Monday, Dec. 28
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, 8:15 p.m., ESPN — Josh Allen and the AFC East champion Bills (11-3) are playing for their playoff seeding — they could finish as high as No. 2 in the conference — and a chance to become the first division foe to sweep the Patriots (6-8) in a season since the Jets and Dolphins did it in 2000. New England's 19 straight seasons without losing both games to a divisional opponent is an NFL record. The Bills last swept the Patriots in 1999.
— Andy Dalton, Cowboys, went 22 of 30 for 377 yards and three touchdowns in Dallas' 37-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Jalen Hurts, Eagles, threw for 342 yards and a touchdown. He was also the Eagles’ leading rusher with 69 yards.
— Brandon Allen, Bengals, completed 29 of 37 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati's 37-31 victory over Houston. Deshaun Watson, Texans, threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns.
— Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, went 34 of 49 for 342 yards and three touchdowns as Pittsburgh rallied to clinch the AFC North by beating Indianapolis 28-24.
— Matt Ryan, Falcons, threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta's 17-14 loss to Kansas City.
— David Johnson, Texans, rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in Houston's 37-31 loss to Cincinnati. — Samaje Perine, Bengals, had 13 carries for a season-high 95 yards and two touchdowns.
— Ezekiel Elliott finished with 105 yards on 19 carries in the Cowboys' win over the Eagles, a week after his lingering calf issue caused him to miss a game because of injury for the first time in his five-year Dallas career.
— David Montgomery, Bears, had 23 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown in Chicago's 41-17 win over Jacksonville.
— Brandin Cooks, Texans, had seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in Houston's 37-31 loss to Cincinnati. Tee Higgins, Bengals, had six receptions for 99 yards and a score.
— — Travis Kelce, Chiefs, caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first tight end in NFL history with multiple 100-catch seasons, in Kansas City’s win over Atlanta. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, had five receptions for 130 yards.
— Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper, Cowboys, each had 121 yards receiving in Dallas' 37-17 win over Philadelphia. Gallup had six receptions, including a touchdown, and Cooper had four catches.
— Curtis Samuel, Panthers, caught five passes for 106 yards and was the Panthers’ leading rusher with 52 yards on seven carries in Carolina's 20-13 win over Washington.
— Allen Robinson, Bears, caught 10 passes for 103 yards in Chicago's 41-17 win over Jacksonville, his former team.
— JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers, had nine receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh's 28-24 win over Indianapolis.
— Jamison Crowder, Jets, had seven receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown and threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Braxton Berrios on a trick play in New York's 23-16 win over Cleveland.
— Brandon Zylstra, Panthers, recovered a muffed punt by Washington's Steven Sims for a touchdown in Carolina's 20-13 win.
— Michael Badgley, Chargers, tied a career high with four field goals, including the winning kick from 37 yards with 41 seconds remaining, as Los Angeles beat Denver 19-16.
— T.J. Watt, Steelers, had two sacks, including a strip-sack of Philip Rivers that set up a touchdown, in Pittsburgh's 28-24 win over Indianapolis. Watt has 15 sacks this season.
— Roquan Smith, Bears, had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in Chicago's 41-17 win over Jacksonville.
— Chris Board, Ravens, had a career-best two sacks in Baltimore's 27-13 win over the New York Giants. The Ravens sacked Daniel Jones six times overall.
— Chase Young, Washington, had a strip-sack of Carolina's Teddy Bridgewater and recovered the ball in the 21-year-old's first game since being made a captain.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) clinched the AFC North by rallying to beat the Indianapolis Colts 28-24, leaving Indy (10-5) needing help to reach the playoffs. ... The Kansas City Chiefs (14-1) clinched the AFC's top seed, escaping with a 17-14 win over Atlanta. ... The Seattle Seahawks (11-4) claimed the NFC West title with a 20-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams (9-6). It was Seattle's first division title since 2016 and its fifth since Pete Carroll arrived in 2010.
The Jets’ Frank Gore became the third player in NFL history to run for 16,000 yards. The 37-year-old Gore joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton to reach the milestone, doing so with a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter of New York's win over Cleveland. ... The Chargers' Justin Herbert threw his 28th touchdown pass, breaking the rookie record of 27 set by Baker Mayfield in 2018. ... DeSean Jackson's 81-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against Dallas was the Eagles receiver's fifth career TD catch of 80 yards or more, tied for most in NFL history. ... Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts had 342 yards passing and 69 yards rushing, joining Michael Vick as the only QBs with consecutive games of 300 yards passing and 50 yards rushing, and joining Lamar Jackson as the only QBs in the past 70 years with at least 50 yards rushing in each of their first three starts.
