Patriots

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Eagles improve to 5-1 with 28-23 win over Panthers

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Eagles improve to 5-1 with 28-23 win over Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carson Wentz said he saw some things from the Carolina Panthers he hadn't seen on film leading to three first-half sacks and plenty of pressure.

It didn't bother the Philadelphia Eagles' second-year quarterback.

Wentz came up big in a huge game, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns against one of the NFL's top defenses, and the Eagles beat the Panthers 28-23 on Thursday night to improve to an NFC-best 5-1.

"We kept backs in to handle their linebackers and we did a better job cleaning it up in the second half," said Wentz, who wasn't sacked in the second half.

The Eagles turned two interceptions deep in Carolina territory into 15 points. Wentz teamed with Zach Ertz on two touchdown passes, and LaGarrette Blount scored on a 2-point conversion run for an 18-10 lead in the third quarter. Wentz added a 24-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.

"He's a great leader of this football team, even in his second year," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said about Wentz. "Guys really respect the way he plays. It's exciting to see that."

Cam Newton threw three interceptions for Carolina (4-2).

The first two interceptions came inside Carolina's 20, but weren't Newton's fault. He was hit by Fletcher Cox as he released one pass, and running back Jonathan Stewartbobbled another pass resulting in a pick. Newton's third interception - by Jalen Mills with 3:06 left - ended a chance for the go-ahead score.

Carolina had one last shot to win, but turned it over on downs at midfield.

"We gave them layups, giving them the ball inside our 20," Newton said. "Against a good team like that, well that's not good ingredients to win. We can't put our defense in that type of position."

Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was placed into the concussion protocol after his body crumpled following a collision with Eagles pulling guard Brandon Brooks. Kuechly missed nine games over the past two seasons with two concussions. All of the Eagles' touchdowns came after Kuechly left the game late in the second quarter.

Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said it won't be easy to replace Keuchly, adding "Luke is a big part of what we do."

Added defensive tackle Kawann Short: "You saw a quick prayer, but then the game has to go on."

Newton gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead on his 51st career touchdown rushing in the second quarter. He kept the ball on a read option and juked cornerback Rasul Douglas on the 16-yard run.

Douglas get revenge on Carolina's next possession, intercepting Newton's pass after Cox crashed into Newton as he was throwing, causing the ball to float high into the air.

EAGLES' COX RETURNS: After a two-game absence due to a calf injury, Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox returned and was a dominant force. Along with the tipped pass on Newton's interception, he also had a sack and two quarterback hurries. "There's no way I could sit him tonight," Pederson said. "It was too important to him."

NO RUNNING GAME: If it hadn't been for Newton , the Panthers would not have had any running game to speak of against the Eagles. Newton ran for 71 yards and the touchdown, but running backs Jonathan StewartChristian McCaffrey and Fozzy Whittaker were limited to 1 yard on 13 carries.

"We have a lot of things to look at. We really do," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of the running game."

BLOUNT POUNDS AWAY: The bruising Blount didn't find the end zone for a touchdown, although he did score on a 2-point conversion after the Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei jumped early on an extra point attempt. That prompted coach Doug Pederson to go for two. Blount finished with 67 yards on 14 carries.

PEPPERS' MILESTONE: Julius Peppers needed one sack to become the fifth player to reach 150 since they became an official statistic in 1982. The 37-year-old Peppers didn't waste any time reaching it, sacking Wentz on the first drive of the game and forcing a fumble.

LINEUP CHANGE: Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley was benched in the first half for Kevin Seymour.

INJURIES:

Eagles: Linebacker Jordan Hicks left the game early with an ankle injury. Defensive end Brandon Graham briefly left with a shoulder injury.

Panthers: Aside from Kuechly's injury, Whittaker was carted to the locker room in the first quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return.

UP NEXT:

Eagles: Host the Washington Redskins on "Monday Night Football" on Oct. 23

Panthers: At the Chicago Bears on Oct. 22.

Chiefs rout Chargers 30-13 to seize control of AFC West race

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Chiefs rout Chargers 30-13 to seize control of AFC West race

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Chiefs saw their bandwagon empty during a midseason swoon, fans jumping ship almost as quickly as Kareem Hunt hitting a hole or Tyreek Hill speeding to the end zone.

