Packers put pesky Jaguars away in Green Bay


Sunday’s game in Green Bay was supposed to be an easy win for the Packers over the Jaguars. The Packers got their win, but it wasn’t easy.

The Jaguars kept the game close most of the way and wouldn’t go down without a fight, but in the end Jacksonville’s defense couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers from engineering two fourth-quarter scoring drives, and the Packers won 24-15.

Rodgers didn’t put up the eye-opening numbers he has the last couple weeks, but he was good enough, completing 22 of 35 passes for 186 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Rodgers now has 11 touchdowns and no interceptions over the last three weeks.

Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert deserves credit, however, for turning in a solid game of his own. Despite playing without the Jaguars’ top offensive playmaker, Maurice Jones-Drew, Gabbert went over 300 yards and had a touchdown pass and no turnovers. In his second season, Gabbert is continuing to make progress.

But that progress isn’t enough because the Jaguars just aren’t good enough: Green Bay was the better team at Lambeau Field today, and even on a day when the Packers aren’t playing their best football, they’ll beat the Jaguars.

Steelers extend D.C. dominance

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The Redskins haven’t beaten the Steelers in 20 years.  They’ll have to wait another four to break the streak.

In throwback jerseys that inducted equal parts vertigo and nausea, the Steelers trounced RG3 and company, 27-12.

Ben Roethlisberger completed 24 of 33 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way.  And tailback Jonathan Dwyer could be Wally Pipping the other guys ahead of him on the depth chart, with his second straight 100-yard game.  He finished with 107 yards on 17 carries.

The loss drops the Redskins to 3-5, narrowing their window of opportunity to stealing a wild-card berth.  Especially with five division games in their final eight.

The Steelers have improved to 4-3, putting them only a game behind the Ravens.  The two teams will play twice in three weeks, starting in three weeks.  Those two games will go a long way toward deciding the division.

As they always seem to do.

Bears come back to beat Panthers, improve to 6-1

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Jay Cutler didn’t do much all day, but he did just enough at the right time.

The Bears came back for a 23-22 win over the Panthers, improving to 6-1 on the season.

Cutler turned the ball over three times, and was constantly pressured, by a Panthers defense which played with an urgency it had lacked.

Cam Newton recovered from an ugly pick-six to Tim Jennings, and moved the Panthers downfield for a 22-20 lead with 2:27 left.

But the defense which played so well throughout the day couldn’t hold, and Cutler was a smooth 6-of-7 for 52 yards on the final drive, setting up Robbie Gould’s 41-yard field goal as time expired.

Cutler finished with 186 yards passing, and the Panthers actually outgained the Bears 416-210.

Patriots put on a jolly good show, whip Rams in London

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The fans at Wembley Stadium were treated to a blowout on Sunday, as the Patriots put a beating on the Rams in London.

St. Louis scored first when Sam Bradford hit Chris Givens for a 50-yard touchdown pass, but after that it was all New England: Brandon Lloyd, Shane Vereen, Rob Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley all scored touchdowns to give the Patriots a 28-7 lead at halftime, and another Lloyd touchdown plus a Stephen Gostkowski field goal made the score 38-7 at the end of the third quarter. One more Patriots touchdown in the fourth quarter brought the scoring to a close.

The Rams have been playing tough, competitive football this season, and their defense has looked like it’s making big strides under first-year coach Jeff Fisher. But in this game the Rams’ defense simply had no answer for Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense. New England marched down the field at will all day long.

For the Rams, quarterback Sam Bradford threw the ball well most of the game, but running back Steven Jackson couldn’t get anything going, and St. Louis drives repeatedly stalled. New England’s defense played well — and its offense played even better.

Ultimately, this was a game that was out of reach before halftime, and the Patriots could have named their score. The score they named was 45-7.

Browns do just enough, win for second time this year

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It’s one thing to lose to the Saints and Broncos, they’ve at least been good the last few decades.

But the Chargers have sunk to a new low, losing 7-6 to the Browns Sunday, the kind of game, frankly, that makes you wonder if people are getting fired.

The Browns were able to run well (133 yards) against what was the league’s second-ranked run defense, improving to 2-6 on the season. Trent Richardson, playing with painful ribs, had 122 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

Meanwhile, the Chargers managed to do not much at all.

