×

Newton, Panthers spoils Rodgers’ return; Gurley runs wild for Rams

  • Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) celebrates a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass under pressure from Carolina Panthers' Vernon Butler (92) and Wes Horton (96) during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb (18) stretches over the goal line for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers as Davante Adams (17) celebrates during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb (18) stretches over the goal line for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Carolina Panthers' Greg Olsen (88) catches a pass as Green Bay Packers' Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) defends during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) Bob Leverone

  • Carolina Panthers' Daryl Worley (26) celebrates his interception against the Green Bay Packers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Carolina Panthers with Davante Adams (17) during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Green Bay Packers' Davante Adams (17) catches a touchdown pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) Bob Leverone

  • LEFT: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of Sunday’s game in Charlotte, N.C. RIGHT: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley sprints down the field during a rout of the Seahawks on Sunday. Gurley finished with four touchdowns on the afternoon. AP photos

  • Carolina Panthers' Kurt Coleman (20) flies over a sliding Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Carolina Panthers' Jonathan Stewart (28) runs as Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews (52) defends during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) Bob Leverone

  • Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb (18) runs past Carolina Panthers' Luke Kuechly (59) after a catch during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) Bob Leverone

  • Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) Bob Leverone

  • Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) and Christian McCaffrey (22) celebrate McCaffrey's touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) Mike McCarn

  • Fans hold up a sign as they cheer for the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) Stephen B. Morton

  • Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell celebrates after defeating the Houston Texans in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) Phelan M. Ebenhack

  • Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole, right, celebrates a 73-yard pass play to set up a touchdown against the Houston Texans with teammate wide receiver Dede Westbrook (12) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) Stephen B. Morton

  • Elaine Thompson



Associated Press
Monday, December 18, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cam Newton proved the Carolina Panthers can win in multiple ways.

After dominating opposing teams on the ground with three straight 200-yard rushing games at home, the Panthers turned to their 28th-ranked passing game on Sunday and took a big step toward reaching the postseason.

Newton threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns, and the Panthers spoiled Aaron Rodgers’ return from a broken collarbone with a 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Damiere Byrd had two touchdown catches, and Christian McCaffrey had 136 yards from scrimmage, including a 7-yard touchdown reception and the Panthers won their fourth straight at home.

Greg Olsen had his most productive game since returning from a broken foot, catching nine passes for 116 yards and a TD as the Panthers (10-4) kept pace with the first-place New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.

“It’s something we pride ourselves on being a complete offense, being able to run the ball when we can and pass when we can,” McCaffrey said. “Guys showed up and made plays today.”

That included Carolina’s defense, which forced four turnovers, including a strip by cornerback James Bradberry on Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison with 1:28 to seal the win and prevent the Packers from possibly playing in their third straight overtime game.

Rodgers, making his first appearance since Oct. 15, threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns but was intercepted three times as the Packers’ playoff hopes took a potentially critical blow.

At 7-7, the Packers are on the cusp of not making the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

“I’m disappointed in my performance today,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, I didn’t play well.”

Jaguars 45, Texans 7

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars are returning to the playoffs for the first time in a decade thanks to a drubbing of rival Houston on Sunday.

Once the NFL’s poster child for futility and a punchline for potential relocation, the Jaguars (10-4) are now one of the league’s top turnaround stories.

Blake Bortles threw three touchdowns passes, including two to a reserve receiver who slept in his car earlier this season. The Jaguars won for the seventh time in eight games to clinch a postseason berth for the first time since 2007.

Bortles finished with a season-high 326 yards and the best QB rating (143.8) of his career, including 186 yards and a touchdown to rookie Keelan Cole. Primary punt returner Jaydon Mickens, who stepped in for injured starter Marqise Lee in the first quarter, caught four passes for 61 yards and two scores against the Texans (4-10).

Rams 42, Seahawks 7

SEATTLE – Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored four total touchdowns in just 2½ quarters, and the Rams moved to the cusp of their first division title since 2003.

The matchup to determine first place in the NFC West was completely one-sided. Los Angeles (10-4) was dominant, embarrassing Seattle into the worst loss during Pete Carroll’s eight seasons in charge.