They never lost faith in each other, though.

The Chiefs instead rallied to beat the Oakland Raiders last week, setting up a crucial AFC West showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers. And in a dominant performance reminiscent of earlier this season, the Chiefs rolled to a 30-13 victory Saturday night to seize control of the divisional race.

"It feels good to be back in this position," said Chiefs safety Ron Parker, who had one of the three interceptions thrown by the Chargers' Philip Rivers. "We stuck it out as a family the last couple weeks, did a good job of staying together. It would have been easy to fall apart."

The only way the Chiefs can squander the division and automatic playoff berth is by losing their last two games and the Chargers or Oakland Raiders winning out.

"It felt like a playoff game," Parker said. "This is the closest thing it gets to a playoff game."

The Chiefs (8-6) got production from their biggest stars: Alex Smith threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, Kareem Hunt ran for 155 yards and accounted for two touchdowns, Tyreek Hill hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass and Marcus Peters had a hand in forcing three turnovers.

It all added up to an eighth straight win over the Chargers.

"I didn't think we played our best. We have to look at ourselves and ask why," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "We missed tackles. We didn't execute well on offense. We went back to some dumb penalties we had early in the year. We made this game bigger than it really was."

The Chargers (7-7) led 13-10 early in the second half, but Rivers threw three interceptions - two of them to Peters - and Austin Ekeler coughed up a fumble down the stretch.

That ended their four-game win streak and quite possibly their playoff hopes.

Rivers finished with 221 yards passing and a touchdown, but has thrown 13 interceptions during the Chargers' losing streak to the Chiefs. Melvin Gordon added 78 yards rushing and a score.

"We took a step back today," Lynn said.

The game shaped up as a matchup of teams going in opposite directions: The Chiefs were 5-0 before watching their division lead waste away, while the Chargers started out 0-4 but won seven of their next nine to forge a near-winner-take-all divisional showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.

Instead, the Chiefs looked like they did in their Week 3 win over the Chargers.

So did the Chargers, for that matter.

The Chiefs' defense, which played so salty last week against Oakland, was buoyed by the return of Peters from a one-game disciplinary suspension in helping to build a 10-6 halftime lead.

Rivers eventually got on track, going 5 for 5 for 88 yards on his first drive of the second half, and his 10-yard touchdown pass to trusty tight end Antonio Gates gave Los Angeles its only lead.

One that didn't last very long.

The Chiefs answered with a methodical, 69-yard scoring drive of their own. Hunt supplied most of the work, and he capped the drive by catching Smith's short TD toss to give the Chiefs a 17-13 lead.

"He's such a well-rounded football player," Smith said. "He's so good in the passing game, has such a good feel, which is so important for a running back."

Two plays later, Rivers floated a pass downfield and Peters leaped up to make an easy interception, and his long return set up first-and-goal at the Chargers 6. The Chiefs nearly turned it into another TD when Smith found Hunt again, but the tip of the ball hit the turf for an incompletion.

The Chiefs' challenge failed and Harrison Butker knocked through a field goal for a 20-13 lead.

The Chargers' offense, which had committed just six giveaways over the last nine games, coughed it up again three plays later. Peters helped to pry loose the ball from Ekeler, and Butker tacked on a 51-yard field goal a short while for a comfortable cushion.

Rivers threw two more picks in the fourth quarter, giving him six in two games against Kansas City this season, and ending any hopes of Los Angeles mounting a comeback.

"We definitely wanted to put pressure on Philip. We know he's a gunslinger," Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "He does take risks in the passing game. We just happened to put pressure on him in the front seven, guys did a great job and we came out with a lot of turnovers."

The Chiefs came out with a crucial victory, too.

STATS AND STREAKS

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is 10-3 against the Chargers. Smith is 7-1. ... The Chiefs also won eight straight against the Chargers from 1990-93. ... Chargers WR Keenan Allen had 58 yards receiving, ending a streak of four straight 100-yard games.

AILING BUT ACTIVE

Chargers CB Casey Hayward was active despite missing practice with a calf injury this week. That may have contributed to the star cover man getting burned by Tyreek Hill on his 64-yard first-half TD catch.

