Joe Burrow is "tired of the underdog narrative" and said the Cincinnati Bengals are "here to make noise" after toppling the Tennessee Titans to make the AFC Championship game.

Rookie Evan McPherson converted a last-gasp 52-yard field goal to send the Bengals to their first Championship Game since 1988 in a 19-16 win over the top-seeded Titans, while it represented their first ever postseason road win.

The question of "Why not us?" has been a common theme of the Bengals' postseason run but for quarterback Burrow that is a motto that is no longer relevant.

"I'm tired of the underdog narrative," said. "We're a really, really good team. We're here to make noise."

Burrow added that McPherson called nailing his game-winning kick.

"He [McPherson] gave a little warm-up swing and he said, 'Ahh, looks like we're going to the AFC Championship,'" Burrow said.

The Bengals managed to triumph despite Burrow being sacked nine times, tying the most in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

But they did also manage three interceptions, with Logan Wilson getting in the way of a Ryan Tannehill pass with 20 seconds left that ultimately set up McPherson's kick.

And Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said there is no limit for his team.

"This is the expectation for this team," Taylor said. 

"This is not too big for these guys. I know we haven't been here before, but it sure feels like we have. You just see the attitude of this team and the confidence of this team that we're going to find a way to win."

Shortly before coming in for his news conference, defensive tackle D.J. Reader was asked what the Bengals' new team motto is if not "Why not us?"

He replied "it is us" before saying the team was motivated by what he felt has been disrespect from pundits this season.

Reader said: "As a journalist, do you want somebody to doubt your ability to do your job? No. It's disrespectful. 

"You gotta go out there and get it and take it. You gotta earn respect, though."

"We're confident in us. We feel like we [are] them. We're the people. We're going out there every game, feeling like we're confident, we're the ones that need to get beat."

Tannehill had an indifferent night for the Titans, completing 15 of 24 attempted passes for 220 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

It means the Titans suffered a third straight loss on home turf as the number one seed in the AFC, while their last home postseason victory came back in 2003.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said: "I don't think Ryan or myself or anybody did enough to win the game. That's how it goes. 

"It's never going to be about one person, not as long as I'm head coach, which will be a while."

Rookie Evan McPherson's last-gasp 52-yard field goal has sent the Cincinnati Bengals into the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1988 with a 19-16 win over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.

The Bengals, who claimed their first playoffs win in 31 years last weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders, will take on either the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs on the road. Saturday's victory was Cincinnati's first-ever postseason road win and qualifies the franchise for the AFC Championship Game for the third time.

Cincinnati regained possession with 20 seconds left, setting up McPherson's late field-goal chance, when Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill's pass was intercepted by Logan Wilson. Tannehill completed 15 of 24 attempts for 220 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Bengals QB Joe Burrow was sacked nine times but kept his side moving, making 28 of 37 attempts for 348 yards with one interception.

Rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase was key for the Bengals too, making 109 yards from five receptions while Tee Higgins had seven receptions for 96 yards. Joe Mixon rushed Cincinnati's only touchdown after a slick cutback to open up a 16-6 third-quarter lead.

Titans running back Derrick Henry, on his return from a foot injury, scored the only touchdown of the first half in trademark style, finishing with 20 carries for 62 yards for the game.

AJ Brown made some major plays with five receptions for 142 yards for the Titans but none were bigger than his TD from Tannehill's long pass late in the third quarter which forced a tie game.

Scores remained locked until Tannehill's late interception pass, before Burrow drove the Bengals within field-goal range and University of Florida rookie McPherson made himself the hero, completing a perfect four from four for the game.

Despite claiming the number one seed in the AFC, there has not been much hype around the Tennessee Titans ahead of the start of their playoff campaign.

After they each exploded for five-touchdown performances in the Wild Card Round, most of the attention on the AFC side of the postseason has focused on the rematch between Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Kansas City Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes.

Yet there is a 6ft 3in, 247-pound reason to pay attention to the Titans as they face Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional Round.

Running back Derrick Henry's season appeared to be over when he suffered a Jones fracture in his foot in the Titans' Week 8 clash with the Indianapolis Colts.

But he was activated from injured reserve this week and is in line to make his return for the visit of the Bengals as the Titans look to reach the AFC Championship Game for the second time in three seasons.

A two-time rushing champion, on the surface Henry's value to the Tennessee offense is obvious as an explosive powerhouse back who when healthy this season was threatening Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing yards record.

However, with the Titans continuing to excel on the ground even after Henry's injury, it is fair to ask: how much does his return actually matter?

