- Associated Press - Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Latest on NFL’s Week 16 (All times Eastern).

7:15 p.m.

The Chicago Bears have wrapped up a 14-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Bears improved to 11-4 and handed 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan his first loss in December as head coach. Coming into today, Shanahan was 7-0 in December games with the 49ers.

Also, the Rams beat the Cardinals 31-9 in another late game today. The Rams are 12-3 and can clinch a first-round bye with a win at home next week against the 49ers.



The Steelers are leading the Saints 28-24 with about six minutes left in New Orleans.

The Chiefs play the late game tonight against the Seahawks and Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a chance to rise up the leaderboards for most touchdown passes in a season.

Mahomes has 45 TD throws so far, which ranks sixth in NFL history.

The record-holder in Peyton Manning who had 55 touchdown throws in 2013 for the Broncos. The only other QB with 50 was Tom Brady in 2007.

-Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.

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7:05 p.m.

The Steelers have taken a 28-24 lead over the Saints on a record-breaking touchdown pass.

Ben Roethlisberger’s 20-yard TD toss to Antonio Brown gave Roethlisberger 33 touchdown throws. That breaks his own mark of 32 set in 2007 and tied in 2014.

Brown also caught a 3-yard TD pass. He now has 15 touchdown catches, a career high. He held the old mark of 13 set in 2014.

-Brett Martel reporting from New Orleans.

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6:55 p.m.

There have been three ejections in the Chicago-San Francisco game.

Bears receivers Joshua Bellamy and Anthony Miller and 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman all were tossed following a scuffle near the Chicago bench.

A late hit on San Francisco’s Marcell Harris against Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky started the run-in that included punches thrown by players on both teams.

-Josh Dubow reporting from Santa Clara, California

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6:15 p.m.

Wil Lutz has kicked his way into the Saints record books, hitting his 26th straight field goal to close out a highlight-filled end to the first half against the Steelers in New Orleans.

Lutz’s 43-yard field goal came less than 40 seconds after Pittsburgh drove 97 yards on 15 plays to tie the score at 14.

Antonio Brown had four catches for 64 yards on the tying drive, which ended with Jaylen Samuels’ short TD catch on third and goal and Eli rogers’ catch for a 2-point conversion.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees then completed three straight passes, the last of them on a short crossing route to running back Alvin Kamara, who turned the corner for a 31-yard gain before going out of bounds near the Steelers 25 with 7 seconds left.

Lutz, a third-year pro who was undrafted out of Georgia State, kicked New Orleans back into the lead on the next play despite Pittsburgh being offsides.

He surpassed the mark set by Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen during the 1992 and ‘93 seasons.

Lutz has made 28 of 29 field goals this season, the lone miss coming against Cleveland in Week 2.

-Brett Martel reporting from New Orleans.

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5:31 p.m.

Larry Fitzgerald has thrown his first touchdown pass for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Los Angeles Rams have a 21-9 halftime lead in what may be the final home game of Fitzgerald’s 15-year career.

The Ram faced little resistance against the Cardinals for the second straight game, racking up 238 total yards and three TDs. Los Angeles blew out Arizona 34-0 the first meeting on Sept. 16.

The 35-year-old Fitzgerald has yet to decide if he’ll return for a 16th season. But he has a new highlight in what will likely be a Hall of Fame career.

Taking a back pass from Josh Rosen, Fitzgerald planted his feet and threw a perfect spiral to David Johnson for a 32-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Fitzgerald, who holds numerous receiving records, is a career 2 for 4 passing for 53 yards.

He has five catches for 41 yards in the first half against the Rams.

-John Marshall reporting from Glendale, Arizona.

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5:30 p.m.

All the late games today have implications for the playoffs.

The Chiefs can wrap up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win at Seattle tonight.

A win by the Seahawks would strengthen Seattle’s bid for an NFC wild-card berth.

The Rams can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Cardinals or a Bears loss at San Francisco.

The Bears would move into the No. 2 seed with a win over the 49ers and a Rams loss at Arizona.

The Saints can clinch homefield with a win over Pittsburgh or losses by the Bears and the Rams.

The Saints would clinch a first-round bye with either a Bears or Rams loss.

And finally, the Steelers (8-5-1) will stay in the lead in the AFC North with a win over the Saints. Lose, and they’ll fall behind the Ravens (9-6) in their division and also behind the Colts and Titans in the wild-card race.

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5:12 p.m.

Baker Mayfield threw three touchdown passes today in the Browns’ 26-18 win over the Bengals.

He surpasses Andrew Luck for the second-most touchdown throws by a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft.

Mayfield leads all rookies with 24 touchdown throws, one more than the 23 Luck threw in 2012 for the Colts.

The NFL record is 26 thrown by Peyton Manning in 1998.

