Giants, Cowboys, Redskins win in tight NFC East

By The Associated Press
    2012-12-10 04:22

Winning was required to keep pace in the NFC East playoff race.

Losing was all that was needed in the AFC North.

The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants beat New Orleans with an offensive eruption fueled by David Wilson's record-setting performance. That 52-27 romp kept the Giants one game in front of Washington, which rallied to beat Baltimore 31-28 in overtime despite a knee injury to outstanding rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Dallas also remained a game behind New York with a comeback 20-19 victory at Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh completed the futility for AFC North contenders, falling at home to San Diego, 34-24.

Baltimore (9-4) kept its two-game lead in the division, but has jeopardized getting a bye for the playoffs if it wins the AFC North.

Also, NFC West leader San Francisco beat Miami 27-13, while runner-up Seattle set a franchise record for points in a 58-0 rout of Arizona.

Green Bay's 27-20 victory over Detroit, along with Chicago losing 21-14 at Minnesota, means the Packers take the NFC North with a win at Soldier Field next Sunday.

Indianapolis took a stronger hold on the top AFC wild card with a comeback 27-23 victory over Tennessee.

NFC South winner Atlanta blew a chance to clinch a first-round bye as it fell at Carolina, 30-20.

Also, it was Philadelphia 23, Tampa Bay 21; St. Louis 15, Buffalo 12; the New York Jets 17, Jacksonville 10; and Cleveland 30, Kansas City 7.

Monday night's matchup has two division leaders, with AFC South front-runner Houston (11-1) at AFC East champion New England (9-3).

The action began Thursday night when AFC West winner Denver (10-3) defeated Oakland (3-10), 26-13.



At Landover, Md., with Griffin sidelined with a sprained right knee, the Redskins (7-6) rallied behind backup Kirk Cousins to tie the game in the final minute of regulation. Kai Forbath kicked a 34-yard field goal in overtime for the Skins' fourth consecutive victory.

Griffin was hurt at the end of a 13-yard scramble on the tying drive with the Redskins trailing 28-20. He left for one play, returned for four, then was no longer able to continue.

Cousins stepped in and hit Pierre Garcon for an 11-yard touchdown pass, then ran in the 2-point conversion with 29 seconds to play.

``He's ice. Like they used to say about Larry Bird, he got ice water in his veins. That's the best thing you can say about Kirk,'' receiver Joshua Morgan said. ``He was coming like nothing was even going on.''

Griffin was able to joke about his injury after the game.

``I knew as soon as I got hit. I screamed. Like a man, of course,'' Griffin said with a laugh. ``It hurt really bad.''

The Ravens (9-4) lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2009.

``We've had a tough run here,'' said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team had won after each of its previous 15 losses.


At Cincinnati, the grieving Cowboys rallied for a win on Dan Bailey's 40-yard field goal as time ran out. Dallas (7-6) overcame a nine-point deficit in the closing minutes behind Tony Romo, who held his hand over his heart during a moment of silence to honor teammate Jerry Brown before the kickoff.

Brown died in an auto accident early Saturday. Dallas defensive lineman Josh Brent, who was driving, remained in jail in Irving, Texas, charged with intoxication manslaughter.

The Cowboys (7-6) learned about Brown's death on their flight to Cincinnati on Saturday.

``It's a hard, hard situation we're in,'' Romo said. ``There's no playbook for this sort of thing in life.''

The Bengals (7-6) had won four straight.


At Pittsburgh, Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Danario Alexander, and San Diego won for the first time in 15 regular-season visits to Pittsburgh.

The Chargers (5-8), who snapped a four-game losing streak, dominated from the outset. They never let Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger get comfortable in his first game in nearly a month.

Roethlisberger completed 22 of 42 passes for 285 yards and three second-half touchdowns. But he also threw an interception and had a botched screen pass turn into an easy San Diego score as Pittsburgh (7-6) hardly played like a team ready for a postseason run.


At East Rutherford, N.J., rookie Wilson was unstoppable. He returned a kickoff 97 yards for one touchdown, ran for two more scores and piled up 327 all-purpose yards. He is the first NFL player with 200 yards on kickoff returns and 100 yards rushing in a game.

``To come up and have a breakout game like this is an excellent feeling,'' Wilson said. ``You want to have a good game every game.''

Manning threw four touchdown passes to lead the Giants (8-5) as they maintained their NFC East lead.

Manning had TD passes of 6 yards to Martellus Bennett, 5 yards to Domenik Hixon, 25 yards to Hakeem Nicks and 10 yards to Victor Cruz. Wilson scored on runs of 6 and 52 yards and finished with 100 yards on 13 carries on the biggest day of his career.

The loss all but ended the playoff hopes of Drew Brees and the Saints (5-8), who turned the ball over four times in losing their third straight.


At San Francisco, Frank Gore ran for a 1-yard touchdown and reached 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth time in his career. Gore finished with 63 yards.

Anthony Dixon also had a 1-yard scoring run and Colin Kaepernick ran for a late 50-yard touchdown and threw for 185 yards in his fourth straight start since being promoted over Alex Smith.

