Having raised eyebrows across the NFL universe by trading up for Jordan Love in the first round, the Green Bay Packers sprung another surprise in the second round of the 2020 draft, with the selection of a power running back by the name of A.J. Dillon.

It was a pick that prompted a variety of reactions, ranging from anger and bemusement to outright hilarity from those astonished the Packers, with Aaron Jones already established as their top running back and an obvious need at wide receiver, would take the Boston College star so high.

Yet as Green Bay prepare for potentially two weeks without Jones due to a knee sprain, the primary feeling in the Packers' front office may be vindication.

The Packers moved to 8-2 on Sunday with a hard-fought shutout win over the Seattle Seahawks in the snow at Lambeau Field.

With Aaron Rodgers looking rusty at best following his coronavirus-enforced absence, Dillon thrived in the kind of game for which he was made.

He ploughed in for the game's only two touchdowns to secure a 17-0 triumph for Green Bay, finishing with 66 yards on 21 carries.

That average of 3.1 yards per attempt is not an impressive one, but Dillon's performances in his second year in the league have been increasingly eye-catching.

Having averaged 5.3 yards per rush as a rookie on 46 carries, he is racking up 4.3 yards per carry on the significantly larger sample size of 97 attempts.

A slightly more granular look at his production reveals that Dillon is doing precisely what Green Bay drafted him for as a complementary piece to Jones.

Dillon is averaging 2.38 yards after contact per attempt, above the league-wide average of 1.91 yards for running backs. In essence, he is allowing the Packers to mix downhill thump into a scheme that has traditionally focused on wide zone runs.

Ahead of Week 10, Dillon had 20 iso runs, a staple power running play. On those attempts, Dillon had an average of 3.58 yards after contact on runs to the left tackle side (league average – 1.99) and 2.63 yards after contact on carries to the right tackle side (league average – 1.76).

Yet Dillon has also enjoyed success when asked to run outside zone, averaging 4.75 yards per attempt, 2.50 yards after contact and 3.80 yards on such carries where there was a run disruption by a defender prior to this Sunday.

Those numbers suggest Dillon, who also made an impact in the passing game against the Seahawks with two catches for 62 yards, is transcending the 'power back' label assigned to him coming out of college and making himself at home in Matt LaFleur's offense.

That apparent ability to excel on both power and zone runs will be a necessity if the Packers are to stay on course to be the NFC's number one seed over the coming weeks without Jones, as they face division rivals the Minnesota Vikings on the road before welcoming the Los Angeles Rams to Lambeau in a rematch of last season's NFC Divisional Round clash.

Those are two different beasts in terms of run defense. The Vikings rank 30th in rush yards per carry allowed, giving up 4.74 yards per rush, while the Rams (4.15) are ninth going into their Monday Night Football clash with the San Francisco 49ers.

The formulas for winning those battles with two extremely talented offensive teams may therefore be different. Yet if Jones is out for both games, then Green Bay may need Dillon to make the most of a skill set that is more versatile than most thought to ensure the Packers do not become overly reliant on reigning MVP Rodgers.

Green Bay's process in picking Dillon so early remains questionable but, should he succeed in that aim in Jones' absence, you will not find many questioning the results.

The past seven days for the San Francisco 49ers have been rough.

A defeat to an Arizona Cardinals team missing Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and J.J. Watt ensured the Niners would enter Week 10 with a sour taste in their mouth having fallen to 3-5 on the season.

In a game viewed as a golden opportunity for the Niners to put themselves firmly in the playoff picture, they produced one of their worst performances of the year, and most expect their profligacy in failing to take that chance to be punished further against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.

San Francisco's mood going into a contest with a Rams team also smarting after throwing in a clunker against the Tennessee Titans will not have improved with the news that came down on Thursday when Los Angeles signed three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. following his release by the Cleveland Browns.

Beckham is expected to make his debut at Levi's Stadium, where edge rusher Von Miller could also make his Rams bow having landed with Los Angeles in a trade from the Denver Broncos on November 1.

It is Beckham and Miller who will grab all the pre-game attention as the Rams look to pile the misery on the 49ers and improve to 8-2 in their bid to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium in February.

However, it is how each team deals with their absentees, rather than the performances of Beckham and Miller, that is likely to decide a potentially high-scoring matchup out west.

