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    Packers CB Jaire Alexander to miss 4th straight game Sunday night against Chiefs

    Packers CB Jaire Alexander to miss 4th straight game Sunday night against Chiefs The Associated Press GREEN BAY, Wis.

    GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay’s defense gets linebacker De’Vondre Campbell back from a neck injury but will be missing cornerback Jaire Alexander for a fourth straight game when the Packers host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.

    Alexander continues to deal with a shoulder injury. He had been listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

    The Packers also won’t have running back Aaron Jones (knee) or tight end Josiah Deguara (hip) for a second straight week. The Packers already had ruled Jones out on Friday.

    Campbell had missed the Packers’ 29-22 Thanksgiving Day victory at Detroit because of his neck issue.

    Packers safety Darnell Savage is active for Sunday’s game, one day after getting activated from injured reserve. Savage had missed five games with a calf injury.

    The Chiefs won’t have running back Jerick McKinnon because of a groin injury. The other Chiefs inactives are cornerback Nic Jones, defensive end BJ Thompson, offensive lineman Mike Caliendo, defensive tackle Neil Farrell and defensive end Malik Herring.

    Joining Alexander, Jones and Deguara on the Packers’ inactive list are linebacker Brenton Cox Jr., offensive tackle Caleb Jones and wide receiver Samori Toure.


    AP NFL:

    Eagles QB Jalen Hurts evaluated for concussion vs 49ers, returns for loss
    By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer | 

    Eagles QB Jalen Hurts evaluated for concussion vs 49ers, returns for loss By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer The Associated Press PHILADELPHIA

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sure, Jalen Hurts says, he did have something to prove after he returned from a concussion check with the Eagles down 22 points.

    Hurts wasn't interested in trying to convince the Eagles he was a tough guy. He wanted to show the Eagles still had a shot.

    “It was more so that the game was not over. We were just trying to keep fighting," Hurts said.

    The Eagles kept up the fight, even as they ran out of time.

    Hurts did throw and rush for a score in Philadelphia’s 42-19 loss to San Francisco on Sunday night in a game that tightened the race for the top spot in the NFC.

    The Eagles (10-2) could have had a breezy path toward No. 1 with a win.

    The 49ers (9-3) are very much in the race and so are the Dallas Cowboys (9-3). The Cowboys will come off a 10-day break when they host the Eagles on Sunday — with a share of the NFC East and the top spot in the NFC at stake.

    The Eagles beat the Cowboys 28-23 last month at home.

    Last season's NFL MVP runner-up, Hurts gave the Eagles a scare late in the third when his head was sandwiched on a tackle between linebackers Fred Warner and Oren Burks. Hurts needed a quick check in the blue medical tent, then jogged to the locker room just ahead of the fourth quarter.

    Hurts is easily the Eagles’ MVP — they went 0-2 without him last season, including a 40-34 loss last December in Dallas — and missed time down the stretch would surely doom their Super Bowl hopes. Marcus Mariota attempted three passes in relief, the first action of the season for the backup QB.

    Hurts was cleared, jogged to the sideline and gamely tried to steer a comeback. Hurts replaced Mariota mid-drive with about nine minutes left. He marched Philadelphia into the red zone and completed a 2-yard TD to DeVonta Smith (the conversion failed). That only made the score 35-19 with 5:33 left.

    So why risk Hurts’ health by keeping him in the game?

    “I thought he was fine when he came back in and was running the show and operating fine,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “Went down, drove, got a touchdown. Then we just stalled out on the next drive. They’re playing soft or giving us the stuff underneath, but I thought he operated fine when he came back in. Obviously, we’ll see how he’s feeling and everything.”

    The Eagles have a clear need for a healthy Hurts, who threw for 298 yards. Brown finished with eight catches for 114 yards and Smith had nine catches for 96.

    They also need to shore-up a defense that let San Francisco score touchdowns on six straight possessions, a beatdown 10 months in the making after the Eagles thumped them in the NFC title game.

    “It’s a great team we played and we have to go back and reflect on in it,” Hurts said.

