Patriots stun Broncos with big rally, win in OT
This latest version of Brady vs. Manning was a rout.
And then it wasn't, stretching deep into overtime before New England's biggest winning rally in franchise history gave it a 34-31 victory over Denver.
In a game of turnovers in frigid and windy conditions Sunday night, Tom Brady brought the Patriots back from a 24-0 halftime hole created mostly by three lost fumbles. But Peyton Manning and Denver got sloppy in the second half, then Tony Carter had a punt hit him late in OT. New England (8-3) recovered, leading to Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to win it with 1:56 remaining.
"We had some of those plays in the first half that didn't really go our way," said Brady, who is 10-4 against Manning. "It was nice to get a good bounce when we needed it.
"It was not our best night, glad we won."
The bitter defeat for the visiting Broncos (9-2) ruined a superb night for running back Knowshon Moreno. He rushed for 224 yards on 37 carries and a touchdown.
"Hated the way that ended, not getting a chance to get our hands on the ball," Manning said.
Week 12 began when New Orleans (9-2) beat Atlanta (2-9) 17-13 on Thursday night. The Monday night game has San Francisco (6-4) at Washington (3-7).
Idle this week are Seattle (10-1), Cincinnati (7-4), Philadelphia (6-5) and Buffalo (4-7).
PATRIOTS 34, BRONCOS 31
Brady outdueled Manning, throwing for 344 yards and three TDs, completing 34 of 50 passes. Manning was 19 for 36 for 150 yards with two TD passes.
Denver took its big lead as Von Miller returned a fumble 60 yards, and two more fumbles led to Moreno's TD and Matt Prater's 27-yard field goal. Manning connected with Jacob Tamme for a 10-yard TD in the second quarter.
"We calmed down and played each play one play at a time, we didn't turn the ball over in the second half," Edelman said. "We had a lot of turnovers (early), including putting the ball on the ground, myself included.
"We have done this a few times, played the situations, had guys step up."
CHARGERS 41, CHIEFS 38
At Kansas City, Philip Rivers threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns, the winner a 26-yarder to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds remaining to end a three-game slide. Kansas City (9-2) won its first nine games, but has lost two in a row. It remained tied with Denver atop the AFC West.
The Chiefs had taken the lead when Alex Smith hit Dwayne Bowe for a go-ahead score with 1:22 left. But the Chargers (5-6) still had two timeouts, and they used both as they quickly moved downfield. Ajirotutu's TD in tight coverage was just his third catch of the season.
It also represented the eighth and final lead change in the game.
"It's one of those you'll never forget, that's for sure," said Rivers, who toyed with a defense that had been among the NFL's best, but was missing injured pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston for much of the game.
"It's kind of what our season's been about. Can you drive and score at the end?"
San Diego could.
Jamaal Charles added 115 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Chiefs, who had their highest best point total of the season.
PACKERS 26, VIKINGS 26
At Green Bay, backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw for 218 yards to help the Packers storm back from a 16-point deficit, but Minnesota (2-8-1) and Green Bay (5-5-1) could only muster field goals in overtime.
One last chance for the Vikings went nowhere with 1 second left, and the teams walked off with the first tie in the NFL since the Rams and 49ers ended 24-24 on Nov. 11, 2012. It was the first game under the tiebreaking rules instituted in 2012 that ended in a tie after both teams kicked field goals to begin the extra period. It was the second time a game had each team make field goals to open overtime; Houston won the other last November over Jacksonville.
"It's an empty feeling. You go out there and didn't lose the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "But you feel like you didn't accomplish what you set out to do."
BUCCANEERS 24, LIONS 21
At Detroit, Matthew Stafford's fourth interception went in and out of Calvin Johnson's hands to rookie Johnthan Banks inside the Tampa Bay 5 in the final minute, allowing the Buccaneers to hold on. Tampa Bay (3-8) has won three straight after losing its first eight, joining the 1978 St. Louis Cardinals as the only team to do that.
The Lions (6-5) have lost two straight for the first time this season. They can blame five turnovers for throwing away a chance to improve their playoff position because no one in the NFC North won Sunday. They are tied with Chicago atop the division.
Johnson had seven receptions for 115 yards, but he and the Lions didn't take advantage of the Bucs playing the second half without cornerback Darrelle Revis (groin).
RAMS 42, BEARS 21
At St. Louis, Tavon Austin's 65-yard touchdown run -- his fourth straight this season from beyond midfield -- jump-started a 21-point first quarter. The Rams (5-6) followed a 30-point rout of Indianapolis in front of their largest crowd of the season, about half of them clad Bears orange, with another big win. Late scores by rookie backup running back Benny Cunningham and defensive end Robert Quinn helped finish off the Bears (6-5), who remained tied for the NFC North lead with Detroit.
