- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

SCOREBOARD

Monday, Dec. 21

Detroit at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. EST. WR Calvin Johnson is questionable with a sore ankle heading into the game for the Lions (4-9), who are already guaranteed their third losing season in four as coach Jim Caldwell’s future is unclear. Meanwhile, Drew Brees and the Saints (5-8) are one loss away from a second straight losing season - something that has never happened since coach Sean Payton arrived in 2006.

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STARS

Passing

-Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, had 380 yards passing and three touchdowns to lead Pittsburgh to a 34-27 comeback victory over Denver.

-Cam Newton, Panthers, threw five touchdown passes for the third time in five weeks and also ran for 100 yards as Carolina remained perfect on the season by outlasting the New York Giants 38-35.

-Kirk Cousins, Redskins, equaled his career high with four touchdown passes and ran 13 yards for another score, helping Washington win consecutive games for the first time in more than a year and stay atop the NFC East by beating Buffalo 35-25.

-Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings, threw a career-high four touchdowns and ran for another one, and the Vikings beat Chicago 38-17.

-Eli Manning, Giants, threw four TD passes in a losing cause as New York fell 38-35 to unbeaten Carolina.

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Rushing

-Rookie David Johnson, Cardinals, ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns as they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 40-17 to clinch the NFC West title.

-Alfred Blue, Texans, ran 20 times for 107 yards in Houston’s 16-10 win at Indianapolis.

-Rashad Jennings, Giants, had 107 yards rushing - the first 100-yard rusher for the team this season - and a TD on 16 carries in a 38-35 loss to Carolina.

-Jeremy Hill, Bengals, ran for two scores in Cincinnati’s 24-14 win at San Francisco.

-Danny Woodhead, Chargers, had a touchdown run and also caught three TD passes in San Diego’s 30-14 victory over Miami.

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Receiving

-Antonio Brown, Steelers, caught 16 passes for 189 yards and two TDs in Pittsburgh’s 34-27 win over Denver.

-Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos, made 10 receptions for a career-high 181 yards and a touchdown in a losing cause as Denver fell to Pittsburgh 34-27.

-DeSean Jackson, Redskins, had six catches for 153 yards, including a 77-yard TD in Washington’s 35-25 win over Buffalo.

-Kamar Aiken, Ravens, caught eight passes for 128 yards, including a desperation 48-yard touchdown at the end of the first half of Baltimore’s 34-14 loss to Kansas City.

-Sammy Watkins, Bills, had two touchdowns catches while finishing with five receptions for 111 yards in Buffalo’s 35-25 loss at Washington.

-Delanie Walker, Titans, caught two touchdowns passes in Tennessee’s 33-16 loss at New England.

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Special Teams

-Graham Gano, Panthers, kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired to keep Carolina perfect this season with a wild 38-35 victory over the New York Giants.

-Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots, booted four field goals in New England’s 33-16 win against Tennessee.

-Carlos Dunlap, Bengals, blocked Phil Dawson’s 41-yard field goal attempt in Cincinnati’s 24-14 win at San Francisco.

-Mason Crosby, Packers, kicked three field goals in the second half to help lift Green Bay over Oakland 30-20.

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Defense

-Tyvon Branch, Chiefs, returned a fumble 73 yards for a touchdown in Kansas City’s 34-14 rout of Baltimore. Teammate Marcus Peters scored on a 90-yard interception return.

-Damarious Randall, Packers, returned an interception 43 yards for a score in Green Bay’s 30-20 win over Oakland.

-Akiem Hicks, Patriots, recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD after Jamie Collins’ strip-sack in New England’s 33-16 win over Tennessee.

-Julius Peppers, Packers, had 2 1/2 sacks in Green Bay’s 30-20 victory at Oakland.

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STARTS

Cam Newton led Carolina (14-0) to its 18th straight regular-season victory, helping the Panthers improve to 14-0 with a 38-35 win over the New York Giants. Carolina visits Atlanta and hosts Tampa Bay to finish the schedule. All three previous NFL teams to reach 14-0 - Miami in 1972, New England in 2007 and Indianapolis in 2009 - made the Super Bowl. … With New England’s 33-16 win over Tennessee, the Patriots (12-2) have won two in a row since stumbling to consecutive losses - their first two-game losing streak since 2012.

