ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ezekiel Elliott celebrated a short touchdown run by jumping into an oversized Salvation Army red kettle and the Dallas Cowboys closed in on home-field advantage in the playoffs with a 26-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night.
The Cowboys (12-2) bounced back after their franchise-record 11-game winning streak ended, hanging on after what looked to be a festive night following Elliott’s antics turned tense when Jameis Winston rallied the Bucs from a 17-3 deficit to a 20-17 lead.
Making his debut in the Sunday night spotlight, Winston threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns but had four turnovers, including an interception that led to Dan Bailey’s 38-yard field goal that gave Dallas a 23-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Elliott, the NFL’s rushing leader, had a career-high 159 yards, including a 42-yard run to set up Bailey’s fourth field goal for the six-point lead.
TITANS 19, CHIEFS 17: KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Succop kicked a 53-yard field goal into the wind as time expired to give Tennessee the victory over Kansas on a frigid afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
Succop, who spent the first part of his career with Kansas City, came up short on his first try at the winner, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid had called a timeout just before the snap. Given a second chance, Succop knocked it through with a couple feet to spare,
TEXANS 21, JAGUARS 20: HOUSTON (AP) — Tom Savage threw for 260 yards after Brock Osweiler was benched in the second quarter, and Lamar Miller scored Houston’s only with less than three minutes remaining.
Jacksonville fired coach Gus Bradley after the game.
The win was Houston’s 10th straight in the division and left the Texans (8-6) tied with Tennessee for the AFC South lead. But Houston controls its playoff future with a 5-0 mark in the division.
PATRIOTS 16, BRONCOS 3: DENVER (AP) — Tom Brady overcame a slow start to lead the Patriots to a rare win in Denver, dealing a crushing blow to the Broncos’ playoff hopes.
Brady missed his first six passes for just the second time in his career; the first was way back on Oct. 12, 2003, against the Giants. But he came back to lead the Patriots (12-2) to a record eighth consecutive division title and a first-round bye.
PACKERS 30, BEARS 27: CHICAGO (AP) — Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a 60-yard pass to set up Mason Crosby’s 32-yard field goal as time expired in one of the coldest games ever played in Chicago.
Wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery ran for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers (8-6) earned their fourth straight victory despite blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Bears (3-11) tied it on a field goal by Connor Barth with 1:19 left. The Packers took over at their 27, and on third down at the 26, Rodgers unleashed a deep pass down the middle of the field to Nelson, who got behind Cre’Von LeBlanc.
With no timeouts, the Packers downed the ball before Crosby booted his winner.
BILLS 33, BROWNS 13: ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The bumbling Browns are two losses short of becoming the NFL’s second team to go 0-16 in one season.
LeSean McCoy had a season-best 153 yards rushing and scored twice, and the Bills kept their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Browns dropped to 0-14, matching the second-worst start to a season set by the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 1980 New Orleans Saints. The 2008 Detroit Lions , meanwhile, are the NFL’s only team to go without a win in a 16-game season.
Cleveland has also lost 17 straight dating to last year, moving into a tie with the St. Louis Rams (2008-09) and Houston Oilers (1982-83) for the league’s sixth-longest skid. The Browns have now gone a calendar year since their last win, a 24-10 victory over San Francisco on Dec. 13, 2015.
STEELERS 24, BENGALS 20: CINCINNATI (AP) — Chris Boswell tied the club record with six field goals, and Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers (9-5) have won five straight and can clinch the AFC North title with a victory at home next Sunday against Baltimore (8-6). As a first step, they rallied from a 14-point deficit — kick by kick — and eliminated the defending champions at a place where they’re right at home.
RAVENS 27, EAGLES 26: BALTIMORE (AP) — The Ravens survived a desperate comeback bid by the Eagles, stopping a 2-point conversion with 4 seconds left.
On a wet and windy day, the Ravens maintained control of their playoff possibilities. If Baltimore defeats Pittsburgh on Christmas Day and Cincinnati in the regular-season finale, the Ravens will enter the postseason as AFC North champions.
GIANTS 17, LIONS 6: EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. made another one-hand touchdown catch to delight replay fanatics, the defense turned in another stifling performance and the Giants inched closer to their first playoff berth since 2011.
The win was the eighth in nine games for the Giants (10-4) and it gave them their best record through 14 games since 2008, when they were 11-3.
The formula was the one the team has followed in Ben McAdoo’s first season: just enough offense and a tough stingy, pass-rushing defense. That unit has come up with big back-to-back performances against two division leaders in Dallas (11-2) and Detroit, giving up 13 total points.
SAINTS 48, CARDINALS 41: GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Drew Brees snapped out of a two-game funk to throw for 389 yards and four touchdowns in the highest-scoring game in the NFL this season. Brees, who had no TDs and six interceptions his previous two games, completed 37 of 48 with no picks.
Brandin Cooks caught seven passes for a career-best 186 yards for the Saints (6-8), including touchdown plays of 65 and 45 yards.
COLTS 31, VIKINGS 6: MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, Robert Turbin rushed for two touchdowns, Mike Adams forced a fumble and added an interception for the Colts (7-7).
Frank Gore rushed for 101 yards and Indianapolis won on the road for the fourth time this season, dominating a Vikings defense that has been among the best in the league.