A slight drop-off

If you looked solely at the raw numbers, it would be easy to answer that question in the affirmative.

Between Weeks 1 and 8, when Henry was on the field, the Titans were fourth in the NFL with 147.6 rushing yards per game.

After he went down injured, that average dropped to 135.9 yards per game, though that was still good enough to put them sixth in the league.

In other words, Henry was worth nearly 12 extra rushing yards - or one explosive run - a game to the Titans.

But in the grand scheme of things, that is a negligible difference and the counting statistics point to Tennessee still possessing an elite rushing attack even without Henry.

And a more granular look at the performance of Henry and the two backs that assumed the bulk of the workload in his absence, D'Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard, also suggests there was not much of a drop-off when he left the lineup.

Henry low on power?

Henry's fearsome reputation as the most overpowering running back in the NFL is one earned off the back of a string of highlight-reel runs comprising brute force and remarkable open-field speed for a man of his size.

More than simply bouncing off defenders, Henry is a back who can run them over at will.

That makes his numbers in terms of after-contact yardage this season extremely surprising.

Henry averaged 1.87 yards after contact per attempt in the regular season, below the league average of 1.95, with Foreman (1.92) outperforming him.

His average of 3.05 yards per rush attempt on carries where then was a run disruption by a defender was on the right side of the ledger. The league average in the regular season was 2.88 yards per carry.

Yet his efforts in that regard were inferior to those of both Foreman and Hilliard. Foreman averaged 3.40 yards per attempt when faced with a run disruption and Hilliard went beyond that with 4.03 yards per carry in those situations.

Their efficiency in that area is in part down to a smaller sample size, Henry carried the ball 219 times this season compared to 133 rush attempts for Foreman and 56 for Hilliard.

Still, Foreman and Hilliard got enough run in his absence to indicate that they were actually superior to Henry when it came to turning potential negative plays into gains for Tennessee.

In fact, Henry's most substantial contribution may not be what he does with the ball in his hands, but the influence the threat of him carrying it has on opposing defenses.

A play-action asset

He might not have been overly effective in gaining yards after contact in the regular season, however, it is obvious defenses still very much respect his ability to do so.

Indeed, Henry was consistently faced by defenses who committed an extra man to the box. Among running backs with at least 100 carries, Henry was fifth in the NFL in percentage of snaps where the opponent had one more man in the defensive box than the offense had in its box.

Per Stats Perform data, Henry encountered a 'bad box' on 58 per cent of his snaps compared to 48.2 per cent for Foreman. Additionally, on bad box plays where Henry was on the field, the Titans gained 6.05 yards per play but only 5.09 yards when he was off the field in those situations.

And the Titans excelled at using their opponents' aggressiveness in committing to stopping Henry against them.

The Titans sold the run to throw a pass on play-action or a quarterback bootleg on 25 per cent of their passing plays in the regular season, the second-highest rate in the NFL and well above the league average of 19 per cent.

Without Henry, they averaged 7.06 yards per play on play-action and bootleg passes, below the league average of 8.1. With Henry on the field, that figure ballooned to a remarkable 9.94 yards per play.

Henry's impact as a runner may be somewhat overstated, but his influence on the Titans' offense is not.

As a player whose reputation precedes him, Henry's mere presence forces defenses to commit more men to the box and helps set up play-action passes on which the Titans averaged almost enough yardage for a first down on every such play when he was healthy in 2021.

It remains to be seen how effective Henry can be after his lengthy spell on the sidelines, yet the numbers leave no doubt his return does matter. However, he is less important to what has been a consistent rushing attack than he is to a passing game that may need to go blow for blow with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to avoid a swift playoff exit.

Derrick Henry is set to make his long-awaited Tennessee Titans return against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday after he was activated off the injured reserve.

The running back has not played since injuring in his foot in a win over the Indianapolis Colts back in Week 8.

Henry endured a frustrating spell on the sidelines following surgery, but is back for the Divisional Round showdown with the fourth-seeded Bengals at Nissan Stadium.

The 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year came through contact training this week and is ready to make a timely comeback.

Henry said: "I felt great. I just wanted to get some pads on. Haven't had them on in a while and got some contact going."

The two-time Pro-Bowler rushed for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns in 219 carries in his eight regular-season games for the top-seeded Titans this season.

Henry was leading the league in rushing when he sustained the injury.

He made 112 yards from 18 carries, scoring one touchdown when the Titans last faced the Bengals in November 2020, a game that was won 31-20 by Cincinnati.

The Jacksonville Jaguars helped the Pittsburgh Steelers virtually secure a playoff place as they stunned the Indianapolis Colts in their regular-season finale.

Indianapolis needed only to beat a two-win Jaguars team to secure their place in the postseason.

History, however, was against Frank Reich's team, the Colts having not won in Jacksonville since the 2014 season.

And the Jags' home hoodoo over the Colts continued as Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz imploded in a 26-11 defeat.

Wentz was sacked six times in a game the Jaguars led the entire way, rookie first overall pick Trevor Lawrence throwing multiple touchdowns for the first time since Week 1.

The dagger effectively came when Lawrence capitalised on Wentz's lone interception, the former Philadelphia Eagle picked by Jags linebacker Damien Wilson in the third quarter.

Lawrence then successfully handled a high snap from center, rolled to his right and lofted a three-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr, who made a leaping grab in the back of the endzone.

The Colts were eliminated from the playoffs after the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens in overtime. The Steelers will qualify unless the Los Angeles Chargers' game with the Las Vegas Raiders ends in a tie.

Despite the win, the Jaguars claim the number one pick in the 2022 draft by virtue of the Detroit Lions' win over the Green Bay Packers, who rested players for much of the game.

Titans take one seed

The Kansas City Chiefs kept the pressure on the Titans with their win in Denver on Saturday, but Tennessee did not waste the opportunity to clinch the one seed, though they received a scare from the lowly Houston Texans.

Tennessee surged to a 21-0 lead, only for the Texans to respond with 18 unanswered points of their own. Ryan Tannehill's fourth touchdown pass, on which he hit Julio Jones for the receiver's first touchdown as a Titan, gave them breathing room that proved enough as they hung on for a 28-25 win after Danny Amendola's second touchdown reception frayed the nerves.

Watt ties sack record as Steelers stay alive

Ben Roethlisberger bid a tearful farewell to Heinz Field in the Steelers' home finale on Monday, but his likely final season in the NFL looks like being extended into the Wild Card round.

The Steelers fought back from 10-3 down to lead 13-10 on a Roethlisberger pass to Chase Claypool and, though Justin Tucker's field goal forced overtime, the leg of Chris Boswell had the final say, giving the Steelers a 16-13 victory in a game that saw T.J. Watt tie Michael Strahan's single-season sack record as he took his tally to 22.5.

With Chargers head coach Brandon Staley saying they would not play for a tie that would punch the postseason ticket for them and the Raiders, the Steelers' spot seems virtually assured.

Derrick Henry returned to practice on Wednesday, boosting hopes he could feature for the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs.

Henry was earlier designated to return from injured reserve, opening his 21-day window to be placed back on the active roster.

The star running back suffered a fractured foot in the Titans' overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts back on October 31.

Henry, who won the rushing title in 2019 and 2020, has 937 yards on 219 attempts with 10 touchdowns in the 2021 season.

Despite his return to practice, it appears unlikely he will be ready to feature in the Titans' regular-season finale against the Houston Texans, in which they could clinch the number one seed in the AFC.

However, should Tennessee indeed secure top spot in the conference, it will give the Titans a first-round bye and Henry extra time to recover for a home game in the Divisional Round.

Even with Henry missing half the season, the Titans still rank third in rush yards per game with 142.5 and will hope his return to their ground attack can help propel them to a second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Ryan Tannehill insisted the Tennessee Titans are "just getting started" after they clinched the AFC South title and moved into the one seed in the conference.

Tennessee punched their ticket to the postseason as division champions with a 34-3 rout of the Miami Dolphins, who were eliminated from playoff contention.

With the Kansas City Chiefs losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Titans' victory saw them jump to the top of the AFC, meaning they will clinch a first-round bye and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a Week 18 win over the lowly Houston Texans.

While the Titans donned AFC South champion t-shirts in the locker room after the game, Tannehill conceded he was struggling to find a balance between celebrating that achievement and focusing on what they still have to do.

"That was a battle I was having in [the locker room] myself," the Titans quarterback said. "I'm thinking: Try to enjoy the moment and celebrate, but I'm going around telling the guys that we're just getting started.

"It's a big step and enjoy it, but we're just getting started. We've got a long way to go and that was kind of my message going around to the guys.

"Definitely try to enjoy the moment and celebrate today for what it is, but just knowing in the back of our minds that our ultimate goals aren't done yet.

"We've still got a long way to go."

Tannehill's top target, wide receiver A.J. Brown, added: "We had to worry about ourselves and we had to win today.

