Neither snow nor rain nor heat …
Weather was the story in many NFL venues on Sunday, but that didn’t keep the teams from scoring. In fact, of all the games played in snow and bitter wind chills, the lowest-scoring game (33 points combined) was the Buffalo-at-Tampa Bay game played under sunny skies with the temperature at 82 degrees at kickoff.
In fact, there was some wild scoring despite snow along the Atlantic Seaboard. The Ravens and Vikings put up 55 points between them in Baltimore, the Lions and Eagles combined for 54 in Philadelphia, Kansas City rolled up 45 against the Redskins in Washington and Miami and Pittsburgh put up 62 in the Steel City.
When it was all over, Baltimore (7-6) was leading the second wild-card race in the AFC with Miami (7-6), San Diego (6-7) and the New York Jets (6-7) the most serious contenders.
The wild-card picture in the NFC is even more wide open with nine teams in the picture with records ranging from 9-4 to 6-6.
Game of the day
49ers 19, Seahawks 17
The scoop: Phil Dawson kicked a 22-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining and San Francisco maintained its record of staying unbeaten at home against the NFC West since losing to Seattle on Oct. 26, 2008. Frank Gore broke a 51-yard gain with slightly more than four minutes left to set up the winning kick. Why the 49ers won: They gashed Seattle’s league-leading defense for 163 yards on the ground while giving up only 86 and a 3.7 average.
Patriots 27, Browns 26
The scoop: Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the final 61 seconds and New England recovered an onside kick to set up the comeback win. The Patriots cut the deficit to 26-21 on Brady’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with 1:01 left. Cleveland received a 15-yard penalty on the play, then Kyle Arrington recovered the onside kick at the Cleveland 40-yard line. Brady completed a 10-yard pass to Danny Amendola, then Leon McFadden was called for defensive pass interference in the end zone. That put the ball at the 1, where Brady connected with Amendola again. The Browns, who led 26-14 after scoring with only 2:39 left, moved to the Patriots’ 40 with 1 second left, but Billy Cundiff missed a 58-yard field goal.
Why the Patriots won: Only the Browns (OK, the Bills, too) could lose one this way. Cleveland failed to cover an onside kick, which led to New England’s winning touchdown.
Saints 31, Panthers 13
The scoop: Carolina scored first on a pair of field goals but it was the Drew Brees Show after that. The New Orleans quarterback passed for four touchdowns, two each to Marques Colston and Jimmie Graham as the Saints (10-3) took sole possession again of first place in the NFC South. Carolina saw its win streak end at eightand fell to 9-4. The teams will meet again in two weeks in Charlotte.
Why the Saints won: Rob Ryan’s defense contained Cam Newton and the Carolina offense until the game was out of reach.
Broncos 51, Titans 28
The scoop: Freezing cold didn’t bother Peyton Manning or Matt Prater. The Broncos kicker lashed a record-setting 64-yard field goal through the icy air to highlight a victory over Tennessee. The Broncos (11-2) wrapped up a playoff berth, putting Manning in the postseason for the 13th time. Denver’s quarterback completed a team-record 39 passes and matched the franchise high with 59 attempts. He finished with 397 yards, and led the Broncos past the 50-point mark for the third time this year.
Why the Broncos won: Manning operated with machine-like efficiency.
Bengals 42, Colts 28
The scoop: Andy Dalton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as Cincinnati remained in control in the AFC North. Temperatures were 28 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of 19 and light flurries. The Colts had another slow start, falling behind, 21-0, before Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes to keep them close. Despite the loss, Indy clinched the AFC South because of Tennessee’s loss.
Why the Bengals won: A key was the pass protection for Dalton, who was not sacked and threw no interceptions.