    Hurts fell to 27-3 over his last 30 starts.

    Most agitating for the Eagles was how they squandered a solid start. Hurts did his part in the first half to drive the Eagles inside the 20, connecting with A.J. Brown for 38 yards on the opening drive and to Brown for 17 yards on the second drive. The Eagles instead had to settle for Jake Elliott field goals of 26 and 39 yards for the 6-0 lead.

    “I feel like we started with good rhythm, good tempo, good execution for the most part,” Hurts said. “We just kind of weren't able to connect and execute like we wanted to in the end zone. When you're playing a good team like that, every little thing matters.”

    Usually a fourth-down gambler — thanks in large part to the tush push — Sirianni halted an Eagles' drive late in the third quarter and punted on fourth-and-2 on the Eagles' 33 and down 15 points.

    “Yeah, to me there was a lot of football left to play in the third and fourth quarter. So I don’t regret that decision,” Sirianni said. “To me, with that much time where that ball is right there, yeah, I did what I felt like I needed to do in that particular time."


    AP NFL:

    Pittsburgh's roller-coaster season takes another unexpected dip in embarrassing loss to Cardinals
    By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer | 

    Pittsburgh's roller-coaster season takes another unexpected dip in embarrassing loss to Cardinals By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer The Associated Press PITTSBURGH

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers thought they had things figured out. That the black cloud that lingered near the end of former offensive coordinator Matt Canada's tenure was gone.

    The yards were starting to come, with points hopefully soon to follow. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was back from a hamstring injury, giving the Steelers their three defensive cornerstones — Fitzpatrick, linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive tackle Cam Heyward — for the first time since the season’s opening quarter.

    The schedule yielded a soft spot, with a pair of two-win teams on the immediate horizon for a club that believed it was rounding into form as December began.

    Over four-plus maddening hours on Sunday, the good vibes — much like the sun that gave way to a line of storms that generated a pair of lengthy delays — vanished.

    Pittsburgh remains an enigma. One that let an opportunity to strengthen its playoff position slip away in a 24-10 loss to Arizona that ended with starting quarterback Kenny Pickett's right leg in a boot and his teammates baffled as to how they were outclassed and outplayed by a team that began the day with six wins, total, since the start of the 2022 season.

    “We got our (butts) kicked,” Watt said. “I don't know if it got away from us. We got pummeled today.”

    Fitzpatrick, who played the second half with a broken left hand, called it “the worst football we played all season, all around the board.”

    In every area. The star-laden defense included.

    The Steelers (7-5) failed to produce a turnover for just the second time all year and were called for nine penalties — including a pass interference in the end zone on rookie Joey Porter Jr. that set up James Conner's 1-yard dive in the third quarter that made it 17-3. Three trips to the red zone resulted in just one touchdown, and that was in garbage time with the outcome all but decided.

    For a team that considers itself a playoff contender — and still is one in the standings — it was a stunning setback.

    “Just (junior varsity) football in a lot of ways,” coach Mike Tomlin said.

    Ways that are acceptable and maybe even understandable in August. Not so much with Christmas approaching.

    Yet there the Steelers were in a subdued locker room, trying to explain how they were blown out by a team that is pointing to 2024 and beyond.

    “Just shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” tight end Pat Freiermuth said. “Unacceptable penalties. Two illegal formations, three maybe. Just (helped) our opposition out a lot.”

    Now Pittsburgh needs to get ready for reeling New England (2-10) on a short week. And the Steelers will have to do it with uncertainty at quarterback after Pickett left late in the first half with an ankle injury when Arizona defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter fell on Pickett's legs while tackling Pickett just short of the goal line.

    Pickett tried to stand up but couldn't. He eventually left under his own power and was replaced by Trubisky.

    Tomlin, well aware his team is 28th in the league in scoring, opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Arizona 1 on Trubisky's first snap. An inside handoff to Najee Harris went nowhere and the Cardinals responded by going 99 yards in 15 plays — converting five third downs in the process — to take a 10-3 lead they never really came close to squandering.

