Falcons continue to soar...Steelers defense comes up big
UNDATED (AP) - NFC leader Atlanta built a 17-0 halftime lead and
went on to defeat Carolina 31-10 for its seventh straight win.
Michael Turner ran for 112 yards and three touchdowns in helping
the Falcons to their 11th win in 13 games this season.
Jonathan Stewart rushed for a season-best 133 yards, but lost a
fumble on Carolina's first play from scrimmage to set up Atlanta's
first TD. Things didn't get much better for rookie Jimmy Clausen
and the NFL-worst Panthers, who dropped their seventh straight and
The Steelers are 10-3 after a defense-led 23-7 win over
Troy Polamalu (pohl-uh-MAH'-loo) and LaMarr Woodley returned
Carson Palmer interceptions for Pittsburgh's only touchdowns.
The Steelers couldn't get into the end zone on offense despite
dominating the time of possession. But it didn't matter as they
closed in on a playoff spot by playing just well enough to beat the
Palmer threw two of his three picks to Polamalu.
The Buccaneers received an early Christmas gift from the
Redskins. Washington flubbed a game-tying extra point attempt with
9 seconds to play, gift wrapping Tampa Bay's 17-16 victory.
It's the fifth time this season Josh Freeman has won a game with
a fourth-quarter comeback. The Bucs quarterback hit Kellen Winslow
with a 41-yard scoring pass with 3:47 to play and then ran for the
two-point conversion to make it 17-10.
Ryan Torain rushed for 173 yards for the Redskins, who have
dropped four straight at home and are 5-8 on the season.
Jacksonville remains a game ahead of the second-place Colts in
the AFC South with a 38-31 victory over Oakland.
David Garrard threw three touchdown passes and Maurice
Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings each topped 100 yards rushing.
The Jags overcame a 10-point deficit to win for the fifth time
in their last six games, setting up a critical showdown at
Indianapolis next week.
Jacksonville is 8-5 and can clinch the division title next week
with a victory and a loss by Houston.
The Raiders lost for the third time in four weeks and faded from
postseason contention at 6-7.
Buffalo mathematically eliminated Cleveland from postseason
contention with a 13-6 win over the Browns. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw
an 11-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson and Rian Lindell booted
two 19-yard field goals to account for the Bills' scoring. Leodis
McKelvin had a late interception of Jake Delhomme (del-OHM') to
seal Buffalo's third win in 14 games this season. Delhomme also
lost a fumble on the previous possession, which led to Lindell's
second field goal.
The Browns' offense failed to cross midfield in five second-half
Cleveland falls to 5-8.
Green Bay lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a concussion in the
second quarter and then lost to the Lions 7-3.
Drew Stanton's 13-yard touchdown pass to Will Heller midway
through the fourth quarter was the game winner.
Detroit improves to 3-10 by snapping a five-game losing streak
and a 19-game skid against the NFC North. It's the NFL's worst
slump within a division since the merger four decades ago.
Green Bay lost a game it desperately needed to win for playoff
positioning. The Packers are 8-5.
Rodgers' backup, Matt Flynn, got Green Bay to the Detroit 31
before turning the ball over on downs with an incomplete pass into
the end zone just past a diving Greg Jennings in the final minute.
The Vikings and Giants will play Monday evening in Detroit.
They were supposed to meet Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis, but
a heavy snowfall ripped a hole in the Metrodome roof, causing it to
deflate. There were no injuries reported and officials hope to have
it repaired in tome for the Vikings-Bears game a week from Monday.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)