It is that point in the N.F.L. season when each week’s winners and losers start to become solidly predictable. Kansas City will beat Cleveland, and Carolina will not be the reason Tampa Bay gets a Week 9 win.
But it is what happens before the final score locks in that keeps things interesting: Ben Roethlisberger took a big hit in the fourth quarter, and it was suddenly a question whether the Steelers could hang on to beat Baltimore. Sam Darnold threw four interceptions against Miami, but somehow, the Jets still had a chance to win.
And then there was this, in Seattle:
Here is what happened in Week 9:
New Orleans Saints 45, Los Angeles Rams 35
Michael Thomas caught a late 72-yard touchdown reception and then celebrated with a cellphone in a throwback to another famous New Orleans play, and the streaking Saints handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season with a 45-35 win on Sunday.
Drew Brees passed for 346 yards and four touchdowns in New Orleans’ seventh straight win, and Thomas finished with a club-record 211 yards receiving. But what happened after their last connection of the day really stole the show in a wild shootout between two of the N.F.L.’s best offenses.
Thomas’s long touchdown came on a pivotal third-down play with about four minutes to go, when the Rams seemed to expect the Saints to run a play closer to the first-down marker. Thomas ran free behind Marcus Peters, caught Brees’s long throw virtually in stride and ran straight to the goal post, where he got out an old-school flip phone — reminiscent of Joe Horn’s Sunday night touchdown celebration in 2003.
Like Horn, Thomas was penalized, but the Rams never threatened after that. Thomas, who caught 12 passes, eclipsed Wes Chandler’s club record of 205 yards receiving against Atlanta in 1979.
New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara scored three times, twice on runs and once on a 16-yard catch-and-run — all in the first half.
Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Baltimore Ravens 16
Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, ran for a score and put up an unexpected left-footed punt to help the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens, 23-16.
James Conner rushed for 107 yards and caught a touchdown pass for the Steelers (5-2-1), who have won four in a row since falling to the Ravens at home on Sept. 30.
Roethlisberger went 28 for 47 for 270 yards. The 36-year-old Roethlisberger and missed only one play after being flattened from behind during a sprint from the pocket with just over 13 minutes left.
The Ravens (4-5) scored only one touchdown in their third straight defeat, managing two field goals in the first half while falling behind by 14-6. Baltimore had converted 72.4 percent of its red zone opportunities into touchdowns — the fourth-best percentage in the N.F.L. — but on Sunday it was a struggle.
“To hold those guys to field goals in the first half when they were down there was significant,” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said.
Kansas City Chiefs 37, Cleveland Browns 21
Patrick Mahomes is making this look way too easy.
Mahomes passed for 375 yards, threw three touchdown passes — two to Travis Kelce — and continued the best start by an N.F.L. quarterback in 68 years as Kansas City’s impossible-to-handle offense kept rolling with a 37-21 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland (2-6-1) lost its first game since Coach Hue Jackson’s firing.
The Cleveland native Kareem Hunt had two scoring runs and one receiving for the Chiefs (8-1), who came in averaging 36.3 points with an offense overloaded with weapons for Mahomes.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Mahomes, 23. “It makes my job a lot easier knowing that I can trust these guys are going to be in the right spot. They’re taking care of their business. They’re running the routes and making route adjustments on the fly just because they’ve looked at the film and know how to do those things.”
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett said preparing for the Chiefs was not like playing them.
“Their offense has a nice tempo and he gets the ball out of his hand pretty quick, so it’s hard to stop,” Garrett said of Mahomes. “He spreads the ball around really well and everybody is getting touches. You don’t know who it’s going to go to next.”
Carolina Panthers 42, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28
Cam Newton completed 19 of 25 passes for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns, Christian McCaffrey racked up 157 yards from scrimmage and scored twice and the Carolina Panthers held on to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 42-28, after building an early lead.
Newton threw touchdown passes of 19 yards to Curtis Samuel and 17 yards to Greg Olsen, the seventh straight game he has thrown for at least two touchdowns. McCaffrey had 17 carries for 79 yards and five catches for 78 yards and turned in the play of the game when he leapt over a defender after a reception in the flat and kept going, turning it into a 32-yard gain.
The Panthers (6-2) scored touchdowns on five straight possessions during the first half to build a commanding 35-7 lead before the Buccaneers battled back to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.
But the return of “Fitzmagic” wasn’t enough. He was picked off late in the fourth quarter by the rookie cornerback Donte Jackson, sealing the win for Carolina.
Los Angeles Chargers 25, Seattle Seahawks 17
Rivers threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns, Melvin Gordon added 113 yards rushing and the Chargers won their fifth straight with a 25-17 win over the Seahawks on Sunday.
Wilson managed to make the final minutes nervous for Los Angeles.
Seattle got the ball with 1:24 left at its own 22, down one score. After two completions and a roughing-the-passer penalty on Melvin Ingram, the Seahawks were at the Chargers 44 with 50 seconds left. Wilson scrambled for 16 yards to the Chargers 28 and, after a spike, Seattle had 30 seconds left.
Seattle (4-4) got a break when Michael Davis was called for pass interference in the end zone on the final play of regulation against Tyler Lockett, putting the ball at the 1 for an untimed down. Seattle’s J.R. Sweezy was called for false start backing the play up to the 6, and Wilson’s final attempt for David Moore in the back of the end zone was partially tipped by Jahleel Addae and fell incomplete.
Rivers became the fourth quarterback in league history to start 200 straight games, joining Brett Favre, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning.
Miami Dolphins 13, Jets 6
The rookie linebacker Jerome Baker intercepted Sam Darnold and scored the only touchdown on a 25-yard return with 11 minutes left, as a resilient defense helped the Miami Dolphins beat the Jets, 13-6.
Darnold threw four interceptions and took four sacks, and the Jets went 2 for 15 on third and fourth down.
The hobbled Dolphins endured another wave of injuries and the mysterious departure of safety Reshad Jones, who pulled himself out of the game. But their defense was much improved after three consecutive poor games.
“We never panicked; we knew what our defense was capable of,” Baker said. “When we are executing and do our job and play together, we’re one of the best defenses out there.”
The quality of the opposition helped the defense dominate; Miami won with only seven first downs.
Darnold tried to rally his sputtering team from a 6-3 deficit, but after a punt he took a high snap and made an ill-advised throw to tight end Eric Tomlinson. Baker stepped in front for his first career interception and scored untouched.
“I didn’t throw it with confidence,” Darnold said. “I just alligator-armed it — threw it a little bit short.”
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