NFL results: Steelers & Pats cruise

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (C) scrambles away from Indianapolis Colts defensive...

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (C) scrambles away from Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Antonio Johnson (L) and defensive end Dwight Freeney in the second half of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts December 4, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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New England 31, Indianapolis 24

Foxboro, MA  - He may be just 22 years young, but Rob Gronkowski is fast becoming the best tight end in the NFL, if he's not already. Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes and ran for another score, as the New England Patriots beat the lowly Indianapolis Colts, 31-24, at Gillette Stadium. The 2010 second-rounder tied Vernon Davis (2009) and Antonio Gates (2004) for the league's single-season record for receiving touchdowns at his position with 13. Gronkowski appeared to surpass the mark in the third quarter when he caught a pass from Tom Brady in the right flat and raced into the end zone from the Indianapolis two-yard line to put New England up 31-3. However, the play wound up being a rushing TD for Gronkowski after it was changed to a lateral. Brady had 293 yards on 29-of-38 passing for AFC-East leading New England (9-3), while Wes Welker had 11 receptions for 114 yards.

Pittsburgh 35, Cincinnati 7

Pittsburgh, PA  - Ben Roethlisberger threw a pair of touchdown passes while becoming the Steelers' all-time completions leader in a 35-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger completed 15-of-23 passes for 176 yards, giving him 2,026 career completions. Terry Bradshaw owned the previous record with 2,025. Mike Wallace was on the receiving end of both of Roethlisberger's touchdown throws, while Rashard Mendenhall added 60 yards and two scores on 16 carries for Pittsburgh (9-3). The win gave the Steelers a two-game lead over the Bengals (7-5) for the top spot in the AFC North. Pittsburgh also holds a half-game advantage over the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the division. Baltimore will play Cleveland on Sunday to try and keep pace with the Steelers. Andy Dalton completed 11-of-24 passes for 135 yards and a score for Cincinnati before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a hip injury. A.J. Green paced all receivers with six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort.

New Orleans 31, Detroit 17

New Orleans, LA - Drew Brees threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns, leading New Orleans to a 31-17 victory over the undisciplined Detroit Lions.  Robert Meachem caught three passes for 119 yards and a score for the Saints (9-3), who have won four in a row. They moved two games ahead of Atlanta in the NFC South. The Falcons fell to Texans earlier Sunday. The Lions (7-5), meanwhile, were playing without defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh due to his Thanksgiving Day stomp of Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.  Detroit proved just as undisciplined without Suh, racking up a devastating 11 penalties for 109 yards.  Matthew Stafford threw for 408 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the loss. His team has dropped five of its last seven games after starting the season 5-0.

Tennessee 23, Buffalo 17

Orchard Park, NY  - Chris Johnson carried the ball 23 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Tennessee Titans beat the struggling Buffalo Bills, 23-17. Johnson, who struggled early on this season, now has three 100-yard rushing performances in three of his last four games for the Titans (7-5), who remained two games behind red-hot Houston for first place in the AFC South. Matt Hasselbeck completed 16-of-25 passes for 140 yards for Tennessee, which has won two in a row. Ryan Fitzpatrick connected on 29-of-46 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown for the Bills (5-7), who have dropped five straight contests. C.J. Spiller carried the ball 14 times for 83 yards and a score in defeat.

Kansas City 10, Chicago 3

Chicago, IL  - Dexter McCluster hauled in a 38-yard Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half, and Tyler Palko managed the game by throwing for 157 yards, as the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Chicago Bears, 10-3, in a defensive slugfest at Soldier Field. The Chiefs came into the contest ranked last in the NFL with 13 sacks, but Kansas City's pressure got to Chicago quarterback Caleb Hanie seven times, with rookie Justin Houston recording three sacks. McCluster ran for 61 yards on nine carries for the Chiefs (5-7), who snapped a four-game losing skid. Without Matt Forte, who exited the game in the first quarter with a right knee injury, the Bears (7-5) struggled to get anything going offensively as they finished the game with just 181 total yards and went 0-for-11 on third down. Hanie completed just 11- of-24 passes for 133 yards and three interceptions.

Houston 17, Atlanta 10

Houston, TX  - Behind rookie quarterback T.J. Yates and running back Arian Foster, and thanks to a staunch defensive effort, the Texans extended their franchise-best winning streak to six games with a 17-10 victory over the Falcons. Yates, a fifth-round draft choice in April, made his first NFL start Sunday and completed 12-of-25 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown, while not throwing an interception. He was starting in place of Matt Leinart, who had replaced injured regular starter Matt Schaub but suffered a season-ending collarbone injury last week at Jacksonville. Yates replaced Leinart last week and led Houston to the victory, and did the same during his start Sunday. Foster carried the ball 31 times for 111 yards and a touchdown for Houston (9-3), which leads the AFC South. The Texans defense stifled the Falcons' offense. Quarterback Matt Ryan completed only 20-of-45 passes for 267 yards and was intercepted twice, while throwing for one touchdown. Michael Turner was limited to 44 yards rushing, as Atlanta (7-5) had a two-game win streak broken.

Miami 34, Oakland 14

Miami, FL  - Matt Moore threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to back yet another sterling effort by the Miami defense, as the Dolphins continued their resurgence with a 34-14 rout of the Oakland Raiders at Sun Life Stadium. It may be too late for the Dolphins (4-8) to make any kind of playoff run after their disastrous 0-7 start, but they certainly bounced back nicely from a last-second loss on Thanksgiving at Dallas. After a 10-day break following the 20-19 holiday setback, the Dolphins scored the first 34 points on Sunday and won for the fourth time in their last five games while also extending their home winning streak to three. Reggie Bush ran for 100 yards on 22 carries with a score and rookie Daniel Thomas added 73 yards on the ground for Miami, which had not won three in a row at home since the 2008 season. The Dolphins have outscored Washington, Buffalo and now Oakland by a combined 89-31 during their home winning streak and came within half a quarter of their first shutout in five years. Miami, which gave up two late touchdowns after keeping its last two home foes out of the end zone, hasn't blanked an opponent since a 21-0 whitewash of New England on December 10, 2006.

