49ers lose in wild finish but end six-year playoff drought
The Latest on Week 15 in the NFL (all times EST):
The San Francisco 49ers have ended a six-year playoff drought even though they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 29-22 in a wild finish in which they allowed 12 points in the final two seconds.
That’s right, 12 points in the last two seconds.
Julio Jones caught a 5-yard pass from Matt Ryan with two seconds left to give Atlanta a 23-22 lead.
Wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus recoverd a fumble in the end zone when the 49ers botched the kickoff return when they lateraled in a futile attempt to score on a razzle-dazzle return.
The 49ers (11-3) nevertheless made it into the NFC playoff field minutes later when the Dallas Cowboys wrapped up their 44-21 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Cowboys’ win also put the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks into the playoffs.
Earlier, the New England Patriots clinched their 11th consecutive playoff berth despite another pedestrian passing performance by Tom Brady.
Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray got the best of a much-anticipated showdown with Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Murray can thank Kenyan Drake, who scored four touchdowns in Arizona’s 38-24 win over the Browns.
Murray threw for 219 yards and a touchdown and Mayfield threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
The two were college teammates at Oklahoma and won Heisman Trophies in back-to-back seasons.
Murray got plenty of help from Drake, who scored a touchdown in each quarter. He’s the first Cardinals player since 1993 to score four rushing touchdowns in a game.
There’s plenty of fans across the NFL who are cheering for the Dallas Cowboys today.
The Cowboys have a commanding 34-7 lead over the Rams early in the fourth quarter in Dallas.
A Dallas win would put three teams into the NFC playoffs, but not the Cowboys.
The Green Bay Packers (11-3) would get in.
So would the San Francisco 49ers (11-2) and the Seattle Seahawks (11-3).
The 49ers lead the Atlanta Falcons 13-10 early in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers 30-24 earlier today.
A win by Dallas would give the Cowboys and Eagles 7-7 records and set up a chance for the Cowboys to clinch the NFC East with a win next week in Philadelphia.
—Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.
Check that, Twitter. The Dallas Cowboys were OK on the coin toss, after all.
Quarterback Dak Prescott and referee Walt Anderson created a Twitter storm during the first half of the Dallas-Los Angeles Rams game with a confusing exchange during the coin toss.
The Cowboys won the toss, and Prescott initially made a reference to kicking off before saying the Cowboys would defer.
Anderson said a couple of times the Cowboys wanted to kick, creating the confusion that fed a Twitter uproar.
It only subsided after Dallas actually received the ball to start the second half.
Before the second-half kickoff, Anderson went to Dallas coach Jason Garrett to explain something, after which a staff member signaled the Cowboys were getting the ball. Anderson also spoke with members of the Fox television crew.
The running game for the Los Angeles Rams isn’t quite what it was in a playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys last season. For that matter, nothing else much is going right for the Rams either.
After rushing for a franchise playoff-record 273 yards in last season’s divisional win over the Cowboys, the Rams had 3 yards rushing at halftime while trailing Dallas 28-3.
The Cowboys made it 31-3 early in the third quarter.
Todd Gurley has six carries for just 1 yard and two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott has 75 yards and two first-half touchdowns. Elliott is trying to end a career-long streak of five games without a 100-yard game.
Gurley was one of two 100-yards rushers in the Rams’ 30-22 victory last January. C.J. Anderson led LA with 123 yards and two touchdowns in that game. Gurley scored once.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott made up for a potential gaffe on the coin toss that could force to kick to start both halves. It was unclear if referee Walt Anderson had settled on the Cowboys deferring or electing to kick after winning the toss. Prescott threw for 160 yards and two TDs before halftime.
Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook suffered a shoulder injury on the Vikings first possession of the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers and is out for the rest of the game.
Cook is having the best season of his three-year career.
He entered Sunday’s game second in the NFL with 1,611 scrimmage yards along with 13 rushing touchdowns, which were tied for the league lead.
Cook had 43 scrimmage yards (27 rushing, 16 receiving) before being injured. The Vikings have a 22-10 lead in the third quarter.
