NFL roundup: Purdy rebounds as San Francisco 49ers clinch NFC’s top seed | NFL

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By Sohaib

Brock Purdy bounced back from the worst game of his NFL career to throw two touchdown passes, and the San Francisco 49ers clinched the top seed in the NFC by beating the Washington Commanders 27-10 on Sunday.

Philadelphia’s stunning home loss to Arizona, combined with Detroit’s defeat at Dallas on Saturday, allowed the 49ers (12-4) to sure up a first-round bye and home-field advantage before Week 18. A large cheer erupted from the visiting locker room when the Eagles lost.

Washington (4-12) wasn’t much of an obstacle for the Niners, whose only concern coming out of the victory could be the status of Christian McCaffrey. Their do-it-all running back left the game in the third quarter with a right calf injury after gaining 91 scrimmage yards on 18 touches, but he and the starters will now get plenty of time off to rest.

That was one of many offensive contributions for San Francisco, which got touchdown catches from Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and a rushing TD from Elijah Mitchell. Purdy, coming off throwing four interceptions in a humbling home loss to Baltimore, was 22 of 28 for 230 yards to reach 4,280 and break Jeff Garcia’s season franchise record of 4,278 set in 2000.

The defense, also looking to atone for some struggles against the Ravens, intercepted Sam Howell twice – once each by Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir.

Howell added to his NFL lead in interceptions, now 19, after starting only because journeyman Jacoby Brissett was sidelined by a hamstring injury. Coach Ron Rivera benched Howell earlier in the week after pulling him from the previous two games.

The Commanders have lost seven in a row, and as a result of the Cardinals win, could be in line to draft as high as second.

Arizona Cardinals 35-31 Philadelphia Eagles

James Conner ran for a two-yard touchdown with 32 seconds remaining, Kyler Murray threw three TD passes, and the Arizona Cardinals rallied from a 15-point deficit to stun Philadelphia 35-31 on Sunday and disrupt the Eagles’ playoff path.

Former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon returned to Philly and got his biggest win yet as Arizona’s coach. Granted, there haven’t been many of them for the Cardinals (4-12). But the playoff-bound Eagles’ fourth loss this month – and second at home – was a huge setback to their standing in the NFC.

The Eagles (11-5) could have won the NFC East with wins against Arizona and the New York Giants next week. Now, Dallas can win the division with a win next week at Washington, and San Francisco has locked up the top seed in the conference.

Jalen Hurts, who threw three touchdown passes, was picked off in the end zone on a desperate heave to end the game.

The Eagles have played every bit like a team facing a potential one-and-done in the postseason rather than one that could make a second straight trip to the Super Bowl.

There was plenty of blame to go around: a discombobulated offense that included indecisive play-calling late in the game, a running game that never got going and a defense that couldn’t get off the field.

The Cardinals rallied from a 21-6 halftime deficit on the strength of Murray’s two touchdown passes in the third quarter that tied the game at 21-all.

Hurts put the Eagles ahead in the fourth with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Goedert.

Normally, that would be enough to win a game at the Linc. But Philly’s defense couldn’t hold on. Cornerback Kelee Ringo was flagged for pass interference and the Cardinals used the extra 29 yards to help tie game 28-28 with 5:26 left. Murray hit Michael Wilson for a 5-yard touchdown, giving Arizona three touchdowns on three possessions in the half.

Jake Elliott kicked a 43-yard field goal with 2:33 left to give the Eagles their last lead.

Murray had plenty of time to move the Cardinals into scoring position. He hit Greg Dorch for a 36-yard gain that brought Arizona to the Eagles 5 and set up Conner’s decisive TD.

The Cardinals had 449 total yards of offense.

Carolina Panthers 0-26 Jacksonville Jaguars

Travis Etienne scored twice, including one on his longest run of the season, and the Jacksonville Jaguars ended a four-game skid with a 26-0 shutout of the woeful Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The Jaguars (9-7) won for the first time in December – and with quarterback Trevor Lawrence (shoulder) watching from the sideline – to set up a regular-season finale at Tennessee that will help decide the AFC South.

