passes intercepted by Anthony Harris.
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