A stellar showing from wide receiver Puka Nacua propelled the Los Angeles Rams to a 30-22 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

The 22-year-old had nine catches for a career-high 164 yards to go along with a touchdown.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was almost as impressive, throwing for 328 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover in the eight-point win.

After taking a 17-7 lead into the break, the Rams looked to be coasting to the finish line when a field goal and a rushing touchdown to Kyren Williams stretched their advantage to 20 points.

That quickly became 23 thanks to a Lucas Havrisik field goal at the start of the fourth quarter.

But New Orleans mounted a late charge, touchdowns to Juwan Johnson and AT Perry closing the gap to eight with just under four minutes left.

Despite the momentum shift, Los Angeles’ defence was ultimately able to compose itself and hold on for the Rams’ eighth win of the season.

New Orleans’ quarterback Derek Carr finished with three touchdowns and one interception as the Saints’ record fell to 7-8.

A late touchdown from the arm of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock sealed his side’s three-point victory over the Philadelphia Eagles with less than 30 seconds left in the contest.

Lock threw for 208 yards throughout the match, including the match-winning 29-yard touchdown to rookie wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, while Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts scored two touchdowns in his team’s 20-17 loss.

The Eagles were first to score with Hurts running into the end zone from three yards in the first quarter to give the away side an early lead.

Both teams scored field goals in the second quarter, before running back Kenneth Walker III tied the game up at 10 early in the third with a 23-yard running touchdown.

Jalen Hurts ran over for his second s ore with four minutes to go in the third quarter to give the Eagles a seven-point lead.

A field goal early in the fourth quarter and Smith-Njigba’s last-gasp touchdown then gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game.

The Eagles had a late chance to steal the win but the hail Mary pass from Hurts was intercepted by Julian Love, giving Seattle their seventh win of the year and handing the Eagles just their fourth loss this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee's hit on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. was quite costly.

The NFL suspended Kazee without pay for the remainder of the season for violating rules designed to protect the health and safety of players.

The announcement came two days after Kazee was ejected in the second quarter of Saturday's 30-13 loss at Indianapolis for delivering a forceable hit to a diving Pittman. Kazee made contact with Pittman's head, and the receiver left the game and went into the concussion protocol.

NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension on Monday, and wrote in a letter to Kazee that, "You had an unobstructed path to your opponent and the illegal contact could have been avoided."

Runyan also referenced multiple prior instances of hits that violated rules designed to protect player safety.

The suspension means Kazee will miss the Steelers' final three regular-season games and any potential play-off games, should Pittsburgh qualify. The Steelers are 7-7 and just outside the play-off cutoff.

By being banned for three games, Kazee will forfeit around $208,000 in game checks.

Kazee, a seven-year veteran, has appeared in all 14 games this season, ranking third on the Steelers in tackles with 61, and is tied for the team high with two interceptions.

 

The San Francisco 49ers stretched their winning streak to six games and clinched the NFC West with a 45-29 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy improved upon his MVP credentials with four touchdowns and 242 passing yards in another stellar addition to his breakout season.

Arizona put some pressure on early with a touchdown in the first two minutes, but the 49ers responded with back-to-back touchdowns of their own and never let up from there.

Fellow contenders the Dallas Cowboys were brought back to reality courtesy of a 31-10 demolition at the hands of the Buffalo Bills.

The 10-win Cowboys’ defence looked powerless against Buffalo’s running game, with James Cook, Josh Allen and Latavius Murray all finding the end zone on the ground.

Despite the loss, other results from earlier in the day ensured the Cowboys would be in the playoffs for the third-straight year.

The Cleveland Browns scored 13 fourth-quarter points to snatch a 20-17 victory over the Chicago Bears.

The two sides were level at 7-7 at the break after tight ends Cole Kmet and David Njoku scored touchdowns but the Bears took a 10-point lead into the fourth after Tremaine Edmunds returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.

But the Browns saved their best till last and two Dustin Hopkins field goals partnered an Amari Cooper touchdown to give them the win, with 38-year-old Joe Flacco throwing for 374 yards.

Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs returned to winning ways with a 27-17 victory over the New England Patriots.

Running back Jerick McKinnon caught one touchdown pass and threw another to Rashee Rice while Patrick Mahomes threw for 305 yards, two scores and two interceptions.