How will Woods loss impact run game?

The addition of Beckham initially appeared to be a luxury one for the Rams, whose receiver depth allowed them to recently part with veteran DeSean Jackson.

Yet, a day after Beckham's arrival, his signing was revealed as a much more necessary move with the news Robert Woods had suffered a torn ACL, ending his season.

Woods has long since been an integral part of the Rams' offense, not just for what he does as a receiver but also for his impact in the blocking game.

Per Stats Perform data, Woods' had an adjusted run-block win percentage of 88.89, the wideout comfortably outperforming the average for tight ends and fullbacks of 71.48.

The Niners rank 19th in opponent rush average allowed, giving up 4.37 yards per carry, but the Rams may struggle to take advantage of that fragility if they cannot replace Woods' influence in that regard.

With D.J. Jones (56.70), Nick Bosa (40.04) and Arik Armstead (48.84) all above average in double-team adjusted win rate on run defense, the Niners do have the talent up front to magnify any run game struggles for Los Angeles.

San Francisco's primary defensive question concerns their personnel in the secondary.

49ers' secondary problems persist

The 49ers saw their secondary depth suffer a blow right off the bat as Jason Verrett tore his ACL in Week 1, and the way in which the coaching staff have managed the personnel in the defensive backfield has received criticism.

Despite impressing early, rookie fifth-round pick Deommodore Lenoir has been conspicuous by his absence since the Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, with veterans Josh Norman and Dre Kirkpatrick ahead of both Lenoir and fellow first-year corner Ambry Thomas on the depth chart.

Kirkpatrick is out on Monday with an ankle injury while Norman (ribs) is questionable, meaning both Lenoir and Thomas are likely to be in uniform, with one potentially set to start alongside Emmanuel Moseley and K'Waun Williams at corner.

Lenoir would appear to be the frontrunner to start if Norman cannot play, and the Niners may require an improvement on his generally solid play across the first three weeks for them to have a hope of containing Matthew Stafford and the Rams' passing attack.

The former Oregon corner's adjusted open percentage allowed of 35 is inferior to the average of 31.15 for cornerbacks and, beyond the threat posed by Beckham, Lenoir will also have to deal with the NFL's most productive receiver should he be thrust back into the starting line-up.

Cooper Kupp is on pace for over 1,900 receiving yards having already surpassed 1,000 through nine games. He is recording a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, 66.7 per cent of the time, with his average of 4.3 burn yards per route the best in the league among receivers with at least 20 targets heading into Week 10.

San Francisco's secondary can at best be described as being in flux. If the 49ers cannot find a combination that works, it could provide Kupp with the chance to deliver another hugely productive performance and leave Kyle Shanahan's men with the difficult task of keeping pace with the Rams' offense.

Moore thrown in at the deep end

The Niners can afford to have confidence of going blow for blow with the Rams, if they can avoid the turnovers that ultimately doomed them against the Cardinals.

Shanahan's offense has been moving the ball efficiently, with Jimmy Garoppolo producing his two best performances of the season over the last two games.

Garoppolo reached the 320-yard mark in the win over the Chicago Bears and the loss to the Cardinals, marking the second time in his career he has produced a streak of successive 320-yard games. The only other 49ers quarterbacks with multiple streaks of consecutive 320-yard games are Joe Montana (four) and Steve Young (two). 

His hopes of stretching that run to a third game may well hinge on the play of a rookie offensive lineman.

The Niners will be without right tackle Mike McGlinchey for the rest of the season after he tore his quad against Arizona. His replacement is expected to be rookie Jaylon Moore, who delivered an admirable showing in relief of left tackle Trent Williams versus the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7.

Moore is credited with winning nine of the 12 one-on-one pass protection matchups he has faced so far but, having spent his entire career to this point on the left side, looks set to flip to the right in extremely trying circumstances.

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald's versatility should see him regularly shift from the interior and line up across from Moore on the edge, and the Rams will surely look to get Miller one on one with the rookie consistently.

Donald has won a remarkable 59 of his 91 one-on-one matchups and Miller's win rate of 43.94 per cent is still way above the average for edge rushers of 21.88.

