NFL Today, Week 16
Sunday, Dec. 25
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m. EST. Joe Flacco and the Ravens are 6-1 in their last seven meetings with the Steelers, including a playoff win at Heinz Field in 2014. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers (9-5) can lock up the AFC North and a third straight playoff berth with a win. Baltimore (8-6) needs to top Pittsburgh, then win in Cincinnati on New Year's Day to return to the postseason after missing out in 2015.
Denver at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. EST. The best chance the Broncos (8-6) have of making the playoffs and defending their Super Bowl title is to beat Kansas City and Oakland in the final two weeks. If they split and finish 9-7, their chances of earning a wild card become slim, and would require help from a whole bunch of other teams. The Chiefs (10-4) look to keep pace with Oakland (12-3) in the AFC West.
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers, threw for 347 yards and four scores and ran for another TD to lead Green Bay to its fifth straight victory, 38-25 over Minnesota.
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks, had 350 yards passing and four touchdowns in Seattle's 34-31 loss to Arizona.
- Tom Brady, Patriots, passed for 214 yards and three TDs in New England's 41-3 rout of the New York Jets.
- Blake Bortles, Jaguars, threw for 325 yards and a touchdown, and was on the receiving end of a 20-yard trick play for a TD that sealed the win to help Jacksonville beat Tennessee 38-17 and end a nine-game losing streak.
- Kirk Cousins, Redskins, threw for a touchdown and ran for two more to help give Washington's fading playoff hopes a boost with a 41-21 victory at Chicago.
- Sam Bradford, Vikings, threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns in a losing cause as Minnesota fell to Green Bay 38-25.
- Tyrod Taylor, Bills, went 23 of 39 for a career-high 329 yards and three touchdowns, also ran for 60 yards in Buffalo's 34-31 loss to Miami.
- Jay Ajayi, Dolphins, ran for 206 yards and broke loose for a 57-yarder in overtime to set up Andrew Franks' 27-yard field goal with 47 seconds left to lead Miami past Buffalo 34-31.
- David Johnson, Cardinals, had 95 yards rushing and three short TD runs, added 41 yards receiving in Arizona's 34-31 victory at Seattle.
- LeSean McCoy, Bills, had 128 yards rushing and a TD in Buffalo's 34-31 loss to Miami.
- DeAndre Washington, Raiders, rushed for 99 yards and a pair of scores on just 12 carries in Oakland's 33-25 win over Indianapolis.
- Jordan Howard, Bears, ran for 119 yards on 18 carries in Chicago's 41-21 loss to Washington.
- LeGarrette Blount, Patriots, had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in New England's 41-3 win over the New York Jets.
- Isaiah Crowell, Browns, had two touchdown runs to help lift Cleveland to its first win of the season, 20-17 over San Diego.
- Mark Ingram, Saints, rushed for two touchdowns and a game-sealing first down in the final minutes in New Orleans' 31-24 win over Tampa Bay.
- Adam Thielen, Vikings, had a career-high 202 yards receiving and two scores on 12 catches in Minnesota's 38-25 loss at Green Bay.
- Jordy Nelson, Packers, had 154 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions in Green Bay's 38-25 victory over Minnesota.
- Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, caught 13 passes for 154 yards and a TD in Seattle's 34-31 loss to Arizona.
- Sammy Watkins, Bills, had 154 yards receiving and a touchdown on seven catches in Buffalo's 34-31 loss to Miami.
- Cameron Meredith, Bears, caught nine passes for 135 yards and a score in Chicago's 41-21 loss to Washington.
- Allen Robinson, Jaguars, had nine catches for 147 yards in Jacksonville's 38-17 win over Tennessee.
- Andrew Franks, Dolphins, kicked a 27-yard field goal with 47 seconds left in OT after hitting a career-best 55-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining to lead Miami to a 34-31 win over Buffalo.
- Chandler Catanzaro, Cardinals, made a 43-yard field goal on the final play to lift Arizona past Seattle 34-31.