Baker Mayfield threw for four touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned a 34-20 win over the in-form Green Bay Packers.

The 28-year-old quarterback racked up 381 passing yards over the game to four different scorers, David Moore, Mike Evans, Rachaad White and Ko Kieft, to help wrap up a convincing win.

Raheem Mostert rushed for two touchdowns as the Miami Dolphins crushed the New York Jets 30-0.

The 31-year-old opened the scoring in the first quarter but the damage was done in the second when he ran over for his double after Jaylen Waddle’s 60-yard score had already given the home side a healthy advantage and moved them up to second in the AFC.

The New Orleans Saints scored 17 second-half points to secure a 24-6 victory over the New York Giants.

Derek Carr threw for three touchdowns as the Saints took over in the second period without reply from the Giants.

Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked an overtime field goal to help the Houston Texans claim a 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

The Carolina Panthers scored two field goals in the final quarter to claim just their second win this campaign with a 9-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Rams beat the Washington Commanders 28-20, the Detroit Lions cruised past the Denver Broncos 42-17 and the Baltimore Ravens eclipsed the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-7.

The Cleveland Browns scored 13 fourth-quarter points to snatch a 20-17 victory over the Chicago Bears.

The two sides were level at 7-7 at the break after tight ends Cole Kmet and David Njoku scored touchdowns but the Bears took a 10-point lead into the fourth after Tremaine Edmunds returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.

But the Browns saved their best till last and two Dustin Hopkins field goals partnered an Amari Cooper touchdown to give them the win, with 38-year-old Joe Flacco throwing for 374 yards.

Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs returned to winning ways with a 27-17 victory over the New England Patriots.

Running back Jerick McKinnon caught one touchdown pass and threw another to Rashee Rice while Patrick Mahomes threw for 305 yards, two scores and two interceptions.

Baker Mayfield threw for four touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned a 34-20 win over the in-form Green Bay Packers.

The 28-year-old quarterback racked up 381 passing yards over the game to four different scorers, David Moore, Mike Evans, Rachaad White and Ko Kieft, to help wrap up a convincing win.

Raheem Mostert rushed for two touchdowns as the Miami Dolphins crushed the New York Jets 30-0.

The 31-year-old opened the scoring in the first quarter but the damage was done in the second when he ran over for his double after Jaylen Waddle’s 60-yard score had already given the home side a healthy advantage and moved them up to second in the AFC.

The New Orleans Saints scored 17 second-half points to secure a 24-6 victory over the New York Giants.

Derek Carr threw for three touchdowns as the Saints took over in the second period without reply from the Giants.

Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked an overtime field goal to help the Houston Texans claim a 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

The Carolina Panthers scored two field goals in the final quarter to claim just their second win this campaign with a 9-7 win over Atlanta Falcons.

Jalen Hurts has been downgraded to questionable for the Philadelphia Eagles' game against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday due to illness.

The 2022 Pro Bowler did not practice with the rest of the team on Saturday and his condition only worsened overnight.

In a statement on their official website on Sunday, the Eagles announced Hurts will still travel to Seattle but separately from the rest of the team.

He has passed for 3,192 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season, scoring 12 rushing touchdowns – the second-most in the NFL.

Should Hurts not recover from illness in time, Marcus Mariota – who has started 74 career regular-season games – would be in line to take his place.

The Eagles (10-3) have lost successive games, but they can win the NFC East title if they defeat the Seahawks (6-7) and win their final three games.

Seattle's Geno Smith is also doubtful due to a groin injury sustained in practice prior to last weekend's game with the San Francisco 49ers.

Jared Goff threw the Detroit Lions to the brink of a long-awaited play-off berth as they eased past the Denver Broncos 42-17.

Goff threw five touchdowns, three of them to rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, as the Lions moved to 10-4 and a three-game lead in the NFC North.

They could clinch a place in the play-offs for the first time in seven years if other results go their way over the weekend.

The Broncos, who have waited a year longer for a play-off berth, dropped to 7-7 after six wins in seven games had pushed them into the post-season race.

The Cincinnati Bengals bolstered their play-off hopes as they came from behind to beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-24 in overtime.