--Joe Reedy reporting from Los Angeles.
6:05 p.m. A showdown between former Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 picks could go down to the wire.
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals lead Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns 21-17 early in the third quarter.
Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, has thrown for 154 yards and a touchdown. He also has 53 yards on five carries rushing.
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, has thrown for 89 yards on 13-of-16 passing and hit Ricky Seals-Jones on a 2-yard TD pass to open the third quarter.
NFL rushing leader Nick Chubb has 116 yards rushing and a TD.
The Los Angeles Chargers’ season was perfectly summed up with one play near the end of the first half against Minnesota.
The Chargers were trailing 12-10 and were in field goal range at the Vikings 26. But on second-and-2 Philip Rivers fumbled when he was sacked by Danielle Hunter.
Austin Ekeler recovered it at the 38 and tried to make a play but also fumbled.
Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo then scooped up the loose ball and went 56 yards for a touchdown to give Minnesota a 19-10 lead.
It was the Chargers third turnover of the first half.
Making matters worse, left tackle Russell Okung was injured trying to make a tackle. -- Joe Reedy reporting from Los Angeles
The Raiders showed a highlight video of their history at halftime in their final scheduled game in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas.
Dozens of former Raiders players including Hall of Famers Marcus Allen and Fred Biletnikoff were honored on the field with Charles Woodson addressing the crowd at the Coliseum.
Woodson said the players came back to root on the team and to thank the Oakland fans who have supported the team through the years.
Woodson also led the crowd in a resounding chant of “Rai-ders! Rai-ders! Oakland leads Jacksonville 16-3 at halftime. — Josh Dubow reporting from Oakland.
Some superlative performances in the NFL’s Week 15 today.
Jameis Winston became the first player in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in consecutive games when he threw for a career-best 458 yards in a 38-17 rout of the Detroit Lions on Sunday. That came one week after he threw for 456 yards in a 38-35 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Tampa Bay’s Shaquil Barrett had a sack, giving him 16½ this season to match the franchise record set by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp in 2000.
Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes and the Giants snapped a franchise record-tying nine-game losing streak with a 36-20 win over Miami.
In Green Bay, Aaron Jones ran for two scores and Davante Adams caught another as the Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 21-13 in the 200th edition of the NFL’s oldest rivalry.
The Packers improved to 19-5 against their NFC North rival with Rodgers as the starting quarterback. Green Bay clinches a playoff berth if the Rams lose at Dallas.
—Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.
The New England Patriots have clinched a playoff berth for the 11th consecutive season.
They did it with a 34-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tom Brady had a pedestrian passing performance with 15 completions in 29 throws for 128 yards. But his two touchdown passes gives him 538 for his career, one shy of Peyton Manning’s all-time career record.
The Patriots joined Kansas City and Baltimore in the AFC playoff field so far.
The Chiefs beat the Broncos 23-3 in the snow at Arrowhead for their ninth straight win over Denver.
In other early games:
The Texans’ 24-21 win over Tennessee snapped the Titans’ four-game winning streak and put Houston back in the driver’s seat in the AFC South.
The Seahawks edged the Panthers 30-24 to improve to 11-3.
The Eagles (7-7) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 37-27 win over Washington.
The Packers held off the Bears 21-13.
The Giants beat the Dolphins 36-20.
And the Buccaneers beat the Lions 38-17.
__Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.
3:35 p.m. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to hold off the Detroit Lions without one of their top players.
Chris Godwin, who went over 1,300 yards receiving for the season Sunday, left the game with a hamstring injury.
Godwin had five catches for 121 yards against the Lions before exiting. Tampa Bay leads 24-17 early in the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers led 24-3 early in the second half. — Noah Trister reporting in Detroit
The Tennessee Titans now have intercepted Deshaun Watson twice costing the Texans points.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro picked off Watson at the goal line to end Houston’s first drive of the game.
The Titans pulled within 14-7 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Ryan Tannehill in the third quarter. Houston drove downfield and had first-and-goal at the Tennessee 5.
