Sunday's roundup: Packers take over NFC North
Minneapolis — The ground game with Eddie Lacy was working so well for Green Bay even Aaron Rodgers wanted a running play to try to put Minnesota away.
"I just kind of chuckled, because it's usually the other way around," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Lacy and the offensive line delivered a 4-yard run on third-and-2 to take the clock to the 2-minute warning, and one more first down sealed a 24-21 victory for the Packers over the Vikings on Sunday. The Packers (8-3) moved a game ahead of the Lions atop the Central Division.
Rodgers gave Green Bay his usual game, but the biggest lift came from Lacy in the form of 125 yards on 25 carries.
"He's agile for a guy his size. He's got a great spin move. He takes care of the football. He does all the things you want," said Rodgers, who threw two touchdown passes and again avoided a turnover while the Packers (8-3) moved into sole possession first place in the NFC North.
Lacy scored twice, on a run in the first quarter and a catch in the fourth quarter. The Vikings (4-7) cut the lead to three with 3:23 remaining on Teddy Bridgewater's second touchdown pass of the afternoon, but the Packers sent in their "Jumbo" set with a sixth offensive lineman to squelch a comeback.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he should've called for an onside kick from the 50, after a roughing-the-passer penalty on the Packers during the previous play.
"I figured they were going to run the ball three times, and I figured we could stop them," Zimmer said.
That hasn't happened lately. Three of Lacy's six 100-yard games have come against the Vikings, and none of his carries was more demoralizing than those gains of 3, 5, 4, 5 and 10 yards when the Packers got the ball back late in this game.
"He doesn't go down, man," left guard Josh Sitton said. "It's pretty fun to watch."
He did all that sick, too. Lacy left the locker room without speaking to reporters because he was ill, the Packers said.
Green Bay beat Philadelphia, 53-20, and Chicago, 55-14, the last two games, so this was quite the contrast. The weather was a nonfactor at 49 degrees at kickoff, the first time these rivals played outside in Minnesota since 1981.
"You have to win close games this time of year," said McCarthy, who passed Vince Lombardi for second place on Green Bay's career regular season wins list. He raised his record to 90-48-1, including 14-4-1 with five season sweeps against the Vikings since arriving in 2006. The Packers are 9-1-1 against their division rival in the last 11 games.
Bridgewater finished 21-for-37 for 210 yards and an interception.
(At) Denver 39, Miami 36: Peyton Manning threw three of his four TD passes to Demaryius Thomas and C.J. Anderson ran for 167 yards and the go-ahead score for the Broncos.
Anderson's 6-yard run with 5:01 left gave the Broncos (8-3) their first lead of the game at 32-28. T.J. Ward's 37-yard interception return of Ryan Tannehill's pass set up Wes Welker's insurance TD catch.
The Broncos needed it after Tannehill drove the Dolphins (6-5) and hit Jarvis Landry from a yard out with 1:34 left. Lamar Miller's 2-point dive made it a 3-point game. The Dolphins' onside kick was recovered by Anderson, who sealed the game with a 26-yard run.
Manning became the third player in NFL history with touchdown passes in 50 consecutive games, joining Drew Brees (54) and Tom Brady (52).
He completed 28 of 35 passes for 257 yards and no interceptions.
(At) Seattle 19, Arizona 3: Russell Wilson found backup tight end Cooper Helfet for a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the third quarter, Steven Hauschka kicked four field goals and the Seahawks handed the Cardinals their second loss of the season.
Wilson was sacked a season-high seven times, but the victory was a must for Seattle (7-4) if it had any hopes of getting back into the division race. The Seahawks trail Arizona (9-2) by two games in the NFC West.
Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton was minus a weapon with Larry Fitzgerald inactive due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and wasn't helped when Jaron Brown dropped a touchdown late in the first half. It's the first time in 110 games Fitzgerald has sat out.
Arizona was held to a season-low 204 total yards.
(At) Philadelphia 43, Tennessee 24: Josh Huff returned the opening kickoff 107 yards and LeSean McCoy ran for 130 yards for the Eagles. Huff's return was the longest in franchise history.
"We talk about starting fast, but you can't start faster than that," coach Chip Kelly said. "It takes the wind out of the sails for the other team."
Mark Sanchez threw for 307 yards and one touchdown in his third start for the injured Nick Foles. He has 300 yards passing in three straight games, tying a team record.
