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Depleted Texans continue winning; Packers stay perfect with late drive

- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2011

HOUSTON — Apparently, it's going to take more than injuries to star players to derail the Houston Texans.

Rookie T.J. Yates threw a touchdown pass in his first NFL start, Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and Houston overcame another injury to Andre Johnson to beat Atlanta 17-10 on Sunday.

The Texans (9-3) have won a franchise-record six straight games, a remarkable feat considering they're down to their third-string quarterback and have played the bulk of their streak without their star receiver.

Johnson left in the third quarter after hurting his left hamstring. He injured his right hamstring in Week 4, underwent minor surgery and sat out six games.

The Falcons (7-5) sputtered offensively much of the day and lost for just the second time in seven games.

Yates went 12-for-25 for 188 yards without an interception, an impressively poised performance after a whirlwind week.

Packers 38, Giants 35

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Green Bay Packers are still perfect and heading to the playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers engineered a last-minute drive to set up a 30-yard field goal by Mason Crosby on the final play and the Green Bay Packers remained undefeated and clinched a playoff berth with a 38-35 victory over the New York Giants. Rodgers hit three passes of more than 18 yards on the drive in the final 58 seconds as the Super Bowl champion Packers (12-0) won their 18th straight game and handed the Giants (6-6) their fourth straight loss.

Broncos 35, Vikings 32 OT

MINNEAPOLIS — Tim Tebow led yet another late rally, passing for a season-best 202 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns to help the unflappable Broncos win their fifth straight game with a 35-32 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Matt Prater kicked two field goals in the final 93 seconds for the Broncos (7-5), who moved into a first-place tie in the AFC West with a loss by the Oakland Raiders. Christian Ponder set Minnesota's single-game rookie record with 381 yards passing, including a pair of touchdowns to Percy Harvin, but his sideline throw with 1:33 remaining was intercepted by Andre Goodman to set up the winner.

Harvin had a career-high 156 yards for the Vikings (2-10), who lost their fourth in a row.

The Broncos raised their record to 6-1 since Tebow took over for Kyle Orton.

Titans 23, Bills 17

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — A rejuvenated Chris Johnson is giving the Tennessee Titans' playoff hopes some legs.

Johnson rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Titans to a 23-17 win over the slumping Buffalo Bills. Held to less than 100 yards seven times in his first eight games, Johnson now has topped the century mark three times in his last four outings.

He scored on runs of 48 and 4 yards to match his season touchdown total. Kicker Rob Bironas did the rest, hitting three field goals, including a 44-yarder midway through the fourth quarter to put the Titans ahead 23-10.

The Bills (5-7) have lost five straight.

Chiefs 10, Bears 3

CHICAGO — Tyler Palko shook off two miserable starts and threw for 157 yards and a touchdown even though he briefly got lifted for Kyle Orton, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat Chicago 10-3 on a day when the Bears lost Matt Forte to a right knee injury.

Orton came on to start the second quarter and immediately left the game after injuring a finger on his right hand. Palko connected with Dexter McCluster on a wild 38-yard pass to end the first half on a ball that got deflected by Brian Urlacher and Chris Conte, giving the Chiefs a 7-3 lead and their first touchdown in three games.

Patriots 31, Colts 24

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski scored three more touchdowns, and it turned out the Patriots needed every one of them to keep Indianapolis winless.

New England withstood the Colts' three-touchdown rally in the fourth quarter for the victory.

The Patriots (9-3) have won four in a row. Indianapolis (0-12) must beat Baltimore, Tennessee, Houston or Jacksonville to avoid becoming the second NFL team to go 0-16.

Steelers 35, Bengals 7

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and set a team record for career completions as the Steelers crushed the error-prone Bengals.

Pittsburgh (9-3) swept the season series from Cincinnati (7-5) for the second straight year behind a 28-point explosion in the second quarter.

Panthers 38, Bucs 19

TAMPA, Fla. — Rookie quarterback Cam Newton ran for three more touchdowns to set the NFL single-season record for rushing TDs by a quarterback, leading the Carolina Panthers to a rout of the struggling Buccaneers.

The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner scored the 11th, 12th and 13th rushing TDs of his career on a trio of 1-yard runs. He also had a 27-yard reception to set up Jonathan Stewart's first-quarter TD run.

Dolphins 34, Raiders 14

MIAMI — The once-woeful Miami Dolphins (4-8) won for the fourth time in the past five games.

The Raiders (7-5) fell to 6-25 in regular-season games in the Eastern Time Zone since December 2002.

Cardinals 19, Cowboys 13, OT

GLENDALE, Ariz. — LaRod Stephens-Howling caught a short pass from Kevin Kolb and zipped 52 yards for a touchdown in overtime to give the Arizona Cardinals the victory, snapping the Cowboys' four-game winning streak.

49ers 26, Rams 0

SAN FRANCISCO — Jim Harbaugh delivered exactly what the San Francisco 49ers hired him for back in January: a playoff berth and NFC West title in his first season running the show. Left tackle Joe Staley delivered the celebratory Gatordade dousing on Harbaugh's head in the closing moments of the win over the St. Louis Rams that wrapped up that long-awaited division title for a once-proud franchise.

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