    Trubisky will get the nod if Pickett can't go Thursday, though Trubisky was largely ineffective until the game was out of reach.

    The weather appeared as if it might give the Steelers a chance to regroup after a series of storms sent fans scrambling to the concourse.

    They rolled in shortly before halftime and forced the start of the second half back by 30 minutes. The clouds briefly parted, long enough for Pittsburgh center Mason Cole to botch a shotgun snap to Trubisky. The Cardinals fell on it and Conner eventually mashed his way into the end zone for the first of his two touchdowns to make it 17-3.

    A second delay of nearly an hour followed. Pittsburgh treated it as an extended halftime, with the players trying to keep warm while the coaches tried to come up with adjustments on both sides of the ball that worked.

    They didn't.

    The Steelers drove into Arizona territory after the second break but stalled, with Trubisky's heave down the seam to Connor Heyward going through the tight end's hands at the goal line. Kicker Chris Boswell then saw his 45-yard field goal attempt drift wide right.

    Fitzpatrick, who said he will be ready to play Thursday, tried to find a silver lining amid the misery. The vast majority of the mistakes were self-imposed. That is fixable.

    “When it’s stuff that we’re doing and it’s not people just playing us, you know, I want to say it’s not alarming,” Fitzpatrick said. “But it’s not something that can't be fixed.”


    AP NFL coverage:

    Russell Wilson's season-high 3 picks lead to end of Broncos' win streak
    By KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer | 

    Russell Wilson's season-high 3 picks lead to end of Broncos' win streak By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports Writer The Associated Press HOUSTON

    HOUSTON (AP) — During their five-game winning streak, the Denver Broncos had forced 15 turnovers and Russell Wilson hadn’t thrown an interception.

    On Sunday against the Houston Texans, the Broncos (6-6) didn’t have a takeaway and Wilson was picked off a season-high three times — all in the second half — as their streak ended with a 22-17 loss .

    Jimmie Ward intercepted Wilson in the end zone with 9 seconds remaining, leaping in front of intended receiver Lucas Krull to left to seal Houston’s victory.

    “I saw Krull one-on-one and tried to put it high for him. They made a play,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to score a touchdown, obviously, to win the game, and it didn’t go our way.”

    Krull said he was upset with himself that he didn’t do more to try and come down with the ball.

    “I feel like I stayed back a little too much,” he said. “I feel like I could have attacked the ball a little more and made a play on that ball. That’s frustrating. I know the type of player I am and those are plays I can make.”

    Wilson threw for 186 yards with a touchdown in Denver’s first loss since Oct. 12. The Broncos converted three fourth-down attempts but went 0 for 11 on third down.

    “We were sloppy for most of the game,” coach Sean Payton said. “Obviously, third down we struggled. ... All the things we discussed coming in, we have been a team that has played well with the takeaways and giveaways, but that script flipped today.”

    The Broncos were trailing 22-17 in the fourth quarter and were driving when Derek Stingley Jr. hopped in front of a pass intended for Courtland Sutton for his second interception of the half.

    In the third quarter, Stingley intercepted Wilson on a ball that was deflected by defensive end Will Anderson. That led to a touchdown for the Texans.

    Wilson was asked to explain his picks.

    “The first one was tipped. They made a good play,” Wilson said. “The second one, took a shot down the field to Court. I thought we had him, honestly. He made a heck of a play. I don’t know how he made that play, to be honest with you. The last one I was trying to win the game for us. I threw it up high in the end zone, and they made that one. The first one is just part of the game, but the last two they made good plays.”

    Wilson is confident the Broncos can bounce back. He pointed to the resolve they showed in salvaging their season after losing five of their first six games.

    “We’ve had our backs against the wall earlier in the year,” he said. “I know these guys in this locker room aren’t going to blink. We’re going to keep believing. The good thing is that we can play better. We know that.”


    AP NFL:

    Browns receiver Amari Cooper ruled out vs. Rams with concussion

    Browns receiver Amari Cooper ruled out vs. Rams with concussion The Associated Press INGLEWOOD, Calif.

    INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Cleveland wide receiver Amari Cooper was ruled out for the second half of the Browns' game against the Los Angeles Rams with a concussion.

    Cooper, who entered the game leading the Browns in receiving yards (765) and was second in catches (47), left in the second quarter. He had three catches for 34 yards on Sunday.

    Cooper's absence left one fewer receiving option for Joe Flacco, who was making his first start as Cleveland's quarterback. Flacco was signed on Nov. 20 to the practice squad and was elevated this week after Dorian Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion in last week's loss at Denver.


    AP NFL:

    San Francisco's Brock Purdy throws 4 TD passes as 49ers thump injured Hurts, Eagles 42-19
    By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer | 

    San Francisco's Brock Purdy throws 4 TD passes as 49ers thump injured Hurts, Eagles 42-19 By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer The Associated Press PHILADELPHIA

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Deebo Samuel talked so much smack after last season's NFC championship game, the box score almost needed a doublecheck to confirm that — yes, the 49ers did indeed lose to the Eagles.

    Samuel called one Eagles cornerback “trash” and blistered Philly as his “most-hated” team in the NFL. Just for good measure, Samuel and some teammates arrived Sunday dressed in black, perhaps a knowing nod to the bleak day ahead for the Eagles.

    Samuel backed up his big mouth with a blockbuster performance that showed the 49ers have plenty of room left to chase the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

    Brock Purdy threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns, Samuel scored three TDs and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was checked for a concussion in San Francisco's 42-19 win over Philadelphia.

    The fiery NFC championship game rematch also featured 49ers' touchdowns on six straight possessions and a pair of ejections that showed this year’s title game might not run again through Philly, after all.

    “There wasn’t much to last year with this,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "We were just excited to come out here and play a really good team and play well and get a win.”

    The 49ers (9-3) left Philly 10 months ago battered in the NFC championship game behind injuries to Purdy and his backup, and they never stood a chance in a 31-7 loss. The 49ers spent an offseason chirping at the Birds — Samuel called James Bradberry “trash” — and then entered the Linc as a rare betting favorite against a 10-win team at home.

    “Talking trash, it’s part of the game,” Samuel said. “Hopefully, no one took it to heart. It’s all fun and games at the end of the day.”

    It wasn't much fun for the Eagles.

    The Eagles (10-2) suffered a scare when Hurts jogged off the field in the fourth and went straight to the locker room. He was cleared to play and returned to action.

    It was not immediately clear when Hurts was injured. He declined to get into specifics of the injury.

    By the time last season’s NFL MVP runner-up returned, the Eagles trailed 35-13 and were on their way toward their first home loss of the season. Hurts did hit DeVonta Smith for a 2-yard TD on his return drive. He finished 26-of-45 passing for 298 yards.

    Purdy put the finishing touches on the win with a 46-yard TD to Samuel.

    Perhaps all that braggadocio paid off for the 49ers. Hard feelings spilled into the game , highlighted by a scrap in the third quarter that got 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw and the the Eagles’ chief security officer tossed.

    Dom DiSandro, a constant presence on the Eagles’ sideline, pulled Greenlaw off Smith after a reception. Greenlaw popped up and reached over two officials to touch DiSandro’s face with a closed fist.

    Greenlaw was ejected. DiSandro, a cult hero in Philly for his ever-present backup when Eagles are out in public, also was told to leave and walked to the locker room to a roaring ovation.

    “I love how we rallied after,” Shanahan said.

    The Eagles offered few other reasons cheer.

    Purdy picked apart a defense that left receivers open for big chunks of the game. Samuel also inflicted his damage in the third quarter on a 12-yard rushing TD and caught a 48-yard TD pass from Purdy that stretched a 14-6 halftime lead to 28-13.

    Purdy got a kick out of Samuel adding some added spice to an already anticipated rematch.

    “In the locker room, maybe he was saying stuff that was fun for us to hear,” Purdy said. “Was it anything out of the ordinary? Deebo's Deebo. His play did the rest.”

    It sure did. Samuel turned just four catches into 116 yards. The scores were clutch in any game, of course. But they kept an Eagles offense that made a habit of halftime rallies at bay and sucked the atmosphere out of the Linc.