So, Mayfield will need four TD throws next week at Baltimore to break Manning’s mark.

Mayfield has thrown at least one TD pass in each of his 12 starts.

He trails only St. Louis’ Kurt Warner (23 from 1999-2000) and Minnesota’s Brad Johnson (15 from 1996-97) for the most consecutive starts with a scoring pass to begin a career.

___

5:10 p.m.

The San Francisco 49ers finally got a takeaway.

Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky threw a lateral to Tarik Cohen in the second quarter that ended up in a fumble recovery by DeForest Buckner. The Niners had gone a record six full games and 399 defensive plays without a takeaway since last recording one Oct. 28 at Arizona.

San Francisco has just six takeaways on the year and is on pace for the fewest takeaways in a season.

-Josh Dubow reporting from Santa Clara, California

5:05 p.m.

Saints running back Mark Ingram has become New Orleans’ career leader in touchdowns runs, thanks in part to a disputed pass interference call.

Ingram powered in from a yard out for his 50th touchdown on the ground since the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Alabama was selected 28th overall by New Orleans in the 2011 draft.

He surpassed the mark of 49 that Deuce McAllister set in 2008.

Ingram’s touchdown came one play after Drew Brees was flushed out of the pocket on fourth-and-short from the Pittsburgh 34 and appeared to overthrow Alvin Kamara in the end zone. But officials called defensive pass interference on cornerback Joe Haden, who had one hand on Kamara’s back.

-Brett Martel reporting from New Orleans.

___

4:55 p.m.

Seven teams have punched their ticket to the playoffs, and eight teams remain in contention for the final five spots.

The Patriots joined the Chiefs and Chargers in the AFC field with a 24-12 win over the Bills for their 10th consecutive AFC East title.

Houston is 10-5 but hasn’t clinched the AFC South and both the Colts and Titans are 9-6 and remain alive.

The Steelers (8-5-1) currently hold the lead in the AFC North but a loss in a late game today at New Orleans would put the Ravens (9-6) in the lead.

In the NFC, the Saints, Rams, Bears and Cowboys have all clinched their divisions.

Seattle and Minnesota are currently the wild-card leaders but the Eagles are still in the hunt after their last-second win over the Texans.

___

4:30 p.m.

The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are still in the playoff hunt at 8-7 following their last-second win over Houston.

The Eagles rallied to beat the Texans 32-30 on Jake Elliott’s 35-yard field goal as time expired.

That denied the Texans the AFC South title and a first-round bye in the playoffs and put the New England Patriots back into the No. 2 spot in the AFC playoff standings.

The Patriots won their 10th consecutive AFC East title with a win over Buffalo.

The Chiefs can wrap up the top seed in the AFC with a win over Seattle in the late game today.

The Patriots haven’t had to play in the wild-card round since 2009.

In the NFC, the Saints, Rams, Bears and Cowboys have all clinched their divisions and the Seahawks (8-6) and Vikings (8-6-1) are clinging to the two wild-card spots.

But the Eagles are still in the hunt thanks to their last-second win.

___

4:05 p.m.

The New England Patriots have clinched their 10th consecutive AFC East crown and the Dallas Cowboys have wrapped up the NFC East title.

The Patriots beat Buffalo 24-12 and have now won 16 of 18 division titles since Tom Brady became their quarterback.

The Cowboys beat the Buccaneers 27-20.

___

3:35 p.m.

Houston’s Demaryius Thomas was carted off the field in the fourth quarter after injuring his right leg. The CBS broadcasting crew said it was an Achilles injury.

Thomas was not hit on the play. He turned to make a block after Deshaun Watson’s pass sailed over his head to DeAndre Hopkins.

Thomas went down to the ground and players from both teams walked over to the cart to comfort the distraught Thomas, who was a terrific midseason pickup from the Denver Broncos.

Earlier this month, Thomas’ former teammate Emmanuel Sanders ruptured his right Achilles tendon at practice.

-Rob Maaddi reporting from Philadelphia.

___

3:25 p.m.

Blake Bortles has replaced Cody Kessler at quarterback for Jacksonville against Miami.

Kessler bruised his throwing shoulder when hit as he threw a pass and left the game late in the first half. He returned to start the third quarter, but after being sacked for a fifth time was replaced again late in the quarter by Bortles.

The third overall pick in the 2014 draft, Bortles lost the starting job to Kessler a month ago, but the Jaguars’ offense has continued to sputter since then.

___

3:20 p.m.

Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey has set an NFL record for receptions in a season by a running back with 103, breaking the old mark held by Matt Forte.

McCaffrey has nine receptions for 58 yards in the third quarter, but the Panthers trail the Falcons 21-7.