The challenge for San Francisco will be to get Moore as much help as possible from tight ends and running backs to prevent that duo padding those numbers.

Leave him to fend for himself, and the Niners' hopes of keeping pace with Los Angeles could vanish in a hurry. After being embarrassed by a division rival last week, setting Moore, and in turn Garoppolo, up for success is crucial to them avoiding the same fate in the primetime finale to Week 10.

The New England Patriots scored 45 unanswered points in their rout of the Cleveland Browns, but none were celebrated more enthusiastically than the six from Jakobi Meyers as his wait for a first career receiving touchdown was ended.

New England hammered the Browns' 45-7 to move to 6-4 on the year, sending a clear message to the rest of the AFC that they are legitimate postseason contenders.

It was Meyers who had the final say at Gillette Stadium, finally getting into the endzone on an 11-yard pass from Brian Hoyer after a superb performance from rookie quarterback Mac Jones had put the game well beyond doubt.

The score came in his 39th game and 135th reception for the Patriots, with Meyers' team-mates mobbing him as he registered the score his contributions to New England have long since merited. 

"I told him today, I was like, you're going to score before the game – I didn't know it was going to come from Hoyer. It was great. I was super excited," Jones told a media conference.

"We were out together and the ball [that he scored with] – I was so concerned about the ball. I was like, 'we've got to find the ball.' I guess they found it. That was good.

"But I think Jakobi is a great team-mate and he's a great team player and that's much deserved and he's going to get more. From here, hopefully we just keep stacking them up and there will be a bunch. He's a great team-mate, like I said, gets to the red zone, does his job, sometimes when he's not even getting the ball, he's in there knocking people down and just being really physical.

"We are really happy to be able to play together and hopefully we'll play together for a long time."

Asked about Jones being more eager than him to find the ball, Meyers replied: "That is a little bit weird, right? I thought so too. I was like, 'Man, I should probably do a little more to get his touchdown ball', now that I think about it.

"Honestly, the fact that everybody celebrated with me means more than the touchdown. I feel like it says a lot about your team-mates and what they think of you, and just the fact that they were all there. I know they've been waiting on that, they've been real patient."

Jones threw just four incomplete passes in one of the best displays of his young career, which saw him finish with 198 yards and three touchdowns.

"Mac always looks poised. I don't know what it is. He's just driven in different ways, wired a different way," receiver Kendrick Bourne said of Jones.

"He's just relaxed and I think that's how we all need to play. He's not thinking about the next play. He's not thinking about the last play. He's thinking about the current play.

"That mindset can take you far in this league when you have that kind of mindset. I think he has it. It's easy to dwell on the past. It's easy to get caught up on what's ahead and what's coming. He's good at just being in the moment and fixing what he's got going on right there."

Dak Prescott made it clear opponents are sorely mistaken if they believe they have a blueprint to stop the Dallas Cowboys' offense after Sunday's blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Having suffered a stunning loss to the Denver Broncos last week as Prescott and the Cowboys were held to 290 net yards of offense, their lowest total of the season, Dallas bounced back in style by routing Atlanta 43-3.

Prescott looked back to his best after a shaky showing against Denver, a game in which he made his return from a calf injury, going 24 of 31 passing for 296 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys improved to 7-2.

Asked about the apparent blueprint provided by Denver, Prescott told a media conference: "They [Atlanta] tried that early. If they think that is the recipe for success against us, then good luck to them.

"We know what we're capable of, and I think last week was something we needed in a sense of just refocusing and realising this is the NFL and it's tough.

"You've got to earn it each and every day of practice and you've got to come out on Sundays and earn it again.

"Last week just wasn't us, and everybody in that locker room knows that. It left a bad taste in our mouth.

"I think it was a taste that we needed to understand how tough this game is, but this game just shows that when we focus in, take it one play at a time, our minds are where our feet are, we're capable of doing some great things.

"So we just got to continue to focus on that and take it play by play, game by game, and we'll continue to get better and hopefully have a lot more performances like this."

The Cowboys are within striking distance of the NFC's top seed, the 8-2 Green Bay Packers, but face a difficult trip to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11.

A tie is a rare result in the NFL, but for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris the 16-16 stalemate against the Detroit Lions came as a complete shock.