- Jamie Meder, Browns, blocked Josh Lambo's 32-yard field-goal attempt with 3:45 left to preserve Cleveland's three-point lead in the team's first victory of the season, 20-17 over San Diego.
- Matt Bryant, Falcons, booted four field goals in Atlanta's 33-16 win at Carolina.
- Hassan Ridgeway, Colts, blocked one of Sebastian Janikowski's extra-point attempts in Indianapolis' 33-25 loss at Oakland.
- Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars, returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown in Jacksonville's 38-17 win over Tennessee.
- Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, Redskins. Each had two interceptions in Washington's 41-21 rout of Chicago.
- Eric Kendricks, Vikings, had 11 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in Minnesota's 38-25 loss at Green Bay.
- Malcolm Butler, Patriots, had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in New England's 41-3 victory over the New York Jets.
STREAKS & STATS
With a 34-31 loss to Miami, Buffalo (7-8) was eliminated from postseason contention and extended the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 17 seasons. Buffalo's streak is tied for the fifth longest in NFL history, and the longest since New Orleans went 20 years before qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 1987. ... Arizona's David Johnson extended his streak of at least 100 yards from scrimmage to 15 games, the longest to start a season. Johnson, who finished with 95 yards rushing and 41 yards receiving in a 34-31 win at Seattle, also set the single-season franchise mark with 20 TDs. ... Los Angeles' Jared Goff, this year's No. 1 overall draft pick, has lost all six of his starts for the Rams. ... San Francisco ended a 13-game losing streak with a 22-21 win at Los Angeles, the 49ers' first victory since beating the Rams 28-0 in the season opener.
With a 41-3 rout of the New York Jets, Bill Belichick earned his 200th victory in New England, making him the fifth coach in NFL history to reach the milestone with one team. He joined George Halas (318 with Bears), Don Shula (257 with Dolphins), Tom Landry (250 with Cowboys) and Curly Lambeau (209 with Green Bay). Belichick is 200-71 with the Patriots, and also 36-44 with Cleveland. ... The Patriots (13-2) tied Denver for the second-most 13-win seasons in NFL history with six. Only San Francisco (nine) has more. ... Atlanta's Matt Ryan broke his franchise record with his 33rd TD pass of the season when he fired a dart to Joshua Perkins between double coverage for a 26-yard first-quarter score in a 33-16 win at Carolina. ... The Panthers' Greg Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. ... Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson set a Packers record with the 58th touchdown for the duo, breaking a tie with the Brett Favre-Antonio Freeman combination.
WINLESS NO MORE
Two losses from an imperfect season, Cleveland survived a last-second field-goal attempt and got its first victory after 14 losses by beating the San Diego Chargers 20-17 on Saturday. When San Diego's Josh Lambo missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt as time expired, the Browns (1-14) had their first win in 377 days. Cleveland's small crowd erupted in celebration, Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam cheered from their suite, and Browns players poured off their sideline as if they had just won the Super Bowl. Several players dropped to the turf in disbelief and relief. The Browns avoided becoming the second team to go 0-15, and no longer have to worry about joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to lose all 16 games.
Jay Ajayi ran for 206 yards and broke loose for a 57-yarder in overtime to set up Andrew Franks' 27-yard field goal with 47 seconds left to lead the Miami Dolphins to a 34-31 win over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. Ajayi is the fourth player in NFL history to have at least three games with at least 200 rushing yards in a season. Earl Campbell, O.J. Simpson, Tiki Barber are the others. Two of Ajayi's 200-yard games have come against Buffalo. He had a career-best 214 yards rushing and a score in the Dolphins' 28-25 win over Buffalo at Miami on Oct. 23.
The three NFL teams with the worst records in the NFL all won Saturday. Cleveland (1-14) earned its first victory of the season, beating San Diego 20-17 and avoiding joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history. San Francisco (2-13) topped Los Angeles 22-21 to stop a 13-game skid. Jacksonville (3-12) stunned Tennessee 38-17 in a game in which the Titans lost quarterback Marcus Mariota for the season with a broken leg.
