Dalton, Cowboys edge Vikings, end skid at 4
Victory leaves all NFC East teams with three wins
MINNEAPOLIS— Andy Dalton returned from a two-game absence to throw three touchdown passes, hitting Dalton Schultz for a 2-yard score with 1:37 left to lift Dallas over the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 on Sunday to stop the Cowboys’ fourgame losing streak.
Dalton went 22 for 32 for 203 yards and one interception after fillins Ben DiNucci (James Madison) and Garrett Gilbert started the previous two games. After missing games to a concussion and COVID-19, Dalton directed an 11-play, 66-yard drive down the stretch that was extended with a fourth-and-6 completion to Amari Cooper at the 19.
Kris Boyd stepped in front of Schultz and nearly picked off a firstand-goal pass in the end zone, but Dalton delivered to his wide open tight end two plays later. That snapped the Vikings’ three-game winning streak and kept the Cowboys (3-7) alive and well in the lackluster NFC East. They’re in a three-way tie for second place with Washington and the New York Giants behind Philadelphia (3-6-1).
Dodging pressure all afternoon, Kirk Cousins completed 22 of 30 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns to punctuate possessions of 75, 81 and 85 yards to start the second half after the Vikings (4-6) trailed 16-7 following a first half marked by two lost fumbles and six penalties for 60 yards.
NFL leader Dalvin Cook had 115 rushing yards and a touchdown plus 45 receiving yards for the Vikings, who remained two games out of the final wild card spot and in ninth place in the NFC.
Browns 22, Eagles
17: With Myles Garrett not available, Cleveland needed others to step up and make plays.
Kareem Hunt went above and beyond.
Hunt hurdled Philadelphia’s Jalen Mills on a touchdown run, Olivier Vernon made up for Garrett’s absence due to COVID-19 by getting three sacks and a safety, and Cleveland stayed in the playoff picture with a home victory over the Eagles (3-6-1).
Hunt’s leaping 5-yard score came shortly after a dazzling 54-yard run by Nick Chubb as the Browns (7-3) finally found traction in their running game in a constant downpour.
Cleveland also got a 50yard interception return TD in the first half by second-year linebacker Sione Takitaki, and the Browns constantly harassed Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz despite playing without Garrett, the NFL’s sacks leader.
Texans 27, Patriots 20:
Deshaun Watson threw for 344 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, and J.J. Watt defended a career-high four passes to lead Houston to a home win over New England Patriots on Sunday.
Watson’s two touchdown passes and scoring run all came in the first half as the Texans (3-7) built a 21-10 halftime lead.
Watson and Houston’s offense slowed down after that to allow the Patriots (4-6) to get back into it. But a 46-yard field goal by Káimi Fairbairn extended the lead to 27-20 with about 3½ minutes to go.
It is the first time since 2009 that the Patriots will have at least six losses in a regular season.
Saints 24, Falcons 9:
Taysom Hill rushed for two touchdowns and passed for 233 yards in his first NFL start at quarterback, and New Orleans beat visiting Atlanta (3-7) for its seventh straight victory.
With 41-year-old quarterback Drew Brees sidelined at least three games with multiple rib fractures, Saints coach Sean Payton gave Hill the nod over offseason freeagent acquisition Jameis Winston.
Hill, who started his career as a utility player with the Saints (8-2) in 2017, looked comfortable running the scheme Payton designed for him this week. He completed 18 of 23 passes without an interception and used his all-around athleticism to run intermittently on scrambles or designed read-option plays, finishing with a team-high 51 yards rushing.
He had a considerably better day than Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who was sacked eight times and finished 19-of37 passing for 232 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions to defensive backs Marcus Williams and Janoris Jenkins. Cameron Jordan sacked Ryan three times, while Trey Hendrickson and David Onyemata each had two sacks.
Steelers 27, Jacksonville 3: Pittsburgh’s most dominant defensive performance of the season kept the Steelers perfect.
Terrell Edmunds (Virginia Tech) and Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted two passes each and the Steelers steamrolled their way to a 10-0 record with a road win over Jacksonville (1-9).
Rookie quarterback Jake Luton looked lost most of the day against the Steelers, who allowed 206 yards and finished with two sacks. They celebrated each turnover by running into the end zone and posing for the cameras.
Ben Roethlisberger and Co. gladly shared the spotlight with one of the league’s most disruptive defenses. Roethlisberger completed 32 of 46 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. He found Chris Claypool and Eric Ebron for scores.
Diontae Johnson finished with 12 catches for 111 yards.
Panthers 20, Lions 0:
P.J. Walker threw for 258 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start, the much-maligned Carolina defense earned its first shutout since 2015 and the Panthers (4-7) defeated visiting Detroit (4-6) to snap a five-game losing streak.
Walker, a former XFL player, was made the starter less than two hours before kickoff when Teddy Bridgewater was officially ruled out with a knee injury.
Walker did plenty well, connecting on a perfect 52-yard strike to D.J. Moore along with a well-placed 17-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel. But he also had two terrible mistakes, twice throwing interceptions in the red zone, essentially hitting the defender right in the hands.
Still he did enough to win, as Moore had seven catches for 127 yards and Samuel had eight grabs for 70 yards. Mike Davis ran for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Chargers 34, Jets 28:
Keenan Allen set a Chargers franchise record with 16 receptions, Justin Herbert threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns and Los Angeles held on for a home victory over winless New York to snap a three-game losing streak.
The prolific-catch day helped Allen tie Antonio Brown as the fastest to reach 600 receptions. Both reached the mark in their 96th career game. It is also Allen’s sixth game with 13 or more receptions, the most by a player in NFL history.
Allen had 145 yards receiving and a 13-yard TD in the third quarter to extend the lead for the Chargers (3-7) to 31-13. New York would rally to pull to 34-28 in the fourth quarter on Frank Gore’s 1-yard run and Joe Flacco’s 6-yard pass to Chris Herndon.
New York (0-10) — off to the worst start in franchise history — drove to the Chargers’ 32 with under a minute remaining before turning over the ball on downs.
Herbert, who completed 37 of 49 passes, established a number of rookie superlatives. He extended his mark of multiple touchdown passes with seven and had his fifth 300-yard passing game, becoming the fifth rookie in league history to reach that mark.