The first tie since Week 3 of the 2020 season took place on Sunday, with the Lions avoiding defeat but unable to earn a first win of 2021 after missing a field goal to win in overtime.

There was also disappointment for the Steelers, who were in prime position to win on multiple occasions in a chaotic extra 10 minutes.even with starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger absent due to coronavirus.

First-round draft pick Harris, who ran for 105 yards and caught all four of his targets for a further 28, had no idea game was over. 

"I didn't even know you could tie in the NFL," Harris said, per ESPN. "In my mind, I was sitting on the bench saying, 'I've got another quarter to go'. 

"But someone came to me and said, 'That's it'. I've never had a tie in my life before."

The Steelers (5-3-1) fumbled twice in overtime through Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth, meaning they failed to take full advantage of losses for the AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

"Ties suck," added Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward. "I know it's a tie, but if it's not a win, I don't think you can really hang your hat on that."

Linebacker Joe Schobert added: "A tie in the NFL always feels like a loss when you get to the locker room because you're not adding one to the win column.

"It's a half-game. It might make a difference in the end. To let it slip away when you're that close definitely hurts."

But it could have been worse for the Steelers as the Lions (0-8-1) missed a golden opportunity to claim what would have been their first win since last December.

Ryan Santoso had a 48-yard field goal to win the game for the Lions, but saw his kick come up short of the goalposts.

There have now been 14 overtime games this season through 10 weeks of the season – only in 1995 (when there were 18) has there been more at this stage of an NFL campaign.

While games going beyond regulation have been common in 2021, this was the first to end all square, with Lions head coach Dan Campbell unsure how to feel.

"I'm in this twilight zone," he said. "I don't know what this is, really, and I'm sure I've been in a tie before as a player, but for some reason I can't remember that, if it was.

"I don't know how to feel about that, necessarily.

"It's like I told the guys, I was upset we didn't win, but I was also proud of them because of the fact that we put ourselves in position to win the game in overtime.

"We didn't win, but we didn't lose either. All you can ask for is improvement and we improved."

Star Steelers pass-rusher T.J. Watt went down with hip and knee injuries in the third quarter and was unable to return.

He did register a sack on Jared Goff in the play that caused his departure, meaning he has 62 in his career through his first 70 games. 

That is the second-best total ever, behind only Hall of Famer Reggie White (79) and above Derrick Thomas (61) and his brother J.J. (61).

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will undergo tests on the knee injury that saw him leave the field in the 17-0 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Jones is suspected to have suffered an MCL sprain in the closing stages of the third quarter after being tackled by Bobby Wagner, having racked up 86 scrimmage yards in the contest.

The Packers improved to 8-2 with a solid outing against the Seahawks (3-6) but it was a win that came at a cost, with defensive players Whitney Mercilus (biceps) and Rashan Gary (elbow) also going down.

If the initial diagnosis is confirmed at his MRI, Jones would miss time but likely still be able to return before the end of the season. Mercilus and Gary will also be tested on Monday.

"That's a big blow," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said to ESPN of Jones' injury, which he stressed he did not have an update on.

"It's hard to replace a guy like that. Just everything he brings to this football team on a daily basis. Just watching him out at practice, the effort that he plays with. 

"Here's a guy that, he's always the same. He's super consistent in his approach, his work ethic, his attitude, his energy. Yeah, you miss that when somebody's not in the lineup. 

"But other guys are going to have to step up, and we're going to have to do a great job as a staff of making sure that we supplement that in a different area, whatever that may be, whether it's throwing the football, and we've got to find ways to still produce without him."

A.J. Dillon, who impressed with 128 yards and two touchdowns to make the difference against Seattle, will be set for an increased role in Jones' absence.

The Packers welcomed back quarterback Aaron Rodgers from his coronavirus absence in the shutout win.

They are tied with the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans for the best record in the NFL going into the Week 11 divisional game at the Minnesota Vikings.

Patrick Mahomes believes the Kansas City Chiefs have their "swag back" after he inspired a 41-14 win at the Las Vegas Raiders with one of the most devastating performances of his career.

Mahomes himself has been deemed to be in the midst of the first major slump of his NFL career, with the Chiefs' inability to light up the scoreboard being blamed on him by many.