INJURIES NOTES

Chargers LB Denzel Perryman left with a hamstring injury late in the first half. S Adrian Phillips left with an ankle injury early in the second. DT Corey Liuget (knee) and LT Russell Okung (groin) also went down in the second half. ... Chiefs LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) and DL Jarvis Jenkins (elbow) left with injuries in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Chargers visit the New York Jets next Sunday with fading postseason hopes.

Chiefs try to clinch the AFC West against the Dolphins next Sunday.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stafford-led Lions beat Bears 20-10, stay in playoff picture

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Stafford-led Lions beat Bears 20-10, stay in playoff picture

DETROIT - Matthew Stafford struck a balance between making plays and avoiding mistakes to keep the Detroit Lions in the playoff picture.

Stafford threw two touchdown passes and didn't have a turnover, helping Detroit beat the Chicago Bears 20-10 on Saturday night.

"It's just trying to be as calculated as you can with those chances that you're going to take," he said. "And, understanding the game situation."

Detroit (8-6) has won two straight and needs to close the regular season with two more wins to keep its postseason hopes alive.

"We've got to win to stay in," said tight end Eric Ebron, who caught Stafford's second TD pass. "If we win, we will hopefully make it to the playoffs. If not, then we get booted."

Whether the Bears (4-10) win another game this season or not, they may end up giving coach John Fox the boot.

Chicago has lost six of seven, sealing a third season with double-digit losses in three years under its embattled coach.

Stafford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to TJ Jones to put Detroit up 13-0 with 6:10 left in the first half after Fox chose to punt on fourth-and-1 from the Chicago 45.

"We were thinking about field position," Fox said. "It's not a no-lose situation because if we don't make it, they've got the ball at our 45. Like I said, you could go for it, but you have to know that it can come back and bite you."

Stafford was 25 of 33 for 237 yards and didn't throw an interception for the first time since Week 11. His 8-yard pass to Ebron gave Detroit a 20-3 lead early in the third quarter after Darius Slay's first of two interceptions .

Chicago rookie Mitchell Trubisky had season highs in completions (31), attempts (46), yards passing (314) and interceptions (three) including one to safety Quandre Diggs in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.

"We have complete confidence in Mitch," Fox said. "And, we know that he's going to have better days."

Trubisky threw a 9-yard TD pass to Benny Cunningham to make it 20-10 with 2:32 left. After Fox chose not to try an onside kick, the Bears got the ball back 25 seconds later on their 6 and moved the ball to the Detroit 25 before Slay's second interception ended their comeback hopes.

GOING DEEP

Lions receiver Marin Jones had three catches for 85 yards, including a 58-yard catch in which he raced across the field and leaped in front of safety Eddie Jackson to set up the TD pass to TJ Jones.

"When I saw him out of the corner of my eye, I didn't think he was as close as he was," Jackson said. "By the time I jumped, he was on to me already."

Marvin Jones has single-season, career-high 18 catches of 20-plus yards this season.

GROUNDED GAME

The Bears ran for just 43 yards on 15 carries after having a season-high 232 yards rushing in last week's 33-7 win at Cincinnati, forcing them to throw a lot with Trubisky.

DANCING IN DETROIT

When TJ Jones scored, he and some teammates celebrated with a Rockettes-like kick line . Detroit's Golden Tate got turned around after making a catch later in the game, and kept spinning with his hands over his head as if he was a ballerina.

"I didn't practice it," Tate said. "Never even thought about it. It seemed like it was just a moment to do something crazy."

INJURIES

Bears: S Chris Prosinski, who started in place of injured starter Adrian Amos, and OT Tom Compton went into concussion protocol. LB Pernell McPhee left the game with a shoulder injury, an ailment that kept him out of the previous game. OT Josh Sitton had an ankle injury.

Lions: OG T.J. Lang left the game with a foot injury, which limited him in practice and led to him being listed as questionable to play. Lang left a line that began the game without two injured starters: center Travis Swanson and right tackle Rick Wagner. TJ Jones hurt his shoulder while covering a punt.

UP NEXT

Bears: Host Cleveland on Sunday, Dec. 24.

Lions: At Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 24.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE