NFL Week 16 scores: Brady leads Bucs to OT win; Packers top Dolphins
The NFL took center stage on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and several teams were looking for a holiday miracle with the playoffs on the horizon.
Week 16 helped determine the postseason field. The Cincinnati Bengals clinched a playoff berth by virtue of the New York Jets losing on Thursday night. The Bengals joined the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs as the first AFC teams to reach the postseason.
The Baltimore Ravens clinched a spot with a win and the Los Angeles Chargers could do the same this weekend with a little help.
On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings continued to wow audiences with a record day from both Justin Jefferson and Greg Joseph. The victory keeps them competitive with the Philadelphia Eagles for the top seed in the NFC.
The NFC South is still a race between three teams after the New Orleans Saints got a win while the Atlanta Falcons were eliminated with a loss. The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans continued their losing streaks as their playoff hopes fade away.
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The Dallas Cowboys kept their hopes of the NFC East crown alive with a victory over the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
There were three NFL games on Christmas Day. The Green Bay Packers edged the Miami Dolphins in the afternoon slate, the Los Angeles Rams dominated the Denver Broncos and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers topped the Arizona Cardinals in the nightcap.
Week 16 concludes with the Los Angeles Chargers playing the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.
Here’s a rundown of all the Week 16 action around the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars 19, New York Jets 3
Briefly: The Jaguars won their third consecutive game and sit firmly in playoff contention. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence was efficient against a stingy Jets defense. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 229 yards while adding 51 rushing yards and a touchdown. Jaguars tight end Evan Engram led all receivers with 113 receiving yards. It was a tough night for the Jets. The offense generated 227 total yards and went 2-for-13 on third down. Fans booed Jets QB Zach Wilson as he was benched in favor of journeyman Chris Streveler. The Jets have lost four straight and are slipping outside the playoff mix.
One highlight to know: Engram returned to MetLife Stadium and turned in a standout performance. He hauled in a 36-yard reception that set up a Jaguars field goal in the second quarter.
Next up: The Jaguars play the Houston Texans in Week 17. The Jets have a road matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
Baltimore Ravens 17, Atlanta Falcons 9
Briefly: The Baltimore Ravens relied on their run game as they punched their ticket to the playoffs, grabbing a victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the team’s third game without Lamar Jackson. Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins and quarterback Tyler Huntley combined for 184 yards. Huntley added 115 yards passing and the lone touchdown of the day, a 6-yard score to Demarcus Robinson in the second quarter. Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder went 22-for-33 for 218 yards, 96 of which went to rookie Drake London. The wideout was responsible for the lone turnover of the day, a lost fumble in the second quarter. With the loss, the Falcons are eliminated from playoff contention.
One highlight to know: In the fourth quarter, the Baltimore defense stopped the Falcons on fourth-and-goal at the Ravens’ 1-yard line. Tyler Allgeier attempted a run from shotgun and was stuffed by Isaiah Mack, who was signed off the practice squad just a day prior.
Next up: The Ravens host the AFC North foe Pittsburgh Steelers while the Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals. Both games will be on New Year’s Day.
Carolina Panthers 37, Detroit Lions 23
Briefly: The Carolina Panthers had the most first-half yards in franchise history as they cooled the red-hot Detroit Lions, snapping their three-game win streak. The Panthers, who are still in the NFC South race, utilized five rushers to combine for 320 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard had 165 and 125 yards, respectively. The Lions’ run game was virtually non-existent, running for only 45 yards with quarterback Jared Goff leading with 15 yards on three carries. He did his job through the air, going 25-of-42 for 355 yards and three scores, but the loss dims the Lions’ playoff hopes.
One highlight to know: With the game tied 7-7 in the second quarter, Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faked a handoff and rushed to his left for a 3-yard touchdown. Carolina took the lead and never looked back.
Next up: The Panthers travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the NFC South on the line. The Lions host the Chicago Bears.
Buffalo Bills 35, Chicago Bears 13
Briefly: The Buffalo Bills overcame a slow start to clinch the AFC East with a win over the Chicago Bears. Bears’ rookie Kyler Gordon had his second interception in as many games as he picked off Josh Allen in the second quarter and the Bills went into the half down 10-6. Buffalo had 254 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns in the game, led by Devin Singletary.
One highlight to know: The Bills came storming out of the break with a score on their first drive of the second half. Devin Singletary powered forward for a 33-yard touchdown that gave Buffalo all the momentum for the rest of the game.
Next up: The Bills travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. The Bears have a road matchup against the Detroit Lions.
