Sunday's NFL roundup: Kansas City wins its 6th straight AFC West title
Kansas City, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, Byron Pringle caught two of the TD passes, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-10 on Sunday to clinch their sixth consecutive AFC West title.
The Chiefs (11-4) remained a game ahead of Tennessee for first place in the AFC with their eighth straight win. That would give them the conference’s lone first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a touchdown run for Kansas City before leaving early in the second half with a collarbone injury. Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore carried the load the rest of the way with Williams running for 55 yards and Gore adding 43 yards on the ground and three catches for 61 yards.
The Steelers became the first team in NFL history to trail by at least 23 points at halftime in three straight road games. Already on the playoff bubble, Pittsburgh (7-7-1) dropped further behind the Bengals (9-6) in the AFC North.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 159 yards with a late fourth-quarter touchdown for Pittsburgh, along with throwing an interception and losing a fumble. Najee Harris added 93 yards rushing.
►Dallas 56, Washington 14: Dak Prescott threw four touchdown passes, DeMarcus Lawrence returned an interception for a score and Dallas celebrated clinching the NFC East title before kickoff with a rout of Washington.
The Cowboys (11-4) tied the franchise record for points in a first half while taking a 42-7 lead and frustrating Washington to the point that defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne scuffled on the sideline.
Dallas didn’t need to win to add the division title to the playoff berth that was sealed with San Francisco’s loss to Tennessee three nights earlier. Las Vegas’ 17-13 victory over Denver took care of that about an hour before kickoff.
Prescott and company didn’t seem to care, and scored the franchise’s most points, playoffs included, since a 59-14 victory over San Francisco in 1980. Washington (6-9) allowed its most points since 2010 in the most-lopsided loss for either team in a storied rivalry played 123 times.
Prescott tied the club record for passing TDs in a half with four before halftime — one each to a running back (Ezekiel Elliott), a tight end (Dalton Schultz), a receiver (Amari Cooper) and a backup tackle (Terence Steele, who was lined up as a tight end when Prescott faked the handoff for an easy 1-yard score).
►Tampa Bay 32, Carolina 6: Tampa Bay won its first NFC South title since 2007 when Tom Brady threw for 232 yards and a touchdown and Antonio Brown made a grand return to the NFL in a rout of Carolina.
In his first game since Oct. 13, Brown saw a prominent role on offense with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin sidelined by injuries, catching 10 passes for 101 yards while being targeted 15 times by Brady.
Ronald Jones carried 20 times for 65 yards and a touchdown filling in for the injured Leonard Fournette. Tampa Bay also got big offensive contributions from unheralded players Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Cyril Grayson.
The Bucs (11-4) put up 391 yards on offense, and on defense, had seven sacks and limited the Panthers to two field goals.
Carolina (5-10) went with a dual-quarterback approach, starting Cam Newton (7 of 13 for 61 yards and ran for 42 yards) and finishing with Sam Darnold, who went 15 of 33 for 190 yards.
►Los Angeles Rams 30, Minnesota 23: Brandon Powell returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to lift Los Angeles into the playoffs in its win over Minnesota.
The victory also sent the Rams’ NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals into the postseason.
Sony Michel rushed for a season-high 131 yards and a score for the Rams (11-4), while Matt Gay made three field goals, and the Aaron Donald-led defense did its part, keeping the Vikings out of the end zone on two first-half trips inside the 10-yard line.
Matthew Stafford had his first three-interception game since Sept. 10, 2018, when he was picked off four times for Detroit against the New York Jets.
For the Vikings (7-8), Kirk Cousins had 315 yards on 27-for-38 passing with a touchdown to K.J. Osborn with 8:21 remaining that cut the lead to 27-20. But his interception in the end zone in the first quarter loomed large all afternoon.
►Buffalo 33, New England 21: Josh Allen threw for three touchdowns and Buffalo hung on to beat New England to vault the Bills back into first place in the AFC East title race.
Buffalo (9-6) now holds tiebreakers over the Patriots and Dolphins, and is in the driver’s seat to win its second straight division title. Allen finished 30 of 47 passes for 314 yards, and he also rushed 12 times for 64 yards.
Isaiah McKenzie stepped up in place of Bills receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis, who were both on the reserve/COVID-19 list, notching a career-high 11 catches, 125 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots (9-6) saw rookie quarterback Mac Jones struggling to find openings against the Bills’ top-ranked defense. He went 14 of 32 for 145 yards and two interceptions.
►Philadelphia 34, New York Giants 10: Jalen Hurts threw a touchdown to lineman Lane Johnson, linebacker Alex Singleton returned an interception for a score and Philadelphia continued its late-season playoff push with a win over New York.
The Eagles (8-7) have won six of eight after opening the season losing five of seven and moved into the seventh playoff spot in the NFC. They could clinch a playoff berth with a win and some help next week.
