- Associated Press - Sunday, December 9, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy promised “payback” and “punishment” for the Atlanta Falcons last week, and he and his Carolina teammates delivered on Sunday.

Despite playing without four starters and having 13 players on injured reserve, the Panthers dominated the NFC South champions as Cam Newton threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 72-yard run in a 30-20 victory.

Newton piled up a career-high 116 yards on the ground and the Panthers racked up 475 total yards to avenge an early-season loss with a dominating performance against their Interstate-85 rivals.

Carolina’s defense was superb through 21/2 quarters building a 23-0 lead and holding a 356-86 edge in total yards to snap a five-game losing streak against the Falcons.

Carolina came in with little to play for except to gain a measure of revenge on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whom they felt disrespected them after Atlanta’s 30-28 come-from-behind win earlier this season at the Georgia Dome.

Hardy was upset when television cameras caught Ryan cursing at the Panthers sideline after that game telling them to get off their field. Sunday, Hardy turned the tables on the Falcons, telling them the same thing.

Eagles 23, Bucs 21

TAMPA, Fla. — Nick Foles threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final four minutes, including a 1-yarder to Jeremy Maclin with no time remaining Sunday as Philadelphia rallied to beat Tampa Bay and end an eight-game skid — the Eagles’ longest in 42 years.

Foles completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards in his fourth start in place of the injured Michael Vick. The rookie threw an 11-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor with 3:55 remaining, then led the Eagles on a 64-yard game-winning drive after the Philadelphia defense forced a Tampa Bay punt.

Chargers 34, Steelers 24

PITTSBURGH | Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Danario Alexander, and San Diego beat Pittsburgh.

The win was San Diego’s first in 15 regular-season visits to Pittsburgh and snapped a four-game losing streak.

The Chargers dominated from the outset, never letting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger get comfortable in his first game back after missing nearly a month.

Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0

SEATTLE — Marshawn Lynch had three touchdown runs and Seattle set a franchise record for points. The Seahawks forced eight turnovers. Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner each had two interceptions.

Seattle kept firm grasp on the final NFC wild-card spot and kept alive slim chances of catching San Francisco in the NFC West race.

The Seahawks also picked up their first division victory and assured coach Pete Carroll of his first eight-win season in three years with them.

49ers 27, Dolphins 13

SAN FRANCISCO — Frank Gore ran for a 1-yard touchdown, reached 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth time in his career, and San Francisco beat Miami.

Gore finished with 63 yards, Anthony Dixon also had a 1-yard scoring run and Colin Kaepernick ran for a late 50-yard touchdown and threw for 185 yards in his fourth straight start since being promoted over Alex Smith.

Vikings 21, Bears 14

MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead Minnesota over free-falling Chicago.

Peterson topped 100 yards before the first quarter was over, helping the Vikings overcome another lackluster day from quarterback Christian Ponder to get a victory that will keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Jets 17, Jaguars 10

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell ran for short touchdowns and New York kept its postseason hopes alive.

The Jets were shut out at halftime for the second consecutive week, but they didn’t need to change quarterbacks to spark the offense this time around. Instead, they just pounded the Jaguars up the middle.

Rams 15, Bills 12

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Sam Bradford threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson with 48 seconds left to lift St. Louis.

Bradford was 5 of 8 for 68 yards to cap a 14-play, 84-yard drive. St. Louis continued its late-season resurgence by winning its third straight for the first time since closing the 2006 season with three victories.

Browns 30, Chiefs 7

CLEVELAND — Rookie Travis Benjamin’s electrifying 93-yard punt return touchdown gave Cleveland momentum and the Browns won their third straight game.

The Browns (5-8) have one more win than last season.