From Comcast SportsNetWorking overtime.Houston, Dallas and Tampa Bay made it pay off by earning victories Sunday. Jacksonville, Cleveland and Carolina all blew leads to lose in OT.Andre Johnson caught a screen pass from Matt Schaub and ran 48 yards for the winning touchdown with 2:01 left in the extra session of Houston's 43-37 victory over Jacksonville.Schaub threw a career-high five touchdown passes, completed a franchise-record 43 passes and finished with 527 yards passing, second most in NFL history. Warren Moon also threw for 527 yards for the Houston Oilers in December 1990 against Kansas City.Norm Van Brocklin holds the record with 554 for the Rams in 1951."When I caught the ball, and I saw how open I was, I was looking around like, Where are the defenders at?'" Johnson said after the 43-37 win. "I took off running, I kept looking. I thought the cornerback would come from the outside, but he wasn't there. It was just the safety, so I was just saying to myself, I can't let him tackle me.'"He couldn't.Dallas needed Dan Bailey's 32-yard field goal with 2 seconds to go in regulation to tie it, then he made a 38-yarder for the 23-20 win over the Browns with 6:07 remaining. The Cowboys rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit."Had it all the way," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, smiling, as he walked into the postgame locker room.Not quite.Nor did the Buccaneers look like winners until they actually won.Josh Freeman threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark in overtime to cap a comeback. It was Freeman's third touchdown pass of the game in the Buccaneers' 27-21 victory over the Panthers."When we got to overtime we stepped into the huddle and everybody was ready to go and we started talking like, Hey let's just execute one play at a time and do our jobs and try to get out of this thing with a touchdown,'" Freeman said.Also Sunday, it was Atlanta 23, Arizona 19; New England 59, Indianapolis 24; Baltimore 13, Pittsburgh 10; Denver 30, San Diego 23; New Orleans 38, Oakland 17; Green Bay 24, Detroit 20; Washington 31, Philadelphia 6; the New York Jets 27, St. Louis 13; and Cincinnati 28, Kansas City 6.On Thursday, it was Buffalo over Miami 19-14.Monday night's game is Chicago (7-2) at San Francisco (6-2-1).Off this week were the New York Giants (6-4), Seattle (6-4), Minnesota (6-4) and Tennessee (4-6).------TEXANS 43, JAGUARS 37, OTAt Houston, Johnson caught 14 passes for 273 yards, both career highs. The Texans (9-1) won an overtime game for the first time at Reliant Stadium.Chad Henne threw a career-high four touchdown passes in relief of injured Blaine Gabbert for the Jaguars (1-9). Rookie Justin Blackmon had 236 yards receiving.COWBOYS 23, BROWNS 20, OTAt Arlington, Texas, Dallas overcame a critical fumble by Tony Romo that sparked a wild ending.Bailey's winning kick came after both teams punted once in the first overtime game at Cowboys Stadium. Dallas (5-5) had rallied to go ahead 17-13 on Romo's 28-yard pass to Dez Bryant.A fumble by Browns rookie Brandon Weeden on a sack appeared to put the Cowboys in control, but Romo gave it right back with a fumble on another sack.The Cowboys made one goal-line stand in the final minutes, but the Browns (2-8) got another chance and went ahead 20-17 on Weeden's 17-yard pass to Benjamin Watson.BUCCANEERS 27, PANTHERS 21, OTAt Charlotte, N.C., the Panthers (2-8) appeared to have the game in hand after a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Brandon LaFell put them up 21-10 with 4:34 left in the game. But after a 40-yard field goal by Connor Barth, the Panthers were forced to punt, and Freeman led the Bucs (6-4) 80 yards on seven plays in 50 seconds with no timeouts.He finished the drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson between three defenders with 12 seconds left. Freeman went back to Jackson for a 2-point conversion on a slant route to send the game into overtime."We learned a lesson today that we can't just show up and win a game," Clark said. "I hope guys will get it. We're lucky it's not a loss. I hope we go back and look at the film and say, Hey we didn't play well.' Sure, we played well enough to make some plays to win at the end, but to get where we want to go, that's not good enough football."PATRIOTS 59, COLTS 24At Foxborough, Mass., the Patriots used three scoring passes from Tom Brady, two touchdowns on interception returns and another on a punt return to match a team single-game scoring record.The first matchup between three-time Super Bowl winner Brady and star rookie Andrew Luck was no match. The Patriots (7-3) won their fourth straight game and extended their lead in the AFC East to three games, although they may have lost tight end Rob Gronkowski to an arm injury.The 59 points equals the team mark set in a 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 18, 2009.The Colts (6-4) had their four-game winning streak stopped by the NFL's best offense and one of its worst defenses.RAVENS 13, STEELERS 10At Pittsburgh, Jacoby Jones returned a punt for a touchdown, Justin Tucker kicked two field goals and Baltimore took control of the AFC North with a victory over Pittsburgh.The Ravens (8-2) moved two games in front of the Steelers (6-4) by shutting down Pittsburgh's offense, which sputtered without injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.Byron Leftwich, making his first start in more than three years, completed 18 of 39 passes for 201 yards and an