The Panthers (2-14) dropped to 0-9 on the road and were held scoreless for the first time since losing to Atlanta in Week 12 in 2002.

Jacksonville now can clinch the division with a victory next weekend. A loss to the Titans would hand the AFC South to the winner of the Houston-Indianapolis game.

Lawrence missed the game with a sprained throwing shoulder, ending his consecutive starts streak at 51. C.J. Beathard completed 17 of 24 passes for 178 yards in his first start since 2020 and played turnover-free football.

Miami Dolphins 19-56 Baltimore Ravens

In what may have been his final bid for the MVP award, Lamar Jackson threw for 321 yards and five touchdowns, finishing with a perfect passer rating and helping the Baltimore Ravens clinch the top seed in the AFC with a 56-19 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Isaiah Likely caught two TDs for the Ravens, who won their sixth straight game and also wrapped up their first AFC North title since 2019, Jackson’s first MVP season. Now Baltimore (13-3) can rest Jackson – and anyone else they choose – in the regular-season finale against Pittsburgh.

Miami (11-5) are also postseason bound, but now the winner of next weekend’s Dolphins-Bills game will take the AFC East. Miami was without two offensive stars in receiver Jaylen Waddle (ankle) and running back Raheem Mostert (knee, ankle).

And now the Dolphins face another potentially significant injury. Linebacker Bradley Chubb – with his team down 30 points – had to be carted off with 3:05 remaining after hurting his knee.

Serenaded with periodic “MVP!” chants from the home crowd, Jackson went 18 of 21 passing, meaning he finished the game with more touchdown passes than incompletions. That’s a feat Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa also accomplished in a 70-20 win over Denver in Week 3.

New England Patriots 21-27 Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen ran for two touchdowns, cornerback Rasul Douglas returned one of his two interceptions for a score and the Buffalo Bills maintained their clear path to the playoffs with a 27-21 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday.

The three-time division champion Bills (10-6) now prepare for a season-ending showdown at Miami (11-5) next weekend that will decide the AFC East title. Buffalo has already defeated the Dolphins this year, and Miami blew a chance at clinching the division title with a 56-19 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.

The Bills have yet to clinch a playoff berth but could do so Sunday with a Pittsburgh loss or tie at Seattle and a Cincinnati loss or tie at Kansas City.

Buffalo won their fourth straight and fifth in six games by overcoming an inconsistent offense which settled for a touchdown and two field goals off three defensive takeaways inside the Patriots 30 in the first half. The Bills also responded after the Patriots opened the game with Jalen Reagor’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Allen converted three third-down opportunities on Buffalo’s final drive to run out the final 5:02. He capped the time-consuming drive by lowering his head on a four-yard run on third-and-3 from the Patriots 16.

DJ Moore of the Chicago Bears catches a touchdown over Jessie Bates III of the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. Photograph: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Derek Carr threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns to help the New Orleans Saints stop Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak and climb back into a tie for first place in the NFC South with a 23-13 victory over Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Carr tossed TD passes of four yards to Juwan Johnson and 22 yards to Taysom Hill in the first half. The Saints defense did their part to keep the Bucs (8-8) from clinching their third consecutive division title, too, by intercepting Mayfield twice and forcing a pair of fumbles.

Tampa Bay can still repeat as NFC South champions by winning at division rival Carolina in next week’s regular-season finale. The Saints (8-8) close with a division game at home against Atlanta.

Carr completed 24 of 32 passes without an interception to outshine Mayfield, who played some of the best ball of his career during the four-game winning streak that carried the Bucs to the brink of clinching a fourth straight playoff berth.

The No 1 overall pick from the 2018 draft, who’s with his fourth team in six seasons, threw for nine touchdowns vs. one interception during the four-game surge that followed a stretch in which Tampa Bay lost six of seven.