Ahead of the meeting with the Raiders, the Chiefs were only ranked 15th for scoring offense at 24.6 points per game, a decrease from sixth and 29.6 last season.

Similarly, Mahomes was on 10 interceptions and 17 sacks prior to Sunday, while his seven yards per throw was a career-low record, but there appeared to be an awakening in Las Vegas.

Mahomes threw for 406 of Kansas City's 516 total yards, while the Raiders managed just 299 in total as they went one of nine on third-down conversions.

Sunday was the second time Mahomes has thrown for 400-plus yards with five or more touchdowns and no interceptions in a game. According to Stats Perform, he is the only quarterback in NFL history to have two such games in his career.

Earlier in the week, the re-circulation of a viral video from 2014 made it to the Chiefs' locker room – in the clip, a high school player says: "I think I've got my swagger back!"

"That was something that was kind of my motto this week," Mahomes said after leading the Raiders demolition, with the Chiefs now 6-4.

"I think the whole team got that swag back. We're going to try to keep that thing rolling."

Nevertheless, Mahomes insists he never doubted the Chiefs would find their groove again.

"We've done [this] before. We've done it these last few seasons, we were doing at the beginning of this season," he continued.

"We were moving the ball and making a lot of stuff happen. We were just turning the ball over. Then we kind of went through a little spell where we weren't making these drives and we were still finding ways to win.

"I knew that we're going to click back into it."

Chiefs coach Andy Reid had a similar line of thought regarding Mahomes himself.

While in the past couple of years he may not have been hitting the heights that saw him become only the second QB in NFL history to throw 50 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards in a single season back in 2018, Mahomes still led the Chiefs to consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

"It's going to happen," Reid said of Mahomes' apparent slump. "There's going to be a little something that doesn't go your way, and it's important you power through it, stay confident and keep firing.

"That's how he's wired, and you knew he was going to get through the ups and downs just by the way he handles himself."

After turning in one of the worst performances of his NFL career, Russell Wilson insisted he did not return too quickly from his finger injury. 

Wilson completed just 20 of 40 passes for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times as the Seattle Seahawks fell 17-0 at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. 

The 32-year-old had missed the previous three games with an injury to the middle finger on this throwing hand that required surgery. 

Wilson's 39.7 passer rating Sunday was the fourth-worst of his 166 career regular-season and playoff games, and Seattle (3-6) were shut out for the first time ever with Wilson at quarterback.

Despite those ugly numbers, both Wilson and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said they did not believe the quarterback's finger was a factor. 

"My finger felt fine," Wilson told reporters. "I know myself really well. I know what I can and can’t do. I felt I could do everything tonight. I had some runs.

"The first third down, for example. If I was second-guessing my hand, I wouldn’t go for that, you know, getting hit like that. So I felt confident in my hand. I felt confident in all the hard work.

"I didn’t play timid, at all ... It was just a bad game. Those two plays, I mean, that really were the defining moments in the game." 

The two plays in question were a pair of second-half interceptions nabbed by Packers defenders in their own end zone, back-breakers for the Seahawks' hopes of winning at Lambeau Field for the first time since 1999. 

While Seattle's defence negated the first of those mistakes by returning the favour with an interception of Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, the Packers took advantage of the second pick by marching downfield for the touchdown that sealed the win. 

The Seahawks did take some measures to protect Wilson, who did not take any snaps under center, working solely from the shotgun formation to minimise the impact on his finger, but they also were up against one of the hottest defences in the NFL. 

Facing Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray the last three games, the Packers have allowed just 34 points. 

That track record was no consolation to Wilson, who blamed himself for critical errors Sunday but vowed to bounce back. 

"Unfortunately, it comes on my shoulders because I didn’t fulfil those two big plays in those two moments. I don’t want to shy away from it," Wilson said. "When you play this position at the highest, highest level there’s going to be some stuff you have to weigh on your shoulders.

“What I do know is, I’ll be better. I’ll be better. I always believe in myself. My confidence never wavers. It’s not going to waver now. I will be back."

When the Kansas City Chiefs have won this season, it has often been ugly, the defending AFC champions finding a way to eke out a victory even if they did not play their best. 