Hurts shook off a dismal first half and threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns to push the Eagles over .500 for the first time since they won the season opener. Philadelphia scored 31 points in the second half.
Quarterback Jake Fromm got the start with the Giants (4-11) left with little options after Daniel Jones was shut down for the season because of a sprained neck. Fromm went 6 of 17 for 25 yards and one interception before he was pulled for Mike Glennon late in the third.
►Cincinnati 41, Baltimore 21: Joe Burrow threw for a franchise-record 525 yards and four touchdowns, and Cincinnati took sole possession of first place in the AFC North by beating a COVID-depleted Baltimore team.
Burrow, the second-year QB who broke Boomer Esiason’s team record of 522 yards, was 37 of 46 and threw two touchdown passes to Tee Higgins and one each to Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon as the Bengals (9-6) swept the Ravens for the first time since 2015.
Tee Higgins had 12 receptions for a career-high 194 yards. Ja’Marr Chase caught seven for 125 yards, and Boyd had three catches for 85 yards.
Josh Johnson, who was signed as a free agent, started at quarterback for the Ravens (8-7). His 4-yard pass to Rashod Bateman put Baltimore up 10-7 in the first quarter, and he finished 28 for 40 for 304 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception. Tight end Mark Andrews had eight catches for 125 yards and a TD.
►New York Jets 26, Jacksonville 21: Zach Wilson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another to outduel Trevor Lawrence, and short-handed New York used a goal-line stand at the end of the game to hold on and beat Jacksonville.
It was the fourth matchup of rookie quarterbacks taken with the first two picks in the draft — and the No. 2 selection came out on top. Barely.
After Eddy Pineiro’s 20-yard field goal gave the Jets (4-11) a five-point lead with 1:47 remaining, Lawrence and the Jaguars (2-13) got the ball back. A 26-yard run by Lawrence got the ball to the 5, and he followed with a 4-yard pass to Marvin Jones. Lawrence spiked the ball to stop the clock to make it fourth-and-the-game.
But Lawrence’s pass to Jones fell incomplete — and the Jaguars were called for an illegal shift that the Jets declined, turning the ball over on downs.
Wilson set a Jets record for a quarterback with 91 yards rushing, highlighted by a 52-yard score — the longest run by a QB in franchise history. He was 14 of 22 for 102 yards passing, including a TD pass to offensive lineman Conor McDermott. Braxton Berrios returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, and Michael Carter ran for 118 yards on 16 carries for New York.
►Houston 41, Los Angeles Chargers 29: Rex Burkhead ran for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns, and Houston took advantage of three turnovers to beat Los Angeles. Both teams were missing more than a dozen players because COVID-19 protocols.
The playoff chances for the Chargers (8-7), who entered in second place in the AFC West, took a serious blow with the loss to the lowly, if recently improved, Texans. Houston (4-11) had 16 players on the COVID-19 list but managed to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
Burkhead had TD runs of 25 yards and 1 yard as the Texans, who entered the game ranked last in the NFL in yards rushing, ran for a season-high 189 yards. Rookie Davis Mills threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chargers’ Justin Herbert threw for 336 yards with garbage-time touchdown and two interceptions. Justin Jackson ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns and had 98 yards.
►Las Vegas 17, Denver 13: Josh Jacobs rushed for 129 yards and Las Vegas came from behind to defeat Denver and stay relevant in the AFC playoff picture.
With the win, the Raiders (8-7) severely damaged the postseason chances for AFC West rival Denver (7-8), which dropped its third game in the last four.
Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr completed 20 of 25 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Zay Jones had six receptions for 50 yards and Hunter Renfrow had three catches for 40 yards and one touchdown.
The Broncos had a 13-7 lead at halftime, but the Raiders took the opening drive of the second half 75 yards over nine plays. Jacobs’ performance on the ground marked his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.
The Raiders were 9 for 10 in stopping Denver on third downs and limited the Broncos to 158 net yards on offense. Las Vegas held the Broncos to a mere 18 yards on the ground. Denver QB Drew Lock finished with 15 completions on 22 attempts for 153 yards.
►Chicago 25, Seattle 24: Jimmy Graham caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles with 1:01 remaining, Damiere Byrd made an acrobatic reception for the 2-point conversion, and Chicago Bears beat Seattle.
Making his first start since last season, Foles led the Bears 80 yards in the closing minutes, capping the drive with his TD toss to Graham, who spent three seasons with the Seahawks. Graham posted up a pair of smaller defensive backs to make the catch in the corner of the end zone.
On the 2-point attempt, Foles threw late, but Byrd got his knee down in the end zone with multiple Seattle defenders trying to push him over the back line.
It was a stunning conclusion to rare snow game in Seattle that eliminated the Seahawks (5-10) from the NFC playoff picture. Russell Wilson was 16 of 27 for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Foles finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards for the Bears (5-10), and David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert each had rushing touchdowns.