STREAKS & STATS
The Jacksonville Jaguars set a franchise record by losing their 14th consecutive game and locked up the top pick in the draft for the first time in franchise history. ... Chicago scored 30 or more points for the fourth consecutive week, the first time the Bears have accomplished the feat since 1965. ... The Chiefs won their franchise-best 10th straight game. ... The Steelers have a league-leading 52 sacks and topped 50 sacks for the fourth straight season, the first team to do that since the Lawrence Taylor-led New York Giants from 1985-88. ... The Ravens rushed for at least 100 yards for the 38th straight game, tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history with the Detroit Lions (1935-39). The best is Pittsburgh's run of 43 games from 1974-77.
JUBILATION IN JERRYWORLD
Behind a resurgent Andy Dalton, the Dallas Cowboys (6-9) have won three straight to move from the cellar to a first-place tie in the woeful NFC East. Dallas still needs help to win the division. The Cowboys must beat the New York Giants on the road next week and have Washington (6-9) lose at Philadelphia. Dallas also had more fans watch its home games than any other team in this pandemic-altered season, largely because of looser COVID-19 restrictions in Texas. The Cowboys' average attendance was 27,378, which is about 34% capacity at 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium.
WE'RE NO. 1!
Rarely has a loss been such cause for celebration as it was for Jacksonville, which dropped its 14th straight game and wrapped up the top pick in April's draft for the first time in franchise history. That gives the Jaguars a chance to draft Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, who's been considered a potential franchise-changing QB throughout his three-year collegiate career. The Jaguars, who have started Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton at QB this year, have an obvious need at the position.
BACK TO THE BENCH
With a chance to wrap up the NFC East, Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins was awful and was benched in the fourth quarter of his team's loss to Carolina. Washington is 0-2 since starter Alex Smith suffered a calf injury, and Sunday's loss followed a week in which Haskins was fined $40,000 and stripped of his captaincy for partying without a mask. Journeyman Taylor Heinicke took over for Haskins and threw a late touchdown pass, and it's unclear who will start next week at Philadelphia. Haskins has now been benched twice by coach Ron Rivera and the 2019 first-round pick's future in Washington is in doubt after just two seasons.
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt went on a nearly two-minute, expletive-laden rant and seemingly called out his teammates for a lack of professionalism after the Texans lost 37-31 to the Cincinnati Bengals, who generated 540 yards of offense. Watt said being an NFL player was “a privilege,” adding: “If you can’t go out there and you can’t work out, you can’t show up on time, you can’t practice, you can’t want to go out there and win, you shouldn’t be here.”
First-time Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo has had a stellar season for the Falcons — until he missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt that would have sent Atlanta’s game against Kansas City to overtime. Koo had only missed one previous field-goal try this year. Quarterback Matt Ryan was quick to point out the loss fell on the whole team, which has found myriad ways to lose close games this season, rather than just one player.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff dislocated his right thumb after hitting it on a helmet in the third quarter against Seattle. He popped the thumb back into place and didn't miss a play, but it's not clear whether he'll be able to play next week against Arizona. ... Jets running back Frank Gore left with a chest injury in the fourth quarter of New York's win over the Browns after a 4-yard run that gave him 16,000 yards for his career. ... Kansas City wide receiver Sammy Watkins left the Chiefs' win over Atlanta with a calf injury and Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann hurt a hamstring. ... Philadelphia defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and linebacker Shaun Bradley both left the Eagles’ game at Dallas with stingers. ... Houston guard Brent Qvale suffered a concussion and left tackle Laremy Tunsil injured his foot in the second quarter of the Texans’ 37-31 loss to Cincinnati. ... Bengals cornerback William Jackson left with a concussion. ... Denver wide receiver K.J. Hamler suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the Broncos’ 19-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. ... Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins injured an ankle and didn’t return. ... Baltimore center Patrick Mekari left the Ravens’ 27-13 win over the New York Giants with a back injury. ... Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson injured an ankle against Seattle.
“I failed this team,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said after Cleveland lost to the New York Jets. “I put three balls on the ground, two of them that they recovered and the other on fourth down — just hold onto the damn ball. Plain and simple. I have to hold onto the damn ball.”
“It’s a fine line between drinking wine and squashing grapes and sometimes it was very subtle,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after Pittsburgh rallied to beat Indianapolis.
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