New Orleans Saints 17, Cleveland Browns 10
Briefly: The Cleveland Browns went scoreless in the second half and dropped a 10-0 lead as they lost to the New Orleans Saints, who are still in the NFC South race. Both Deshaun Watson and Andy Dalton went scoreless through the air and each threw an interception. Watson scored on a 12-yard run in the second quarter. Otherwise, the Saints’ 152 yards on the ground and touchdowns from Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill were enough for the win.
One highlight to know: With the game tied at 10-10 after a Taysom Hill touchdown in the third quarter, Deshaun Watson tried to get his team back ahead, but was intercepted by Daniel Sorensen at the New Orleans 49-yard line. Sorensen rumbled for 36 yards to set his team up for another score.
Next up: The Saints travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles, who may or may not have Jalen Hurts back at quarterback. The Browns are on the road against the Washington Commanders.
Kansas City Chiefs 24, Seattle Seahawks 10
Briefly: D.K. Metcalf warmed up for the 14-degree day without a shirt on, but his confidence wasn’t enough to overpower the Kansas City Chiefs, who are still vying for the top playoff seed in the AFC. Patrick Mahomes was 16-of-28 for 224 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with Travis Kelce for 113 of those yards. For the Seahawks, Kenneth Walker III had 107 yards rushing, but quarterback Geno Smith struggled, going 25-of-40 for 215 yards, a touchdown and an interception as they watch their playoff hopes slip away.
One highlight to know: Kadarius Toney scored his second touchdown of the season after returning from a hamstring injury. The score was the first of the day as Patrick Mahomes tossed the ball to the wide receiver from shotgun. Toney faked a pass before rushing forward for the 8-yard score.
Next up: The Chiefs host the AFC West rival Denver Broncos. The Seahawks host the New York Jets. Both games are on New Year’s Day.
Minnesota Vikings 27, New York Giants 24
Briefly: The Minnesota Vikings won another thriller as kicker Greg Joseph nailed a 61-yard field goal as time expired against the New York Giants. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson had a historic day with 12 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown, which passed Randy Moss for the Vikings’ single-season reception yards record and Cris Carter for the franchise-best single-season catches mark. Saquon Barkley had 14 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown, but with the Winter Whiteout, the Vikings go 8-1 at home.
One highlight to know: Justin Jefferson had a record-breaking day, but kicker Greg Joseph made history of his own. He won the game on a 61-yard field goal, the longest in Vikings’ history.
Next up: The Vikings travel to face the Green Bay Packers. The Giants host the Indianapolis Colts. Both games are on New Year’s Day.
Cincinnati Bengals 22, New England Patriots 18
Briefly: The Cincinnati Bengals extend their win streak to seven games with a win over the New England Patriots. Joe Burrow went 40-of-52 for 375 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Tee Higgins snagged eight of those receptions for 128 yards and one of the scores. Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson was held to 30 yards on 13 carries and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter. Nick Folk missed both of his extra points.
One highlight to know: With the Patriots threatening to score on the Bengals’ 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter, Stevenson powered into a pile of players. He dropped the ball as he was tackled and BJ Hill landed on it to give Cincinnati possession.
Next up: The Bengals host the Buffalo Bills on Monday night. The Patriots host the Miami Dolphins.
Houston Texans 19, Tennessee Titans 14
Briefly: The Houston Texans upset the Tennessee Titans on the road to push Derrick Henry and company into a five-game losing streak. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was out with an ankle injury, leaving rookie Malik Willis at the helm in a game that started an hour late due to a weather delay. Henry was held to 23 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown, capping his streak of games with 200 yards against the Texans at four. Davis Mills was 17-of-28 for 178 yards, a touchdown and an interception as he led his team to their second victory of the season.
One highlight to watch: Both of Willis’ interceptions came within the final two minutes of the game as he attempted to take the lead with a score. The last one was on a Hail Mary attempt with five seconds left on the clock. From the Houston 43-yard line, Willis launched the ball into the end zone where it fell into Jalen Pitre’s hands. The Texans’ defender sauntered out of the end zone and fell to his knees to clinch the win.
Next up: The Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars while the Titans kick off Week 17 by hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.
San Francisco 49ers 37, Washington Commanders 20
Briefly: Brock Purdy led the San Francisco 49ers to their eighth straight win with a victory over the Washington Commanders. Ron Rivera benched Taylor Heinicke in the fourth quarter after he went 13-of-18 for 166 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble. Carson Wentz stepped in and had nearly the exact same stats: 12-of-16 for 123 yards and a score in two drives. Purdy went 15-of-22 for 234 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Both of his scores went to George Kittle. Nick Bosa had two sacks as he furthered his position as the NFL’s sack leader.