"We are not really worried about anyone else no matter what cards we were dealt. We had to win today, and we got the win today.

"Next week, it's going to be winning next week, against Houston. We know that right now, it's playoff football. And we are already trying to get in form, because it gets tougher."

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

Mike Vrabel declared "we're not dead yet" after the Tennessee Titans fought back to beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 on Thursday.

The Titans were 10-0 down at half-time, but touchdowns from D'Onta Freeman and the returning A.J. Brown put them in front.

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 26 of 35 passes for 322 yards, threw his only TD pass for Brandon Aiyuk to level the game in the fourth quarter.

Randy Bullock had the final say, though, making no mistake with a field goal with four seconds left, ensuring Tennessee (10-5) can win the AFC South if the Arizona Cardinals beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Titans head coach Vrabel said: "The funeral for the Titans was supposed to be yesterday or today. We're not dead yet."

Brown was making his first appearance since Week 11 after recovering from a chest injury and certainly made his presence felt.

The wide receiver took a career-high 11 catches for 145 yards and was able to celebrate a long-awaited touchdown.

Vrabel said of Brown: "We understand how important he is to our football team. Love him as a person. Glad to have him back."

He added: "A.J''s fantastic. We expect those things from A.J."

Ryan Tannehill threw 22 of 29 passes for 209 yards while Brown finished with 11 receptions for 145 yards.

Defeat for the 49ers (8-7) ensured the Dallas Cowboys (10-4) will feature in the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Dallas (10-4) clinched its first playoff berth in three years Thursday, thanks to the Tennessee Titans' 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Randy Bullock's last-gasp 44-yard field goal has completed the Tennessee Titans' brilliant come-from-behind 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday.

The Titans trailed 10-0 at half-time but fought back with two second-half touchdowns from D'Onta Freeman and A.J. Brown, on his return from a chest injury, to take the lead.

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 26 of 35 passes for 322 yards, threw his only TD pass for Brandon Aiyuk to square the game in the fourth quarter before Bullock's late field goal with four seconds left after the Titans expertly managed the clock.

The result means the Titans can clinch the AFC South division if the Arizona Cardinals beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The 49ers were left to rue costly Garoppolo errors, having thrown two interceptions as well as over-throwing a golden opportunity for a TD.

Ryan Tannehill managed the clock brilliantly after Aiyuk squared the game up with 2:20 left, with the Titans quarterback going on a 23-yard run in the decisive drive.

Tannehill threw 22 of 29 passes for 209 yards while Brown finished with 11 receptions for 145 yards.

The result leaves the 49ers with an 8-7 record to sit third in the NFC West.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense showed up in bravura fashion to pave the way for a 19-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.

Despite the offense struggling, Pittsburgh forced four turnovers against a Titans side who continue to lead the AFC South but slip to 9-5 with this setback.

Linebacker T.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks to reach 17.5 for the season, establishing a new Steelers record as the home team improved to 7-6-1, getting the better of a side that blanked the Jaguars 20-0 last week.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hailed the effort from his team to overcome their shortcomings and capitalise on their strengths, with Chris Boswell kicking four field goals and Ben Roethlisberger snatching a rare touchdown.

Roethlisberger (16-of-25 for 148 yards) also went fifth on the all-time NFL passing yards list in this game, jumping ahead of Philip Rivers with a three-yard pass to Najee Harris and boosting his career total to 63,562 yards by the end.

Tomlin said: "It's an exciting victory for us, a very necessary one. They won the battle of field position, their special teams were better than ours, but in spite of all those things I thought the guys continued to fight.

"The turnovers levelled the playing field in the second half. That was the catalyst for us to go ahead and secure victory. I like the way the guys collectively smiled in the face of adversity.

"We'll be thankful for this win. That's a really good football team we played and were able to beat today. Hopefully there's some growth associated with conquering challenges like that, and we are going to need that as we go on the road next week."

The Steelers tackle the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on December 26, while the Titans are back in action against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

Lions chew up Cardinals

Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes and kept the Arizona Cardinals waiting to nail down a playoff place as the Detroit Lions sprang a huge shock with their 30-12 win.

With just one win, Detroit headed into the game against the Cardinals, who were 10-3 for the season, as heavy underdogs, despite Arizona losing last week to the Los Angeles Rams.

Goff found Amon-Ra St Brown and Josh Reynolds for touchdowns in the first half as the Lions surge to a 17-0 lead at halfway – at that point their biggest advantage at any stage of any game all season and the Cardinals' biggest half-time deficit for three years.

