Sunday's NFL roundup: Rams shock Broncos
St. Louis — The last-place St. Louis Rams continue to show opponents that they know how to compete against the league's best.
Sunday, the Rams added Peyton Manning and the AFC-West leading Broncos to the list of favorites beaten by St. Louis.
"It's not too bad to beat a guy who can put up 40 points in no time," defensive end Robert Quinn said after the Rams surprised the Broncos 22-7. "He's a future Hall of Famer. It took a whole team effort."
The Rams had already beaten the past two NFC champs — Seattle and San Francisco. And they had blown big leads at home against the Cowboys and the first time they played the 49ers.
This time, they finished the job against the NFL's No. 2 offense, which hadn't scored fewer than 21 points and had scored 30 or more five of the previous six.
Shaun Hill was effective in his first start since regaining the quarterback job and the defense made the stops that counted.
Rookie Tre Mason had 29 carries for 113 yards, the most against the Broncos' top-ranked run defense.
Kenny Britt had four catches for 128 yards with a 63-yard score and Greg Zuerlein was a career-best 5 for 5 on field goals for the Rams (4-6).
Manning was 34 for 54 for 389 yards with two interceptions, but was held to a 42-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders, ending a streak of 15 consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes. He refused to lean on injuries that sidelined Julius Thomas, Montee Ball and Sanders.
"We didn't execute very well and I just think I didn't play very well," Manning said. "No excuses. I have to play better and we have to score more points than seven."
Demaryius Thomas had seven receptions for 103 yards, his seventh consecutive 100-yard game to match the Cowboys' Michael Irvin (1995) for second-longest single-season streak in NFL history. Calvin Johnson holds the record with eight straight.
The Broncos (7-3) failed twice on fourth down deep in St. Louis territory. Manning threw incomplete from the 37 in the first quarter and rookie Aaron Donald's sack helped end a drive in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-4 from the 28.
Quinn spun Manning around before Donald took the quarterback down.
"I got the opportunity to clean him up," Donald said. "You've got to take a big quarterback down when you can."
(At) Kansas City 24, Seattle 20: The old offensive line coach in Andy Reid could appreciate the way the Kansas City Chiefs pried open holes for Jamaal Charles to run free against Seattle on Sunday.
He could appreciate the way their defensive front stepped up, too.
Given a lead thanks largely to the legs of their dazzling running back, the Chiefs held the Seahawks on fourth down three times in the final quarter. The result was a tense victory that pushed Kansas City into a first-place tie with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
"We're sitting there with three fourth-down plays late in the game," Reid said, "and they stepped up and did a phenomenal job there getting off the field."
As for Charles, who finished with 159 yards and two touchdowns?
"He's Jamaal Charles," Reid said. "He's a special player."
Cincinnati 27, (at) New Orleans 10: Dalton rebounds from abysmal outing
Bengals receiver A.J. Green counted himself among the least surprised to see a pair of long Andy Dalton passes hit him in stride during a pivotal fourth-quarter drive against the New Orleans Saints.
Dalton rebounded from one of the worst outings of his career with a composed, ruthlessly efficient performance, completing 73 percent of his throws for three touchdowns in a victory over New Orleans on Sunday.
"He's our quarterback for a reason. He's one of the best," Green said. "We have faith in him. He has faith in himself. There was nothing wrong with him this week."
For Dalton, the game represented a dramatic reversal from a week ago, when he completed only 10 passes for 86 yards and had a passer rating of 2.0 in a 24-3 loss to Cleveland.
Against New Orleans (4-6), Dalton was 16 of 22 for 220 yards, did not throw an interception and finished with a passer rating of 143.9 as he helped lift Cincinnati (6-3-1) back into first place in the AFC North.
"You lose and everybody wants to run you out. You win, everybody is going to like you," Dalton said. "I'm not too worried about that. This was a big win for us and so it's good to bounce back and get a big win on the road."
San Francisco 16, (at) N.Y. Giants 10: Every time the 49ers offense opened the door for the reeling New York Giants, their defense closed it.
Rookie linebacker Chris Borland intercepted a fourth-down pass by Eli Manning at the 49ers 2 with 4:43 to play to cap a goal-line stand and San Francisco defeated New York, sending the error-plagued Giants to their fifth straight loss.
"There's no give-up in our guys," said Borland, who had two of the five interceptions by the 49ers (6-4). "We have guys, veterans, who have been there a lot. When it was going tough, we just pressed on and kept looking forward. Back-to-back wins on the road, we're all excited."