Earlier in the game, McCaffrey became only the third NFL running back with 1,000 yards rushing and 100 receptions in a season.

His 103 catches tie wide receiver Steve Smith for the most in franchise history.

-Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina.

___

3:05 p.m.

Kirk Cousins connected with Kyle Rudolph on a 44-yard Hail Mary to end the first half - and it didn’t even look all that difficult.

Minnesota was awful for most of the half, but the Vikings now lead Detroit 14-9 after Rudolph’s touchdown.

Cousins had little difficulty setting up and throwing to the end zone, and Rudolph caught the pass in traffic so easily that he didn’t even fall down afterward.

Several Lions defenders around him never jumped as Rudolph leapt to snare the pass.

The Vikings can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a loss by Philadelphia.

-Noah Trister reporting from Detroit

___

2:55 p.m.

Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz has set a single-season record for most catches by a tight end with his 111th reception, breaking Jason Witten’s mark.

Witten had 110 catches for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.

Ertz eclipsed the record on a 13-yard pass from Nick Foles in the third quarter of the Eagles’ game against Houston.

Ertz fumbled after the catch and teammate Dallas Goedert recovered. Ertz already has 10 catches for 65 yards on the day.

-Rob Maaddi reporting from Philadelphia.

___

2:45 p.m.

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has left Cincinnati’s game at Cleveland with a concussion.

Burfict had been listed as questionable coming into the game because of a concussion.

He played most of the first half against the Browns.

The Bengals also announced that cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is out with right shoulder injury.

-Tom Withers reporting from Cleveland.

___

2:45 p.m.

The New York Jets will have to play the rest of the game against the Green Bay Packers without their top defensive lineman.

Leonard Williams was ejected for throwing a punch at Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga after the two got into a shoving match during a 14-yard pass play to Equanimeous St. Brown late in the second quarter.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers took exception to Williams’ actions and shoved the defensive lineman.

After a lengthy conference by the officials, they called a personal foul on Williams and tossed him from the game.

Williams had a sack earlier in the game, giving him four this season.

- Dennis Waszak reporting from East Rutherford, New Jersey.

___

2:45 p.m.

The Indianapolis Colts will play the second half without two key offensive starters.

Tight end Eric Ebron left late in the first half with a concussion and was ruled out. Center Ryan Kelly also left during the second quarter with a neck injury and was ruled out at halftime.

Evan Boehm, who replaced Kelly while he missed three games with a left injury, is filling in again. Mo Alie-Cox is the replacement for Ebron, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl earlier this week.

-Mike Marot reporting from Indianapolis.

___

2:30 p.m.

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry is out-throwing Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Landry completed a 63-yard pass on a gadget play in the first half, helping Cleveland open a 16-0 halftime lead. Landry took a pitch and launched his pass to receiver Breshad Perriman to set up the Browns’ second touchdown.

Driskel, who is making his fourth straight start in place of the injured Andy Dalton, completed 2 of 6 passes for 3 yards and sacked twice in the first half.

Cleveland has 255 total yards in the first half to Cincinnati’s 36.

-Tom Withers reporting from Cleveland.

___

2:25 p.m.

Panthers quarterback Taylor Heinicke returned to the field wearing a brace on his left elbow, then threw an interception near the goal line.

Heinicke, making his first start, returned mid-drive in the second quarter and quickly completed two passes before making a poor decision on a throw that was tipped and picked off by Jack Crawford.

Heinicke, a right-hander, had gone to the locker room for treatment earlier in the second quarter after injuring his left elbow when he tried to brace himself on a sack.

Kyle Allen replaced him and was 4 of 4 and led a field goal drive before Heinicke returned.

___

2:20 p.m.

Two second-round gambles by the Dallas Cowboys have combined for one of the team’s biggest defensive plays of the year.

Defensive end Randy Gregory forced a fumble with a blind-side sack of a scrambling Jameis Winston, and linebacker Jaylon Smith scooped up the loose ball and won a sprint to the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown and a 14-3 Dallas lead over Tampa Bay.

The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East title with a win over the Buccaneers.

Gregory was drafted late in the second round in 2015 when he slid because of off-field concerns. He missed 31 of 32 games over the previous two seasons on substance-abuse suspensions.

The hit on Winston was his sixth sack of the season after entering the year with one for his career.

Dallas got Smith early in the second round in 2016 knowing he probably wouldn’t play as a rookie because of a devastating knee injury in his final game at Notre Dame. He illustrated his speed post-injury on his first career touchdown.

-Schuyler Dixon reporting from Arlington, Texas.

___

2:15 p.m.

Panthers safety Eric Reid was complaining last week about his fourth fine from the NFL for an illegal hit, one that wasn’t even flagged.

Well, he can almost certainly expect a fifth fine next week from the league.