The lead was even wider come the end of the game, with Goff finding Jason Cabinda for another touchdown, meaning Arizona's once-firm grip on first place in the NFC West is now far from that, as the Rams (9-4) lurk.

The NFL said the result marked only the third time since 1970 that a team with the worst record in the NFL had beaten a team with the best or joint-best record, taking into account only games when the sides had already played at least eight times in the season.

It was also the third-largest win all-time by a team with nine-plus fewer wins than an opponent, per Stats Perform.

Cowboys almost there

The Dallas Cowboys moved to the brink of a first playoff appearance since 2018 thanks to a 21-6 win over the New York Giants, improving to 10-4 as they continue to lead the NFC East.

Behind the arm of Dak Prescott (28-of-37 for 217 yards and one touchdown), the Cowboys had just enough to avoid any undue worries, with the scoring all wrapped up by the end of the third quarter.

While Prescott was far from perfect, he was streets ahead of Giants starting QB Mike Glennon (13-of-24 for 99 yards) who was picked off three times by the Cowboys. Trevon Diggs had the third of those interceptions to reach 10 for the season. Glennon was eventually benched to allow Jake Fromm (6-of-12 for 82 yards) a chance to impress.

Prescott lost both of his starts against the Giants as a rookie in 2016 but has now gone 9-0 in subsequent starts against New York.

The New England Patriots are ignoring the noise surrounding their six-game winning streak after maintaining that run by brushing aside the Tennessee Titans.

A dominant second-half showing propelled the Patriots to a 36-13 win over a banged-up Titans team that had previously been the top seed in the AFC.

It is now the Patriots who have their eye on the number one seed after displacing the Titans, with only the Baltimore Ravens (8-3) above the 8-4 Patriots in that race.

But head coach Bill Belichick and his players are giving little regard to talk of their playoff positioning with five games still to play in the regular season.

"Eight games – look, eight games isn't enough to clinch anything or win anything," said Belichick. "We have a long way to go."

Edge rusher Matthew Judon, who registered another sack to take his tally to 11.5, insists the Patriots are in the same place mentally as they were prior to the winning streak and rejected claims of this being a statement victory for New England.

"It is the same confidence. We didn't change, we won't waver and it is the same confidence we had when we were 2-4," Judon replied when asked about their confidence level.

"It doesn't matter if it is a tight game or a blowout, our confidence won't change and we won't waver as a team, as a unit and as players. We come in this building to work every day and we are only going to continue to get better."

"I think someone asked me that a couple weeks ago and the statement or whatever you want to call it, is we have to come out here and win every single game.

"One week at a time so if we don't give up any points and no yards, that game is a statement and every week we have to strive for a statement win.

"If you want to call this a statement or if you just want to call it the next game, we just have to take it week by week and go out there. The statement for us is on to the next week."

The Patriots face the Buffalo Bills, whom they have leapfrogged for the AFC East lead, in Week 13.

And wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who scored two touchdowns against the Titans, believes that could be the game to give a clear picture of where the Patriots stand.

"I don't think there is a ceiling at all. We try to emphasise that. [Matthew] Slater just talked to us after about not getting overzealous about ourselves," said Bourne. "Just being in the moment and playing each game, each week, and thinking about that game.

"We're onto Buffalo now and that's the focus. That'll be good for us to just certify ourselves."

The New England Patriots struck another blow in the race for the one seed in the AFC, defeating the banged-up Tennessee Titans to leapfrog them with a 36-13 victory at Gillette Stadium.

New England went into Sunday's heavyweight clash having won five successive games, and their ability to produce turnovers proved key in extending that streak to six.

Tennessee, minus their top offensive playmakers in injured running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver A.J. Brown, committed four giveaways while the Patriots produced a flawless game in that regard, rookie quarterback Mac Jones recording his second 300-yard passing game of a stellar first season.

Both teams now stand at 8-4, with the Patriots' victory giving them the tiebreaker over the Titans, with another test of New England's Super Bowl credentials to come a week on Monday when they face AFC East rivals the Buffalo Bills (7-4) on the road.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine's touchdown reception and a 68-yard rushing score from Dontrell Hilliard meant the Titans only trailed 16-13 at half-time.

But their first two drives of the second half, sandwiched by a field goal for New England, ended in a fumble and a punt and Tennessee's slow start to the third quarter was exacerbated when Kendrick Bourne's 41-yard catch and run for his second touchdown of the day gave the Patriots a 26-13 lead.