It should have been a lot easier. San Francisco had almost 35 minutes in time of possession and five takeaways, but it had to sweat out a first-and-goal from its 4 to win.
Houston 23, (at) Cleveland 7: Once he finished ransacking Cleveland's offense, J.J. Watt met Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer near midfield and gave him a hug.
They became close Sunday. Too close for Hoyer.
Watt nearly beat Cleveland himself, catching a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Mallett, dominating on defense and leading the Houston Texans to a win over the Browns on Sunday.
Houston's indomitable No. 99 was everywhere. Along with scoring his fourth TD this season, he recorded a strip sack, made five tackles — three for a loss — recovered a fumble and hurried Hoyer into several bad throws. Watt was unstoppable, providing more proof he's the NFL's best defensive player.
"It was a productive day," he said, nonchalantly.
Tampa Bay 27, (at) Washington 7: So here is this rookie, going in motion and telling a 35-year-old quarterback what to do.
The way Mike Evans is playing, no one's going to argue. The big, speedy receiver streaked down the left sideline and was open for the 36-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown. It was part of a milestone, 209-yard game Sunday for the No. 7 overall draft pick in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over Washington.
"I was motioning over. I said, 'Josh, just throw it up.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah,'" Evans said. "We got the good coverage we wanted, and he threw a great ball."
The 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver caught seven passes and scored two touchdowns as the Buccaneers (2-8) snapped a five-game losing streak. The second TD went for 56 yards when Washington had a linebacker trail him down the middle of the field in the fourth quarter, the biggest no-contest in a game that turned into, well, a no-contest.
"When I have a game like that — I had a couple of those in college — it feels like getting hot in basketball," Evans said.
(At) Chicago 21, Minnesota 13: Jared Allen figured the Chicago Bears were bound to retaliate, that they could only take so much after getting knocked around.
They didn't exactly treat his former team as a punching big. They just played well enough to put their implosion on hold.
Jay Cutler threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns, and the Bears won for just the second time in seven games by beating the Minnesota Vikings.
Ryan Mundy (Michigan) intercepted Teddy Bridgewater's 29-yard pass in the end zone in the closing minute, and the Bears hung on for the win after suffering two of the worst blowout losses in franchise history.
"I think we kind of rallied around each other," said Allen, the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end who signed with Chicago after spending six seasons with Minnesota. "I think the sense of urgency was there. You can only get beat up so many times before you fight back. People questioned the character of the locker room. We know what we have."
Atlanta 19, (at) Carolina 17: Matt Ryan is as surprised as anyone that the Atlanta Falcons are tied for first in the NFC South with a 4-6 record.
He's certainly not complaining.
"It's been a different year, for sure," Ryan said. "You play to be relevant in November and December. As quirky as this season's been, we're relevant."
Ryan threw for 268 yards and a touchdown, Matt Bryant added four field goals and the Falcons held off a late rally by the Carolina Panthers to win on Sunday.
Bryant's 44-yard field goal with 2:08 left put Atlanta ahead for good. Cam Newton threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes for Carolina, but Graham Gano missed a 46-yard field goal try with 1:27 remaining and had a 63-yarder blocked as time expired.
(At) San Diego 13, Oakland 6: Philip Rivers threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd on the game's third play from scrimmage, and the San Diego Chargers held on for a lackluster victory against winless Oakland, extending the Raiders' losing streak to 16.
Rivers hurt his right leg midway through the third quarter but stayed in the game. The injury appeared to get progressively worse, and Rivers was walking gingerly on the sideline in the fourth as backup Kellen Clemens warmed up.
Rivers went back in after Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 25-yard field goal to pull the Raiders within a touchdown with four minutes to play.
The Chargers (6-4) snapped a three-game losing streak and welcomed back Ryan Mathews, Manti Te'o and Melvin Ingram, who had been out since September.
The skid by the Raiders (0-10) is the equivalent of a full season. Monday is the one-year anniversary of their last win, 28-23 at Houston.
Rivers was hurt after a 28-yard completion to Floyd was negated by a holding call against left tackle King Dunlap. The Chargers had to settle for Nick Novak's 52-yard field goal that made it 13-3.
Oakland got to the San Diego 7 with 4:10 left, but the drive stalled and Janikowski kicked his 25-yarder.
The Chargers were coming off their bye, which was preceded by a 37-0 loss at Miami on Nov. 2, their worst in 18 seasons.