Now, the Eagles (8-3) can shift their focus to the Cowboys (7-3) for a first-place showdown on Thanksgiving. The top two teams in the NFC East will play twice in 18 days, starting with Thursday's game at Dallas.
Rookie Zach Mettenberger had 345 yards passing and two TDs and Delanie Walker had 155 yards receiving for the Titans (2-9).
Cincinnati 22, (at) Houston 13: Andy Dalton threw for 233 yards and a touchdown and A.J. Green had 121 yards receiving on a career-high 12 receptions for the Bengals.
Dalton gave his father Greg a special 55th birthday present by finally getting a win in his hometown.
Dalton lost his first three games against the Texans, including twice here in the playoffs.
"It's cool to get a win here," Dalton said. "(And) have it timed up where we were playing in Houston on his birthday. It's a special day."
The Bengals (7-3-1) led throughout, but the Texans (5-6) cut the lead to three points late in the third quarter before Cincinnati tacked on two field goals in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Rookie Jeremy Hill scored on a 2-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter after an interception by Ryan Mallett for Cincinnati's only touchdown of the second half. Mallett struggled in his second career start, finishing with 189 yards passing.
Houston's only touchdown came on a 60-yard interception return by Johnathan Joseph in the third quarter.
(At) Indianapolis 23, Jacksonville 3: T.Y. Hilton celebrated the birth of his first child with a 73-yard TD catch, spurring a second-half turnaround for the Colts.
Andrew Luck was 21-of-32 for 253 yards with one score, but his streak of consecutive 300-yard games ended at eight — one short of Drew Brees' NFL record.
The Colts (7-4) have won 11 straight against AFC South foes. Jacksonville (1-10) has lost four straight overall and five straight to Indy.
Hilton promised to score a touchdown for his new daughter, but it sure wasn't easy. Luck was sacked five times, fumbled three times and lost two of those in the first half.
"When I was out there, I wanted it to be special," Hilton said. "I was going to play every play for her — just give it my all. When I get back to the hospital I will take her the football."
(At) San Francisco 17, Washington 13: Carlos Hyde ran for a go-ahead 4-yard touchdown with 2:59 remaining, and the 49ers barely remained in the thick of the playoff chase.
A fourth-down conversion in their own territory away from losing, the 49ers finally capitalized with a rare touchdown in the final period on the way to their third straight victory.
San Francisco (7-4) overcame three turnovers.
Washington coach Jay Gruden won a challenge with 5:36 left that Vernon Davis hadn't made a first down. San Francisco went for it and Frank Gore converted the fourth-and-1. On the next play, Colin Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin for a 29-yard gain and safety Ryan Clark was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for his hit on Boldin.
Now, the 49ers have a quick turnaround before facing the Seahawks (7-4) at home Thursday night.
(At) San Diego 27, St. Louis 24: Marcus Gilchrist intercepted Shaun Hill at the goal line with 56 seconds left to preserve the Chargers' victory.
Gilchrist jumped the route as Hill, a former Lion, tried to force a pass to Kenny Britt on second-and-goal from the 4. Hill had beaten Gilchrist on a 7-yard TD pass to Stedman Bailey with 2:04 left that pulled the Rams within three points.
Ryan Mathews had a 32-yard touchdown run and linebacker Andrew Gachkar scored on a 13-yard fumble recovery 21 seconds later to help the Chargers (7-4) tighten the AFC West race.
Philip Rivers shook off a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins and threw a 29-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Keenan Allen, who earlier had two turnovers.
Dallas 31, (at) N.Y Giants 28: Tony Romo threw two touchdown passes to Dez Bryant, the winner from 13 yards with 1:01 remaining, lifting the Dallas Cowboys to a comeback victory over the New York Giants.
Romo threw for two TDs in the third quarter. But the Giants (3-8), trailing 24-21, staged a 93-yard drive capped by Adrien Robinson's first career TD catch, from 1 yard with 3 minutes left.
Back came Dallas (8-3) on an 80-yard march in which Romo never was pressured. He found Bryant in the back of the end zone to win it, setting up an NFC East showdown with Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day for first place.
Thanks to Odell Beckham Jr.'s spectacular one-handed TD catch, one of the rookie's two first-half touchdowns, New York built a 21-10 halftime lead. But the Giants lost their sixth straight and were eliminated from division contention.