RAMS, 49ERS PLAY TO 24-24 TIE
SAN FRANCISCO — The St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers played the NFL’s first tie game in four years as kickers from both teams missed overtime field goals Sunday.
Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yarder, but the Rams were penalized 5 yards for delay of game. He tried again from 58 as coach Jeff Fisher played for the win, and missed wide right with 2:42 left in OT.
San Francisco’s David Akers missed wide left on a 41-yard attempt that could have sealed it for the NFC West-leading 49ers (6-2-1), who lost quarterback Alex Smith to a first-half concussion.
Akers booted a tying 33-yarder with 3 seconds left in regulation after Sam Bradford threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 1:09 remaining.
San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis was flagged for holding Lance Kendricks on third down of St. Louis’ final drive, a costly mistake that kept his team from getting one last chance.
On the first play of OT, Bradford completed an 80-yard pass to Danny Amendola that took St. Louis (3-5-1) to the 2, but the play was called back for an illegal formation. Some 49ers fans got up to leave, then returned to their seats.
The last tie was between Philadelphia and Cincinnati, 13-13 in 2008.
Frank Gore ran for a 20-yard touchdown with 8:23 to go in regulation just 17 seconds after backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick scurried 7 yards for a score. Kaepernick finished 11 for 17 for 117 yards and also had eight carries for 66 yards, calmly leading the Niners after it took several series to find his groove.
Gore ran for 97 yards, while Michael Crabtree made five catches for 70 yards and a 14-yard touchdown from Smith before he left the game.
Amendola returned for the Rams following a three-game absence with a shoulder injury to make 11 catches for 102 yards. Bradford went 26 for 39 for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Smith took a hard hit on the back of the neck from linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar after a scramble with 1:10 left in the first quarter. But the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft stayed in the game and completed his next five passes, including Crabtree’s TD.
Smith, who has started 28 straight games, wound up 7 for 8 for 72 yards.
The 49ers didn’t face Bradford in either meeting last season as the Rams quarterback missed six games with a high left ankle sprain. He had all kinds of extra opportunities this time. Bradford found Steven Jackson for a 14-yard gain and first down late in the third period to keep a drive going. Jackson’s helmet flew off as he bowled through Willis. The Rams benefited moments later from Dashon Goldson’s 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taking off his helmet.
Then, defensive tackle Ray McDonald was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bradford when he came in under the quarterback’s chin, extending another Rams drive and giving them first and goal from the 7. Zuerlein kicked a 27-yard field goal. The penalties and miscues were certainly uncharacteristic of San Francisco’s defense. Crabtree’s touchdown midway through the second quarter gave him a TD reception in five straight games against the Rams. It was his third touchdown in two games, and all of his team-leading four TD catches have come in the last five games. Kaepernick took over as Smith went to the bench to be examined by medical personnel and soon left for the locker room with a concussion.
SAINTS 31, FALCONS 27
NEW ORLEANS — Jimmy Graham caught seven passes for a career-best 146 yards and two touchdowns, cornerback Jabari Greer made a diving, touchdown-saving pass breakup on a late fourth-down play, and the New Orleans Saints held on to hand the Atlanta Falcons their first loss, 31-27 on Sunday. Graham and his Atlanta counterpart, veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, both were superb in a game that showcased all the intensity and drama of one of the NFL’s most passionate and longstanding rivalries Gonzalez finished with 11 catches for 122 yards and two scores for Atlanta (8-1), and in the process became the first tight end to catch 100 touchdown passes. Brees threw for 298 yards and three TDs as the Saints (4-5) won for the fourth time in five games, keeping alive hope of getting back into the wild card race after an 0-4 start.
BRONCOS 36, PANTHERS 14
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Peyton Manning made sure John Fox’s return to Carolina was a successful one, throwing for 301 yards and a touchdown. Manning threw his 420th touchdown pass to move into a tie for second place on the NFL’s all-time list with Dan Marino. He trails only Brett Favre (508). Manning had plenty of help from his teammates. Von Miller harassed Cam Newton all day and Trindon Holliday returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown as the Broncos (6-3) won for the fifth time in six weeks. The Broncos sacked Newton seven times, including once for a safety, and Miller pressured him into an interception Tony Carter returned 40 yards for a score. Fox, who coached the Panthers for nine seasons, downplayed his return all week, but celebrated with a few fist pumps Sunday.
