NFL roundup: Dolphins foil comeback, beat Patriots
San Francisco’s Kendall Hunter dives into the end zone to score after picking up a fumble by Tampa Bay’s Russell Shepard during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Tom Brady’s latest comeback bid came up short, and the Miami Dolphins helped their playoff chances with a 24-20 breakthrough victory Sunday over the AFC East-leading New England Patriots.
A fourth-down pass from Brady was intercepted by reserve safety Michael Thomas, in his first NFL game, in the end zone with 2 seconds left, and Miami held on to win.
The Patriots had mounted second-half rallies to win their past three games, and Brady moved them from their own 20 with 1:15 remaining to the Miami 14. But he threw three consecutive incompletions before Thomas sealed the third consecutive victory for the Dolphins (8-6), who improved to 5-2 since tackle Jonathan Martin left the team in a bullying scandal.
Miami snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses against the Patriots (10-4). Ryan Tannehill threw for 312 yards and three touchdown passes, including a 14-yarder to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 left that provided the winning margin.
Brady went 34 for 55 for 364 yards and two scores. Julian Edelman made 13 catches for 139 yards, and Danny Amendola added 10 receptions for 131 yards.
Kansas City 56, Oakland 31: Jamaal Charles tied a franchise record with five touchdowns in a game and gained 215 yards from scrimmage as the Chiefs beat the Raiders and clinched at least a wild-card spot.
Alex Smith threw five TD passes, going 17 for 20 for 287 yards to make the Chiefs the fourth team ever to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 14 games. Kansas City (11-3) is tied for first place in the AFC West with Denver but needs help to win the division because the Broncos swept the season series.
Matt McGloin threw four interceptions and lost a fumble while sharing time with Terrelle Pryor as Oakland (4-10) allowed the most points in franchise history and lost its fourth straight game. The Raiders had seven turnovers overall.
Green Bay 37, Dallas 36: Matt Flynn threw four touchdown passes in the second half, Eddie Lacy had the winning score on a 1-yard plunge after an interception by Tony Romo gave them another chance, and Green Bay rallied from 23 points down at halftime to beat Dallas.
Romo tossed two interceptions in the final three minutes, the first one giving Green Bay a chance for the go-ahead score with the Cowboys in position to run out the clock with a 36-31 lead. Lacy scored with just over 1 1-2 minutes left.
The Packers (7-6-1) kept their playoff hopes alive with Aaron Rodgers possibly returning next week. The Cowboys (7-7) blew a chance to pull even with Philadelphia in the NFC East, remaining a game behind with two to play.
Minnesota 48, Philadelphia 30: Matt Cassel passed for 382 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the injury-depleted Vikings over Philadelphia, snapping the Eagles’ five-game winning streak.
With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart out, Matt Asiata rushed for the first three touchdowns of his career and Greg Jennings caught a career-high 11 passes for 163 yards for the Vikings (4-9-1). Asiata ran for 51 yards on 30 carries.
Nick Foles threw for 428 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and DeSean Jackson had 10 catches for 195 yards and a score for the
Atlanta 27, Washington 26: Desmond Trufant deflected Kirk Cousins’ pass on a potential winning 2-point conversion with 18 seconds remaining, and the Atlanta Falcons edged the Washington Redskins.
The Falcons (4-10) scored 20 points off seven Washington turnovers. The Redskins (3-11) tied a team record with five lost fumbles.
Cousins passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but had three turnovers in his first start of the season after coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench Robert Griffin III. Griffin watched from the sideline. Cousins’ touchdown pass to Santana Moss gave Washington a chance to force overtime by kicking the extra point. Instead, Cousins’ attempted go-ahead 2-point pass for Pierre Garcon was deflected by Trufant.
San Francisco 33, Tampa Bay 14: Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass for the fifth straight game and Michael Crabtree scored his first TD since returning from injury to help the San Francisco 49ers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The victory was the fourth straight for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers (10-4), who pulled away for good with a 10-minute, fourth-quarter drive that produced a field goal. Kendall Hunter put it well out of reach, scooping up a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and diving 2 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
Tampa Bay got within 20-14 on Mike Glennon’s TD pass to Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Bucs (4-10) didn’t get the ball back until after Kaepernick used 17 plays to march the 49ers 77 yards into position for Phil Dawson to kick one of his four field goals, extending his franchise-record streak of consecutive successful attempts to 24.
Seattle 23, N.Y. Giants 0: Richard Sherman had two interceptions, Marshawn Lynch scored on a twisting, triple-effort 2-yard run, and Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals as Seattle manhandled the New York Giants for its sixth road win.
Russell Wilson toyed with New York’s defense, running for 50 yards and throwing for 206 and a touchdown before sitting out the last few minutes. Wilson has 23 wins, the most for a quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era.
The Seahawks (12-2) are closing in on the NFC West title and their best overall record; they went 13-3 in 2005 before losing to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.
Eli Manning was intercepted a career-worst five times.
Chicago 38, Cleveland 31: Jay Cutler shook off some early rustiness and threw three touchdown passes in his first start since Nov. 10, leading Chicago past Cleveland.
Cutler, who missed Chicago’s previous four games with a sprained left ankle, threw a 4-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett with 5:41 left as Bears (8-6) rallied in the second half and stayed in contention for an NFC playoff spot. Cutler finished 22 of 31 for 265 yards and validated coach Marc Trestman’s decision to stick with him over backup Josh McCown, who had played well while filling in for Chicago’s starter.
Michael Bush’s 40-yard TD run with 2:17 left sealed it for the Bears, who completed a four-game sweep of the AFC North and won their first road game since Nov. 4, when McCown led them to a win over Green Bay.
Indianapolis 25, Houston 3: Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, and Robert Mathis broke Indianapolis’ single-season and career sacks records by forcing a second-half safety to lead the Colts past Houston.
Luck finished 19 of 32 for 180 yards with one interception and needed only two quarters to put up 20 points, four short of Indy’s combined first-half point total from the previous six games. But the Colts (9-5) did it against a team that has lost 12 straight overall and is 0-12 all-time in Indy.
Buffalo 27, Jacksonville 20: EJ Manuel threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the Buffalo Bills to a victory against the banged-up Jacksonville Jaguars.
Manuel didn’t do anything spectacular, just dinking and dunking the Jaguars for 193 yards. He also ran for 37 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Manuel completed 17 of 24 passes.
Carolina 30, N.Y. Jets 20: Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a touchdown, Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and returned an interception for a score and the Panthers bounced back from their most lopsided loss of the season.
Carolina’s defense, which surrendered 313 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-13 loss to New Orleans, came up big limiting rookie quarterback Geno Smith to 167 yards passing, while sacking him four times.
St. Louis 27, New Orleans 16: Drew Brees threw interceptions that led to touchdowns on New Orleans’ first two possessions St. Louis got big days from Zac Stacy, Robert Quinn and on special teams in the victory.
Quinn had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, and his quarterback hit on the Saints’ first snap of the game altered the flight of the ball on T.J. McDonald’s interception. The Saints (10-4) missed their first chance to clinch a playoff berth, trailing 24-3 at the half, but made it look respectable with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Arizona 37, Tennessee 34, OT: Jay Feely kicked a 41-yard field goal in overtime, and the Arizona Cardinals edged the Tennessee Titans in overtime after blowing a 17-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Cardinals (9-5) won their sixth in seven games. With San Francisco and Carolina winning, they remained a game back of both for a NFC wild-card berth.
The Titans scored 17 points in the final 3:12 of regulation to force overtime with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing two of his four TD passes to Michael Preston.