One highlight to know: The 49ers were up 27-14 with 11:25 left in the game and Heinicke was facing second-and-7 at the Washington 22-yard line. He took the snap from shotgun and tossed the ball in the direction of running back Brian Robinson, but Jimmie Ward snagged the interception. Heinicke’s day was over after that.
Next up: The 49ers travel to face the Las Vegas Raiders while the Commanders host the Cleveland Browns.
Dallas Cowboys 40, Philadelphia Eagles 34
Briefly: The Dallas Cowboys scored revenge against the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles with a Week 16 win. The Eagles were up by 10 points twice in the game, even without starting quarterback Jalen Hurts. In his stead, Gardner Minshew went 24-of-40 for 355 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. For the Cowboys, Dak Prescott, who missed the first matchup of the season with an injury, went 27-of-35 for 347 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked six times, but the Eagles’ four turnovers kept Dallas alive in the game and in the NFC East title race.
One highlight to know: With 2:19 left in the game and down a field goal, Minshew handed the ball off to Miles Sanders. The running back pinballed between a few Cowboys defenders before hitting Carlos Watkins and the ball popped out. Players from both teams piled onto it, but Anthony Barr came up with it, taking away any of the Eagles’ steam that they had left.
Next up: The Eagles host the New Orleans Saints and may or may not have Jalen Hurts back from injury. The Cowboys travel to face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh Steelers 13, Las Vegas Raiders 10
Briefly: The Steelers celebrated the life and legacy of the late Franco Harris, who died earlier this week at age 72, retiring his No. 32 jersey at halftime. On the field, the Steelers (7-8) rallied late, scoring a touchdown in the final minute to secure a 13-10 victory against the Raiders, who at 6-9 are now on the verge of playoff elimination. The game was played exactly 50 years and 1 day since Harris hauled in ‘The Immaculate Reception’ vs. the Silver and Black, considered by many the most iconic play in NFL history – a play that gave the Steelers their first playoff victory.
One highlight to know: Kenny Pickett’s 14-yard TD pass to George Pickens with 46 seconds to go put the Steelers in front for the first time Saturday and held up as the winning score.
Next up: The Raiders return home to face the red-hot 49ers. The Steelers head to Baltimore to take on the rival Ravens.
Green Bay Packers 26, Miami Dolphins 20
Briefly: The Dolphins turned the ball over three times and third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa tossed three interceptions in a disappointing loss for Miami at home. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers completed 24 of 38 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. Running back A.J. Dillon also had a rushing touchdown for Green Bay. The loss put Miami into a perilous playoff situation; if the New England Patriots defeat the Dolphins next week and knock off the Bills in Week 18, the Dolphins will be out and the Patriots will be in.
One highlight to know: The Dolphins registered the first touchdown of the game with an 84-yard connection between Tagovailoa and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle with 9:08 left in the frst quarter.
Next up: The Packers will host the Minnesota Vikings on New Year’s Day. The Dolphins visit the Patriots.
Los Angeles Rams 51, Denver Broncos 14
Briefly: The Rams were firing on all cylinders Sunday, blitzing the Broncos en route to a blowout Christmas Day victory. Rams QB Baker Mayfield completed 24 of 28 passes and two touchdowns while running back Cam Akers found the end zone three times. Denver quarterback Russell Wilson had another rough outing, throwing a pair of interceptions in another poor offensive showing for the Broncos, whose normally stout defense let them down in a lopsided Week 16 defeat.
One highlight to know: Rams defender Cobie Durant returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown with 4:08 left in the game.
Next up: The Rams meet the Los Angeles Chargers at their mutual home New Year’s Day. The Broncos visit the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19, Arizona Cardinals 16 (OT)
Briefly: Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense navigated some struggles but managed to escape Arizona with an overtime victory thanks to a game-winning field goal by Ryan Succop. Brady was 32 of 48 passing with two interceptions but completed all six of his passes on Tampa Bay’s final drive in the extra period. Meanwhile, Cardinals QB Trace McSorley made his first career start and was just 24 of 45 passing.
One highlight to know: Cardinals defender Marco Wilson converted the second of his two interceptions of Brady with an athletic play on the ball with 3:14 left in the third quarter and the score tied 6-6.
Next up: The Buccaneers host the Carolina Panthers in Week 17. The Cardinals visit the Atlanta Falcons.
Los Angeles Chargers at Indianapolis Colts
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. ET (Monday)
What to know: The Chargers have a chance to clinch a playoff spot on Monday. Los Angeles will need to win and get some help. The Colts are reeling after being on the losing end of the largest comeback in NFL history. How will that impact the psyche of the team? The Colts will find out soon as they turn to backup quarterback Nick Foles to start in a lost season.