That was not the case on Sunday, as the Chiefs went to Las Vegas and rolled over their division rivals the Raiders 41-14 behind five touchdown passes by Patrick Mahomes. 

It was the third consecutive win for the Chiefs (6-4), who kept pace in the impossibly tight AFC West, where all four teams now stand between 6-4 and 5-5. 

After a pair of short Mahomes touchdown passes to Tyreek Hill helped give Kansas City a 17-7 half-time lead, Derek Carr needed less than three minutes to bring the Raiders (5-4) back within a field goal as he hit Bryan Edwards for a 37-yard score early in the third quarter. 

That was the last highlight of the evening for Las Vegas, though, as the Chiefs reeled off 24 unanswered points to close the game with Mahomes finding the end zone three more times. 

Mahomes threw for 406 of Kansas City's 516 total yards, while the Raiders managed just 299 in total as they went one of nine on third-down conversions. 

It was the third time Mahomes has compiled at least 400 passing yards and five passing touchdowns in a game, tying an NFL record shared by Hall of Famers Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Joe Montana. 

Sunday was also the second time Mahomes has thrown for 400-plus yards with five or more touchdowns and no interceptions in a game. According to Stats Perform, he is the only quarterback in NFL history to have two such games in his career.

Kansas City had a pair of receivers top the century mark, as Darrel Williams caught nine passes for 101 yards and Travis Kelce had 119 yards on nine receptions. 

After an emotionally charged couple of weeks, Aaron Rodgers finally had a release on Sunday as he walked off the field following the Green Bay Packers' 17-0 shutout of the Seattle Seahawks. 

Rodgers missed the Packers' loss at the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9 after testing positive for COVID-19 and has been at the centre of a public debate ever since. 

Though he was far from his best after missing two weeks of practice, reigning NFL MVP Rodgers was grateful just to be back in his comfort zone at Lambeau Field as he led the Packers (8-2) to another victory. 

"Good to be back with the guys, good to be back at home, good to be on the field, really," Rodgers told reporters via videoconference. 

"The most emotions from the whole night was probably walking off the field after the game. It definitely got me a little misty."

Asked why he thought he felt that way, Rodgers responded: "I don't take these things for granted, walking off the field as a winner." 

Rodgers completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards in his return, but the Packers' only touchdowns came on fourth-quarter runs by AJ Dillon. 

On a night that saw his counterpart Russell Wilson become the latest star quarterback swallowed up by the Green Bay defence, Rodgers threw a key interception in the end zone late in the third quarter but otherwise avoided major mistakes. 

"I felt pretty good for the most part," Rodgers said. "I feel like I played fairly solid. Obviously I had the one bad decision in the red zone and probably missed a couple of throws."

Rodgers did acknowledge afterward that he felt a bit like "Anchorman" character Ron Burgundy, merely repeating what Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur said via his headset to the team in huddles because he did not have a feel for the flow of the game after missing so much practice. 

The 37-year-old quarterback also told reporters after the game that he was tired – "It's been a long 10 days" – and LaFleur echoed that sentiment about the team as a whole. 

"I think our team is tired, to be honest with you," LaFleur said. "It definitely felt like you could feel the energy was maybe a little bit off." 

The good news for the Packers is their defence is showing no signs of fatigue. Facing Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray the last three games, the Packers have allowed just 34 points. 

"It's so important to be able to win games in different fashions in this league," LaFleur said, "and I thought our defence really carried the night."

The Carolina Panthers had been listless through the middle of the NFL season, losing five of their last six games entering Sunday's contest and lacking an identity on offence under quarterback Sam Darnold. 

Carolina's move to bring back franchise icon Cam Newton on Thursday electrified the fan base, with children all over Charlotte pulling old Newton jerseys out of their closets to wear to school on Friday. 

Once Newton stepped on the field against a one-loss Arizona Cardinals team, the feel-good story got even better, as he generated touchdowns on his first two snaps of the game and inspired the Panthers to a 34-10 rout.

After running the ball in from two yards out for a score on his first play of the season, Newton ripped his helmet off and screamed "I'm back!" at the television cameras.  

The Panthers could not have been happier, as they got back to .500 at 5-5 and steadied themselves in the NFC playoff picture, where they currently sit seventh. 