Reid was flagged for a late hit on Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, giving the Falcons a first down and keep their drive alive.

Ridley was sliding while trying to make a catch when Reid came flying in and hit him in the head area with his shoulder.

-Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina.

___

2:10 p.m.

When Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made an extra point with 4:09 left in the first half, he tied former punter Jeff Feagles for the third-most games played in NFL history.

Both have appeared in 352 games.

Vinatieri, who does not kick off, finally made it onto the field after Nyheim Hines scored on a 1-yard TD run to cut the New York Giants lead to 14-7.

Johnny Unitas Jr. and Johnny Unitas III served as honorary captains for the Colts.

-Mike Marot reporting from Indianapolis.

___

2:05 p.m.

Panthers starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke has been taken to the locker room with a left arm injury, marring his first career start.

Heinicke was injured when he landed wrong on his left arm on a sack by Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who drew a flag for roughing the quarterback.

The Panthers say Heinicke is questionable to return.

Kyle Allen has replaced Heinicke at quarterback with the game tied at 7 in the second quarter.

Cam Newton is inactive with a right shoulder injury.

-Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina.

___

2:00 p.m.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has added his name to yet another list of elite NFL passers.

With a 6-yard pass to Rex Burkhead in the second quarter, Brady joined Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers (10) as quarterbacks with at least 10 seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards.

Manning has 14 such seasons, Brees has 12 and Rivers has 10.

Brady is coming off a 2017 MVP campaign in which he threw for 4,577 yards. Brady’s longest stretch of consecutive 4,000-yard seasons was from the 2011-2015.

Brees can make it 13 seasons with 4,000 yards passing if he throws for 334 yards today against Pittsburgh.

- Kyle Hightower reporting from Foxborough, Mass.

___

1:55 p.m.

Dallas defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford went to a hospital to have a neck injury evaluated after getting hurt on the second play of the game against Tampa Bay.

Crawford’s neck was stabilized on a stretcher with his facemask removed, and several teammates looked distraught as he was treated on the field. The seventh-year player was moving his arms while on the stretcher, and moved his legs while being treated before going on the stretcher.

The team’s radio network reported that Crawford was placed in an ambulance and transported to a hospital, accompanied by some family members.

The 29-year-old Crawford started all 14 games before Sunday and was second on the team with 5 1/2 sacks. He missed the 2013 season, his second, after tearing an Achilles tendon in training camp.

-Schuyler Dixon reporting from Arlington, Texas.

___

1:50 p.m.

Good news for fans in Philadelphia and Washington: The Minnesota Vikings are sputtering at Detroit.

The Vikings trail the Lions 6-0 with 10:39 left in the second quarter, and Minnesota doesn’t have a first down yet. The Vikings have only 4 yards of offense.

Washington and Philadelphia are chasing Minnesota for the final wild card in the NFC. The Vikings can clinch a playoff berth if they win and the Eagles lose.

-Noah Trister reporting from Detroit

1:40 p.m.

Five NFL players have 100 catches this season and six more are within striking distance.

The players who have already reached the mark are Saints receiver Michael Thomas with 109, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen with 105, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz with 101, and Falcons receiver Julio Jones and Packers receiver Davante Adams with 100 each.

Among the players who are close are Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with 95 catches and teammate Antonio Brown with 90.

Also close coming into today’s games are Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins with 94, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey with 94, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce with 93 and Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs with 92.

The record for most 100-reception players in NFL history is nine set in 1995.

-Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.

___

1:30 p.m.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke is off to an impressive start in his first career NFL for Carolina, moving the Panthers 73 yards on 14 plays for a touchdown against the Falcons.

Heinicke, filling in for the injured Cam Newton, was 5 of 6 on the opening drive for 38 yards, including a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Ian Thomas. Heinicke also showed great speed and pocket awareness when he tucked the ball and ran 11 yards on a third-and-9 play.

It was the first career TD pass for Heinicke and Thomas’ first career TD catch, meaning the youngsters will have to fight over who keeps the ball.

Running back Christian McCaffrey also became the first Carolina running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both accomplished the feat in 2009.

-Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina.

___

1:20 p.m.

Dallas defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was taken off the field on a cart after getting injured on the second play of the game against Tampa Bay.

Crawford’s neck was stabilized on a stretcher with his facemask removed, and several teammates looked distraught as he was treated on the field.

The seventh-year player was moving his arms while on the stretcher, and he moved his legs while being treated before going on the stretcher.

There was no immediate word on the nature of the injury.

Crawford started every game so far this season and was second on the team with 5 1/2 sacks. He missed all of the 2013 season, his second, after tearing an Achilles tendon in training camp.

-Schuyler Dixon reporting from Arlington, Texas.

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