COWBOYS 38, EAGLES 23
PHILADELPHIA — Dallas scored big on all sides of the ball and pumped some life back into the NFC East race. Tony Romo threw a pair of touchdowns, Dwayne Harris had a 78-yard punt return TD, and Brandon Carr returned an interception 47 yards for a score to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 38-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The Cowboys improved to 4-5, and are second in the NFC East, 1½ games behind the New York Giants, who lost to Cincinnati earlier Sunday. The Eagles (3-6) lost Michael Vick to a concussion after consecutive bruising hits in the second quarter and have lost five straight games under coach Andy Reid for the first time in his 14 seasons. Nick Foles filled in for Vick and briefly rallied the Eagles until the Cowboys started showing some touchdown versatility. Romo hit Dez Bryant on a 30-yard pass on the final play of the third quarter, and Harris and Carr scored their TDs in the fourth quarter. The win, and a break in the schedule, could propel the Cowboys back in the thick of the division race. They will play five of their next six games at home, starting Sunday against Cleveland. The loss could speed up the countdown clock on Vick and Reid’s time in Philadelphia.
PATRIOTS 37, BILLS 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns, Devin McCourty ended Buffalo’s hopes with an interception in the end zone and New England kept Buffalo winless at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots (6-3) let a 17-3 lead slip to 34-31 with 7:47 left on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Donald Jones. Then the Bills (3-6) held the Patriots to a 27-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with 2:06 remaining. Buffalo then moved to a second-and-10 at the New England 15 before Fitzpatrick threw the ball right into the hands of McCourty while trying to hit T.J. Graham. New England is 11-0 against the Bills at Gillette since it opened in 2002 and 20-2 overall in its last 22 games against Buffalo.
VIKINGS 34, LIONS 24
MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson raced 61 yards for the game-sealing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, padding his NFL rushing lead with 171 yards on 27 carries for Minnesota.
Peterson had 120 yards in the final 15 minutes, 10½ months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee. Ponder bounced back from a rough game with 221 yards and two touchdowns on 24-for-32 passing for the Vikings (6-4).
Calvin Johnson had 207 yards on 12 catches, including a touchdown that brought the Lions (4-5) a little closer with 1:53 left. But Johnson’s lost fumble near midfield on the previous possession put Vikings rookie Blair Walsh in position for his fourth field goal.
BUCCANEERS 34, CHARGERS 24
TAMPA, Fla. — Josh Freeman threw two touchdown passes and the surging Buccaneers scored on a blocked punt and Leonard Johnson’s 83-yard interception. Freeman has thrown for 13 TDs with one interception in his past five games, helping the Bucs (5-4) win four times to climb back over .500 following a 1-3 start. Rivers threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns for San Diego. He was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter to ruin any chance of the Chargers (4-5) coming from behind.
BENGALS 31, GIANTS 13
CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton threw a career-high four touchdown passes — each to a different receiver — and the Cincinnati Bengals ended their four-game losing streak by beating the New York Giants 31-13 on Sunday. The Bengals (4-5) took advantage of a fumble and Eli Manning’s two interceptions, which set up third-quarter touchdowns. That helped A.J. Green back up his observation there are holes in New York’s defense. The defending Super Bowl champions have a lot of holes everywhere. The Giants (6-4) head into their bye with back-to-back losses and a lot of issues, especially on offense. Manning had another subpar game, failing to live up his family legacy of beating the Bengals. Older brother Peyton improved to 8-0 against Cincinnati on the same field a week earlier, leading Denver to a 31-23 win. The Giants turned it over four times in the second half.
RAVENS 55, RAIDERS 20
BALTIMORE — Joe Flacco threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns, and Baltimore set a club record for points. The Ravens (7-2) scored on six of their first seven possessions against the struggling Raiders (3-6), who have yielded at least 40 points in two straight games for the first time since 1962. The 55 points tied an Oakland record for points allowed, a mark set in 1961 and matched in 1981. Baltimore led 27-10 at halftime. In the third quarter, Flacco threw touchdown passes of 47 and 20 yards to Torrey Smith, and holder Sam Koch scored on a fake field goal in the third quarter to make it 48-17. In the fourth quarter, Jacoby Jones took a kickoff 105 yards for 55-20 lead. Baltimore’s previous record for points in a game was 48, against Detroit in December 2009.
TITANS 37, DOLPHINS 3
MIAMI — Colin McCarthy returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown, and four takeaways helped Tennessee rout Miami.
The Titans came into the game on pace to set an NFL record for points allowed in a season, but they stymied Miami by intercepting Ryan Tannehill three times and recovering a Reggie Bush fumble to set up a touchdown. Tennessee (4-6) rebounded from a 51-20 loss a week ago against the Bears that prompted owner Bud Adams to put the organization on notice. Last week the Titans trailed 28-2 after one quarter; this week they led 21-0 after 16 minutes.
For Miami (4-5), the home loss was the most lopsided since 1968.