Jake Browning, deputising for quarterback Joe Burrow, who is out for the season, steered them through three fourth-quarter touchdown drives as they came from 17-3 behind.

The final 21-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins in heavy traffic moved the Bengals within one point with 39 seconds left on the clock.

Evan McPherson levelled the scores with the extra point and secured a third straight win from 29 yards in overtime as they moved to 8-6.

AFC North rivals Pittsburgh Steelers continued their slide to the foot of the division as they lost for a third straight game, going down 30-13 to the Indianapolis Colts.

A Dontae Johnson touchdown catch from Mitch Trubisky had put the Steelers up 13-0 early in the second half, but Gardner Misher threw for three touchdowns as the Colts amassed 30 unanswered points.

A fifth win in six games lifts the Colts to 8-6 and within half a game of the AFC South leaders Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Cincinnati Bengals bolstered their play-off hopes as they came from behind to beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-24 in overtime.

Jake Browning, deputising for quarterback Joe Burrow who is out for the season, steered them through three fourth-quarter touchdown drives as they came from 17-3 behind.

The final 21-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins in heavy traffic moved the Bengals within one point with 39 seconds left on the clock.

Evan McPherson levelled the scores with the extra point and secured a third straight win from 29 yards in overtime as they moved to 8-6.

AFC North rivals Pittsburgh Steelers continued their slide to the foot of the division as they lost for a third straight game, going down 30-13 to the Indianapolis Colts.

A Dontae Johnson touchdown catch from Mitch Trubisky had put the Steelers up 13-0 early in the second half, but Gardner Misher threw for three touchdowns as the Colts amassed 30 unanswered points.

A fifth win in six games lifts the Colts to 8-6 and within half a game of the AFC South leaders Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Los Angeles Chargers have fired head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco hours after the team was dealt one of the worst losses in franchise history.

Owner Dean Spanos announced the moves Friday, one day after the Chargers set a team record for most points allowed in a game in a 63-21 defeat to the AFC West rival Las Vegas Raiders.

The loss was Los Angeles' fifth in six games and dropped the Chargers to the bottom of the division standings at 5-9.

"I want to thank Tom and Brandon for their hard work, dedication and professionalism, and wish both them and their great families nothing but the best," Spanos said in a team statement. "These decisions are never easy, nor are they something I take lightly — especially when you consider the number of people they impact."

The Chargers said interim replacements for both positions will be announced "within short order."

Staley led the Chargers to a 10-7 record and a playoff appearance last season, but a combination of injuries, poor defense and an inability to close out games caused the team to fail to meet expectations in 2023.

The 2023 Chargers ranked 29th in the NFL in total yards allowed per game and 27th in points allowed per game under Staley, who was hired by Telesco as head coach in 2021 following a succesful one-year stint as the Los Angeles Rams' defensive coordinator. 

The Chargers also blew a fourth-quarter lead in three losses that were decided by three points or less. They were also on the wrong end of one of the largest comebacks in NFL playoff history last season, when the Jacksonville Jaguars rallied from a 27-0 deficit to end Los Angeles' 2022 campaign with a 31-30 loss.

"We are clearly not where we expect to be, however, and we need new vision," Spanos stated. "Doing nothing in the name of continuity was not a risk I was willing to take. Our fans have stood strong through so many ups and downs and close games. They deserve more. Frankly, they've earned more.

"Building and maintaining a championship-caliber program remains our ultimate goal. And reimagining how we achieve that goal begins today."

Staley went 24-24 over a three-year stint that ended with Thursday's 42-point loss, the third largest margin of defeat in franchise history. It was the Chargers' first game without star quarterback Justin Herbert, who fractured his right finger in last week's loss to the Denver Broncos and recently underwent season-ending surgery.

Telesco had served as the Chargers' GM since 2013. The team finished with a winning record in six of his 10 seasons and made three postseason appearances under his watch, though it never advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs.

Las Vegas Raiders chalked up six touchdowns before half-time as they cruised to a 63-21 win over AFC West rivals the Los Angeles Chargers.

Having lost 3-0 to the Minnesota Vikings in their last match, the Raiders offence clicked back into gear to set a franchise record for points scored.

Aiden O’Connell threw for four touchdown passes in the first half, Zamir White and Brandon Bolden running for two more as they opened a 42-0 lead.

