Sunday’s NFL roundup: Vikings are lone undefeated team
Minneapolis— The Vikings followed their winning formula again to precision and maintained the NFL’s only perfect record.
Adam Thielen caught a touchdown pass to cap Minnesota’s opening drive and finished with a career-high 127 yards, and the Vikings defense flustered Brock Osweiler and the Texans on their way to a 31-13 victory on Sunday. They reign as the NFL’s only unbeaten tean after the Broncos lost to the Falcons.
“When your offense comes out on all cylinders like that, it just juices us up even more and wants us to play harder,” defensive end Everson Griffen said. “We’ve just got to keep doing that.”
Marcus Sherels returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown and Cordarelle Patterson scored on a touchdown pass from Sam Bradford, who deftly guided the offense to a fifth straight turnover-free game in his fourth start for the Vikings (5-0).
“You play from ahead and give our defense a chance to get after the passer,” Bradford said, “I think it’s pretty tough on the other team.”
Brock Osweiler was overmatched by Minnesota’s relentless pass rush and coverage, finishing 19 for 42 for 184 yards, one interception and a late touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins while taking four sacks. The Texans (3-2) were denied on 12 of 13 third downs, unable or unwilling to do much other than dump off short passes. Lamar Miller only had eight carries for 20 yards.
“It was bad. It was bad,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “It starts and ends with me. I’ve got to do a much better job with this football team.”
With leading receiver Stefon Diggs out for the game with a groin injury, Thielen (career-high seven catches), Jarius Wright and Patterson capably stepped up for the Vikings. Whitney Mercilus had 1½ sacks as Houston took advantage of a banged-up offensive line to apply plenty of pressure on Bradford, but with touchdowns on their first two drives the Vikings were in cruise control.
“I knew we had a great challenge ahead of us, but I felt confident in what we could do,” Osweiler said. “So I’m very disappointed.”
(At) Dallas 28, Cincinnati 14: Ezekiel Elliott ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and fellow Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott threw for a score and ran for another TD.
Prescott had his first turnover in five games starting in place of injured Tony Romo, a fumble when being sacked late in the third quarter. But Prescott extended his NFL rookie record to 155 passes without an interception to start his career. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 227 yards.
Elliott, on only 15 carries, became the first Cowboys rookie with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
Dallas (4-1) has won four in a row.
(At) Green Bay 23, N.Y. Giants 16: Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdowns passes in an otherwise choppy night for the Green Bay offense, and the Packers’ defense rattled the New York Giants and limited Odell Beckham Jr.
Rodgers was 23 of 45 for 259 yards and also threw two interceptions. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams each had highlight-reel touchdown catches to help the Packers build an 11-point halftime lead.
But the offense was mired by uncharacteristic drops, and couple of big plays were called back by penalties. Mason Crosby kicked three field goals, including two in the fourth quarter.
New York’s Eli Manning was 18 of 35 for 199 yards, and the Packers pressured him much of the night.
The Giants looked out of sorts until a hurry-up drive that ended with Beckham’s 8-yard touchdown catch with 2:54 left.
Atlanta 23, (at) Denver 16: Matt Ryan and the Falcons didn’t need another 300-yard performance from Julio Jones to wreck Paxton Lynch’s first NFL start.
Using a steady dose of I-formation runs and short passes that put Denver’s linebackers in coverage, the Falcons (4-1) handed the Super Bowl champs their first loss since Dec. 20 at Pittsburgh.
The Broncos (4-1) were on their heels having to respect the play-action because Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were so effective running the ball, combining for 119 yards and a 4.4-yard average.
Washington 16, (at) Baltimore 10: Washington used an 85-yard punt return by Jamison Crowder and an uncharacteristically strong performance by their defense to beat the Ravens.
It was the third straight win for Washington (3-2), which came in with the league’s 29th-ranked defense. Washington allowed a touchdown on the game’s opening drive and smothered the Ravens (3-2) the rest of the way.
The game wasn’t decided until the final minute, when an apparent 23-yard touchdown catch by Baltimore’s Breshad Perriman was overturned by replay. Perriman got his right foot down in the end zone, but his left foot was out of bounds.
(At) Pittsburgh 31, N.Y. Jets 13: Ben Roethlisberger passed for 380 yards and four touchdowns for the Steelers (4-1).
Sammie Coates caught six passes for a career-high 139 yards and two scores, including a 72-yard catch-and-run for a score on Pittsburgh’s opening drive.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State) racked up 154 yards of total offense, including a career-high nine receptions, while Antonio Brown (Central Michigan) caught nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Tennessee 30, (at) Miami 17: Marcus Mariota threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score. He went 20 for 29 for 163 yards with no interceptions, and ran seven times for 60 yards.
DeMarco Murray added 121 yards rushing for the Titans, who totaled 235 on the ground. They improved to 2-3, and Miami fell to 1-4.
Dolphins rookie Jakeem Grant scored on a 74-yard punt return , Damien Williams had a 55-yard, catch-and-run to set up a touchdown, and DeVante Parker made a 50-yard reception that led to a field goal.
(At) Indianapolis 29, Chicago 23: Andrew Luck threw a 35-yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton with 3:43 left to lead the Colts (2-3).
Indy went to the hurry-up offense and Luck made the alterations look good early and late.
Brian Hoyer (Michigan State) was solid in his third straight start, throwing for 397 yards and two touchdowns for Chicago (1-4).
(At) Oakland 34, San Diego 31: A pass to Michael Crabtree on a fourth-and-2 gamble and added another TD pass to Amari Cooper to lead the Raiders to a victory over the mistake-prone Chargers.
San Diego (1-4) committed four turnovers and then botched the hold on a potential tying field goal. Rookie Drew Kaser couldn’t hold the snap on what would have been a 36-yard field goal attempt.
The Raiders (4-1) took over with 2 minutes left and ran out most of the clock to get a third straight win for the first time in five years and hand San Diego its 10th straight division loss.
Oakland took the lead on a bold call late in the third quarter. Facing a fourth-and-2 at the 21 late in the third quarter trailing by five, coach Jack Del Rio once again trusted his offense to make a big play and it paid off.
Carr found Crabtree deep down the left side for the touchdown that put the Raiders up 25-24. A 2-point conversion pass to Cooper gave Oakland a three-point lead and Jamize Olawale added a 1-yard run that made it 34-24 on a drive set up by Kaser’s 16-yard punt.