Denver 35, Minnesota 32

Minneapolis, MN  - For the second consecutive week, a Matt Prater field goal delivered a victory. And thanks to Tim Tebow, the Broncos keep rolling out inexplicable victories. Prater kicked a 46-yard field goal to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, then booted a 23-yarder with time expiring to give Denver a 35-32 win against the Vikings. Last week, Prater kicked a field goal in overtime to give Denver a 16-13 victory over the Chargers in San Diego. But before that kick, Tebow led several drives to help deliver the victory, and the same was true Sunday. Tebow threw two third- quarter touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas, ran for a game-tying two-point conversion in the fourth, and helped put Denver in position for Prater's game- tying field goal with 1:33 left in the game. A turnover led to Prater's game- winner, and the result was another victory for the Broncos (7-5), who have won six of seven since Tebow took over as starting quarterback. Five of those victories have come by seven points or fewer.

Carolina 38, Tampa Bay 19

Tampa, FL  - Cam Newton rushed for three touchdowns and threw for a fourth as the Carolina Panthers rolled over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-19 at Raymond James Stadium. Newton's three rushing scores gave him 13 on the season, which established a new NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. The previous record was held by former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan, who ran for 12 scores in 1976 while playing a 14-game schedule. Newton ended his day with 204 yards and one interception on 12-of-21 passing to go with 54 yards on the ground. In addition to Newton, Jonathan Stewart had an effective day running the football, finishing with 80 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, while DeAngelo Williams carried it 10 times for 29 yards for Carolina (4-8), which has won two straight. Brandon LaFell caught three passes for 64 yards and Legedu Naanee hauled in two passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. Naanee also completed a 27 yard pass to Newton.

NY Jets 34, Washington 19

Landover, MD  - Shonn Greene carried the ball 22 times for 88 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores late in the fourth quarter, to help the New York Jets beat the Washington Redskins, 34-19. Mark Sanchez completed 19-of-32 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown for the Jets (7-5), who remain two games back of first-place New England in the AFC East. Rookie Roy Helu carried the ball 23 times for 100 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins (4-8), who have lost seven of eight since the starting the season with a 3-1 mark. Helu also caught four passes for 42 yards. Rex Grossman connected on 19-of-46 passes for 221 yards and an interception in defeat.

Baltimore 24, Cleveland 10

Cleveland, OH  - Ray Rice ran for a career-high 204 yards with a touchdown as the Baltimore Ravens took a 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The win allowed Baltimore (9-3) to keep pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top spot in the AFC North. With both teams having identical records, Baltimore sits in first place of the division because it holds the tiebreaker over the Steelers with two wins in the head-to-head meetings this year. Joe Flacco completed just 10-of-23 passes for 158 yards in the win. Colt McCoy threw for 192 yards with a touchdown and an interception on 17-of-35 passing for Cleveland (4-8). Peyton Hillis carried the ball 12 times for 45 yards while adding one catch for 52 yards in defeat.

Arizona 19, Dallas 13 (OT)

Glendale, AZ  - LaRod Stephens-Howling turned a screen pass into the game-winning 52-yard touchdown in overtime, as the Arizona Cardinals beat the visiting Dallas Cowboys, 19-13. Kevin Kolb finished with 247 yards on 16-of-25 passing for Arizona (5-7), which has won four of its last five games. Tony Romo completed 28-of-42 throws for 299 yards and one touchdown for the NFC East-leading Cowboys (7-5), who had their winning streak snapped at four games. Dallas still sits one game ahead of the New York Giants in the division and faces them next Sunday.

Green Bay 38, NY Giants 35

East Rutherford, NJ  - The Packers were pushed to the brink and answered emphatically, as Mason Crosby booted the game-winning 30-yard field goal at the buzzer to keep Green Bay's perfect season alive with a 38-35 victory over the New York Giants. Hakeem Nicks' second touchdown grab brought the Giants within 35-33 with 58 seconds remaining in regulation, and D.J. Ware punched in the tying two-point conversion on a delayed draw to pull even. But Aaron Rodgers completed four straight passes for 68 yards to get in field goal range, and Crosby split the uprights to seal Green Bay's (12-0) franchise- record 18th straight win.

San Francisco 26, St. Louis 0

San Francisco, CA  - Frank Gore became San Francisco's all- time leading rusher, and the 49ers clinched their first NFC West title in nine years by shutting out the St. Louis Rams, 26-0. Gore needed just 22 yards to surpass NFL Hall-of-Famer Joe Perry's all-time mark of 7,344 yards, and did so with a simple two-yard run off the right edge in the second quarter. Gore finished the game with 73 yards rushing on 21 carries for San Francisco (10-2), which last won the NFC West in 2002. Alex Smith completed 17-of-23 passes for 274 yards and two second-half touchdowns, while Michael Crabtree caught four balls for 96 yards and a score. Sam Bradford was a game-time scratch after being limited in practice during the past week after re- aggravating his sprained left ankle last Sunday against the Cardinals. A.J. Feeley got the start and completed 12-of-22 passes for 156 yards and an interception for the Rams (2-10), who were outgained in total yards, 389-157.

 


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