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers added insult to injury with a touchdown pass to Davante Adams at the start of the third quarter.

Easton Stick, starting in place of injured quarterback Justin Herbert, finally took the Chargers over halfway for the first time as he hooked up with Joshua Palmer from 79 yards.

The Raiders added two more defensive touchdowns – John Jenkins running a fumble return in from 44 yards before Jack Jones followed suit from an interception – before Stick passed for two late scores.

The win ends a three-game losing streak and lifts the Raiders to 6-8 and off the foot of the division, above the Chargers who have lost five of their last six games.

The San Francisco 49ers have two credible candidates to be named NFL MVP in Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey, says head coach Kyle Shanahan, though he can't split them.

The Niners are the only team in the NFL to have booked their playoff spot ahead of the Week 14 games, and they are also in pole position for the NFC's top seed after reeling off five straight wins.

Purdy has enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first full season as San Francisco's starting quarterback, with only the Miami Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa (3,697) and Houston Texans' C.J. Stroud (3,631) bettering his 3,553 passing yards this year.

He – alongside Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson – is among the favourites to win the league's top individual prize, though Shanahan believes McCaffrey should also be in contention.

McCaffrey leads the league with 1,177 rushing yards this season, and Shanahan does not see why he couldn't become the first non-quarterback to be named MVP since Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012.

"Are you trying to get me in trouble with those two guys?" Shanahan said on Thursday when asked who he would vote for. 

"That's the only reason I wouldn't overly comment on either one of them, because I don't want them to cancel each other out."

Miami's electrifying wide receiver Tyreek Hill is among the non-quarterbacks tipped to be in contention, but Shanahan feels McCaffrey has the strongest case outside the signal callers.

"If any non-quarterback's going to get MVP, I don't get how Christian McCaffrey can't," Shanahan said. "I mean, he's been amazing in what he has done all year.

"If it's going to a quarterback, then I don't have to talk about Christian, I can talk about our quarterback.

"If his numbers are all you see, then I think that solves it. But if you watch the film, then it makes it even stronger, which to me is the most important thing."

The 49ers take on the Arizona Cardinals in their penultimate road game of the regular season on Sunday before facing the Baltimore Ravens – currently the AFC leaders – in a huge clash on Christmas Day.

Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley is expecting backup quarterback Easton Stick to prove his worth after Justin Herbert was ruled out for the season, describing the 28-year-old as a winner. 

The Chargers will play the rest of the season without their franchise quarterback after Herbert underwent surgery to repair a fracture to his right index finger on Tuesday.

Herbert sustained the injury during the first half of the Chargers' 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, with Stick coming in to throw 13-of-24 for 179 yards but no touchdowns.

Stick had only played two snaps in five seasons in the NFL before replacing Herbert, who has started 62 of the team's 63 games since being drafted sixth overall in 2020.

He will suit up for the 5-8 Chargers when they go on the road to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday, and Staley is backing his team to adapt.

"When you lose any player of that calibre, it's tough," Staley said on Tuesday. "But that's why you have a team, to be able to support that position and put a good plan together moving forward.

"One of the reasons why I was so excited to team up with [offensive coordinator] Kellen [Moore] was the work that he did with Cooper Rush. Dak Prescott went down and the Cowboys went on a really good run with Rush as their backup quarterback. 

"The way that they had to play with Rush was different than the way that they were playing with Dak, but that's what you have to do, you have to make adjustments. 

"Then, the rest of your team has to come alive and you have to play the game the way that it needs to be played in order to win. That's what we're going to try and do on Thursday."

Staley took plenty of positives from Stick's first meaningful taste of NFL action, adding: "I thought that there was a lot to build off from that last game. 

"I think the way he played in that second half does give us confidence going into this game. He is a winner. You look at his track record at North Dakota State, all he has ever done is win. 

"He knows how to run a team, lead a team. He has been great for our team since I've been here. We're excited for him.

"He's a commander out there. People believe in him because of how hard he works. Since I've been here, him and Justin have set a very high bar for everybody else, in terms of how to work.

"I think he has gotten better every single year and I think that his team-mates have seen that. He has improved every year as a quarterback. Now, he gets to show what he can do."

Herbert finishes his season with a 93.2 QB rating – the same as he registered in 2022 – but his average passing yards per game dropped from 278.8 – the third-best in the NFL last season – to 241.1, putting him 13th.

