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Former UB players Mack, Starks make impact on teams’ victories

By Milt Northrop

News Sports Reporter

Sunday was a big day for former University at Buffalo players in the National Football League season. Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders and James Starks of the Green Bay Packers made huge contributions to their team’s Week 14 victories.

Mack had five sacks, increasing his season’s total to 14, in Oakland’s 15-12 upset of the Broncos in Denver. To put that in perspective, Buffalo has only 20 sacks as a team for the entire season.

Starks scored two of Green Bay’s four touchdowns in a 28-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field. His first came on a 13-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter. His second was on a 30-yard run with 4:44 left in the game to make it 21-7. The victory gave Green Bay a one-game lead over Minnesota in the NFC North race.

Philadelphia and Washington both won to go to 6-7 and stay tied for the lead in the NFC East.

In the wild-card races, Minnesota and Seattle, each 8-5, have a two-game lead over the other contenders in the NFC, while Kansas City, Pittsburgh and the New York Jets are all 8-5 in the AFC. No other wild-card contender has more than six wins.

A capsule look at Sunday’s Week 14 games:

Game of the day

Steelers 33, Bengals 20

The scoop: Cincinnati fell behind early then lost quarterback Andy Dalton for the game with a thumb injury with 5:00 left in the opening quarter. The Steelers scored on their first three possessions before the Bengals got on the board with a 66-yard pass play from former Alabama star AJ McCarron to AJ Green. William Gay returned one of the three interceptions thrown by McCarron 23 yards for a score in the third quarter to make it 23-7. Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers passed for 282 yards but no touchdowns.

Why the Steelers won: They kept Cincy out of the end zone in the second half until there was only 1:03 left.

The contenders Patriots 27, Texans 6

The scoop: Rob Gronkowski returned to action and caught one of Tom Brady’s two touchdown passes as New England ended its losing streak at two. Gronk had four catches for 86 yards, including one 45-yarder. The Texans (6-7) missed an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South with Indianapolis (6-7).

Why the Patriots won: They limited Houston to seven first downs and 189 yards total offense.

Jets 30, Titans 8

The scoop: Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for three touchdowns in the first half as New York built a 27-0 lead. The fourth Jets TD of the half was a 69-yard pass to Brandon Marshall, who was left totally uncovered while Tennessee’s defense scrambled to line up after a change of possession on a punt.

Why the Jets won: Chan Gailey’s offense scored on five of six possessions in the first half. New York had no turnovers and sacked Marcus Mariota five times.

Chiefs 10, Chargers 3

The scoop: Alex Smith passed 44 yards to Albert Wilson for the game’s only touchdown in the second quarter. In the first minute of the second quarter, Smith was intercepted for the first time after 312 passes..

Why the Chiefs won: The Chiefs sacked Philip Rivers five times and intercepted him once as they kept San Diego out of the end zone for the second time in four weeks.

Redskins 24, Bears 21

The scoop: Washington blew leads of 14-0 and 21-7, but won on a 47-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins with 14:07 left. Kirk Cousins passed for one Redskins touchdown, ran 3 yards for another.

Why the Redskins won: Robbie Gould of the Bears missed a 50-yard field goal try (wide right) with 1:40 left.

Panthers 38, Falcons 0

The scoop: Cam Newton led Carolina on four long first-half touchdown drives, three of which ended in scoring passes and the defense took over from there. Ted Ginn Jr. had touchdown catches of 74 and 46 yards.

Why the Panthers won: They limited Atlanta to 16 carries for 54 rushing yards, sacked Falcons quarterbacks five times and had four takeaways.

Seahawks 35, Ravens 6

The scoop: Russell Wilson passed for all five Seattle touchdowns in the rout against a Baltimore team down to its third quarterback, Jimmy Clausen. Wilson completed 23 of 32 for 292 yards with no sacks or INTs. Three TD passes went to Doug Baldwin, the other two to rookie Tyler Lockett. Seattle lost rookie running back Thomas Rawls with a broken ankle.

Why the Seahawks won: Wilson is playing as well as any QB in the league right now, and Seattle allowed only 28 yards rushing.

Raiders 15, Broncos 12

The scoop: After falling behind, 12-0, in the first half, Oakland won on Derek Carr’s 16-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera with 14:26 left in the fourth quarter. All Denver points came on Brendan McManus field goals in the first half.

Why the Raiders won: They gained only 126 yards, but shut out Denver in the second half .

Packers 28, Cowboys 7

The scoop: Green Bay pulverized Dallas, gaining 230 yards on the ground in 44 attempts. Eddy Lacy had 124 in 24 carries and Starks 71 in 11 tries. Aaron Rodgers passed for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

Why the Packers won: With Matt Cassel at quarterback, Dallas passed for only 99 net yards with the longest gain just 19 yards.

Jaguars 51, Colts 16

The scoop: Indianapolis led 13-3 in the second quarter before the roof fell in. Andre Branch returned a fumble 49 yards, Blake Bortles connected with Allen Hurns on an 80-yard pass play and Rashad Greene went 73 yards on a punt return.

Why the Jaguars won: After the big plays, they poured it on their AFC South tormentors.

Playing out the string

Browns 24, 49ers 10

The scoop: Cleveland ended its seven-game losing streak. Johnny Manziel had one TD pass and completed 21 of 31 passes for 270 yards.

Why the Browns won: They limited the Niners to 221, sacking Blaine Gabbert nine times.

Saints 24, Buccaneers 17

The scoop: Drew Brees threw short passes to old reliable Marques Colston for two first-half touchdowns and New Orleans never trailed.

Why the Saints won: Jameis Winston and the Bucs put on a pretty sorry offensive performance. Tampa Bay was trailing, 14-0, before it gained its first down.

Dog of the day

Rams 21, Lions 14

The scoop: A 59-yard interception return by Trumaine Johnson of the Rams in the first half and two touchdown runs by Todd Gurley won it for St. Louis.

Why the Rams won: The Lions couldn’t get out of their own end of the field most of the game.

News wire services contributed to this report. email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com.

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