After coughing up late leads against both Denver and New Orleans, the Chargers are clearly in a desperate spot, dropping to 3-4.

Lions come back, save season by beating Seahawks

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In Detroit last week, Lions players were declaring the game against the Seahawks a must-win. So it’s a good thing they won.

But as usual for the Lions, they didn’t make it look easy, starting slowly and needing a fourth-quarter comeback to win 28-24. This was a win that saved the Lions’ season, improving their record to 3-4 and allowing them to cling to playoff hopes. The Seahawks fall to 4-4, and their own playoff hopes have taken a hit.

The best news for the Lions is that after losing receiver Nate Burleson for the season to a broken leg, the two young receivers Detroit needs to step up — Titus Young and Ryan Broyles — both stepped up. Young led the way with nine catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner with 20 seconds to play. Broyles had three catches for 37 yards and scored the Lions’ first touchdown.

For Seattle, a good start on offense fizzled: Marshawn Lynch had a 77-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, but Seattle surprisingly gave him just 12 carries, and he finished with 105 yards on a day when it looked like he’d gain a lot more than that. And Russell Wilson had some good moments, completing 24 of 34 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had a costly late interception.

Seattle’s chances of getting to the NFC playoffs are probably still better than Detroit’s. But on this day, the Lions were the ones who gave their hopes of making the postseason a boost.

Titans and Colts head to overtime

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The winner of Sunday’s Colts-Titans game will be in good shape as the playoff picture in the AFC starts to take shape and it is taking more than 60 minutes to find that winner.

We’re heading to overtime in Tennessee with the score tied 13-13 after Andrew Luck was able to lead the Colts to their first touchdown in the fourth quarter. After a fitful day against a game Titans defense, Luck was able to manufacture a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Donald Brown touchdown run. Brown also did good work on that drive, including a run for seven yards on fourth-and-one from the Titans’ eight-yard line.

Matt Hasselbeck and Luck were both unable to put their teams in front on the drives that followed Brown’s touchdown and the Colts dodged a bullet when officials ruled Colts tight end Dwayne Allen down before he fumbled on the final drive of regulation. The whistle definitely blew on the play, but it looked like it might have been blown a beat too soon.

The Titans will get their next chance in the extra session unless the Colts score a touchdown on the opening drive.

Bears take advantage of 6-yard punt, cut gap to 19-14


The Bears just took advantage of the Panthers self-paralysis, and now trail by five, down 19-14 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Panthers have been kicking away from Devin Hester all day, determined to not let him beat them. Problem is, they’re effectively giving them the ball at the 40 most of the time they kick off, making it just as effective as blasting the ball out of bounds.

Their latest effort was a six-yard punt by Brad Nortman, which set up a 12-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Davis.

The Panthers are playing clutch-and-grab and trying to not lose, and it’s almost worked long enough.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m. ET: And just like that, Bears cornerback Tim Jennings intercepts Cam Newton and returns it for a touchdown, and the Bears lead 20-19 with 6:44 left.

Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is carted off


A romp by the Falcons that will move the team to 7-0 and turn up the flames even higher under the rear end of Eagles coach Andy Reid could come at a price.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has been carted off with a leg injury.

Trainers apparently are checking his knee.  Stay tuned for more update.

The Falcons lead 30-17.

League office closes on Monday

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As further proof of the magnitude of the storm that is bearing down on the New York City area, the NFL has joined with many other local businesses and institutions that are closing their doors on Monday.

The league office is shutting down for the day on which Hurricane Sandy is due to begin to make its/her/whatever presence felt.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT that the league plans to conduct normal business operations as far as club transactions, etc.  The work, per Aiello, can be done remotely (from home or elsewhere).  Also, some folks will be at the office, given that they live within walking distance of 345 Park Avenue.

Of course, widespread power outages in Manhattan could impact that plan.  Also, some league employees may be working remotely from, you know, Europe, given that the NFL is staging a game in London today.

Ryan Clark leaves game with head injury


Not everything is going the Steelers’ way on Sunday, during a 20-6 home rout of the Redskins.

