Flacco leads Ravens to 31-24 win over Bengals
BALTIMORE—Ray Lewis watched from the sideline as the Ravens defense gave up big chunks of yards.
Joe Flacco and Baltimore's oft-criticized offense put up the points, and Lewis' teammates came up with big plays when it counted most in a 31-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
The Ravens (7-3) moved into first place in the AFC North.
"No. 1 in the division, that's huge," Terrell Suggs said. "Now we're the master of our destiny."
Playing without their star middle linebacker for the first time in 58 games, the Ravens nearly blew a 17-point lead in the final 14 minutes, yielded 483 yards and let rookie quarterback Andy Dalton throw for 373.
But Flacco threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns, rookie Torrey Smith had six catches for 165 yards, and Ray Rice rushed for 104 yards and two scores.
After Rice was stuffed on a third-and-1 with just over two minutes left, he remained confident.
"I just looked at the clock and I said, `Our defense will get it done,'" he recalled. "That's the faith I have in our guys."
Even without Lewis, who was placed on the inactive list with a toe injury. The Ravens' spiritual leader and leading tackler saw his unit pick off three passes and turn in a game-saving goal-line stand in the final minute.
Down 31-24, Cincinnati reached the Baltimore 7 before Suggs collared Dalton, who was called for intentional grounding. On fourth-and-goal, Dalton was sacked by Pernell McPhee.
The Bengals (6-4) needed seven points because on the previous series, an apparent 9-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Jermaine Gresham was overturned by a replay that determined the receiver didn't hold onto the ball at the end of a juggling catch. The Bengals settled for a field goal with 5:32 remaining.
Baltimore is locked in a first-place tie with Pittsburgh in the AFC North, but the Ravens own the tiebreaker with two wins over the Steelers.
49ERS 23, CARDINALS 7
At San Francisco, Alex Smith threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns and San Francisco forced five turnovers on a soggy day at Candlestick Park.
Smith tossed scores to Kyle Williams and Vernon Davis on the first two drives of the third quarter to help the 49ers pull away for their eighth straight victory. San Francisco (9-1) can clinch the NFC West with a win at Baltimore on Thursday and a loss by Seattle against Washington next weekend.
Patrick Willis, Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson all intercepted passes by John Skelton. The quarterback for the Cardinals (3-7) lost for the first time in three starts this season in place of the injured Kevin Kolb.
BEARS 31, CHARGERS 20
At Chicago, Jay Cutler threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, and Chicago won its fifth straight.
Chicago (7-3) continued its remarkable turnaround and handed the Chargers their fifth straight loss, their longest slide since an 0-5 start in 2003.
Philip Rivers threw for 280 yards. For most of the game, he looked more like a Pro Bowl quarterback than the guy who had been turning it over at an alarming rate. But two late interceptions helped preserve the win for Chicago.
The Bears were leading 31-20 when San Diego's Antoine Cason returned an interception 64 yards to the Chicago 20. But instead of driving for a touchdown, Rivers sealed it with an INT.
FALCONS 23, TITANS 17
At Atlanta, Roddy White had seven receptions for a season-high 147 yards and Jonathan Babineaux led an Atlanta defense that held off Tennessee.
The Falcons (6-4) bounced back from an overtime loss to New Orleans, but it wasn't easy. Jake Locker took over for injured Matt Hasselbeck and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Nate Washington to make a game of it for the Titans (5-5).
Atlanta jumped ahead on Matt Ryan's 17-yard TD pass to Tony Gonzalez and was up 20-3 in the third quarter after Michael Turner scored on a 4-yard run.
Hasselbeck went out with a sprained elbow and Locker nearly led an improbable comeback. The rookie threw for 140 yards after taking over late in the third quarter.
EAGLES 17, GIANTS 10
At East Rutherford, N.J., Vince Young threw a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper with 2:45 to play and the undermanned Philadelphia Eagles finally got things right in the fourth quarter.
In what was a must-win game for Andy Reid's struggling team, the Eagles, who had lost five games in the fourth quarter earlier this season, marched 80 yards in 18 plays over 8:51. They converted six third-down plays, with DeSean Jackson setting up the first-and-goal with a 10-yard catch to the 10.
On third-and-goal, Young found Cooper, who hadn't caught a pass all season, alone in the end zone for the lead that gave the Eagles (4-6) hope in what has been a dismal season.
COWBOYS 27, REDSKINS 24 OT
At Landover, Md., Dan Bailey kicked a 39-yard field goal 9:21 into overtime to give Dallas its third straight win.
The Cowboys rallied after allowing a late fourth-quarter touchdown and improved to 6-4, keeping the pressure on the first-place New York Giants in the NFC East.
