The Carolina Panthers upset the San Francisco 49ers in the standout result of Week Ten of the NFL, with Cam Newton and co’s 10-9 victory marking their fifth win in succession, the Panthers best run of results in eight years.
Drayton Florence’s interception in the final minute sealed Carolina’s success, snapping the 49ers’ five-game winning streak. It was a miserable day for San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was also sacked a career-high six times in addition to throwing the late pick.
Veteran placekicker Phil Dawson struck three times for the home side in the first-half, opening up a 9-0 lead with field goal efforts of 53, 43, and 25 yards.
DeAngelo Williams broke two tackles for a 27-yard touchdown run late in the first half that pulled Carolina within two. Graham Gano then kicked a 53-yard field goal with 10:05 remaining to seal victory. Gano also missed from 48 yards in a scoreless third quarter.
Kaepernick, who was restricted to just 91 passing yards and 16 rushing yards on the day, was shut down twice by the Panthers swarming defence, as he looked to launch last-ditch match saving drives.
San Francisco got the ball with 5:25 left at its 1-yard line, then again with 1:02 to go, but the hosts inevitably struggled without tight end Vernon Davis – who was lost to an early concussion. The 49ers’ rookie safety Eric Reid was also forced off with a similar injury.
Newton was also not at his most explosive, in a game where the defences were comfortably on top for much of the afternoon, but his 16 completions for 169 yards, combined with the efforts of the ever-reliable Steve Smith – 63 yards from six receptions – gave his side a valuable outlet.
The Panthers and the 49ers are now tied at a win-loss record of 6:3 and both sit second in their respective divisions, the former one win behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South, and the latter three wins behind the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West with a game in hand.
In a second match pitching the NFC South against the NFC West, the Seahawks brushed aside the Atlanta Falcons 33-10 to move to 9-1 and avenge last season’s divisional playoff round defeat.
New Orleans, coming off the back of a surprise loss to the New York Jets, were back to their devastating best last weekend as they thrashed the Dallas Cowboys 49-17. Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 34 of his 41 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns, while running back Mark Ingram chalked up a career-high 145 yards rushing as the visitors defence were made to toil.
The Philadelphia Eagles took advantage of the Cowboy’s defeat and an absent Aaron Rodgers to defeat the Green Bay Packers 27-13 and join Dallas at the top of the NFC East on a 5-5 record. The result was an inevitable one as the injury-riddled Packers lost stand-in quarterback Seneca Wallace to a season ending groin injury, leaving debutant Scott Tolzien to battle against the in-form Nick Foles.
Foles threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns while Tolzien, who did manage 280 passing yards and a score, also threw two crucial interceptions. The league’s leading rusher – LeSean McCoy – added another 155 yards to his tally as Philadelphia emerged comfortable victors.
Elsewhere, both the Jacksonville Jaguars (29-27 winners over the Tennessee Titans) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22-19 victors against the Miami Dolphins) belatedly managed their first wins of the season, moving to records of 1-8. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings claimed only their second success of the year, as the defeated the Washington Redskins 34-27.
Last year’s AFC South winners, the Houston Texans, are now on the biggest losing streak in the NFL, having lost seven matches in succession after starting the year 2-0. They came out on the wrong side of a 27-24 scoreline for the second week running, as the Arizona Cardinals moved to 5-4 to keep the pressure on Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West.
The Denver Broncos (8-1) closed the gap at the top of the AFC West to one win ahead of next week’s crunch match with the Kansas City Chiefs (9-0), who will be travelling to Mile High off the back of a bye week. Peyton Manning’s side edged past the San Diego Chargers 28-20, the first time this season the Broncos have failed to score 30 points in a game.
Cincinnati suffered a second successive overtime loss as they went down 20-17 to the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals, who trailed 17-3 at one stage, scored with a hail-mary attempt in the final seconds of regulation before losing out to Justin Tucker’s 46-yard field goal.
The Detroit Lions won the all-NFC North clash against the Chicago Bears to take the outright lead of the division at 6-3. In a tense game that went right down to the wire, the Bears late touchdown narrowed the Lions lead to 21-19, but a failed two-point conversion attempt meant that the visitors claimed a vital victory.
Kellen Clemens led the St. Louis Rams (4-6) to a surprise victory over the Indianapolis Colts. What was more surprising still, was the manner of the Rams success, as the visitors snapped a three game losing streak with a 38-8 thrashing of the AFC South leaders, who fell to 6-3.
Rookie receiver Tavon Austin almost single-handedly ripped Andrew Luck’s side apart, returning a punt 98 yards for a touchdown and catching two further scoring passes. Luck struggled without premier receiver Reggie Wayne, throwing three interceptions.
In the final two games of the weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants both moved to 3-6, as they defeated the Buffalo Bills (23-10) and the Oakland Raiders (24-20) respectively.
Both remain in the playoff hunt thanks to the other results around them, with the Steelers three wins adrift of the Bengals in AFC North, and the Giants two wins behind the Cowboys and the Eagles NFC East.
Full List of Week Ten Results:
Redskins 27 (at the) 34 Vikings, Eagles 27 (at the) 13 Packers, Jaguars 29 (at the) 27 Titans, Bills 10 (at the) 23 Steelers, Raiders 20 (at the) 24 Giants, Rams 38 (at the) 8 Colts, Seahawks 33 (at the) 10 Falcons, Bengals 17 (at the) 20 Ravens, Lions 21 (at the) 19 Bears, Panthers 10 (at the) 9 49ers, Texans 24 (at the) 27 Cardinals, Broncos 28 (at the) 20 Chargers, Cowboys 17 (at the) 49 Saints, Dolphins 19 (at the) 22 Buccaneers, Bye Week – Browns, Chiefs, Patriots & Jets.
Week Eleven Fixtures:
Colts (6:3) at the Titans (4:5), Jets (5:4) at the Bills (3:7), Falcons (2:7) at the Buccaneers (1:8), Lions (6:3) at the Steelers (3:6), Redskins (3:6) at the Eagles (5:5), Cardinals (5:4) at the Jaguars (1:8), Raiders (3:6) at the Texans (2:7), Ravens (4:5) at the Bears (5:4), Browns (4:5) at the Bengals (6:4), Chargers (4:5) at the Dolphins (4:5), Packers (5:4) at the Giants (3:6), Vikings (2:7) at the Seahawks (9:1), 49ers (6:3) at the Saints (7:2), Chiefs (9:0) at the Broncos (8:1), Patriots (7:2) at the Panthers (6:3), Bye Week – Cowboys, Rams.
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