SPREADING IT AROUND
Atlanta's Matt Ryan set the NFL single-season record by completing TD passes to 13 receivers, including tosses to backup tight ends Joshua Perkins and D.J. Tialavea in the Falcons' 33-16 win at Carolina on Saturday. Ryan's TD pass distribution this season: Taylor Gabriel (6 TD receptions), Julio Jones (5), Mohamed Sanu (3), Jacob Tamme (3), Austin Hooper (3), Justin Hardy (3), Devonta Freeman (2), Tevin Coleman (2), Aldrick Robinson (2), Levin Toilolo (2), Patrick DiMarco (1), Perkins (1) and Tialavea (1).
BEEN A WHILE
The Los Angeles Rams have their first 1,000-yard receiver in nearly a decade. Kenny Britt caught an early pass from Jared Goff in Los Angeles' 22-21 loss to San Francisco to top 1,000 yards. The Rams franchise once had the Greatest Show on Turf, but hadn't produced a 1,000-yard receiver since Torry Holt in 2007.
New York Jets coach Todd Bowles arrived in New England a day later than planned, saying gallstones and kidney stones kept him from taking the team flight. But, the Patriots took advantage of four New York turnovers to stomp the Jets 41-3 on Saturday and send them to their sixth loss in seven games. Bowles was on the sideline, having flown up the morning of the game after spending time in the hospital. Bowles, 53, told reporters after the game the problem was ''kidney stones, gall stones, gall bladder'' and that he wasn't certain he would be able to make the game at all.
Blake Bortles threw for 325 yards and a touchdown, and also was on the receiving end of a 20-yard trick play from receiver Marqise Lee with 5:25 remaining in Jacksonville's 38-17 victory over Tennessee on Saturday. Lee's first pass of his football career - from Pop Warner all the way up to the NFL - went for a touchdown. Lee got the ball on an end-around, pulled up and then found Bortles wide open down the left sideline to put the Jaguars up 31-17. ''That was my first game-time throw, game-time play,'' Lee said. ''I'm not a quarterback.''
According to the NFL, Bortles and Lee became the first quarterback-receiver combination to throw TD passes to each other in same game since Week 4 of the 1985 season. Chicago's Jim McMahon and Walter Payton were the last to accomplish the feat.
Oakland's Derek Carr broke a bone in his right leg in the fourth quarter of the Raiders' 33-25 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, immediately throwing a dark cloud over a resurgent season in Oakland. Carr got hurt with Oakland leading 33-14 early in the fourth quarter when he was sacked by Trent Cole. With the crowd chanting ''M-V-P! M-V-P!'' Carr limped off the field without putting any pressure on his right leg. He was then taken away on a cart for X-rays which showed the break. Carr will have surgery on Sunday. ... Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota broke his right leg in a 38-17 loss to Jacksonville. He was hurt when sacked late in the third quarter by rookie Sheldon Day with the Titans quarterback scrambling to throw on first down. Day grabbed Mariota around the ankles, and the quarterback stayed down, immediately signaling to the sideline. He will undergo surgery this week. ... Cleveland's Robert Griffin III left the Browns' first victory of the season with a concussion. ... The New York Jets' Bryce Petty dislocated his left shoulder in a 41-3 loss at New England. ... Jacksonville had both running backs T.J. Yeldon (ankle) and Chris Ivory (hamstring) leave with injuries. ... Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett was carted off the field with a serious right leg injury in the second quarter of the Seahawks' 34-31 loss to Arizona.
''I was looking around for people to hug. There were a few tears in my eyes. I was really happy. There was a genuine feeling of joy. The Christmas spirit was amongst us, for sure.'' - Cleveland's Joe Thomas after the Browns won their first game of the season, 20-17 over San Diego.
''They smelled a little bit like booze, which is great for our fans, and they were holding pretty tight, but you love it, man. You love that feeling.'' - Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers on his Lambeau Leap after his touchdown run in the Packers' 38-25 win over Minnesota.
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