Stewart runs for 3 TDs, Panthers beat Vikings 31-24

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jonathan Stewart ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers snapped the Minnesota Vikings’ eight-game winning streak with a 31-24 victory Sunday.

Cam Newton threw for 137 yards and a touchdown and ran for 75 yards as the Panthers (9-4) racked up 216 yards on the ground against the league’s No. 2 ranked defense to pull even with the Saints atop the NFC South standings.

Carolina sacked Case Keenum six times and forced three turnovers to keep the Vikings (10-3) from clinching the NFC North division title.

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After the Panthers squandered an 11-point fourth quarter lead, Newton broke free of the pocket and raced 62 yards for a key first down with 2 minutes remaining. Stewart scored his career-high third TD when he jumped over the line of scrimmage, reaching the ball across the goal line for a 31-24 lead.

Minnesota couldn’t manage a first down on its final drive and turned the ball over on downs.

The Panthers seemed in control midway through the fourth quarter leading 24-13 after Newton made an off-balance throw to Devin Funchess for an 18-yard touchdown, and Mario Addison‘s strip-sack set up Graham Gano‘s field goal.

But the Vikings came charging back to tie it as Keenum hooked up on a 52-yard scoring strike on a crossing route. Blake Bell added 2-point conversion catch to cut the lead to three.

On Carolina’s next possession, Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo intercepted Newton on a ball that sailed off the hands of Christian McCaffrey and returned it to the Carolina 6. But Carolina’s defense had a huge stop, holding the Vikings to a field goal leaving the game tied with 3:07 left.

INJURIES:

Vikings: Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur left game with a foot injury and did not return.

Panthers: Tight end Greg Olsen left briefly after re-injuring his foot, but did return.

UP NEXT

Vikings: Host the Bengals next Sunday.

Panthers: Host the Packers next Sunday.

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Trubisky, Howard lead Bears over hapless Bengals 33-7

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CINCINNATI — Rookie Mitchell Trubisky threw for a touchdown and ran for another in his best showing yet, and the Chicago Bears ended a five-game losing streak by routing the lackluster Cincinnati Bengals 33-7 on Sunday, their most lopsided victory in five years.

Jordan Howard ran for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Bears (4-9) dominated a matchup of the NFL’s worst offenses. Their rookie quarterback took full advantage of an injury-depleted defense, completing a career-high 25 passes out of 32 attempts for 271 yards. He also ran 4 yards for a score.

The Bengals (5-8) were coming off a 23-20 loss to the Steelers on Monday night that crushed their playoff hopes and gutted their defense.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

The Bears piled up a season-high 482 yards against a unit missing starting cornerbacks Adam “Pacman” Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick as well as linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil.

It was Cincinnati’s worst home drubbing since a 34-3 loss to Baltimore in 2008. Many of the 52,002 fans headed for the exits early in the fourth quarter.

Everyone in the NFL’s lowest-ranked offense had a big game. Tarik Cohen ran for 80 yards, and Kendall Wright caught 10 passes for 107 yards – the first Bears receiver to top 100 yards this season.

Andy Dalton was picked off for the first time since Oct. 22 in Pittsburgh, ending his career-best streak of 193 attempts without an interception. The interception set up Trubisky’s 1-yard touchdown pass that put the Bears in control 26-7 early in the fourth quarter, their biggest lead of the season.

INJURIES

Bears: Right guard Kyle Long went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, but the Bears’ offensive line had its way as Chicago piled up 29 first downs, more than double Cincinnati’s total.

Bengals: Running back Joe Mixon was inactive because of a concussion suffered on Monday night. Giovani Bernard carried 11 times for 62 yards as Cincinnati’s offense managed only 234 yards.

UP NEXT

The Bears play at Detroit on Saturday. They lost to the Lions 27-24 on Nov. 19.

The Bengals play at Minnesota on Sunday, facing former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Packers stun Browns 27-21 in OT, set up Rodgers’ return

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CLEVELAND — Your turn, Aaron Rodgers.

The Green Bay Packers saved their season just in time for their star’s return.

Brett Hundley threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams in overtime as the Packers rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter for a 27-21 win on Sunday over the winless and luckless Cleveland Browns.