NFL sacks leader Aldon Smith added two to his total for 19 1/2, passing Fred Dean's franchise-best single-season mark of 17 1/2 set in 1983. Smith moved within three sacks of the single-season record Michael Strahan set in 2001 with the New York Giants.

Michael Crabtree had nine catches for 93 yards and rookie LaMichael James ran for 30 yards in a solid NFL debut for the 49ers (9-3-1). Miami is 5-8.


At Seattle, Marshawn Lynch had three touchdown runs and Seattle set a franchise record for points. The Seahawks forced eight turnovers. Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner each had two interceptions.

Seattle (8-5) kept firm grasp on the final NFC wild-card spot and kept alive slim chances of catching San Francisco in the NFC West. The Seahawks also picked up their first division victory and assured coach Pete Carroll of his first eight-win season in three years with the team.

The 58-0 victory was the biggest shutout in Seattle's history.

Arizona (4-9) was shut out for the first time since 2003 against Seattle. The effortless performance will only raise questions about Ken Whisenhunt's future as coach. Arizona lost its ninth straight overall.

``I apologize to our fans and everyone associated with our organization. That was embarrassing,'' Whisenhunt said.


DaJuan Harris rushed for a score in his first game for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers added the longest TD run of his career, and Mike Daniels returned a fumble 43 yards as the Packers (9-4) opened that one-game lead over Chicago.

The Packers have won 22 straight at home against the Lions, the longest streak in the NFL.

The loss was the fifth straight for Detroit (4-9). Though this wasn't quite as excruciating as the previous three, when the Lions gave up fourth-quarter leads and fell by a total of nine points.


At Minneapolis, Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score.

Peterson topped 100 yards before the first quarter was over, helping the Vikings (7-6) remain viable in the NFC wild-card picture.

``The guy's unbelievable. I don't know if he's human or not,'' Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder said of Peterson, who wrecked his left knee last December, yet leads the NFL in rushing.

Jay Cutler threw for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and couldn't finish the game for the Bears (8-5), who have lost four of their last five. He took a wicked hit to the head from Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter and hurt his neck.


At Indianapolis, Andrew Luck led the Colts (9-4) back from a 13-point second-half deficit and Adam Vinatieri made two fourth-quarter field goals. Luck has now engineered six fourth-quarter comebacks for Indy, which has a two-game edge in the AFC wild-card race and still can win the AFC South.

Delone Carter cut the deficit to 20-14 with a 1-yard run on Indy's opening possession of the second half. And after Pat McAfee's 52-yard punt went out of bounds at the Titans 1-yard line, Cassius Vaughn jumped in front of Nate Washington, picked off Jake Locker's pass and scored on a 3-yard interception return to make it 21-20.

Rob Bironas gave the Titans (4-9) a 23-21 lead with a 25-yard field goal, but Vinatieri hit from 53 yards to retake the lead and from 40 to seal it.


At Charlotte, Cam Newton threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 72-yard run. Newton piled up a career-high 116 yards on the ground, becoming the first NFL player with 250 yards passing, 100 rushing, a TD pass and a TD run.

The Panthers (4-9) racked up 475 total yards to avenge an early season loss to the Falcons. Matt Ryan, who they felt disrespected them after Atlanta's 30-28 come-from-behind win in September, threw for 342 yards and two scores and had a costly fourth-quarter interception for Atlanta (11-2).


At Tampa, Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes in the final 4 minutes, including a 1-yarder to Jeremy Maclin with no time remaining. The Eagles (4-9) ended an eight-game losing streak - their longest in 42 years.

Foles completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards in his fourth start in place of the injured Michael Vick. The rookie threw an 11-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor with 3:55 remaining, then led the Eagles on a 64-yard winning drive.

Doug Martin rushed for 128 yards for Tampa Bay (6-7), which damaged itself in the NFC wild-card chase.


At Orchard Park, N.Y., Sam Bradford threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson with 48 seconds left, capping an 84-yard drive. St. Louis (6-6-1) continued its late-season resurgence by winning its third straight for the first time since closing the 2006 season with three victories.

The Bills (5-8) blew a lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter for the second time this season.


At Jacksonville, Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell ran for short touchdowns and the Jets (6-7) kept their slim postseason hopes alive. Mark Sanchez, benched last week in a 7-6 win against Arizona, was hardly a factor. Neither was backup Tim Tebow, who spent his homecoming on the sideline.

Greene scored on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter, and Powell added a 4-yarder early in the fourth. Greene finished with 77 yards rushing. Powell added 78 yards on the ground against the Jaguars (2-11).


At Cleveland, rookie Travis Benjamin's 93-yard punt return touchdown sparked the Browns to their third straight win. The Browns (5-8) have one more win than last season, and their longest winning streak since 2009.

Trent Richardson had a pair of 1-yard TD runs for Cleveland. Jamaal Charles ran for 165 yards, breaking off an 80-yard TD run on the game's first play for Kansas City (2-11).


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