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NFL Rewind: Titans, Giants play spoiler roles

It was a day for spoilers.  would-be spoilers and almost-spoilers Sunday in Week 15 of the National Football League season.

Two first-place teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions lost. Four others, Pittsburgh, Houston, Tennessee and Oakland had to come from behind to win close games. Tennessee and Green Bay, a wild-card contender in the NFC, won on last-play field goals.

It was that kind of a day. Even the New England Patriots struggled a bit, relying on its defense for a 16-3 win at Denver to wrap up the AFC East title an a first-round playoff bye. Oakland clinched an AFC playoff berth while Kansas City failed to clinch a playoff berth.

Nothing was decided in the NFC heading into Sunday night's Tampa Bay at Dallas game. Seattle had wrapped up the NFC West with its Thursday night win over Los Angeles.

A capsule look at Sunday's games:

Game of the day

Titans 19, Chiefs 17
The scoop: Ryan Succop kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired to stun Kansas City, 19-17. The Titans had closed to 17-16 3:12 left on the second touchdown run of teh game by Derrick Henry. Coach Mike Molarky elected to go for the two-point conversion but Marcus Mariota was tackled on his rollout pass attempt leaving the Chiefs in the league. When Kansas City was forced to punt Mariota drove the Titans 60 yards into field goal range for Succop, a former Chief. Kansas City had led all the way after a 68-yard run by rookie Tyreek Hill in the first quarter.
Why the Titans won: Kansas City had four trips inside the Titans' 20, but only one produced a touchdown.

The contenders

Cowboys 26, Buccaneers 20

The scoop:  Dallas' rookie stars stood out again as the Cowboys came back from a 19-17 deficit to win. Dak Prescott got back on his game after two below-part performances completing 32 of 36 passes for 279 yards and Ezekiel Elliott ran 23 times for 159 yards in the victory for the Cowboys who already have clinched a playoff berth. Tight end Jason Witten had 10 catches for 51 yards.. The loss knocked Tampa Bay out of a tie for first with Atlanta in the NFC South.
Why the Cowboys won:  Tampa Bay had three turnovers, one an interception that set up the first of three straight Dan Bailey field goals in the fourth quarter.

Steelers 24, Bengals 20
The scoop: Pittsburgh shut out the Bengals in the second half and wiped out a 20-9 halftime lead to stay alone in first place in the AFC North. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 286 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown to Eli Rogers with seven minutes remaining to give Pittsburgh its first lead in the game. Chris Boswell kicked a career-best six field goals for the Steelers to tie a team record.
Why the Steelers won: The Bengals gained only 38 yards in the second half.The scoop:

Packers 30, Bears 27
The scoop: Mason Crosby kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired to give Green Bay its fourth straight win. Chicago has not beaten Green Bay at home since 2010. Ty Montgomery, a converted wide receiver from Stanford wearing No. 88, ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers connected on a 60-yard pass to Jordy Nelson to set up the winning field goal in the final minute. Connor Barth had tied the game for Chicago with a 22-yard field goal with 1:232 left completing a comeback from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Why the Packers won: Chicago lost despite gaining 449 yards because Matt Barkley threw three interceptions and lost a fumble

Texans 21, Jaguars 20
The scoop: Backup quarterback Tom Savage, who still hasn't thrown his first NFL touchdown pass, led a fourth-quarter for Houston.  Savage led an eight-play 52-yard drive for Houston's only touchdown, a 1-yard run by Lamar Miller with 2:51 to play. Blake Bortles of the Jaguars threw an interception on the next series and Houston was able to run out the clock and stay tied with Tennessee for first in the AFC South.
Why the Texans won: Bortles passed for only 92 yards and the Jaguars had only 150 yards total offense.

Ravens 27, Eagles 26
The scoop: Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz scored on a 4-yard run with 4 seconds to play. With nothing to gain playoff-wise, the Eagles elected to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Linebacker C.J. Mosley tipped Wentz's pass attempt, preventing it from getting to Jordan Matthews and the attempt failed. The outcome left the Ravens a game behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North. The teams will face each other next week at Heinz Field to decided the race. It was Philadelphia's fifth loss in a row.
Why the Ravens won: The Eagles had to settle for four field goals from inside the Baltimore 27.

Giants 17, Lions 6
The scoop: Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes for the Giants while the Detroit offense could not reach the end zone. Nursing a 10-6 lead, the Giants got breathing room when Odell Beckham Jr., made a one-handed snag of a pass from Manning anc completed a 4-yard scoring play with 5:47 left. The Lions had their five-game winning streak snapped and lead Green Bay by only one game in the NFC North.
Why the Giants won: Matt Stafford completed 24 passes for the Lions, but none went for a touchdown. The Lions had two turnovers in their three trips to the Red Zone.


Patriots 16, Broncos 3
The scoop: Denver couldn't solve the New England defense but the Patriots managed to produced the game's only touchdown. Tom Brady did not pass for a touchdown and had a passer rating of only 68.2 but New England gained 138 yards on the ground, including 95 by Dion Lewis.
Why the Patriots won: They limited Denver to only 58 rushing yards and sacked Trevor Siemian four times and intercepted him once.

Raiders 19,  Chargers 16
The scoop: Sebastian Janikowski kicked two of his four field goals in the fourth quarter to bring Oakland back from a 16-13 deficit and allow the Raider to reclaim sole possession of first place in the AFC West. The Only Raiders touchdown came on a 13-yard pass from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree with 22 seconds left in the first half to tie the game at 10. Janikowski kicked a 33-yard to give Oakland its first lead, 13-10 in the third quarter when the Chargers took the lead on a 7-yard pass from Philip Rivers to rookie tight end Hunter Henry. Rivers hooked up on a 47-yard TD completion to Travis Benjamin to give San Diego the early lead.
Why the Raiders  won: They limited San Diego to 13 yards total offense in the fourth quarter while they will piling up 82.

The wannabes:

Saints 48, Cardinals 41
The scoop: After throwing no touchdown passes the previous two games, Drew Brees of the Saints passed for four scores and 389 yards, outscoring Arizona 21-14 in a wild fourth quarter. One of the Arizona touchdowns was a 53-yard rumble return by defensive lineman Calais Campbell.
Why the Saints won: They had 488 yards total offense against an Arizona defense that ranked first in the league coming into the game, allowing 298.5 per game.


Colts 34, Vikings 6
The scoop: The way the underdog Colts were able to dominate the Vikings in Minneapolis was the day's biggest surprise. Andrew Luck passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns and the Colts rushed 161 yards.
getting running back Adrian Peterson back didn't help the Vikings. Peterson carried only six times for 22 yards.
Why the Colts won: Sam Bradford completed 32 passes but none went for a touchdown and the completions averaged only a 9.1-yard gain.

Dog of the day
Falcons 41, 49ers 13
The scoop: Atlanta jumped to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and outscored the Niners, 13-0, in the second half. Devonta Freeman ran for 139 yards in 20 carries and had three rushing touchdowns for Atlanta. Matt Ryan passed for two Falcons touchdown. Colin Kaepernick passed for both San Francisco touchdowns.
Why the Falcons won: They overwhelmed the 49ers with 550 yards of total offense. San Francisco has lost 13 in a row. after an opening win over Los Angeles.

News wire services contributed to this report.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com.

 

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