"The energy was crazy today," said Panthers linebacker – and former Cardinal – Haason Reddick. "It was on a different level." 

Newton was at the center of it, but the former MVP tried in his inimitable way to deflect credit after the game. 

"I'll put it like this: This time last week, I was eating a bowl of cereal. You feel me?" Newton told reporters. 

"So, that just puts things into perspective. After going to church, being with my children and really not even watching football; it was just about maximising the person I need to be and so for that it was just all a rush of emotions.

"But yet I know a lot of people in the media, the titles of the newspapers, the blogs, they want to make it about me and it's not about me and I keep saying this. This was an impeccable team win."

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule echoed the latter sentiment, praising quarterback P.J. Walker for his performance but declining to commit to giving him another start next week. 

"That was fun today," Rhule said. "Let's let it be fun." 

Considering the Panthers return home next week to host the Washington Football Team, led by long-time Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Bank of America Stadium would be at a fever pitch if Newton did indeed get the start after a full week of practice. 

The 32-year-old Newton played only eight snaps in Arizona but was the center of attention before, during and after the game. 

Asked how much of the Panthers' playbook he had a chance to learn in the handful of days since he signed, Newton replied, "Two touchdowns' worth." 

It took Aaron Rodgers a while to find his rhythm as he returned on Sunday, but the Green Bay Packers' defence eased the way for him in a 17-0 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. 

Rodgers missed the Packers' Week 9 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19 and sat out practice all this week before being cleared to play on Saturday.

That rust was evident in his comeback as the Packers (8-2) could not find the end zone until AJ Dillon rushed for the first of his two fourth-quarter touchdowns with 10:37 to play in the game. 

Rodgers ended up completing 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards with an interception, but the good news for Green Bay was that Seahawks star Russell Wilson was even less effective in his own return.

Seattle (3-6) were shut out for the first time ever with Wilson at quarterback after he went just 20-of-40 passing for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times.

Wilson's 39.7 passer rating was the fourth-worst of his 166 career regular-season and playoff games following his comeback from finger surgery.

 

Panthers pound Cardinals in Newton's return

Just three days after signing with his former team, Cam Newton made an immediate impact for the Carolina Panthers as they handed the Arizona Cardinals just their second loss of the season with a 34-10 defeat.

Carolina drove deep into Arizona territory on their first two possessions of the game and sent Newton in to replace starter P.J. Walker at quarterback, with the Panthers favourite running for and passing for touchdowns on his first two snaps. 

Those scores put Carolina (5-5) on the path to a 23-0 half-time lead and Arizona (8-2) could not find a way back with Kyler Murray still absent due to an ankle injury. While his backup Colt McCoy played well in a Week 9 victory, he completed just 11 of 20 passes for 107 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against Carolina. 

Walker was 22-of-29 passing for 167 yards with an interception for Carolina, while Christian McCaffrey led all players with 95 rushing yards and 66 receiving yards. 

Expectations have changed around Tampa Bay in the wake of last season's Super Bowl title, and the Buccaneers wasted no words after a stunning loss to the Washington Football Team on Sunday. 

Washington intercepted Tom Brady on successive possessions in the opening quarter and the Bucs never got on track as they slumped to a 29-19 defeat against a team that entered the game with a 2-6 record. 

Brady was in no mood to dissect the reasons behind Tampa Bay's loss, as he took only three questions from the media following the game before starting to walk out of the press conference, then hanging on to provide clipped answers to a few more queries after reporters asked him to stay. 

"We just never really played on our terms, played from behind the whole game and they played a good game. They had a good plan," Brady said. 

"Not a great day of football for us. It doesn't matter who you play. If we have a bunch of self-inflicted errors, too, we've got to eliminate those and see if we can go out and execute the plays that are there."

Asked what happened on the two interceptions early in the game, Brady responded only: "We started with the ball. They came away with it."

Brady entered the game averaging 331.3 passing yards per game but finished with just 220 against a Washington team that entered Sunday allowing an NFL-worst 286.8 yards per game through the air. 

Asked how he was feeling, Brady said quietly, "I like to win." 

The Buccaneers (6-3) were particularly frustrated with their performance given they were coming off a bye week following a loss to the New Orleans Saints. 