interception. He ran for a score but was also sacked three times.Baltimore's Joe Flacco wasn't much better, completing 20 of 32 passes for 164 yards, but the Ravens didn't need Flacco to dominate to beat the Steelers for the third straight time at Heinz Field.BRONCOS 30, CHARGERS 23At Denver, Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns and Von Miller had three sacks to take the league lead with 13. Denver took a three-game lead in the AFC West by sweeping the Chargers.Manning threw for 270 yards. He got off to a slow start, throwing an interception that Eric Weddle returned for a score and an early 7-0 lead. But the Broncos (7-3) took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter and never trailed again.Manning won his 148th regular-season game as a starting quarterback, tying John Elway for second on the all-time list. Brett Favre has 186.The Chargers (4-6) lost for the fifth time in six games.SAINTS 38, RAIDERS 17At Oakland, Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception for another score to get the Saints back to .500.Lance Moore caught two touchdown passes and Mark Ingram ran for a score as the Saints (5-5) won for the fifth time in six games.Brees finished 20 for 27 for 219 yards, extending his own records by throwing a touchdown in his 53rd straight game and completing 20 passes for the 46th straight game.The Raiders (3-7) lost their third straight game under first-year coach Dennis Allen as their banged-up defense got picked apart by Brees. Oakland has allowed 135 points in those defeats, the most in a three-game span for the franchise since allowing 141 in the first three games in 1961."Very frustrated. Very painful loss," quarterback Carson Palmer said.PACKERS 24, LIONS 20At Detroit, Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes, including a 22-yarder to Randall Cobb with 1:55 left. That offset the woes of Mason Crosby, and even he came through at the end. After missing two field goals, he nailed a 39-yard field goal with 19 seconds to go.Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions -- one of which was returned 72 yards by Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings for a go-ahead score in the third quarter -- and lost a fumble.Green Bay (7-3) has won five straight. Detroit is 4-6.REDSKINS 31, EAGLES 6At Landover, Md., Robert Griffin III threw four touchdown passes, and Washington broke a three-game losing streak.The sensational rookie completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and also ran 12 times for 84 yards for Washington (4-6). He threw for scores of 6, 49, 61 and 17 yards -- one in each quarter. His 93.3 completion percentage is the highest by a quarterback with at least four touchdown passes since Hall of Famer Steve Young in 1994.Philadelphia's Nick Foles was 21 for 46 for 204 yards in his first NFL start, and his first two series ended with interceptions. The Eagles (3-7) have dropped six straight, accelerating the countdown toward the possible end of Andy Reid's 14-year tenure as coach.JETS 27, RAMS 13At St. Louis, Bilal Powell ran for the first two touchdowns of his career as the Jets ended a three-game slide. Chaz Schilens scored on a 25-yard reception and Nick Folk kicked a pair of 51-yard field goals for the Jets (4-6), who were outscored 58-16 the previous two games. The Jets overcame a controversial practice week with several anonymous players reportedly disparaging the ability of backup quarterback Tim Tebow, who had a handful of snaps but was no factor.Brandon Gibson caught a pair of short touchdown passes for the Rams (3-6-1). St. Louis' defense hasn't forced a turnover in five straight games, tying the NFL's longest such slump since 1950, according to STATS LLC.BENGALS 28, CHIEFS 6At Kansas City, Mo., Andy Dalton threw for 230 yards and accounted for three touchdowns and A.J. Green caught a touchdown pass in his ninth straight game.Green finished with six catches for 91 yards, Mohamed Sanu had a scoring grab and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 101 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals (5-5) won their second straight following a four-game losing streak.Jamaal Charles had 87 yards rushing for Kansas City (1-9), which lost its seventh straight.
As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league.
It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it.
Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect.
But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams.
And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.
Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ.
That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).
Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season.
Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33.
All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin.
Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories.
“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”
And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever.
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”
Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years.
Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).
And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well.
Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th).
When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th).
Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).
“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”