Bad weather brings good vibes for some
Brutally bad weather or bitter cold meant good vibes for lots of NFL players.
The conditions in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh and Denver didn’t set back the Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs, Dolphins and Broncos on Sunday.
Most notable were the performances by Eagles star running back LeSean McCoy and Lions kick returner Jeremy Ross in blizzard-like conditions in Philly. McCoy ran for a franchise-best 217 yards, including touchdowns of 57 and 40 yards in a 34-20 victory over Detroit. The Eagles overcame two TD returns by Ross.
“I’ve actually played all of my football in Pennsylvania,” said McCoy, who hails from Harrisburg and went to Pitt. “And this is the worst game that I’ve ever played in weather-wise. It’s my best game, too.”
Also surviving the elements were the defending champion Ravens, 29-26 over Minnesota, which lost 2012 MVP Adrian Peterson to a foot/ankle injury; Kansas City with a 45-10 rout at Washington; Miami in a 34-28 victory at Pittsburgh; and Denver, where Matt Prater broke the NFL record with a 64-yard field goal in a 51-28 romp past Tennessee that earned the Broncos a playoff berth.
Week 14 began with Jacksonville improving to 4-9 by beating Houston 27-20 Thursday night. The Texans (2-11), losers of their last 11, fired coach Gary Kubiak on Friday.
Monday night’s game has Dallas (7-5) at Chicago (6-6).
EAGLES 34, LIONS 20
At Philadelphia, Ross returned a punt 58 yards for a score and ran a kickoff 98 yards at the Linc. But McCoy sprinted 57 yards up the middle for a tying TD, and Nick Foles connected with Riley Cooper on the 2-point conversion. Foles sneaked in from the 1 and Chris Polk had a 38-yard touchdown run to cap a 28-point fourth quarter for the Eagles (8-5).
“To be honest, it was definitely tough,” McCoy said. “You just didn’t have the normal footing and traction that you get when stopping and cutting. Sometimes I couldn’t really plant. I can usually plant on a dime.
“But it all worked out.”
The Eagles won their fifth straight game and took over sole possession of first place. Dallas can make it a tie for the top spot with a victory at Chicago on Monday night.
Snow began falling two hours before kickoff and intensified after the game started. Workers used shovels and hand-held blowers to clear off yard lines. Conditions were so poor neither team tried a field goal, and there were 2-point conversion attempts after seven of the eight TDs.
The Lions (7-6) have a half-game lead over the Bears in the NFC North.
RAVENS 29, VIKINGS 26
It came after Matt Cassel threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson with 45 seconds remaining. Just before that, Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones took a kickoff 77 yards for a score, which followed a 41-yard touchdown run by Toby Gerhart who had replaced Peterson for Minnesota (3-9-1).
The zaniness began when Flacco threw a 1-yard, fourth-down pass to Dennis Pitta with 2:05 go to for a 15-12 Ravens lead.
Baltimore (7-6) has its first three-game winning streak of the season and the inside track for the second AFC wild card.
“I’ve never seen a game like that before,” Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “Besides the Super Bowl, that’s probably the most special win I’ve been a part of. Crazy game.”
CHIEFS 45, REDSKINS 10
The visiting Chiefs scored on their first four possessions in the snow, sacked Robert Griffin III five times and Kirk Cousins once, and returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. Kansas City (10-3) snapped a three-game slide.
Quintin Demps immediately answered the lone Redskins touchdown with a 95-yard kickoff return that resembled at times a winter stroll, part of a stunning tally of 321 return yards by Kansas City in the first half alone. Dexter McCluster had a 74-yard punt return TD.
Jamaal Charles ran 19 times for 151 yards for Kansas City.
The Redskins (3-10) have lost five straight.
DOLPHINS 34, STEELERS 28
At Pittsburgh, talk about wild endings.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 349 yards and three scores and the Steelers (5-8) nearly pulled off a miracle finish. Antonio Brown raced into the end zone after a series of laterals on the final play, but officials ruled he stepped out of bounds before scoring.
Charles Clay caught two touchdown passes, including a 12-yard strike from Ryan Tannehill with 2:53 remaining. Daniel Thomas ran for 105 yards and a score. Tannehill completed 20 of 33 passes for 201 yards and three scores for the Dolphins (7-6).
BRONCOS 51, TITANS 28
At Denver, Peyton Manning threw four more touchdown passes in 14-degree weather. Prater kicked his record setter to close the first half and pull Denver within 21-20.
Manning opened the third quarter by leading Denver (11-2) on a pair of touchdown drives as the Titans (5-8) were eliminated from playoff contention.
Manning set a franchise record with 39 completions and finished with 397 yards. It was his seventh game this season with at least four touchdown passes, the most such games in a single season in NFL history.
PATRIOTS 27, BROWNS 26
Visiting Cleveland had the Patriots down all game, but folded.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the final 61 seconds and New England recovered an onside kick to set up the win.
The Patriots (10-3) cut the deficit to 26-21 on Brady’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with 1:01 left. Cleveland (4-9) received a 15-yard penalty on the play, then Kyle Arrington recovered the onside kick at the Cleveland 40-yard line.
New England lost tight end Rob Gronkowski to a leg injury in the third quarter.
SAINTS 31, PANTHERS 13
At New Orleans, Drew Brees passed for 313 yards and four touchdowns and the Saints regained sole possession of first place in the NFC South. They snapped the Panthers’ winning streak at eight games.
The Panthers’ defense had not allowed more than two touchdowns in a game this season until the Saints scored three in the second quarter alone, when Brees completed 14 of 16 passes for 159 yards.
The Saints also became the only team this season to score more than 24 points against Carolina (9-4), which entered the game No. 1 in scoring defense, allowing 13.1 points per game.
BENGALS 42, COLTS 28
At Cincinnati, the Colts (8-5) backed into the AFC South crown when the Titans fell.
Andy Dalton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Bengals remained perfect at home and in control of the AFC North. The Bengals (9-4) improved to 6-0 at Paul Brown Stadium on a cold, windy day: 28 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of 19 and light flurries.
49ERS 19, SEAHAWKS 17
At San Francisco, Phil Dawson kicked a 22-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining, denying Seattle (11-2) a chance to clinch the NFC West.
Frank Gore broke a 51-yard gain with just more than four minutes left to set up the go-ahead 11-play, 76-yard drive as the 49ers (9-4) improved their playoff chances.
Dawson’s fourth field goal of the day gave him 20 straight converted field goals, a franchise record topping Joe Nedney’s 18 consecutive in 2006-07.
The 49ers are unbeaten at home against the West since losing to the Seahawks on Oct. 26, 2008.
CARDINALS 30, RAMS 10
Palmer, questionable for the game with a sore right elbow, threw for 269 yards and a touchdown as the Cardinals (8-5) won for the fifth time in six games.
The Cardinals lost rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu in the third quarter with a left knee injury.
PACKERS 22, FALCONS 21
At Green Bay, Wis., Matt Flynn threw for 258 yards and the Packers (6-6-1) snapped a five-game winless string.
The score completed a comeback from an 11-point halftime deficit and whipped the fans swathed in parkas and knit caps into a frigid frenzy. It was 9 degrees when the game started, with a wind chill of minus-1.
Matt Bryant missed a 52-yard field goal with 6:42 left for Atlanta (3-10).
JETS 37, RAIDERS 27
Geno Smith threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score as the host Jets (6-7) set a season high for points and stopped a three-game skid.
Chris Ivory had a touchdown run, Nick Folk kicked three field goals and Antonio Allen blocked a punt and returned it for a score. Smith ended a miserable stretch that included getting benched last week by completing his first touchdown toss since Week 7.
The Jets also prevented the first four-game losing streak under coach Rex Ryan.
CHARGERS 37, GIANTS 14
At San Diego, Philip Rivers found rookie Keenan Allen for two of his three touchdown passes, and the Chargers (6-7) kept alive their long-shot playoff hopes. Allen had three catches to push his season total to 61, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s team rookie record of 59 in 2001.
Manning dropped to 0-3 against San Diego since 2004, when the Chargers took him with the No. 1 overall draft pick and then sent him to the Giants for Rivers and a handful of draft picks. The Giants (5-8) were knocked out of playoff contention. Manning was picked off twice.
BUCCANEERS 27, BILLS 6
At Tampa, Mike Glennon threw two touchdown passes and Bobby Rainey scored on an 80-yard run on the second play of the day. The Bucs (4-9) intercepted EJ Manuel four times en route to their fourth win in five games following an 0-8 start.
Manuel, Buffalo’s first-round draft pick out of Florida State, was sacked seven times and doubled his interception total for the season.
The Bills (4-9) have lost five of six, are assured of finishing without a winning record for the ninth straight year, and also are likely to extend the NFL’s longest current playoff drought to 14 consecutive seasons.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org