The Titans drove to New England's two-yard line in response, only for Ryan Tannehill to see a fourth-down pass to Cody Hollister tipped and intercepted by J.C. Jackson.

That allowed the Patriots to stretch the lead with Nick Folk's fifth field goal and, after another failed fourth-down attempt from Tannehill, Damien Harris capped things off for New England with a 14-yard run as they sent an emphatic message to the rest of the AFC.

FOURnette stars as Bucs win Colts thriller

Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed by 10 points at the end of the half in a see-saw battle with the Indianapolis Colts.

But five Colts turnovers tipped the balance in the favour of the Bucs, Leonard Fournette's fourth touchdown securing a 38-31 victory and a 51st game-winning drive for Tom Brady, putting him three shy of Peyton Manning's all-time record, despite a late 71-yard kickoff return from Isaiah Rodgers that almost forced overtime.

The Bucs (8-3) have a commanding lead atop the NFC South, with the Carolina Panthers' defeat to the Miami Dolphins dropping them to 5-7. The 6-6 Colts remain firmly in the Wild Card picture in the AFC.

Bengals sweep Steelers

The Cincinnati Bengals moved within half a game of the AFC North lead as they completed their first season sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers since the 2009 season.

It was a feat they achieved in style with a 41-10 rout, running back Joe Mixon the star of the show with 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with Joe Burrow's lone touchdown throw to Tee Higgins his 10th of 30 or more yards this season.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger endured a miserable day, throwing two interceptions and suffering three sacks to drop Pittsburgh to 5-5-1. The 7-4 Bengals will end the day atop the division if the Baltimore Ravens, who own the top seed with Titans' defeat, lose to the Cleveland Browns later on Sunday.

The New England Patriots moved into the one seed in the AFC, defeating the banged-up Tennessee Titans to leapfrog them into top spot with a 36-13 victory at Gillette Stadium.

New England went into Sunday's heavyweight clash having won five successive games, and their ability to produce turnovers proved key in extending that streak to six.

Tennessee, minus their top offensive playmakers in injured running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver A.J. Brown, committed four giveaways while the Patriots produced a flawless game in that regard, rookie quarterback Mac Jones recording his second 300-yard passing game of a stellar first season.

Both teams now stand at 8-4, with the Patriots' victory giving them the tiebreaker, with another test of New England's Super Bowl credentials to come a week on Monday when they face AFC East rivals the Buffalo Bills (7-4) on the road.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine's touchdown reception and a 68-yard rushing score from Dontrell Hilliard meant the Titans only trailed 16-13 at half-time.

But their first two drives of the second half, sandwiched by a field goal for New England, ended in a fumble and a punt and Tennessee's slow start to the third quarter was exacerbated when Kendrick Bourne's 41-yard catch and run for his second touchdown of the day gave the Patriots a 26-13 lead.

The Titans drove to New England's two-yard line in response, only for Ryan Tannehill to see a fourth-down pass to Cody Hollister tipped and intercepted by J.C. Jackson.

That allowed the Patriots to stretch the lead with Nick Folk's fifth field goal and, after another failed fourth-down attempt from Tannehill, Damien Harris capped things off for New England with a 14-yard run as they sent an emphatic message to the rest of the AFC.

FOURnette stars as Bucs win Colts thriller

Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed by 10 points at the end of the half in a see-saw battle with the Indianapolis Colts.

But five Colts turnovers tipped the balance in the favour of the Bucs, Leonard Fournette's fourth touchdown securing a 38-31 victory and a 51st game-winning drive for Tom Brady, putting him three shy of Peyton Manning's all-time record, despite a late 71-yard kickoff return from Isaiah Rodgers that almost forced overtime.

The Bucs (8-3) have a commanding lead atop the NFC South, with the Carolina Panthers' defeat to the Miami Dolphins dropping them to 5-7. The 6-6 Colts remain firmly in the Wild Card picture in the AFC.

Bengals sweep Steelers

The Cincinnati Bengals moved within half a game of the AFC North lead as they completed their first season sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers since the 2009 season.

It was a feat they achieved in style with a 41-10 rout, running back Joe Mixon the star of the show with 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with Joe Burrow's lone touchdown throw to Tee Higgins his 10th of 30 or more yards this season.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger endured a miserable day, throwing two interceptions and suffering three sacks to drop Pittsburgh to 5-5-1. The 7-4 Bengals will end the day atop the division if the Baltimore Ravens lose to the Cleveland Browns later on Sunday.

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