Patriots run out of fourth-quarter magic
Published on -12/16/2013, 10:27 AM
By the Associated Press
The New England Patriots didn't have one more miracle finish in their repertoire.
They came close Sunday, but reserve safety Michael Thomas, playing in his first NFL game, intercepted Tom Brady's fourth-down pass in the end zone with 2 seconds left and Miami held on to win 24-20, improving its playoff chances.
"We came up on the short end of the stick," said Brady, whose Patriots are 10-4 and two games in front of Miami in the AFC East. "It wasn't a good day. Just couldn't make enough plays."
The Patriots have made those plays throughout the season, including in tight victories over Denver, Cleveland, New Orleans, Houston and the New York Jets. This time, it was the Dolphins (8-6) who came through, snapping a seven-game losing streak against New England.
Miami is 5-2 since tackle Jonathan Martin left the team in a bullying scandal.
"We've grown a lot," Ryan Tannehill said after he threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, including a 14-yarder to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 left that provided the winning margin. "Each of us has gotten stronger through the adversity we've faced off the field and on the field."
Brady went 34 for 55 for 364 yards and two scores. Julian Edelman made 13 catches for 139 yards, and Danny Amendola added 10 receptions for 131 yards.
VIKINGS 48, EAGLES 30
At Minneapolis, the Eagles (8-6) saw their five-game winning streak snapped, endangering their playoff hopes. Matt Cassel passed for 382 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the injury-depleted Vikings.
With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart out, Matt Asiata rushed for the first three touchdowns of his career. Greg Jennings caught a career-high 11 passes for 163 yards for the Vikings (4-9-1).
Nick Foles threw for 428 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and DeSean Jackson had 10 catches for 195 yards and a score for the Eagles.
SEAHAWKS 23, GIANTS 0
Richard Sherman had two interceptions, Marshawn Lynch scored on a twisting, triple-effort 2-yard run, and Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals as Seattle (12-2) manhandled the Giants (5-9) for its franchise-record sixth road win.
Russell Wilson toyed with New York's defense, running for 50 yards and throwing for 206 and a touchdown before sitting out the last few minutes. Wilson has 23 wins, the most for a quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era.
The Seahawks, already in the playoffs, are closing in on the NFC West title and their best overall record; they went 13-3 in 2005 before losing to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.
Eli Manning was picked off a career-worst five times. The Giants lost top receiver Victor Cruz to a concussion in the fourth quarter. Cruz is 2 yards short of his third straight 1,000-yard season.
49ERS 33, BUCCANEERS 14
At Tampa, the 49ers stayed in range of Seattle in the division as Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass for the fifth straight game and Michael Crabtree scored his first TD since returning from injury.
The victory was the fourth straight for the 49ers (10-4). Phil Dawson kicked four field goals, extending his franchise-record streak of consecutive successful attempts to 24.
Mike Glennon was 18 of 34 for 179 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for Tampa Bay (4-10).
PANTHERS 30, JETS 20
Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a touchdown, Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and returned an interception for a score against the visiting Jets.
With New Orleans losing, the Panthers (10-4) pulled even with the Saints in the NFC South with their rematch set for next Sunday in Charlotte. If Carolina wins its final two games, it will clinch the division and a first-round bye. The Panthers haven't been to the postseason since 2008.
The Jets (6-8) used rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson to bulldoze for a 1-yard touchdown run.
RAMS 27, SAINTS 16
At St. Louis, Drew Brees threw interceptions that led to touchdowns on New Orleans' first two possessions.
Robert Quinn had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, and his hit on the Saints' first snap of the game altered the flight of the ball on T.J. McDonald's interception.
The Saints (10-4) missed their first chance to clinch a playoff berth, trailing 24-3 at the half.
The Rams (6-8) recovered an onside kick to set up a field goal, and Michael Brockers blocked a field-goal attempt.
BEARS 38, BROWNS 31
At Cleveland, Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes in his first start since missing four games with a sprained left ankle. His 4-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett with 5:41 left won it for the Bears (8-6), who are alone atop the NFC North pending Monday night's Baltimore-Detroit game.
Michael Bush's 40-yard TD run with 2:17 left sealed it for the Bears, who completed a four-game sweep of the AFC North.
Tashuan Gipson returned an interception 44 yards for a TD and T.J. Ward had a 51-yard TD fumble return for the Browns (4-10).
At Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown caught a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a score in a 64-second span in the first quarter. Shaun Suisham added three field goals for the Steelers (6-8), who built a 24-point lead and hardly looked like a team playing out the string.
Ben Roethlisberger completed 20 of 25 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Andy Dalton completed 25 of 44 for 230 yards and two second-half touchdowns, but Cincinnati (9-5) never recovered after getting staggered early at frigid Heinz Field. But the Bengals still control the AFC South.
TITANS 34, OT
At Nashville, Tenn., Jay Feely's 41-yard field goal in overtime won it after Arizona (9-5) blew a 17-point lead late in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals won their sixth in seven games to remain in the NFC wild-card chase.
The Titans scored 17 points in the final 3:12 of regulation, with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing two of his four TD passes to Michael Preston. They also recovered an onside kick to set up the tying TD with 10 seconds left.
But Antoine Cason intercepted his second pass of the game in OT and Tennessee (5-9) lost its third straight, and fifth consecutive home game for the first time since moving to Music City in 1997.
COLTS 25, TEXANS 3
At Indianapolis, Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, and Robert Mathis broke the Colts' single-season and career sacks records by forcing a second-half safety.
Mathis, the NFL sacks leader, has 16 1/2 this season and 108 in his career, breaking the franchise records held by longtime teammate and close friend Dwight Freeney.
The Colts (9-5), owners of the AFC South title, had no trouble against Houston (2-12), which has lost 12 straight overall and is 0-12 all-time in Indy.
At Atlanta, Desmond Trufant deflected Kirk Cousins' pass on a 2-point conversion with 18 seconds remaining. Cousins' touchdown pass to Santana Moss gave Washington a chance to force overtime by kicking the extra point. Instead, Cousins' attempted pass for Pierre Garcon was deflected by Trufant.
Steven Jackson ran for two touchdowns for Atlanta (4-10), which scored 20 points off seven Washington turnovers. The Redskins (3-11) tied a team record with five lost fumbles.
Cousins passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but had three turnovers in his first start of the season after coach Mike Shanahan benched Robert Griffin III.
Steven Jackson ran for two touchdowns for Atlanta.
BILLS 27, JAGUARS 20
At Jacksonville, rookie EJ Manuel threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score. Manuel bounced back from a four-interception performance at Tampa Bay last week.
The Bills (5-9) scored 10 points in the final 2:14 of the first half. The Jaguars (4-10) rallied to even the score on Chad Henne's 13-yard TD pass to Marcedes Lewis.
Manuel answered by capping an 89-yard drive with a 1-yard pass to Frank Summers. With it, Manuel set the franchise's rookie record for touchdown passes with 11.