    The Eagles turned halftime deficits into wins in each of the last four games — including a Super Bowl rematch at Kansas City — and five times overall this season. The Eagles have been outscored 144-156 in the first half this season.

    One pesky detail among all those comebacks — Philly never trailed against Shanahan. The 49ers are 33-1 (including playoffs) when leading by eight-plus points at the break under Shanahan.

    Hurts did his part in the first half to drive the Eagles inside the 20, connecting with A.J. Brown for 38 yards on the opening drive and to Brown for 17 yards on the second drive. The Eagles instead had to settle for Jake Elliott field goals of 26 and 39 yards for the 6-0 lead.

    “Typically, when you play to the standard, you win," Hurts said. ”I don't think we've played to the standard and won."

    The 49ers shook of a first-quarter funk that saw them finish with minus-6 total yards until Purdy got the offense rolling in the second. Much like in the NFC championship game, Purdy was pressured early. But he stayed strong, notably on a scramble where he was popped twice but stayed on his feet and still got a 6-yard gain. He capped that drive with a 2-yard TD pass to Brandon Aiyuk that cut it 7-6.

    Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 93 yards rushing, added a 2-yard score with 38 seconds left for a 14-6 lead.

    The 49ers never really looked back — and maybe the black attire was fitting for this rout, even as Samuel insisted otherwise.

    “It's just the outfit,” he said, laughing. “It all clicked. The fit came together well.”

    So did the 49ers' offense.


    San Francisco hosts Seattle on Sunday.

    The Eagles are off to Dallas for a Sunday night NFC East matchup.


    AP NFL:

    Matthew Stafford throws 3 TD passes as Rams win 3rd straight, 36-19 over Browns
    By JOE REEDY, AP Sports Writer | 

    Matthew Stafford throws 3 TD passes as Rams win 3rd straight, 36-19 over Browns By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer The Associated Press INGLEWOOD, Calif.

    INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams have shown since coming off their bye week that this might not be another rebuilding season after all.

    Stafford threw three touchdown passes as Los Angeles pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 36-19 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

    The Rams have won three straight for the first time since the 2021 season, when they won the Super Bowl. They are one of four teams at 6-6 in the NFC and in a race for the last two wild card spots.

    “We came to life in the most important moments,” coach Sean McVay said. “If we continue to play this way, then you continue to have conversations where you’re relevant to maybe earn an opportunity to play afterwards.”

    The Browns (7-5) remain playoff contenders in the AFC, but they're headed in the opposite direction. Cleveland dropped its second straight in the debut of Joe Flacco, the injury-plagued team's fourth starting quarterback this season.

    Since returning from a thumb injury that caused him to miss 1 1/2 games, Stafford has eight TD passes and two interceptions in the Rams' last three games.

    Stafford was 22 of 37 for 279 yards and connected with Puka Nacua, Demarcus Robinson and Cooper Kupp for scores.

    Stafford lauded his offensive line, which did not allow a sack. Cleveland came into the game with the league's top-ranked defense and was fifth against the pass.

    “I thought we had a great plan. We threw the rock. We weren’t sitting there just protecting those guys up front. We’re just saying let’s go play our game,” Stafford said.

    Nacua, who left the game briefly with a rib injury, finished with four receptions for 105 yards, including a 70-yard TD in the first quarter . He also had two rushes for 34 yards.

    McVay said “I thought he was dead” after Nacua made a leaping grab for a 20-yard reception midway through the second quarter and landed hard on the right side of his body on the Browns’ sideline.

    Nacua was taken to the locker room but was back on the field when the second half started.

    “I guess I was a little sore but super excited. Everything's feeling pretty good,” said Nacua, who became the first Rams rookie receiver to reach 1,000 yards in a season.

    The Rams led 20-19 with under seven minutes remaining when Flacco threw an ill-fated bomb that was intercepted by John Johnson III. The Rams safety, who was with the Browns for two seasons, returned it 42 yards to the Cleveland 24-yard line.