Head coach Bruce Arians' hopes of the team refocusing after the break were dashed immediately, as the Bucs were flagged for a false start on the first play of the game. 

"The stupidity has to go away if we're going to go anywhere," Arians said. "It has nothing to do with ability. It's all about execution and being a smart football team. We're a very dumb football team, and that's a reflection on coaches.

"It's very disappointing. It's very alarming to watch the energy we practice with, and show the lack of execution and energy that it takes to win in this league on Sunday. We've got a lot of soul-searching to do."

Defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a stunning second successive defeat as they were upset by the Washington Football Team in Week 10.

Despite injury issues at wide receiver and cornerback, normal service was expected to be resumed when the Buccaneers made the trip to FedEx Field having lost to the New Orleans Saints prior to last week's bye.

But a rematch from last season's Wild Card Round instead went the way of a Washington team who entered the week with just two wins to their name.

Taylor Heinicke, whose performance in that playoff matchup catapulted him to cult hero status, led a key game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to close out a 29-19 victory for Washington, who had earlier lost star defensive end Chase Young to what is believed to be a torn ACL, after the Buccaneers had pulled within one score.

Tom Brady was intercepted twice in the Bucs' first three offensive series, with Washington turning that second turnover into a touchdown as Heinicke connected with DeAndre Carter for a 20-yard touchdown pass to put the hosts 13-0 up following a pair of early field goals.

The Bucs' offense could only manage a pair of field goals, sandwiched by another for Washington from Joey Slye, in response before half-time and Tampa Bay continued to struggle to take advantage of what has been a porous defense thereafter even minus the presence of stud pass rusher Young.

They finally knocked down the door in the third quarter with a four-play, 43-yard drive that ended with Brady finding tight end Cameron Brate for the score, only for Washington to reply in kind as Antonio Gibson was pushed over the goal-line by a scrum of team-mates.

A Dax Milne fumble was followed by a 40-yard strike from Brady to Mike Evans to fray Washington nerves with over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, Ryan Succop missed the critical extra point to leave Tampa Bay four points adrift, before Heinicke led a clutch clock-killing drive that was capped with Gibson's second touchdown to drop the Bucs to 6-3 and deal their hopes of claiming the number one seed in the NFC a substantial blow.

Titans hold off Saints

The 8-2 Tennessee Titans remain the frontrunner for the top seed in the AFC, having stretched their extremely impressive winning streak to six games by edging the New Orleans Saints 23-21.

Ryan Tannehill threw for 213 yards and a touchdown while running for another, wideout Marcus Johnson emerging with a 100-yard game a day after Julio Jones was placed on injured reserve by Tennessee. The Saints pulled within two late in the fourth quarter when Trevor Siemian hit Marquez Callaway for a 15-yard touchdown, but both the two-point conversion and the subsequent onside kick came up short for New Orleans.

While the Saints lost for the second straight week, the Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a shock loss with a 43-3 rout of the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills crushed the New York Jets 45-17 a week on from an upset in Jacksonville.

Lions finally don't lose, but don't win

The Detroit Lions' 2021 season has been one defined by gut-wrenching defeats.

They avoided such a fate on this week, but missed a golden opportunity to claim their first win since last December in a 16-16 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers, missing starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger due to coronavirus.

Ryan Santoso had a 48-yard field goal to win the game for the Lions in overtime after a Diontae Johnson fumble, but saw his kick come up short of the goalposts.

The Steelers appeared to be driving for a game-winning kick in the waning seconds of the extra period, yet Pat Freiermuth's fumble ensured a bizarre game ended level, Pittsburgh failing to take advantage of losses for AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, whose quarterback Baker Mayfield was injured in a crushing 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots.

Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young is feared to have suffered a torn ACL in their clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Young was carted off in the second quarter after suffering an apparent knee injury as Washington defended a short Tom Brady pass to Leonard Fournette.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport subsequently reported that Young is believed to have torn his ACL, an injury that would end the 2020 second overall pick's season.

Young was named Defensive Rookie of the Year for his performances last season, which saw him record 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.

His efforts helped Washington win the NFC East and advance to the Wild Card round of the playoffs, where they lost to the Buccaneers.

Despite the injury to Young, Washington led 16-6 at half-time at FedEx Field.

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