Andy Dalton returned from his three-week exile Sunday and got a long-awaited win for the coach who benched him, throwing a touchdown pass during a 22-6 victory over the New York Jets that ended the longest losing streak in Cincinnati Bengals history.
The Bengals (1-11) had lost 13 in a row since the end of last season, with newcomer Zac Taylor waiting until December to get his first head coaching win. Taylor benched Dalton after the eighth loss, deciding to see whether Ryan Finley fit into the team’s long-term plans.
With the rookie struggling and the season careening toward 0-16, Taylor reversed course and went back to Dalton. He made the difference in front of the smallest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history. Carlos Dunlap and Sam Hubbard dunked Taylor with ice water in the final seconds.
Dalton got beyond his initial bitterness over the benching and led the NFL’s lone winless team to the breakthrough victory in front of 39,804 fans. Dalton also set a couple of franchise passing marks along the way.
Baltimore 20, San Francisco 17: Neither rain, wind nor the San Francisco 49ers’ top-ranked defense could prevent Lamar Jackson from guiding the Baltimore Ravens to their franchise-record eighth straight win.
Jackson weathered miserable conditions to run for 101 yards and Justin Tucker kicked a tiebreaking 49-yard field goal as time expired in a possible Super Bowl preview. The combination of driving rain, a stiff wind and San Francisco’s rugged defense was difficult for Jackson to handle. He completed only 14 of 23 passes for 105 yards and lost a fumble.
But the double-threat quarterback was solid when it counted. Not only did he fuel the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack, he directed a clutch drive that lasted nearly 6½ minutes before Tucker ended it with a kick that tore through the raindrops and between the uprights.
Baltimore (10-2) improved to 16-3 with Jackson as a starter and 12-0 when he rushes for at least 70 yards. In addition, Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history to have four 100-yard rushing games in a season.
Tennessee 31, Indianapolis 17: Tye Smith returned a blocked field goal 63 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:02 left to play.
The Titans (7-5) snapped a three-game losing streak in the series, winning for only the third time in the past 17 meetings. It also allowed Tennessee to leapfrog the Colts in the AFC South.
Adam Vinatieri missed three field goals for Indy (6-6), with two being blocked, including the decisive kick that Dane Cruikshank got his hand on. Vinatieri has missed 14 kicks this season: eight field goals and six extra points.
Green Bay 31, NY Giants 13: Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the snow and the Packers rebounded from a dismal West Coast performance.
The Packers sent the Giants to their eighth straight loss, their worst skid since 2004.
Rodgers finished 21 of 33 for 243 yards with no interceptions on a slippery, snowy day at MetLife Stadium. Rodgers hit Davante Adams on touchdown passes of 8 and 17 yards, found a wide-open Allen Lazard for 37 yards and capped the performance with a 1-yarder to Marcedes Lewis.
The Packers (9-3) also intercepted Giants rookie Daniel Jones three times, with the picks setting up 10 points.
Miami 37, Philadelphia 31: DeVante Parker made two acrobatic touchdown receptions and kicker Jason Sanders also had a circus-like scoring catch.
Miami overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half with three touchdowns in less than 13 minutes – a remarkable achievement for one of the NFL’s lowest-scoring teams.
The Dolphins (3-9) won for the third time in their past five games, a surprising and perhaps costly turnaround for a team that will be shopping for a franchise quarterback in the 2020 draft.
The Eagles (5-7) lost their third game in a row and missed a chance to pull into a tie with Dallas atop the NFC East.
Trickery helped the Dolphins, who twice opted not to kick on fourth down and instead threw for a touchdown. The second such gamble by rookie coach Brian Flores paid off when Miami shifted out of field goal formation before holder Matt Haack threw a 1-yard pass to Sanders.
Washington 29, Carolina 21: Derrius Guice ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns and the Redskins made a late goal-line stand. Adrian Peterson added 99 yards and a score as the Redskins (3-9) piled up 248 yards on the ground and scored their most points this season.
The Panthers’ (5-7) fourth straight loss could put coach Ron Rivera’s job in jeopardy.
The Redskins spotted the Panthers a 14-0 lead after quarterback Kyle Allen opened the game 8 of 8 for 106 yards with touchdown passes to Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore on Carolina’s first two possessions.
But what looked like a Carolina rout quickly turned.
Tampa Bay 28, Jacksonville 11: Nick Foles ended his first three drives with turnovers that Tampa Bay turned into touchdowns. It was Jacksonville’s fourth consecutive loss by at least 17 points and could mean the end of coach Doug Marrone’s tenure with the team. At the very least, the skid will have owner Shad Khan considering changes over the final month of the season.
Marrone, meanwhile, has to decide what to do at quarterback. He benched Foles at halftime, switching back to rookie sensation Gardner Minshew.
Minshew rallied the Jags (4-8) and had a chance to make it a seven-point game in the fourth quarter. But his hot pass slipped through Dede Westbrook’s hands and into Sean Murphy-Bunting’s arms for Jacksonville’s fourth turnover of the day.
L.A. Rams 34, Arizona 7: Jared Goff bounced back from a rough November with one of his best games of the season, throwing for 424 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ dominant 34-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Rams (7-5) followed an embarrassing 45-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night by embarrassing the Cardinals six days later to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Kansas City 40, Oakland 9: Patrick Mahomes looked up at the scoreboard late in the third quarter and was stunned to see the Kansas City Chiefs had taken a 31-0 lead over the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders.
Mahomes did throw for a touchdown and run for a touchdown, but it was Juan Thornhill’s pick-6 and a long list of blunders by Derek Carr and Co. that really made the difference.
They allowed Kansas City to cruise to a 40-9 victory and into a two-game lead over the Raiders in the division race.
Denver 23, LA Chargers 20: Brandon McManus’ 53-yard field goal as time expired, set up by a long interference call, capped a furious final 14 seconds and gave the Broncos a 23-20 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rookie quarterback Drew Lock’s debut win for Denver came a month after Brandon Allen beat Cleveland. It made the Broncos the first team in league history to have two quarterbacks start and win their NFL debuts in the same season.