    Five plays later, Kupp scored his first touchdown since Oct. 15 on a 3-yard pass to make it 27-19.

    “The win was really what I wanted but (the interception) was the cherry on top,” Johnson said.

    Kyren Williams had 21 carries for 88 yards, including a 1-yard TD late in the fourth quarter to put it out of reach.

    Aaron Donald and rookie Kobie Turner combined to sack Flacco for a safety with 36 seconds to play.

    Flacco was 23 of 44 for 254 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The 38-year-old was signed on Nov. 20 to the practice squad and elevated to the active roster this week after Dorian Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion in last Sunday's loss at Denver.

    “It was obviously a lot of fun to be out there and play football again, especially with this group of guys. Obviously not fun in the end, in how it ended,” Flacco said.

    Flacco got off to a great start. He was 4 of 5 for 65 yards on the opening drive, including a 24-yard touchdown to a wide-open Jerome Ford .

    “I felt like we had a chance there, but the game got away from us,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I thought Flacco saw it well, made good decisions, got us into the correct plays and all those types of things, so operated well. Did what we expected him to do.”


    After Cleveland went three-and-out on its second drive, the Rams took a 10-7 lead with the Stafford-to-Nacua connection.

    Stafford eluded pressure and delivered a perfect pass to Nacua, who caught it in stride at the Cleveland 49 and outraced Kahlef Hailassie and Sione Takitaki to the end zone with 3:59 remaining in the first quarter for his fourth touchdown of the season.

    Stafford said he audibled to the play and gave Nacua credit for making sure he held his stride.

    “He just put the ball exactly where it needed to be,” Nacua said. “I knew the linebacker (Takitaki) is waiting for the ball. It hit me right in the center of the chest and the rest of it is just green grass. I was trying to make sure I didn’t get caught.”


    Demarcus Robinson had a season-high four receptions for 55 yards, including his first touchdown with the Rams. Robinson eluded coverage and caught a 7-yard pass from Stafford with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter.


    Harrison Bryant took a dump-off pass from Flacco and scored from 8 yards out to get Cleveland within 20-19 with 8:56 remaining in the fourth, but Hopkins, who kicked at SoFi Stadium for parts of two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, was wide right on the extra point.


    Browns: WR Amari Cooper suffered a concussion during the second quarter and did not return. ... CB Denzel Ward (shoulder) and WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion) were inactive with injuries.

    Rams: TE Tyler Higbee was evaluated for a concussion during the third quarter. ... DB Quentin Lake (hamstring) was inactive.


    Browns: Host the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday.

    Rams: At the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.


    AP NFL:

    Evans scores on 75-yard TD, tops 1,000 yards for 10th straight year; Bucs beat Panthers 21-18
    By FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer | 

    Evans scores on 75-yard TD, tops 1,000 yards for 10th straight year; Bucs beat Panthers 21-18 By FRED GOODALL AP Sports Writer The Associated Press TAMPA, Fla.

    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Mike Evans sprinted between two defenders into the open, snagged a pass approaching midfield, and took off for the end zone.

    Tampa Bay's career receiving leader scored on a 75-yard pass play and later joined Hall of Famer Jerry Rice as the only players in NFL history to string together 10 consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus yards receiving while helping the Buccaneers beat the struggling Carolina Panthers 21-18 on Sunday.

    “I don't know how much more you can say. He's been like this for 10 years now — 60 catches 10 years in a row, 1,000 yards 10 years in a row,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said.

    “You know he's getting the ball. Everybody's trying to stop him and he makes plays over and over,” Bowles added. “It's a credit to him, his work ethic and the way he approaches the game.”

    Evans finished with seven receptions for 162 yards, increasing his season totals to 61 catches for 1,012 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rice set the league record of 11 straight seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving from 1986 through 1996.

    “Happy we got the win most importantly,” the 10th-year pro said. “I've had a lot of great quarterbacks and offensive coordinators that believed in me, so I really appreciate them. Hopefully I can keep that streak going for however long my career goes.”