On second-and-goal, Titans rookie defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons tipped Watson’s pass into the air. Titans linebacker Jayon Brown caught the ball in the end zone for an interception and a touchback inside the final minute of the third quarter.
The Texans and Titans are tied atop the AFC South, and this is the first of two games between the teams in the final three weeks of the regular season.
— Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee.
Tom Brady has thrown his second touchdown pass against Cincinnati, the 538th of his career.
Brady moves one ahead of Drew Brees on the career list and now trails Peyton Manning by only one for the NFL record.
Brees’ Saints host the Colts on Monday night.
-- Joe Kay in Cincinnati reporting.
Deshaun Watson has joined Steve Young in some very exclusive company.
The two are the only quarterbacks with at least 25 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons in NFL history.
Watson threw two TD passes in the second quarter to Kenny Stills, giving him 26 for the season to match his career high.
— Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee.
Derek Carr took some time out of his pregame warmups to sign some autographs for Raiders fans before the final scheduled game ever in Oakland.
Carr hopped a barrier between the field and stands and signed for several fans in the front row more than an hour before the game.
The stands are mostly empty 90 minutes before game time but the scene at the tailgates outside the Coliseum are celebratory as the Raiders fans wanted to enjoy one last party in Oakland before the team moves to Las Vegas next season.
The Raiders are hosting the Jaguars on Sunday and then end the season with two straight road games.
Patrick Mahomes isn’t bothered by his sore right hand or the snowstorm at Arrowhead Stadium.
Mahomes completed all but four of his 19 first-half passes for 210 yards in leading the Chiefs to a 15-3 halftime lead over the Broncos.
The Broncos’ hopes of a comeback are complicated with rookie tight end Noah Fant leaving late in the first half with a right shoulder injury after a long catch.
Tyreek Hill has a touchdown catch and Harrison Butker is perfect on three field-goal attempts for Kansas City.
Drew Lock is just 8 of 15 for 91 yards passing in his return home. The former Missouri quarterback, who grew up in the suburb of Lee’s Summit, is making his second career road start for the Broncos.
Last week he became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in his first road start. Lock is 2-0 since taking over at quarterback for the Broncos.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are in a groove.
Seattle has scored touchdown on its first three possessions to build a 20-7 lead over Carolina.
Wilson has a perfect 158.3 QB rating thus far, completing 8 of 10 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Carson has also scored on the ground as the Seahawks look to wrap up a playoff spot.
The Seahawks are targeting cornerback Donte Jackson, who last week criticized the coaching staff for putting him and the defense in bad positions against the Atlanta Falcons.
Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor has been ruled out for the rest of their game against the Denver Broncos after hurting his chest late in the first quarter.
Okafor chased down and sacked Broncos quarterback Drew Lock to force fourth down.
Okafor landed awkwardly with his right arm trapped under the quarterback, though that didn’t stop him from standing up and celebrating.
The Chiefs ruled him out shortly after Patrick Mahomes led their offense downfield for a field goal and a 9-0 lead.
Ryan Tannehill is having a rough start for the Tennessee Titans.
The quarterback leads the NFL with a 118.5 passer rating. Against the Houston Texans, Tannehill has missed five of his first seven passes. But Tannehill has 82 yards thanks to a 60-yard completion to rookie A.J. Brown.
Tannehill also hit Corey Davis for 22 yards just before the end of the first quarter.
Deshaun Watson was intercepted by Kenny Vaccaro at the goal line to end the Texans’ opening drive of the game. That’s his third interception in two games.
— Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee.
Running back Christian McCaffrey now owns the Panthers’ franchise record for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,995.
That breaks the previous record held by Steve Smith in 2001.
McCaffrey broke the mark on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, his league-leading 17th TD of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce has become the first tight end in NFL history to post four consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.
Kelce reached the milestone with an 11-yard catch on third-and-5 late in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at snowy Arrowhead Stadium.
The previous mark was held by Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen who had thee consecutive 1,000-yard seasons between 2014 and 2016.