Starting safety Ryan Clark has exited the game in the third quarter.  Per multiple reports, he’s being evaluated for a head injury.  Clark’s return is questionable.

At least the Steelers aren’t claiming that it’s a neck injury.  Or that he has concussion-like symptoms.  So that’s progress.

Week Eight late inactives


There are just two games kicking off in the late afternoon slot this Sunday, which doesn’t make for a lot of inactive players.

A lack of quantity doesn’t mean that we aren’t paying attention to the names, however. We’ve compiled them all for you right here.

Raiders at Chiefs

Raiders: QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Taiwan JonesNFL, CB Shawntae Spencer, LB Travis Goethel, G Lucas Nix, DE Jack Crawford, T Khalif Barnes

Chiefs: QB Ricky Stanzi, WR Devon Wylie, DB Tysyn Hartman, LB Bryan Kehl, C Bryan Mattison, DE Glenn Dorsey, TE Steve Maneri

Giants at Cowboys

Giants: S Kenny Phillips, DT Rocky Bernard, LB Jacquian Williams, WR Jerrel Jernigan, DE Adewale Ojomo, T James Brewer, TE Adrian Robinson

Cowboys: RB DeMarco Murray, C Phil Costa, S Matt Johnson, S Charlie Peprah, DL Sean Lissemore, WR Andre Holmes, LB Kyle Wilber

Storm clouds brewing after abysmal Jets first half


Sandy might be the second worst storm the Jets face this week.

The Dolphins lead 20-0 at the Meadowlands after a first half that saw everything go wrong for the Jets despite the fact that the Dolphins lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill early in the first quarter. The Jets have turned the ball over, had a punt blocked for a touchdown, had a field goal blocked and allowed three sacks to fall way behind a team that they need to beat to have any chance of playoff contention.

They don’t look anywhere close to such a thing. The crowd at MetLife Stadium is raging at the team, particularly an offense that has reverted to looking totally lost after two strong weeks in a row. Mark Sanchez is 10-of-19 for 109 yards and has had throws going all over the place in the first half. They need to try something to spark a totally lifeless team that seems to have evacuated in spirit ahead of the end of the game. The Jets are on a bye after this game and leaving this performance on everyone’s minds for two weeks will make for a feeding frenzy around the team. It will take something special to avoid that.

At this point we are contractually required to remind you that Tebowmania got underway in the second half of a game against the Dolphins last season. There’s a chance that the Jets will see if it can happen twice after the offense do nothing in the first 30 minutes, but he’s touched the ball just once so far on Sunday.

Miami’s offense hasn’t been outstanding, but they’ve done enough to build on the early lead provided by the special teams. Matt Moore has thrown for 81 yards and the Reggie Bush/Daniel Thomas combo has run for 59 to give the defense more than enough time to rest up for their next backhanded slap to the Jets offense.

Unless something changes quickly, things are going to be ugly in the New York/New Jersey area in the next couple of days. And the fallen trees will only be the start of it.

Browns able to run the ball, lead at half


The Chargers got on the board with a Nick Novak field goal as time expired in the first half, and the Browns are hanging onto a 7-3 lead.

Of course, hanging on is the operative term, as Ryan Mathews fumbled early, bringing more scrutiny on a guy that doesn’t need more.

The biggest difference is the way the Browns are running on the league’s second-best rush defense. They have 95 yards on the ground, with Trent Richardson getting 86 of them on 15 carries.

In a mess of a Cleveland day, being able to continue to run will give the Browns a solid chance to pull the upset.

Panthers find a pass rush, lead Bears at half


The Panthers have a 13-7 halftime lead over the Bears, thanks to a pass-rush that hasn’t been evident in their first six games.

They’ve gotten to Jay Cutler regularly, with six sacks so far, two of them leading to fumbles.

Cutler has a whopping 40 passing yards and an interception at halftime, and the Panthers are starting to mix in a few blitzes rather than relying solely on the front four. Although that front four has played well enough to sustain them.

The Panthers are grinding away at them otherwise. A second-quarter field goal drive took more than eight minutes off the clock, and they seem perfectly willing to play clutch-and-grab football. Their touchdown was on a Cam Newton fumble into the end zone which was recovered by Louis Murphy.