Eagles 34, Lions 20
The scoop: LeSean McCoy ran for a franchise-best 217 yards, including touchdowns of 57 and 40 yards, and Philadelphia overcame two TD returns by Jeremy Ross. Ross returned a punt 58 yards for a score and ran a kickoff 98 yards. Snow began falling two hours before kickoff and intensified after the game started. Workers used shovels and hand-held blowers to clear off yard lines. Conditions were so poor neither team tried a field goal, and there were two-point conversion attempts after seven of the eight TDs. The Eagles won their fifth straight game and took first place pending the outcome of Dallas’ game tonight at Chicago. The Lions (7-6) have a half-game lead over the Bears (6-6) in the NFC North. Nick Foles of the Eagles threw his first interception of the season. It came on his 201st attempt.
Why the Eagles won: They ran for 299 yards in the snow and scored on four straight fourth-quarter possessions.
Ravens 29, Vikings 26
The scoop: Joe Flacco threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to rookie Marlon Brown with 4 seconds left to win it. It concluded a five-play, 80-yard drive that took only 41 seconds and came after Matt Cassel threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson for a 26-22 Vikings lead with 45 seconds remaining. The teams combined for six touchdowns in a wild fourth quarter in snowy Baltimore. Baltimore has the inside track for the second AFC wild card.
Why the Ravens won: Jacoby Jones’ 77-yard kickoff return TD with 1:16 left turned out to be the difference in a statistically even game.
Jets 37, Raiders 27
The scoop: Geno Smith threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score as the Jets set a season high for points and stopped a three-game losing streak. Nick Folk kicked three field goals and Antonio Allen returned a blocked punt for a score. Smith threw his first touchdown pass since Week Seven. Oakland has lost 13 straight in the Eastern time zone.
Why the Jets won: They converted an interception and a blocked punt into 10 points for a 20-3 lead.
Dolphins 34, Steelers 28
The scoop: Charles Clay caught two touchdown passes, including a 12-yard strike from Ryan Tannehill with 2:53 remaining. Daniel Thomas’ zig-zag 55-yard burst at snowy Heinz Field set up Clay’s winner. Tannehill completed 20 of 33 passes for 201 yards and three scores. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 349 yards and three scores. Antonio Brown of the Steelers raced into the end zone after a series of laterals on the final play, but officials ruled he stepped out of bounds before scoring.
Why the Dolphins won: They outgained the Steelers on the ground, 181-84. Nobody’s supposed to do that.
Packers 22, Falcons 21
The scoop: Matt Flynn threw for 258 yards and the Packers’ struggling defense forced a key fourth-quarter turnover to snap a five-game winless string. Mike Neal’s sack forced Matt Ryan to fumble. Four plays later, Flynn found Andrew Quarless for a 2-yard go-ahead score with about 12 minutes left. It was 9 degrees when the game started, with a wind chill of minus-1.
Why the Packers won: They shut out the Falcons and Ryan in the second half.
Chargers 37, Giants 14
The scoop: Philip Rivers found rookie Keenan Allen for two of his three touchdown passes, and San Diego kept alive its long-shot playoff hopes in the AFC.
Why the Chargers won: They scored on four of five first-half possessions and converted 10 of 15 third downs.
Cardinals 30, Rams 10
The scoop: Carson Palmer completed 27 of 32 passes, 12 of them to Larry Fitzgerald, and Arizona ended an eight-game losing streak against St. Louis. Arizona’s Karlos Dansby returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown and John Abraham tackled Kellen Clemens for a safety.
Why the Cardinals won: After giving up an early field goal, they kept the Rams on the other side of the 50 for seven straight possessions.
Dog of the day
Chiefs 45, Redskins 10
The scoop: The Chiefs scored on their first four possessions in the snow, sacked Robert Griffin III five times and Kirk Cousins once, and returned both a punt (74 yards by Dexter McCluster), and a kickoff (95 yards by Quintin Demps) for a touchdown. K.C. had 321 return yards by halftime.
Why the Chiefs won: Jamaal Charles ran 19 times for 151 yards against a totally demoralized Redskins team and coach Mike Shanahan.
News wire services contributed to this report.