    The Bucs (5-7) won for only the second time in the past eight games, climbing into a tie for second place in the weak NFC South. Carolina (1-11) scored late to pull within a field goal, but No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young threw an interception with just over two minutes remaining, ending any chance of coming from behind to win the Panthers' debut under interim coach Chris Tabor.

    “I love those guys. ... I feel for them," Tabor said. “Losing stinks and it's hard and it's frustrating. But at the same time, you can handle things two ways, and that's what we talked about. You can either handle it with character or you can handle it with compromise. So which is it going to be? I like our guys. We'll just keep working.”

    Rachaad White scored an early touchdown and receiver Chris Godwin scored on a 19-yard run early in the fourth quarter, expanding Tampa Bay's lead to 21-10. Chuba Hubbard rushed 104 yards and two TDs for Carolina, and Young's 2-point conversion run trimmed Tampa Bay's lead to 21-18 with 5:02 left.

    Despite losing six of seven games following a 3-1 start, the Bucs began the day trailing Atlanta and New Orleans by one game in the NFC South. The Falcons (6-6) beat the New York Jets to remain on top of the division, while the Saints (5-7) lost to the Detroit Lions to fall into a tie for second place with the Bucs.

    The Panthers fired Frank Reich last Monday, 11 games into the coach's first season leading the Panthers. Tabor was promoted to interim coach and said he encouraged players to “play loose, not reckless” and have fun moving forward.

    It was the second time in a little more than a year that Carolina faced Tampa Bay shortly after the in-season firing of a coach. Matt Rhule was dismissed in October 2022, two weeks before the Panthers knocked off Tom Brady and the visiting Bucs 21-3.

    Evans had 10 catches for 207 yards that previous time the division rivals met in Tampa. He had a 40-yard reception to set up White's 1-yard TD run in the first quarter, then turned Baker Mayfield's throw into the long TD that put the Bucs ahead for good — one play after the first of Hubbard's two TD runs put the Panthers ahead 10-7 late in the third quarter.

    “We needed that,” said Mayfield, who completed 14 of 29 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown and an interception. “We needed a little spark, and he was the guy to bring it to us. Nobody is better than him.”

    Young completed 15 of 31 passes for 178 yards and an interception, Antoine Winfield Jr.'s pick that ended the comeback bid. The rookie was sacked four times.

    “Of course, no one's happy with how things have gone. We're all competitors, but ultimately we play for each other,” Young said.

    “Each game is huge for us. We are of that mindset,” Young added. “So, I can't lie and say it's not frustrating. But ultimately what permeates the locker room is the desire to want to be better, desire to want to grow and play for each other.”


    Panthers LB Brian Burns was ejected in the third quarter when he appeared to throw a punch in a scrum that ensued after Evans' touchdown.

    “Emotions got the best of me. One of their offensive linemen said something he shouldn't say," Burns said. "Initially it wasn't even my fight. I got pushed, turned around and reacted. I take full accountability for my actions.”


    Panthers: Played without S Vonn Bell (shoulder) and TE Hayden Hurst (concussion), who were inactive.

    Buccaneers: Three defensive starters — LBs Lavonte David (groin) and Devin White (foot) and CB Jamel Dean (ankle/foot) were inactive. LB SirVocea Dennis, who started in David's absence the previous week, also sat after being listed on the injury report as doubtful because of an illness. ... LB K.J. Britt (back) left in the first quarter and did not return.


    Panthers: Travel to New Orleans to face the Saints.

    Buccaneers: Continue a stretch in which they're playing four of five on the road, visiting Atlanta with first place in the division on the line.


    AP NFL:

    Chain crew member dislocated his knee during Lions-Saints game

    Chain crew member dislocated his knee during Lions-Saints game The Associated Press NEW ORLEANS

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A member of the chain crew at a game between Detroit and New Orleans was taken to a hospital with a dislocated knee that occurred when Saints running back Alvin Kamara was tackled into him.

    Saints spokesman Doug Miller said Nick Piazza was in stable condition at University Hospital.

    The game was delayed in the first half so physicians from both teams could treat Piazza as he lay on the turf along the Detroit sideline.

