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Sunday NFL Rewind: Seven teams win games they needed badly

Seven teams, including the Buffalo Bills, that could not afford losses came through with Week 12 victories Sunday in the National Football League.

By winning, the Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals stayed in contention for wild-card playoff berths,  while the Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks won games that kept them either tied or in the thick of races for division championships.

On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts,  Chicago Bears and  Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued to tumble out of playoff contention if they are not already out of it altogether.

Behind quarterback Carson Wentz, Philadelphia won its ninth straight and Tom Brady led New England to its seventh win in a row. The New Orleans Saints saw their seven-win streak end with a 26-20 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles while Denver, which is not used to losing, lost its seventh straight when it fell to old AFC West rival Raiders in Oakland, 21-14.

A capsule look at Sunday's Week 12 games:

Game of the day

Rams 26, Saints 20

The scoop: Jared Goff passed for two first-half touchdowns, one to ex Bill Sammy Watkins, and the Rams left it up to the trusty right foot of Greg Zuerlein after that as they snapped the New Orleans win streak. Zuerlein kicked four field goals in all, including a 50-yarder in the first quarter.  New Orleans closed its deficit to six when Drew Brees passed 15 yards to Alvin Kamara with 1:45 to go, but L.A. was able to run off the remaining time in just three plays.
Why the Rams won: Despite the relative close score, they dominated time of possession and had success moving the ball a majority of their possessions. The Saints converted only 3 of 13 third downs and had possession for just 24:34.

Staying alive

Falcons  34, Buccaneers 20

The scoop: Atlanta won its third in a row behind a huge receiving day by Julio Jones, who caught 12 passes 253 yards and touchdown plays of 51 and 25 yards in the second quarter. The 51-yarder was a pass from wide receiver Mohammed Sanu, the other from quarterback Matt Ryan. Tevin Coleman ran for two Atlanta touchdowns. Tampa Bay didn't score a touchdown until it trailed 27-6 in the second half.
Why the Falcons won: After a 3-3 tie, Tampa Bay went three-and-out two series in a row in the second quarter and Atlanta cashed in on each with a Jones touchdown.

Raiders 21, Broncos 14

The scoop: Oakland never trailed although Trevor Siemian guided two long Denver scoring drives in the fourth quarter to throw a scare into the Raiders. Derek Carr passed for two touchdowns and Marshawn Lynch scored on a 1-yard run for Oakland. Paxton Lynch started at quarterback for the Broncos  and was sacked four times and intercepted once while completing 9 of 14 for only 41 yards. Siemian was 11 for 21 for 149 yards and the two scores. The Broncos had only 59 yards rushing.
Why the Raiders won: It was a pretty weak performance on offense by Denver after firing coordinator Mike McCoy last week.

Titans  20 , Colts 16

The scoop: After Indianapolis had rallied for 16-6 lead in the third quarter, the Titans pulled out the victory by scoring the last 14 points of the game. The first score came one play after Colts QB Jacoby Brissett lost a fumble at his 4-yard line. It was recovered by Titans ballhawk Kevin Byard. DeMarco Murray scored on a 1-yard run for the winning touchdown with 5:59 left.
Why the Titans won: Murray scored the winner, but Derrick Henry supplied 52 of the 77 yards on the drive, 42 for rushing yards in five carries and a pass reception for 10.

Bengals 30 , Browns 16

The scoop: Cincinnati built a 23-9 lead on two Andy Dalton TD passes and three Randy Bullock field goals before Browns closed to 23-16 on TD run by Deshone Kizer with 6:57 left. Bengals put it away with 75-yard drive that ended with 11-yard run by rookie Joe Mixon.
Why the Bengals won: No huge turnovers for a chance, but the Browns failed to cash in going 1 for 4 in the Red Zone and 1 for 2 in goal-to-go situations.

Cardinals 27, Jaguars 24

The scoop: Phil Dawson kicked a 57-yard field goal with 1 second left to win it for Arizona and drop the Jaguars into a tie with Tennessee for first place in the AFC South.  Jacksonville had tied the game at 24-all on a 17-yard run by quarterback Blake Bortles with 7:26 left.  It was Dawson's fourth field goal of the game. Bortles also had a 1-yard TD run. The third Jaguars touchdown was a 10-yard fumble return by former Cardinal Calais Campbell to put his team in front, 17-16, early in the fourth quarter. Blaine Gabbert's 51-yard pass to Jaron Brown followed by a two-point pass from Gabbert to Larry Fitzgerald gave Arizona the lead, 24-17 with 9:07 left.
Why the Cardinals won: In an otherwise even game, their ability to stop Jaguars back Leonard Fournette (12 carries, 25 yards) weighed in their favor.

Back, back ....

Steelers 31, Packers 28

The scoop: Chris Boswell kicked a 53-yard field goal on the last play of the game to give Pittsburgh its sixth win in a row. Green Bay hadtied the game on a 4-yard run by Jamaal Williams with 2:02 left after Pittsburgh taken the lead on a 33-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown. It was Roethlisberger's fourth touchdown pass of the game and second to Brown. Brett Hundley of the Packers passed for three scores. The loss dropped the Packers three games behind the leaders for the second NFC wild-card playoff berth.

Why the Steelers won: Roethlisberger took them 35 yards in four plays that took 17 seconds to set up the winning kick, Boswell's17th without a miss at home this season.

Patriots  35 , Dolphins 17

The scoop: Tom Brady directed touchdown drives on the first two New England offensive series and three of the first four. Rob Gronkowski (5 catches, 82 yards) scored twice and Brandin Cooks  (6 catches, 83 yards) once on passes from Brady who also passed to Rex Burkhead for a score.  Dion Lewis had 15 carries for 112 yards to lead a 196-yard New England rushing attack.  It was Miami's fifth straight loss.
Why the Patriots won: They sacked Miami's Matt Moore seven times and intercepted him twice.

 

Seahawks  24, 49ers 13

The scoop: Russell Wilson passed for two touchdowns, ran for another and Blair Walsh kicked a 34-yard field goal in the Seattle win.  The big news was that ex Patriot Jimmy Garappolo made his San Francisco debut, completing both of his passes for 18 yards including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy.
Why the Seahawks won: They kept the 49ers out of the end zone until the last play of the game.

Panthers 35 , Jets 27

The scoop: Luke Kuechly returned an interception 34 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and Kaelin Clay, who spent part of the regular season with Buffalo before returning to Carolina, scored on a 60-yard punt return for 32-20 Panthers lead. Josh McCown of the Jets passed for three touchdowns and 307 yards. Cam Newton of the Panthers had only 168 passing yards and no TD passes and just 28 yards rushing in nine attempts.
Why the Panthers won: The Jets led twice in the second half, 17-12 and 20-18, but their mistakes did them in.

 

Dog of the day

Eagles 31, Bears 3

The scoop: Wentz passed for three touchdowns for Philadelphia which built a 24-0 halftime lead on the way to a routine victory over the punchless Bears.. The TD receptions went to Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery. Agholor also recovered a teammate's fumble in the end zone for the last Philly score.
Why the Eagles won: Simple. They held the Bears to 140 yards total offense, 6 yards rushing and just eight first downs while controlling the ball for 37:08. Chicago rookie Mitchell Trubisky completed 17 of 33 for 147 yards was intercepted twice and sacked twice. His longest completion was 19 yards.

News wire services contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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