NFL

Herbert leads Chargers past Browns in high-scoring affair

By Sports Desk October 10, 2021

Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers took another step in establishing themselves as NFL Super Bowl contenders as they pulled out a wild 47-42 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

The lead changed hands seven times as Herbert and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield led their teams downfield almost at will, but the Chargers (4-1) scored last and the Browns (3-2) could not respond on Sunday.

Herbert continued building his MVP case as he went 26-of-43 passing for 398 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and ran for another score. 

The Chargers trailed 27-13 after a spectacular 52-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb on the opening drive of the second half, but Herbert led them back to take a 28-27 lead and the teams exchanged touchdowns from there. 

Los Angeles thought they had tied the game when Herbert hit Austin Ekeler for a 19-yard touchdown with 3:15 to play but Tristan Vizcaino missed his second extra point of the game to leave the Chargers trailing by a point. 

The Browns went three and out on the next possession and Herbert led the Chargers to the three-yard line, where the Cleveland defence helped Ekeler cross the goal line on purpose with 1:31 to play so the Browns could get the ball back. 

But Mayfield could not finish the job, throwing three successive incompletions from the Cleveland 47-yard line to give the Chargers the ball and end the game. 

Murray, Cardinals remain unbeaten

The Arizona Cardinals improved to 5-0 and remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL after pulling out a 17-10 win against the San Francisco 49ers. 

Kyler Murray's explosive Arizona offence entered the game averaging 35 points per game but had to scrape out the win as they were out-gained 338 to 304 by Trey Lance and the 49ers (2-3). 

Murray completed 22 of 31 passes for 239 yards and a key nine-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 5:13 to play that effectively put the game out of reach. 

Rookie quarterback Lance made his first start for San Francisco and completed just 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards with an interception, though he led all rushers in the game with 89 yards on the ground. 

Cowboys run away from battered Giants

The Dallas Cowboys took advantage of injuries to the New York Giants' two most important players on offence, rolling to a 44-20 home victory. 

The Giants lost quarterback Daniel Jones to a concussion and running back Saquon Barkley to an ankle injury and were outscored 27-7 after Graham Gano hit a field goal on the first drive of the second half. 

Dak Prescott completed 22 of 32 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns for Dallas, while Ezekiel Elliott ran for 110 yards and a score. 

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    Los Angeles have won three straight games since a defeat to the NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals and can ill afford a slip-up against a Bengals side that are challenging in the AFC North. 

    The Kansas City Chiefs have finally hit their stride but face a tough test when the Denver Broncos visit Arrowhead Stadium, while Monday sees a battle for supremacy in the AFC East between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills. 

    We've run down some of the standout stats from the biggest games in Week 13. 

     

    Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) 

    The Bengals will be hopeful of avenging their 16-13 loss to the Chargers in Week 1 – their second straight defeat to Los Angeles. However, Cincinnati won their four other meetings since the 2010 season and are riding high after a resounding 41-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last time out. 

    It was only the third time the Bengals beat the Steelers by 30 points or more, with the last occurrence being all the way back in September 1989. 

    An early kick-off on the east coast will be tough for the Chargers to navigate, particularly after a 28-13 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 12. They had three rushing first downs against the Broncos, making it the fourth game in which they have had that many or fewer this season – the third most in the NFL. 

    They may continue to rely on quarterback Justin Herbert to help them get points on the board. His 438 passing attempts this season places him third in the NFL, behind only Tom Brady (457) and Patrick Mahomes (449). 

    The Chargers defense will need to keep a close watch on Joe Mixon, though. The running back had a career-high 165 rushing yards and 11 first downs in Week 12. 

    Denver Broncos (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)  

    Not only have the Chiefs won four straight after a 3-4 start, but they've also come out on top in 11 straight meetings with the Broncos – a run that stretches back to Week 10 of 2015. One more victory will make it the longest winning streak against a single opponent in the team's history. 

    The game will have big implications on the playoff hopes of both sides, while the Broncos could move off the bottom of the AFC West and replace the Chiefs at the summit with a victory. 

    Kansas City will hope Mahomes can restore the levels of production seen previously. He did not have a rushing or throwing touchdown in the 19-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys last time out, his second such game in his past five outings. In the 51 games before this run, he had a TD in 50 of them. 

    He has still led an offense that has had 30 drives with 10 or more plays this season – the most in the NFL. Though the Chiefs' ability to get the ball out of their opponents' hands (they have allowed the fifth fewest drives with 10 or more plays this season) could be counteracted by Teddy Bridgewater's excellence under pressure. 

    Bridgewater has a league-best completion percentage (77.6) to go with seven TD passes and no interceptions when facing the blitz this season. 

    New England Patriots (8-4) at Buffalo Bills (7-4) 

    The Bills dethroned the Pats in the AFC East in 2020 and could do with a home win to boost their chances of retaining the crown this year. 

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    The game appears set to be played in frigid conditions and some stingy defenses may make for tepid action too – the Bills (182) and Patriots (190) are ranked first and second respectively for fewest points allowed this season. The Bills have allowed just 182 points while the Patriots have given up 190. 

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    The Seahawks (3-8) have lost eight games in a season for the first time since 2011, ending a franchise-record run of nine years with seven or fewer losses. However, they will no doubt be up for a grudge match against the San Francisco 49ers (6-5). 

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    Stand-in head coach Dan Quinn was delighted with the effort of the Dallas Cowboys as they ended their run of back-to-back defeats with a 27-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

    The former Atlanta Falcons head coach is now defensive coordinator at the Cowboys, but was asked to fill in for head coach Mike McCarthy after he was forced to stay at home due to COVID-19.

    The victory at the Caesers Superdome follows a Week 11 defeat at the Kansas City Chiefs and an overtime loss against the Las Vegas Raiders last time out. 

    The Cowboys now move to 8-4, comfortably ahead of the Washington Football Team (5-6) at the top of the NFC East.

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    Dallas were never headed on Thursday after Dak Prescott – who completed 26 of 40 attempts for 237 yards – found Malcolm Gallup for an opening-quarter touchdown, managing four interceptions in a game for the first time in almost 11 years.

    The Cowboys, who improved to 8-4 for the season, now have 16 interceptions this campaign – the equal-second most in the NFL in 2021 alongside the Buffalo Bills – after Saints quarterback Taysom Hill ended the contest with four interceptions on 19-of-41 passing for 264 yards and two TDs.

    Dallas claimed the lead in the first period after CeeDee Lamb's run, star quarterback Prescott finding Gallup with a great grab in the corner.

    New Orleans responded in the second period when Hill, who was troubled by an early hand niggle, found Lil'Jordan Humphrey for a 24-yard touchdown.

    Dallas took a six-point lead into half-time courtesy of back-to-back Greg Zuerlein field goals and a tremendous Jayron Kearse interception.

    Kicker Brett Maher closed the gap in the third quarter, before Tony Pollard's sensational 58-yard run down the sideline for a touchdown with Marcus Williams unable to close him down.

    Hill's tough night was capped in the fourth period when he threw a pick-six to Cowboys defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.

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