The Redskins lost their sixth straight, their longest skid since their 0-7 start in 1998. They sent the game to overtime on Rex Grossman's 4-yard fade pass to Donte' Stallworth with 14 seconds remaining in regulation.
Washington's Graham Gano missed a 52-yard field goal in overtime.
Bailey's winning kick was set up by Tony Romo's 26-yard pass to Dez Bryant.
BROWNS 14, JAGUARS 10
At Cleveland, Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert's pass into the end zone on the game's final play was incomplete, allowing the Browns to escape.
Gabbert rifled a 3-yard pass high over the middle that went off wide receiver Mike Thomas' outstretched hands, and the Browns (4-6) celebrated a win they nearly gave away.
Colt McCoy shook off an apparent injury and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Josh Cribbs in the fourth to give Cleveland a 14-10 lead. A missed field goal by Browns kicker Phil Dawson with 2:49 left gave the Jaguars (3-7) a final chance and Gabbert nearly pulled off the comeback.
Chris Ogbonnaya rushed for 115 yards and scored on a 1-yard run for Cleveland, ending a TD drought at home that lasted more than 158 minutes.
PACKERS 35, BUCCANEERS 26
At Green Bay, Wis., Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and Green Bay survived a scare to remain unbeaten.
With the Packers leading by two points and trying to fend off a rally by Tampa Bay in the fourth quarter, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for a clinching 40-yard touchdown with 2:55 left in the game -- Nelson's second TD catch of the day.
The Packers ran their record to 10-0, leaving them as the NFL's lone undefeated team going into a Thanksgiving Day matchup at Detroit.
Josh Freeman threw for 342 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Buccaneers (4-6), who have lost four straight but didn't back down against one of the NFL's elite teams.
RAIDERS 27, VIKINGS 21
At Minneapolis, Carson Palmer threw for 164 yards and a touchdown and Oakland capitalized on several mistakes by Minnesota.
Michael Bush rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown for the Raiders (6-4).
Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off the field with a neck injury in the fourth quarter. Coach Hue Jackson said Heyward-Bey had total movement in his limbs, and hoped the player would join the team on the trip home and undergo further tests in Oakland.
Heyward-Bey was injured when linebacker E.J. Henderson's knee inadvertently hit him in the back of the head while he was being tackled.
Adrian Peterson left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle and the Vikings (2-8) weren't able to complete a fourth-quarter rally. Peterson will have an MRI to make sure there's no more damage, and he said he hoped to play next Sunday at Atlanta.
At Miami, the Dolphins set up two touchdowns with interceptions, Matt Moore threw for three scores, and their improbable midseason surge gained momentum.
After losing their first seven games, the Dolphins (3-7) have three consecutive victories for the first time since 2008, winning by a combined score of 86-20. Buffalo (5-5) has been outscored 106-26 while losing three in a row.
To make matters worse for the injury-riddled Bills, they lost NFL rushing leader Fred Jackson in the third quarter when he hurt his leg. Receiver Donald Jones (left ankle) and cornerback Terrence McGee (left leg) were carted off the field in the second period.
For the third game in a row, the Dolphins held the opposition without a touchdown.
LIONS 49, PANTHERS 35
At Detroit, Matthew Stafford's fifth touchdown pass of the game, a 7-yarder to Brandon Pettigrew with 2:32 left, completed another big rally.
Detroit (7-3) became the first NFL team since at least 1950 to win three games in a season after trailing by at least 17 points, according to STATS, LLC. Carolina (2-8) led 24-7 in the second quarter.
The Panthers tied it at 35 with 4:59 left on Cam Newton's 6-yard run and 2-point conversion pass to Steve Smith.
Stafford started the game-winning drive with a 30-yard pass to Calvin Johnson and capped it by converting a third down with his TD pass to Pettigrew in the end zone.
Newton, who threw one TD pass and ran for two others, was intercepted four times.
SEAHAWKS 24, RAMS 7
At St. Louis, Sidney Rice caught a touchdown pass, drew a pass interference that led to a field goal for Seattle.
Chris Clemons had three of Seattle's five sacks on Sam Bradford, and he also forced the Rams quarterback to fumble twice, both leading to touchdowns.
Marshawn Lynch scored for the fourth straight week, although he missed on a third straight 100-yard game, finishing with 88 yards. The Rams (2-8) totaled 185 yards.
The Seahawks (4-6) won on consecutive weeks for the first time, following up on an upset over Baltimore, and have won 12 of 13 in the series. The game featured 19 punts, including a season-high 10 by the Rams' Donnie Jones.