The NFL will expand its International Series of games to South America for the first time in 2024, as the league announced it will hold a regular-season contest in São Paulo, Brazil next season.

NFL owners approved the decision to hold a game at the Corinthians Arena, a near-50,000 seat venue that previously hosted events at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, at Wednesday's league meetings in Dallas. The date and participating teams will be announced at a later date.

The game will be one of five the NFL will hold internationally next season, with three to be played in London and another in Munich, Germany.

"Bringing the NFL to new continents, countries and cities around the world is a critical element of our plan to continue to grow the game globally," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Brazil has established itself as a key market for the NFL, and we are excited to be playing in Brazil and São Paulo for the first time in 2024. We look forward to working with the city of São Paulo, SP Turis and Corinthians Arena to deliver a world-class game day experience for this passionate and growing fan base."

Five NFL games were held in Europe this season, three in London and two in Frankfurt, Germany. The league also conducted regular-season games in Mexico City as recently as 2022.

São Paulo mayor Ricardo Nunes joined Goodell in Dallas for the announcement.

"The National Football League's decision to bring a regular-season game to São Paulo is significant and exciting for the city, consolidating São Paulo and Brazil at the center of the global sporting stage," said Nunes. "Through our hard work, we will now be able to welcome the NFL to our city, hosting this historic game that will have a positive impact on tourism, employment and the city's economy."

The number of NFL games held outside the United States will double in 2025 after owners voted to increase the league’s international offering at the December League Meeting in Dallas.

A first regular-season game to be held in South America was also approved and is set to be played in Brazil in 2024 at the home of Corinthians, taking the NFL to its fifth continent for a pre- or regular-season contest.

Wednesday’s vote ensures the NFL will have the right to schedule up to eight regular-season games per season internationally in 2025, up from four currently, with London once again set to host three next season with a third trip to Munich rounding out the global fixtures.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: “Becoming a global sport is a major strategic priority for the league and 32 teams.

“Increasing international game inventory allows us to grow our global presence and share our game with exciting new markets to connect with more fans around the world.”

Manchester United executive co-chairman Joel Glazer, who also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and chairs the NFL’s International Committee, added: “International games have been a huge success, and we are excited for the opportunity to share the sport of American football with more fans from around the world in the future.”

As part of the updated resolution approved by NFL ownership, no club would be required to play more than one regular-season game outside of North America in the same season unless they specifically choose to.

Each team designated to play in an international regular-season game will be permitted to select two of their regular-season opponents that will not be eligible to be scheduled as their opponent in an international game, and international games may not be scheduled after Week 14 of the NFL season.

An NFL release stated that “new markets and host cities/stadiums for future seasons will be announced at later dates.”

The Los Angeles Chargers will play the rest of the NFL season without their franchise quarterback.

Justin Herbert will have surgery on Tuesday to repair a fracture to his right index finger, the team announced.

Herbert met with hand specialists on Monday, a day after he injured the index finger on his throwing hand in the Chargers' 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 14.

With the team sitting at 5-8 and highly unlikely to make the playoffs, the team decided season-ending surgery was the best option for Herbert to fully recover.

 

The injury occurred in the second quarter on Sunday, when he was hit by Broncos defensive end Zach Allen after completing an 11-yard pass to Donald Parham. He finished off the series, which lasted four more plays, completing 1-of-3 passes for 14 yards.

He was replaced by Easton Stick, who was 13-of-24 passing for 179 yards in his first meaningful NFL action. He is slated to make his first career start Thursday on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Since the Chargers drafted Herbert sixth overall in the 2020 NFL draft, he had started 62 of the team's 63 games, playing through a broken finger on his non-throwing hand earlier this season and fractured rib cartilage in 2022.

On the first day of training camp this summer, he signed a $252.5million, five-year extension that made him the highest paid quarterback in the league by average salary per year and total money.

Herbert finishes this season with a 93.2 QB rating - the exact same rating he registered in 2022 - but his average passing yards per game dropped from 278.8 - third best in the NFL last season - to 241.1 - 13th in the NFL. He threw 20 touchdown passes, but had just one TD throw in the last three games, as the Chargers totalled 23 points in those contests.

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