Steelers win blows open AFC North race

The Pittsburgh Steelers came on strong in the fourth quarter on Sunday night for a 42-21 NFL triumph over Cincinnati that blew open the AFC North division race.

Le’Veon Bell ran for the go-ahead touchdown and Ben Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 94-yard score in the final period as the Steelers downed the division-leading Bengals.

Bell finished with 26 carries for 185 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals were outscored 25-0 in the fourth quarter and saw their three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 8-4-1.

They are still clinging to the lead in the division, with the Steelers and Baltimore right behind them on 8-5, the Ravens improving with a 28-13 victory over Miami.

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will face off in their regular-season finale on December 28.

“This is the part of the year where things get a little tight, they get more exciting,” Bell said. “Everybody in the locker room is excited about this last couple of weeks.”

The New England Patriots continued their push for the top seed in the American Football Conference with a 23-14 victory at San Diego.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for 317 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, improving to 6-0 against Philip Rivers’ Chargers.

Julian Edelman had eight catches, including a fourth-quarter touchdown that essentially sealed the victory. Rob Gronkowski also caught a TD pass for New England.

Denver, also vying for the top seed in the conference, defeated Buffalo 24-17 even though Peyton Manning failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in more than four years.

Manning threw two interceptions and finished with a season-low in passing yards of 173, his streak of throwing at least one scoring pass ending at 51 games — one shy of matching Brady for the second-longest in NFL history.

“It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t exactly perfect. But it’s a ‘W,’” Broncos head coach John Fox said.

Indianapolis inched closer to the AFC South division title as quarterback Andrew Luck’s one-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton with 32 seconds left to play lifted the Colts to a 25-24 victory over Cleveland.

The Colts notched their third straight win as they dealt a heartbreaking defeat to the Browns, who squandered a two-touchdown lead.

Super Bowl champions Seattle were dominant in a 24-14 victory at Philadelphia, where Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson accounted for three touchdowns — including a 15-yard scoring pass to Marshawn Lynch.

The Seahawks, who improved to 9-4, held the Eagles to just 139 offensive yards and remained one game behind Arizona in the NFC West after the Cardinals’ 17-14 victory over Kansas City.

Carolina swept into New Orleans and embarrassed the Saints 41-10.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 235 yards and a touchdown, becoming the fourth quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 55,000 yards, although the milestone was little consolation.

Panthers tight end Brandon Williams was ejected from the game for throwing a punch during a scrum in the end zone that followed Newton’s two-yard scoring run.

Oakland sprung a surprise as Derek Carr made three touchdown passes to lead the lowly Raiders to a 24-13 victory over San Francisco that saw the 49ers’ playoff hopes dwindle further with their second straight defeat.

In other games, Detroit pummeled Tampa Bay 34-17, Houston stayed in the playoff hunt with a 27-13 victory over hapless Jacksonville, Minnesota beat the New York Jets 30-24 in overtime and the New York Giants snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 36-7 victory over Tennessee.

St Louis thrashed Washington 24-0, the Rams notching their second straight shut-out as the Redskins endured a fifth straight defeat.

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