Hundley pulled out his third win – and second straight in OT – since replacing Rodgers, and now the Packers (7-6) will get back their quarterback after their season appeared doomed when he broke his collarbone in October.

“My No. 1 thought going into it was to keep our hopes alive to make the playoffs,” said Hundley, who had three touchdown passes. “At the end of the day, whatever happens, happens. Whenever I’m called upon, I’ll be ready. In the meantime, we’re still in this.”

Barely.

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On third-and-6 in overtime, Hundley threw a short pass to Adams , who spun out of Myles Garrett‘s arms and went in untouched with 5:05 left as the Packers set the stage for Rodgers’ return. He returned to practice this week, and as long as he’s cleared by Green Bay’s medical staff, Rodgers will be back on the field next Sunday when the Packers play Carolina.

“We kept the playoffs alive,” said safety Josh Jones, who intercepted rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to set up the winning score. “We got the best quarterback in the league coming back, so we feel a lot better.”

It was another devastating loss for the Browns (0-13), who made several critical mistakes late in regulation before Kizer’s poor decision on his final throw.

Kizer was rolling to his left and tried to throw across his body to Rashard Higgins when his arm was hit by linebacker Clay Matthews. If not for the contact, Kizer felt the Browns would have won.

“I thought we had control of the game pretty much the majority of the game,” Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “It’s definitely frustrating. Green Bay had the better team today. I don’t know why it keeps happening.”

Down 21-14 heading into the fourth period, the Packers, who beat Tampa Bay last week in overtime, rallied on Hundley’s 1-yard TD pass to Adams with 17 seconds left in regulation.

A 65-yard punt return by Trevor Davis set up Green Bay’s score, which came after Hundley was ruled down inside the 1 after an apparent 6-yard scoring run. Out of timeouts, coach Mike McCarthy elected not to risk a run and Hundley rifled his pass into the corner for Adams, who beat Jason McCourty on the play.

Hundley’s tight spiral was reminiscent of so many thrown by Rodgers, who stayed warm on the sideline inside a large green sideline jacket.

Hundley finished 35 of 46 with three touchdowns and made the big plays when he had to against the lowly Browns.

“He plays his best football when the game’s on the line,” McCarthy said of the young QB. “You can’t teach that. He’s a winner.”

Cleveland was in position to run out the clock before overtime but rookie tight end David Njoku dropped a key third-down pass. Cleveland’s punt team couldn’t bring down Davis, who weaved his way to the Browns 25.

Kizer threw three touchdown passes, one to Josh Gordon, and went 20 of 28 for 214 yards. But he’ll be haunted by the late pick.

“You can’t make that,” coach Hue Jackson said. “If it does not feel right, it probably is not right.”

Cleveland’s heartbreaking loss closed a turbulent week: The team fired Sashi Brown, its top front office executive, and owner Jimmy Haslam said Jackson will return next season.

Isaiah Crowell rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries. Gordon, playing his first home game since Dec. 14, 2014, had three catches for 69 yards and caught an 18-yard TD pass in the first quarter that he celebrated by putting on sunglasses.

GORDON SHINES

After missing some scoring opportunities last week in Los Angeles, Gordon was confident he and Kizer would connect against the Packers. They did just that on Cleveland’s first play, hooking up for 38 yards. Moments later, Kizer threaded a perfect pass over the middle to Gordon, who made a leaping catch in the end zone for his first TD since Dec. 15, 2013. When he returned to the sideline, Gordon pulled off his helmet and put on a pair of dark sunglasses, then strutted in celebration before hugging Jackson.

Gordon did not speak to reporters.

OPENING ACT

They had to fake a punt to keep their first offensive drive going, but the Packers scored their league-leading seventh touchdown on their opening possession.

HALFWAY HOME

Cleveland’s halftime lead was its second this season, and first on American soil. The Browns led the Vikings 13-12 at halftime of their Oct. 29 game in London before losing 33-16.

INJURIES

Packers: CB Davon House was carted off in the fourth quarter with a back injury. House’s feet got tangled and he fell hard to the turf. … TE Lance Kendricks returned after sustaining a jaw injury in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Packers: At Carolina on Sunday

Browns: Host Baltimore in their final home game Sunday.

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