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STREAKS & STATS

With its 35-25 loss at Washington, Buffalo (6-8) is assured of missing the playoffs for the 16th year in a row, the longest active drought in the NFL. … Baltimore (4-10) lost its third straight and fell to 2-5 at home with a 34-14 defeat against Kansas City, the first time in their 20-year history that the Ravens have lost five home games. … Houston snapped a six-game skid in the series and improved to 1-13 all-time in Indianapolis with a 16-10 victory. … Washington scored TDs on each of its first three possessions of a game for the first time since September 1999, grabbing a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter before beating Buffalo 35-25. … Atlanta snapped a six-game skid with a 23-17 win at Jacksonville. … After winning an NFL-record 16 consecutive games against division foes, Indianapolis has lost two AFC South games in two weeks. … The Cardinals have won eight in a row, the latest a 40-17 victory at Philadelphia to clinch the NFC West.

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MILESTONES

Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri played in his 304th career game, breaking a tie with Jerry Rice for No. 6 on the NFL’s career list for games played. … Indianapolis’ Matt Hasselbeck tied Terry Bradshaw and Y.A. Tittle for No. 30 in TD passes (212), and Colts receiver Andre Johnson passed James Lofton for No. 9 in yards receiving (14,015). … Washington’s Kirk Cousins threw for 319 yards in a 35-25 win over Buffalo, his sixth 300-yard passing day of the season, a franchise record. He equaled another club mark, set in 1967 by Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen, by starting the season with at least one TD throw in 14 straight games. … Atlanta’s Julius Jones has 118 catches, breaking teammate Roddy White’s mark of 115 set in 2010. … Teddy Bridgewater became the first Minnesota player to throw for four touchdowns in a game since Brett Favre on Jan. 17, 2010, against Dallas in the playoffs. … Oakland rookie Amari Cooper cracked the 1,000-yard milestone as he caught six passes for 120 yards and two TDs in a 30-20 loss to Green Bay. He reached the mark on a 41-yard catch in the third quarter, becoming the first Oakland player with 1,000 yards receiving since Randy Moss in 2005. That was the longest current drought in the NFL.

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TICKETS PUNCHED

Seattle clinched a playoff spot for the fourth straight season with a 30-13 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. … Green Bay beat the Oakland Raiders 30-20 on Sunday after clinching a franchise-record seventh straight playoff spot when the New York Giants lost to Carolina. But Green Bay still has its eyes set on a division title and remained one game ahead of Minnesota in the NFC North. … AJ McCarron was steady in his first career start and helped Cincinnati clinch a fifth straight postseason berth by beating the San Francisco 49ers 24-14. … New England (12-2) clinched a first-round bye in the postseason for the sixth consecutive year when Denver lost to Pittsburgh. The Patriots could clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with one more win, either next week at the Jets or the final weekend at Miami. … Arizona (12-2) won the NFC West with its 40-17 victory at Philadelphia.

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SUPER CAM

Carolina’s Cam Newton passed for 340 yards with five touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards in the Panthers’ 38-35 win over the New York Giants on Sunday. Newton became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 100 yards rushing and five touchdown passes in a single game. He has 3,402 yards passing and 580 yards rushing this season and is the only player in NFL history to have five different years with at least 3,000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing. Newton has accomplished the feat in each of his five NFL seasons.

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SWINGS

With their 34-14 victory at Baltimore, the Kansas City Chiefs (9-5) became the first team in NFL history to follow a five-game skid with eight successive wins in the same season. Kansas City also kept itself in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. … The New York Giants were down 35-7 against Carolina but matched San Francisco’s 28-point rally - from the same score - against New Orleans in 1980. It came in a losing effort for the Giants, who fell 38-35.

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BUTTING HEADS

The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. was involved in a game-long helmet-smacking, shoving and jawing session with Carolina cornerback Josh Norman in the Panthers’ 38-35 victory. Three times, a frustrated Beckham was penalized for roughness. Norman also drew a flag for hitting Beckham in the helmet. And after his tying score, Beckham appeared to taunt Norman before he ran to midfield in celebration. “You got two bulls going at it in a physical sport, a field full of alpha males, they’re not going to be playing patty-cake, patty-cake,” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said.

