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Small name QBs come up big in key games

Third-tier quarterbacks in the National Football League don't get a lot of respect from the some media and fans and even some opponents.

Case Keenum, Blake Bortles and Josh McCown are among those who are often criticized because they are not Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or even Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Wentz or Russell Wilson.

Sunday, those three came through in some big Week 13 games. Between the three they completed 76.2 percent of their passes for an average of 289 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 116.5 average passer ratings.

Keenum threw two touchdown passes while the Minnesota defense shut out the Falcons from the field in Atlanta in a 14-9 victory to strengthen the Vikings' hold on first place in the NFC North.

Bortles guided Jacksonville to a 30-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts, keeping the Jaguars tied for first in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans.

McCown guided the New York Jets to their most points in a game this season in a 38-31 win that knocked the Kansas City Chiefs out of sole possession of first in the AFC West. Wins by Oakland and the Los Angeles Chargers created a three-way tie at the top of the standings although the Chargers lead in the tiebreakers.

New Orleans was back in sole possession of first in the NFC South with its 31-21 win over Carolina.

A capsule look at Sunday's NFL games:

Game of the day

Saints 31, Panthers 21
The scoop: Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for three touchdowns and 145 yards rushing in the New Orleans victory. Drew Brees pass to Michael Thomas for the other Saints TD.
Why the Saints won: The Panthers went three-and-out four times, including three in the first half when they fell behind, 21-14.

The contenders

Vikings 14, Falcons 0

The scoop: Trailing, 9-7, Keenum directed an 89-yard drive early in the fourth quarter ending it with a 6-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph. Minnesota killed off the final 4:58 after Matt Bryant misssed a 45-yard field goal try for Atlanta. Keenum passed for both Minnesota touchdowns.
Why the Vikings won: Atlanta scored no touchdowns and converted just 1 of 10 third downs and had only 173 net yards passing.

Jaguars 30, Colts 10
The scoop: Jacksonville never trailed after Bortles led them on an 80-yard TD drive in the first quarter, capped by a 4-yard pass to Marqise Lee. Bortles passed for two TDs and 309 yards in all. Frank Gore of the Colts gained 61 yards in 13 attempts to pass Jerome Bettis on the all-time NFL career rushing list.
Why the Jaguars won: Interceptions in the last minute of the first half and with 6:03 left held off the Colts.

Ravens 44, Lions 20
The scoop: It was a 10-point game before Detroit QB Matt Stafford threw an interception that led to the Ravens taking a 37-20 lead. Stafford was knocked out of the game with a right-hand injury on the play. His replacement, Jake Rudock, then threw a pick-6 that Eric Weddle returned 45 yards with 2:26 left. Joe Flacco threw short passes for two Ravens touchdowns.
Why the Ravens won: They shut out the Lions in the first half when Detroit had a missed field goal, lost a fumble and punted four times.

Titans 24, Texans 13

The scoop: Derrick Henry ran 75 yards for a touchdown with 46 seconds left to wrap it up for Tennessee. The Titans had taken the lead, 17-10, on Marcus Mariota's 24-yard pass to Delanie Walker withy 3 seconds left in the third quarter.
Why the Titans won: Two missed field goals (from 48 and 28) by Houston's Ka'imi Fairbairn helped as did an interception by Leshaun Sims when Houston was driving for the go-ahead touchdown.

Chargers 19, Browns 10
The scoop: Cleveland lost another heartbreaker. The Chargers scored only one touchdown but prevailed with on four field goals by Travis Coons, who was activated this week when Nick Novak went on injured reserve.
Why the Chargers won: Deshone Kizer threw an interception and lost a fumble on the last two series to prevent the Browns from having any chance of winning their first game.

Rams 32, Cardinals 16
The scoop: The Rams continued at their high-scoring pace but did not have a huge offensive game. Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals, one TD came on a pick-6 by linebacker Alex Ogletree for 41 yards and two TD drives were for only 23 and 30 yards.
Why the Rams won: They sacked Blaine Gabbert six times and intercepted him twice.

Raiders 24, Giants 17
The scoop: Marshawn Lynch ran 51 yards for a touchdown to get Oakland started. A 9-yard run by DeAndre Washington made it 17-7 early in the fourth quarter Derek Carr's 9-yard TD pass to Johnny Holton with 3:23 left proved to be the winner. Geno Smith, starting instead of Eli Manning for the Giants completed 21 of 34 for 212 yards and a touchdown.
Why the Raiders won: The Giants went three-and-out on half their 12 possessions.

The pretenders

Packers 26, Buccaneers 20
The scoop: Rookie Aaron Jones ran 20 yards for the winning score with 5:59 left in overtime. Jameis Winston passed for two Bucs touchdowns.
Why the Packers won: A 62-yard rumble with a Winston fumble by 296-pound Green Bay defensive end Dean Lowry helped his team take a 17-7 lead and ended up as the main difference.

Jets 38, Chiefs 31
The scoop: Kansas City lost its fourth in a row in frustating fashion. New York scored its winning touchdown with 2:15 left on its 10th play of what started as goal-to-go from the 5. The drive got life when a personal foul was called on a successful New York field goal attempt. A defensive holding penalty on a third-down incompletion kept the drive alive again before Josh McCown scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Another holding call gave New York a second crack at a two-point conversion which they scored.

Why the Jets won: McCown passed for 331 yards and they ran for 157 more.

Dolphins 35, Broncos 9

The scoop: Miami had two safeties in the victory, one to open the scoring and the other to finish the scoring. Jake Cutler passed for two Miami touchowns and another came on a 30-yard interception return by Xavien Howard for a 16-3 halftime lead. Justin Simmons had a 65-yard interception return in the third quarter for the only Denver touchdown in the Broncos' eighth straight loss.
Why the Dolphins won: They intercepted Trevor Siemian three times and sacked him three times.

Dog of the day

49ers 15, Bears 14
The scoop: Ex Bear Robbie Gould kicked five field goals for all the San Francisco points including a 24-yarder with 4 seconds to go to end an 86-yard march. Jimmy Garoppolo made his debut as 49ers starter and completed 26 of 37 passes for 283 yards and an 82.4 rating.
Why the 49ers won: They shut down the Chicago running game, allowing 62 yards and a 3.3 average per attempt.

News wire services contributed to this report.




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