Taking advantage of field position, the Rams scored on six of seven first-half drives, including a 21-point blitz in the second quarter capped by a 57-yard TD run by Gurley on third-and-20 with less than a minute remaining in the first half to take a 34-0 lead at the break.

Gurley had 144 yards rushing in the first half, twice scoring from the 1.

49ers 25, Titans 23

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Jimmy Garoppolo led one final scoring drive in the closing seconds to cap a fantastic first home start and Robbie Gould kicked a winning 45-yard field goal as time expired.

Garoppolo threw for a career-high 381 yards and a touchdown to give the 49ers (4-10) a three-game winning streak in a lost season. And Tom Brady’s former backup showed he could do it at home as well as on the road – and against a playoff contender, no less – outdueling Marcus Mariota down the stretch as the teams traded field goals.

Gould kicked three of his six field goals over the final nine minutes: 50, 48 and 45 yards, and has now gone 20 consecutive without a miss.

Vikings 34, Bengals 7

MINNEAPOLIS – Eric Kendricks had an interception return for a touchdown, Case Keenum passed for 236 yards and two scores, and the Vikings clinched the NFC North over the depleted and disinterested Bengals.

Running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for 37 touches and 242 yards from scrimmage for the Vikings (11-3), who were given quite the reprieve on the schedule a week after their eight-game winning streak ended at Carolina in the last of three consecutive road trips. They were never challenged by the Bengals (5-9).

The game went so smoothly that Teddy Bridgewater even made his grand entrance, his first live action in 16 months since a massive knee injury.

Eagles 34, Giants 29

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Nick Foles threw four touchdown passes in his first start replacing the injured Carson Wentz, and the Eagles secured a first-round playoff bye.

Foles hit 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards and no interceptions. The NFC East champion Eagles (12-2) made a late stand on first-and-goal in the final minute in edging the Giants (2-12) for the second time this season, spoiling a three-touchdown, season-high 434-yard passing game by Eli Manning.

Saints 31, Jets 19

NEW ORLEANS – Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns and gained 151 yards from scrimmage, including a late 50-yard TD run, and the Saints overcame three turnovers.

Michael Thomas became the second NFL player with at least 90 receptions in his first two seasons. He caught nine passes for 93 yards, including a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown on a short slant for New Orleans (10-4), which retained its tenuous hold on first place in the NFC South heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Alvin Kamara turned a short catch into a 10-yard TD in his return from a concussion that knocked him out of the Saints’ loss at Atlanta a week earlier.

Ravens 27, Browns 10

CLEVELAND – Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass, ran for a score and beat Cleveland again as the Ravens stayed on track for the AFC playoffs.

With victories at home over Indianapolis and Cincinnati in its last two games, the Ravens will return to the postseason after a two-year absence.

The Browns are two losses from becoming the NFL’s second 0-16 team.

Flacco scored on a 2-yard run and threw a 33-yard TD pass to Benjamin Watson as the Ravens (8-6) took control with two touchdowns in the final 3:01 of the first half.

Cleveland is 1-29 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, who is expected to be back despite his .033 winning percentage.

Bills 24, Dolphins 16

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – LeSean McCoy scored twice and surpassed 10,000 career yards rushing, while helping the Bills stay in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt.

Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 9-yard touchdown run and Shareece Wright and Jordan Poyer intercepted Miami’s Jay Cutler on consecutive drives to start the second half. Buffalo never trailed. Rookie Tre’Davious White sealed the win by intercepting Cutler with 28 seconds remaining – and one play after Miami punter Matt Haack recovered an onside kick at Miami’s 37.

The loss all but mathematically eliminated the Dolphins (6-8) from playoff contention.

Redskins 20, Cardinals 15

LANDOVER, Md. – Anthony Lanier sacked Blaine Gabbert and forced a fumble that Preston Smith recovered and the Redskins held on to beat the Cardinals in a comedy of errors for each team.

Smith also intercepted Gabbert and Lanier batted down three passes and had two sacks as they gave the Redskins (6-8) a glimpse of their potential as significant pieces of the defense for years to come.