Who will win the NFC East: Week 13
Peyton Manning threw for five touchdowns and the Denver Broncos beat Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs for the second time in three weeks. (AP)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Peyton Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Eric Decker, and the Denver Broncos held off a furious rally to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-28 Sunday and seize control of the AFC West.
Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards for the Broncos (10-2), who moved a game clear of the Chiefs (9-3) in the division. With four games left, Denver also holds the tiebreaker by virtue of two wins over Kansas City in the last three weeks.
Jamaal Charles had 93 yards rushing for the Chiefs, and capped a 17-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the game to close within a touchdown.
After forcing a punt with 3:32 remaining, Kansas City used three long pass plays to move deep into Broncos territory. But Alex Smith's pass to Dwayne Bowe in the end zone on fourth-and-4 with 1:45 left fell incomplete, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock (see full recap).
Panthers rout Bucs, win eighth straight
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are heading to New Orleans with a head of steam.
Newton threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, and the Panthers defeated Tampa Bay 27-6 Sunday for a franchise-record eighth straight regular season victory.
Newton threw touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. and "Superman" leaped over the pile for another score as the Panthers (9-3) outgained the Buccaneers 426-206.
The Carolina victory sets up a huge showdown next Sunday night with New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line (see full recap).
Patriots rally again to beat Texans
HOUSTON -- The New England Patriots needed another big second half to grab another victory.
Tom Brady threw for 371 yards and two scores, and Stephen Gostkowski made two long field goals in the fourth quarter Sunday as the Patriots rallied for a 34-31 win over Houston.
The Texans' franchise-record skid reached 10 games. Gary Kubiak coached from the sideline for the first time since suffering a mini-stroke Nov. 3. He missed one game before working the last two games from the booth.
New England overcame a 24-point first-half deficit last week to beat the Broncos 34-31 in overtime. The Patriots (9-3) trailed by 10 at halftime in this one and the lead changed five times in a wild second half. New England tied it with a 53-yard field goal and took a 34-31 lead with another one from 53 with about three minutes left (see full recap).
Dolphins keep playoff hopes alive, top Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins played like a team trying to keep its playoff hopes alive.
The listless New York Jets, meanwhile, looked every bit like a bunch that needs to start thinking about next season.
Tannehill threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, leading Miami to a 23-3 victory Sunday that helped the Dolphins keep pace in the AFC postseason picture.
The Dolphins also drove struggling rookie Geno Smith out of the game, sending the Jets' shaky quarterback situation into a mess of uncertainty and severely damaging their playoff hopes (see full recap).
Vikes top Bears on Walsh's FG late in OT
MINNEAPOLIS -- With a little bit of luck and a whole lot of Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings avoided a second straight tie, and dealt the Chicago Bears a serious blow in the NFC North.
Peterson rushed for 211 yards and Blair Walsh kicked a 34-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Vikings to a wild 23-20 victory over the Bears on Sunday.
Matt Cassel threw for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception in relief of the injured Christian Ponder for the Vikings (3-8-1), who tied Green Bay last week (see full recap).