Atlanta Falcons 17-37 Chicago Bears

Justin Fields threw for 268 yards with a touchdown pass and a rushing TD in what could be his final home game for Chicago, and Bears dealt Atlanta’s postseason hopes a big blow, beating the Falcons 37-17 on a snowy Sunday.

DJ Moore finished with nine catches for 159 yards and a touchdown, and Khalil Herbert ran for 124 yards and a score.

With little wiggle room to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017 – and coach Arthur Smith’s future in question – the Falcons (7-9) got overwhelmed by Chicago (7-9).

The Bears grabbed a 21-7 halftime lead with Fields and Moore leading the way and rolled to their fourth win in five games.

Fields completed 20 of 32 passes. He also ran for 45 yards with his future as murky as ever. The Bears acquired Carolina’s first-round pick in the trade for Moore last March and could be in position to draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye if they decide to move on from the former Ohio State star.

Las Vegas Raiders 20-23 Indianapolis Colts

Gardner Minshew threw one touchdown pass, Jonathan Taylor ran for another score and two late defensive penalties helped the Indianapolis Colts stay in the AFC playoff chase Sunday with a crucial 23-20 victory over Las Vegas.

Indy (9-7) now heads into their regular-season finale with three straight home wins. The Colts host Houston next week with both teams tied atop the AFC South.

Defending division champ Jacksonville also holds a share of the division lead and visits Tennessee.

The loss ended Las Vegas’ two-game winning streak and eliminated the Raiders (7-9) from postseason play.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Colts played effective ball control. Minshew finished 15 of 23 with 224 yards. Taylor had 21 carries for a season-high 96 yards.

Los Angeles Rams 26-25 New York Giants

Kyren Williams ran for 87 yards and a career-best three touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams inched closer to returning to the playoffs with a much harder-than-expected 26-25 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.

Matthew Stafford threw for 317 yards and a touchdown but also had his first two interceptions in the last five games as the Rams (9-7) won their third straight and sixth in the last seven games. They could clinch a playoff spot later Sunday with a loss by Seattle or a tie between Green Bay and Minnesota.

The Giants (5-11) had a chance to pull off an upset when Gunner Olszewski scored on a 94-yard punt return to get New York within a point with 3:27 to play. After an encroachment penalty on the extra point attempt, coach Brian Daboll elected to go for a two-point conversion – but Tyrod Taylor missed a wide-open Saquon Barkley on a rollout to the right.

Later, a 31-yard run by Taylor allowed Mason Crosby to attempt a game-winning 54-yard field goal, but it was short.

Williams, the NFL’s second leading rusher coming in, scored on runs of 4, 2 and 28 yards. The two-yard score was set up by an 80-yard catch-and-run by rookie Puka Nacua in the third quarter. A 37-yard pass from Stafford to Demarcus Robinson set up Williams’ 28-yard score in the fourth quarter. Rams kicker Lucas Havrisik missed two extra points to keep it close.

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans

CJ Stroud threw for 213 yards and a touchdown in his return from a concussion and the Houston Texans rolled to a 26-3 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday to boost their playoff chances.

Houston (9-7), Indianapolis and Jacksonville all won Sunday to leave the three teams with identical records in the AFC South and keep the Texans in contention for both the division title and a playoff spot.

A victory next week at Indianapolis will guarantee the Texans, who won just three games last season, their first postseason berth since 2019.

Stroud, the second overall pick in the draft, hadn’t played since hitting the back of his head hard on the turf in a loss to the Jets Dec. 10. He picked up right where he left off before the injury, moving the offense effectively and throwing his 21st touchdown pass of the season in the second quarter.

The Texans had a 17-point lead at halftime with some help from a touchdown on defense after Sheldon Rankins returned a fumble by rookie quarterback Will Levis for a score in the second quarter.

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