1:40 p.m. It’s a quiet crowd at Detroit’s Ford Field, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are doing what they can to keep it that way.
Jameis Winston has thrown two touchdown passes already, and Tampa Bay leads the Lions 14-0 late in the first quarter. The Buccaneers capped a five-play, 99-yard drive when Winston threw a 33-yard TD pass to Scotty Miller. Earlier, he threw a 34-yard scoring pass to Breshad Perriman.
There are a fair number of empty seats in Detroit as the injury-plagued Lions try to snap a six-game losing streak. The crowd hasn’t been making much noise, even when Tampa Bay has the ball. — Noah Trister reporting from Detroit.
In what might be his final start at MetLife Stadium Eli Manning received a standing ovation when introduced before the Giants first offensive series.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP lost his starting job to rookie first-round draft pick Daniel Jones after the second game of the season. The 38-year-old QB who is in the final year of his contract got the job back last week with Jones out with an ankle injury.
Jones is still out.
However, coach Pat Shurmur said Jones will return to his starting role when healthy.
Manning was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2004. He was acquired in a draft day trade with the Chargers. He become the starter nine games into his rookie season.
New England’s Tom Brady has tied Drew Brees for second all-time in touchdown passes.
James White turned his short throw into a 23-yard score against the Bengals, the 537th TD pass of Brady’s career.
Brady and Brees are two behind Peyton Manning’s record of 539. The Saints host the Colts on Monday night.
-- Joe Kay in Cincinnati reporting
1 p.m. Former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is taking in the Washington Redskins’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles -- in the owner’s box.
Meyer was seen with owner Dan Snyder in his box before the game.
Meyer is currently a Fox analyst and is a candidate to coach in the NFL next season. The Redskins are looking for a new coach.
—Stephen Whyno reporting from Landover, Maryland.
The Broncos and Chiefs will be playing their divisional matchup in a snowstorm at Arrowhead Stadium.
Flurries began to fall overnight, far earlier than meteorologists predicted, and the intensifying snow caused major problems for people trying to get to the stadium.
That includes some members of the Chiefs, such as running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who were a bit late for warmups.
An hour before kickoff, dozens of workers were trying to clear off the yard lines, end zones and sidelines as the snow swirled inside the stadium. From above, the scene unfolding below looked like a snow globe come to life.
The Broncos are seeking just their fourth win in 18 trips to Arrowhead in December.
The NFL draft doesn’t happen until late April but Boomer Esiason already knows who he wants the Bengals to take.
The former Cincinnati quarterback — who was the last one to lead the franchise to a Super Bowl and win a playoff game — handed a Bengals helmet to Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow during a segment on “The NFL Today” and said, “I want to welcome you from one Bengal to the next.”
Esiason did something similar on the CBS pregame show in 2002 after Carson Palmer won the Heisman. Cincinnati selected Palmer in 2003 with the top overall pick.
The Bengals (1-12) have a one-game lead over the New York Giants for the top overall pick.
Five teams are in position to clinch playoff berths in Week 15 of the NFL schedule.
In the AFC, where Baltimore has won the North and Kansas City has taken the West, both New England and Buffalo can get in from the East.
The Patriots do so with a win or tie at lowly Cincinnati. The Bills clinch if they win at Pittsburgh in the Sunday night game. Neither team can secure the division crown regardless of how they do Sunday.
Baltimore can grab home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if the Patriots lose and the Chiefs also fall at home to Denver. The Ravens get a first-round bye if New England or Kansas City doesn’t win.
In the NFC, where New Orleans owns the South title, Green Bay’s place in the postseason will come if it beats Chicago at Lambeau Field and the Rams lose or tie at Dallas.
San Francisco moves on with a victory or tie against Atlanta or a Rams loss or tie or losses by Green Bay and Minnesota, which is at the Chargers.
Finally, a Seattle victory and a Rams loss or tie, or a Vikings loss, or a Packers loss and Vikings tie gets the Seahawks a spot.
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