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SOARING SEAHAWKS

Seattle’s Russell Wilson completed 21 of 30 passes for 249 yards in a 30-13 win over Cleveland and became the first player with three or more TD passes and no interceptions in five straight games. Doug Baldwin had touchdown catches of 6 and 3 yards, joining Jerry Rice as the only wide receivers to have 10 touchdown catches in a four-game span in the same season. Rice had 10 TD catches from a combo of Joe Montana and Steve Young during the 1987 season. Baldwin has grabbed all 10 from Wilson. Baldwin also became the third wide receiver since 1960 with four straight games with multiple TD catches, joining Calvin Johnson in 2011 and Cris Carter in 1995, and matched Daryl Turner’s single-season franchise record of 13 TD catches.

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YOU STAY CLASSY, SAN DIEGO

If this was the last NFL game in San Diego, the Chargers at least provided a win for their long-suffering fans. The Chargers Cannon went off when Danny Woodhead caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers, the first of four scores for the running back in a 30-14 victory against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. In the final minutes, fans started chanting “San Diego!” Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates and receiver Malcom Floyd came out of the game with 37 seconds left, to applause. No one knows if this was the last Chargers game in San Diego after 55 seasons. Team chairman Dean Spanos has been angling since February to try to beat St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke to the Los Angeles market, which has been without the NFL for 21 years.

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PATRIOT GAMES

New England improved to 12-2 with a 33-16 win over Tennessee, and became the second team in NFL history with at least 12 regular-season wins in six consecutive seasons. The Patriots joined the Indianapolis Colts, who had at least 12 regular-season victories in seven consecutive seasons from 2003-09. Tom Brady, who leads the NFL with 35 touchdown passes, joined Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in four seasons.

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BROWN DELIVERS

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown had 16 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers’ 34-27 win against Denver. Brown, who leads the AFC and ranks second in the NFL with 116 receptions, joined Wes Welker (2007-09) as the only players in NFL history with three consecutive 110-catch seasons. Brown led the NFL with 129 catches in 2014 and ranked second in the league with 110 catches in 2013.

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STEPPING IN

With Houston’s top two quarterbacks out, Brandon Weeden was pressed into service late in the first half Sunday, and the 32-year-old responded by giving the Texans their first win on the Indianapolis Colts’ home turf after being 0-13 there. Weeden led Houston to two field goals before throwing an 8-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong with 10:36 left to help Houston rally for a 16-10 victory. Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer missed the game with a concussion. His replacement, T.J. Yates, left with 1:14 to go in the first half because of an injured left knee.

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ROLL TIDE!

Cincinnati’s AJ McCarron, who led Alabama to two national championships and was a fifth-round pick in 2014, became the first former Crimson Tide player to win an NFL game as the starting quarterback since Jeff Rutledge for the New York Giants on Nov. 15, 1987, according to STATS. McCarron went 15 of 21 for 192 yards and a 115.6 passer rating in the Bengals’ 24-14 win at San Francisco.

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SIDELINED

Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota hurt his right knee five minutes into the second quarter of a 33-16 loss at New England on Sunday. He was injured on an 8-yard sack by Jamie Collins one play before Ryan Succop kicked a 49-yard field goal that made it 14-3. Mariota said he doesn’t expect to miss the rest of the season. … The Patriots lost wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) and safety Patrick Chung (hip). … Houston quarterback T.J. Yates left with 1:14 to go in the first half of the Texans’ 16-10 win at Indianapolis because of an injured left knee. He was hurt on a scramble run that was wiped out because of a holding call on Duane Brown. Coach Bill O’Brien said he didn’t expect Yates to play next week and didn’t provide a specific update on the injury, though the CBS broadcast said initial reports indicated it was an ACL injury. … Bills running back LeSean McCoy left early in the second half after hurting his right knee in Buffalo’s 35-25 loss at Washington.

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SPEAKING

“You can see he wears it on his sleeve, he’s going to show. I really like the battle with him and Josh. It was like Floyd (Mayweather) and (Manny) Pacquiao. It was a great matchup.” - Giants CB Prince Amukamara on teammate Odell Beckham Jr. getting into it all game with Carolina cornerback Josh Norman in the Panthers’ 38-35 win.

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“He’s got the maturity of a little kid.” - Norman on Beckham. Three times, a frustrated Beckham was penalized for roughness. Norman also drew a flag for hitting Beckham in the helmet. And after his tying score, Beckham appeared to taunt Norman before he ran to midfield in celebration.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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