Josh McCown passed for 352 yards and two touchdowns with an interception for Chicago, which had won four straight in the series.
The Long brothers -- Chicago guard Kyle and St. Louis defensive end Chris -- lined up close to each other all day and were the focal point of one skirmish in the first half. After McCown threw an incomplete pass to fullback Tony Fiammetta in the second half, Fiammetta and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson squared off, causing players from both teams to rumble.
Kyle Long raced down the field get to Rams end William Hayes, and had him down before his big brother intervened. Chris Long, who had taken the play off, raced off the sideline to corral Kyle Long and drag him from the fight to the sideline.
PANTHERS 20, DOLPHINS 16
At Miami, the Panthers won their seventh in a row, with two consecutive late drives led by Cam Newton.
The Panthers quarterback converted a fourth-and-10 at his 20 with a completion to keep alive the winning drive, and Carolina scored a touchdown with 43 seconds left. Newton hit Greg Olsen with a 1-yard pass to cap a 12-play drive.
Carolina also rallied past the New England Patriots with a late drive last Monday night.
"We didn't play our best early on," Newton said. "We couldn't get it going. But we just find ways to win."
The Panthers (8-3) overcame a 16-3 first-half deficit to extend their longest winning streak since 2003. Miami (5-6) fell to 2-2 since tackle Jonathan Martin left the team and the Dolphins' bullying scandal began to mushroom.
COWBOYS 24, GIANTS 21
Tony Romo came through with clutch plays to lift the visiting Cowboys (6-5) into the NFC East lead, tied with Philadelphia. Romo threw for two touchdowns and led a drive that set up Dan Bailey' 35-yard field goal on the final play. Dallas ended the Giants' four-game winning streak and most of their playoff hopes.
Romo hit two crucial third-down passes on the 14-play drive that covered the final 4:45 after New York (4-7) tied the game on a 4-yard pass from Eli Manning to Louis Murphy Jr. and a 2-point conversion run by Andre Brown.
CARDINALS 40, COLTS 11
Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald, Karlos Dansby returned an interception 22 yards for a score and the Host Cardinals (7-4) won their fourth in a row to strengthen their wild-card playoff chances.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians beat the team that propelled him to coaching prominence last season, when he took over as Colts interim coach while Chuck Pagano fought leukemia. Arians was the NFL's Coach of the Year for 2012.
"The emotions of this game were gone way before kickoff," Arians said. "I saw a lot of friends, a lot of dear guys on that team. But once the whistle blows, it's just you and your brother in the backyard."
Fitzgerald caught five passes for 52 yards, becoming the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 yards receiving. Arizona's Michael Floyd had his second straight 100-yard receiving day with seven catches for 104 yards.
Andrew Luck threw for 163 yards, but had only 84 through three quarters as the Colts (7-4) fell behind 34-3.
RAVENS 19, JETS 3
The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens (5-6) had lost four of five before bouncing back to beat New York (5-6) and keep their playoff hopes alive. Baltimore won on the strength of its defense as the Jets committed three turnovers and went 1 for 12 on third-down conversions. Rookie Geno Smith completed nine of 22 passes for 127 yards and two interceptions, both by Corey Graham.
STEELERS 27, BROWNS 11
At Cleveland, the Steelers (5-6) continued their climb back into AFC wild-card contention as Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes. Roethlisberger connected on a 41-yard TD pass to Antonio Brown and hit Emmanuel Sanders on a 4-yarder for the Steelers, who have turned their season around following an 0-4 start.
Roethlisberger finished 22 of 34 for 217 yards and improved to 16-1 against the Browns (4-7), who have lost five of six.
Browns quarterback Jason Campbell sustained a concussion in the third quarter when he was sacked by cornerback William Gay. Campbell was struck in the helmet by Gay and his head snapped back and banged the turf.
Gay later picked off Brandon Weeden and returned it 21 yards for a TD.
TITANS 23, RAIDERS 19
Fitzpatrick also threw a 54-yard TD pass to Justin Hunter and Rob Bironas added three field goals for Tennessee (5-6), which is in a six-way tie for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC with five weeks left in the regular season.
The Raiders (4-7) missed a chance to get into that group as Sebastian Janikowski missed two field goals.
JAGUARS 13, TEXANS 6
At Houston, Maurice Jones-Drew ran for a season-high 84 yards and a touchdown and the Jaguars extended the Texans' losing streak to a franchise-record nine games. The two-time AFC South champions haven't won since Sept. 15.
Jones-Drew's touchdown on Jacksonville's first drive put the Jaguars (2-9) on top, and they never trailed against an inept Texans offense.
Josh Scobee kicked field goals of 30 and 53 yards to help the Jaguars win for the second time in three games.
Case Keenum had the worst performance in his five starts, throwing for just 169 yards with an interception for Houston (2-9).
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