    Piazza's legs were taken out from under him after Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes pushed Kamara hard over the sideline, causing the running back to lose his footing at the New Orleans 18-yard line. Piazza writhed on the ground with Kamara looking on.

    An air cast was placed on Piazza's leg and he was carted off the field and to an ambulance.

    Miller said the team hopes to have further updates on Piazza's condition Monday.

    This was the first time since 2010 that a member of the chain crew was taken from a Saints game at the Superdome. That season, Saints receiver Courtney Roby collided hard with chain crew member Al Nastasi Jr. while Roby was serving as the gunner on punt coverage during a game against the Cleveland Browns.

    Nastasi hit his head hard on the turf and was admitted to a neuro intensive care unit. He ultimately recovered and returned to work with the chain crew.


    AP NFL:

    Penalties, injuries cost the Titans in loss to AFC South rival Indianapolis
    By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Pro Football Writer | 

    Penalties, injuries cost the Titans in loss to AFC South rival Indianapolis By TERESA M. WALKER AP Pro Football Writer The Associated Press NASHVILLE, Tenn.

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans ' ninth and final penalty could not have come at a worse moment.


    Trying to protect a 28-25 lead with the clock winding down, Kyle Peko sacked Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew on Indianapolis' third play for an 8-yard loss. A penalty flag thrown at Titans cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting for illegal contact with a receiver wiped it out.

    Minshew went right back at Murphy-Bunting and found Alec Pierce for a 55-yard pass down to the Tennessee 4. Two plays later, the Colts finished off a wild game with a 31-28 victory Sunday to cap a costly day for the Titans.

    “We lost a tough game, hurt for the players because there were opportunities for us to give in, circumstances, situations,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “Guys were into it on the sidelines. Just unfortunate we didn’t win.”

    The Titans lost their first home game in Nashville after being flagged nine times for 74 yards compared to just four for 29 for the Colts (7-5).

    They also were swept by their AFC South rival for the first time since 2018 in a loss that may have extinguished their fading playoff hopes.

    Three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, still upset at a no-call that forced Tennessee to settle for a field goal at the end of the first quarter when targeted by Will Levis in the end zone, made his feelings over the officiating very clear, yelling at the nearest official.

    Hopkins remained unhappy that Colts safety Nick Cross wasn't flagged for defensive pass interference especially after seeing what was called on his own teammate. The lack of a flag cost the Titans (4-8) four crucial points.

    “He wasn’t playing the football, and he was restricting me from running," Hopkins said of Cross. "So I don’t know what a penalty is if that’s not one.”

    Vrabel noted the flag on Murphy-Bunting was the first time the crew led by referee Craig Wrolstad had called illegal contact in the game.

    The Titans led 17-7 and were dominating early and still took a 28-25 lead in overtime on a 46-yard field goal by Nick Folk. They held the ball for nearly 10 minutes more than Indianapolis and outgained the Colts 381-355 despite Levis being sacked six times.

    But they finished without two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, who left midway through the third quarter with an injured right knee.

    Derrick Henry, the two-time NFL rushing champ, left early in the fourth after getting his third 100-yard rushing game this season to be evaluated for a concussion. He finished with 102 yards rushing and two touchdowns, tying him with Priest Holmes for 15th in NFL history with his 86th career rushing TD.

    Punter Ryan Stonehouse left on crutches with his left leg in a brace. He came in leading the NFL in gross punting and was just selected as the AFC special teams player of the week. After having a punt late in the third quarter blocked and returned for a touchdown , Stonehouse had his next attempt blocked.

    Tony Brown timed up the snap perfectly, sprinting away from the left before tipping the ball out of Stonehouse's hands and crashing into the punter's left leg.

    That left Folk to punt twice. The veteran, who just turned 39 last month averaged 39 yards net. But he missed his first extra point this season working with backup quarterback and holder Ryan Tannehill, who filled in for Stonehouse as the usual holder.

    “We just need to make sure that we protect our punter, protect our quarterback, and affect their quarterback, and affect their punter,” Vrabel said. “That’s what needs to happen."


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