CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, and the Panthers earned a franchise-record eighth straight regular-season victory.
Newton threw touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. and “Superman” leaped over the pile for another score as the Panthers (9-3) outgained the Buccaneers 426-206.
The Carolina victory sets up a huge showdown next Sunday night with New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line.
Newton ran for 68 yards and overcame two interceptions. The third-year quarterback has thrown for 13 touchdown passes and run for five scores during the Panthers’ current win streak.
Carolina’s defense came in allowing the fewest points in the league and flexed its muscles again, forcing two turnovers and sacking rookie Mike Glennon four times to snap a three-game winning streak for Tampa Bay (3-9). Glennon had thrown a touchdown pass in an NFL record eight straight games to start his career.
BENGALS 17, CHARGERS 10
SAN DIEGO — Andy Dalton threw a go-ahead, 21-yard touchdown pass to wide-open A.J. Green late in the third quarter and the AFC North-leading Bengals (8-4), coming off their bye, kept a two-game lead over Baltimore.
San Diego (5-7) lost the momentum it gained with a thrilling comeback win at Kansas City a week earlier and saw its playoff hopes dwindle after its fourth loss in five games.
With the score tied at 7, the Bengals got the ball after Dre Kirkpatrick ripped it away from tight end Antonio Gates after a reception at the Cincinnati 25, the Chargers’ third turnover.
Ten plays later, Green split the defense for an easy touchdown, with safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist only able to watch.
EAGLES 24, CARDINALS 21
PHILADELPHIA — Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and the Eagles held on. Zach Ertz had two TD catches, LeSean McCoy ran for 79 yards and the Eagles (7-5) won their fourth straight to remain tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East.
Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and three TD passes, but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Cardinals (7-5) had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Foles picked up where he left off in November, when he was the NFC’s Player of the Month and tied an NFL record with seven TDs in a game. Foles finished 21 of 34 for 237 yards against a defense ranked eighth.
Foles set a team record for most passes without an interception (233), breaking Michael Vick’s mark of 224 set in 2010. He also moved within one TD pass of tying Peyton Manning’s mark of 20 and zero interceptions to start a season.
PATRIOTS 34, TEXANS 31
HOUSTON — Tom Brady threw for 371 yards and two scores, and Stephen Gostkowski made two long field goals in the fourth quarter.
The Texans’ franchise-record skid reached 10 games. Gary Kubiak coached from the sideline for the first time since suffering a mini-stroke Nov. 3. He missed one game before working the last two games from the booth.
New England overcame a 24-point first-half deficit last week to beat the Broncos 34-31 in overtime. The Patriots (9-3) trailed by 10 at halftime in this one and the lead changed five times in a wild second half. New England tied it with a 53-yard field goal and took a 34-31 lead with another one from 53 with about three minutes left.
Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns for the Texans (2-10), who haven’t won since Sept. 15. It was the first 100-yard rushing game since 2011 for Tate, who has been slowed since Oct. 20 with four broken ribs.
The victory ended a three-game road skid for the Patriots, who have won 16 of their last 17 December games.
GIANTS 24, REDSKINS 17
LANDOVER, Md. — Eli Manning completed 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards, and Justin Tuck had four sacks to help shut down Robert Griffin III in the second half, leading New York over Washington.
Andre Brown had a pair of touchdown runs, including a 1-yarder early in the fourth quarter that put the Giants ahead for good.
Griffin was 16 for 17 at halftime, but he went 8 for 15 in the second half, and the Redskins managed only 96 total yards after halftime.
The win keeps the Giants (5-7) two games behind NFC East leaders Dallas and Philadelphia with four to play, while the Redskins (3-9) were mathematically eliminated from the postseason for the 17th time in 21 years.
COLTS 22, TITANS 14
INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri, the best clutch kicker in NFL history, tied his career high with five field goals, including a 49-yarder to give the Colts the lead for good late in the third quarter.
Surprise starter Donald Brown scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left, giving Indianapolis (8-4) a three-game lead in the AFC South with four to play. It owns the first tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep of the Titans (5-7).
Vinatieri, who will be 41 later this month, bailed out the Colts, also tying his career high for field goals in a half (four) and equaling Jason Elam’s NFL record for 100-point seasons (16).
Without him, the Colts might be lamenting their first back-to-back losses since December 2011. Instead, they were celebrating a renaissance of sorts. The league’s oldest kicker also made field goals of 47, 48, 45 and 37 yards, and the Colts’ defense, which was so good early in the season, forced four turnovers on a day the offense struggled yet again.
VIKINGS 23, BEARS 20, OT
MINNEAPOLIS — Blair Walsh’s 34-yard field goal with 1:43 left in overtime gave the Vikings the victory after both teams missed kicks in the extra period.
Adrian Peterson rushed 35 times for 211 yards for the Vikings (3-8-1), who tied Green Bay the previous week. Peterson had two 11-yard runs on the final drive to get well within range for Walsh, who missed a 57-yard try earlier in overtime.
Walsh had to kick that one because Rhett Ellison was called for a 15-yard face-mask penalty to wipe out a 39-yard make by Walsh that would’ve ended the game.
The Bears (6-6) then reached the 29-yard line, but coach Marc Trestman called for a field goal on second-and-7. Robbie Gould’s 47-yarder went wide right.
49ERS 23, RAMS 13
SAN FRANCISCO — Anquan Boldin caught nine passes from Colin Kaepernick, and Michael Crabtree made his long-awaited season debut six months after Achilles tendon surgery. Kaepernick threw for 275 yards and Frank Gore ran for a 3-yard touchdown as the reigning NFC champion Niners (8-4) boosted their position in the playoff picture. Crabtree had a 60-yard catch, while Vernon Davis hurdled into the end zone on a 17-yard reception.
With Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in the house, Boldin made six of his receptions in the first half on the way to his second-most productive game of the year behind his 13-catch performance in the opener against Green Bay.
Phil Dawson kicked three field goals, and San Francisco’s swarming defense rattled Kellen Clemens and the Rams (5-7) all day.
DOLPHINS 23, JETS 3
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, leading Miami past the listless Jets to keep the Dolphins in the playoff mix.
The Dolphins (6-6) played with more of a sense of urgency while sending the Jets (5-7) to their third straight loss. New York also has a quarterback controversy on its hands as Geno Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms after a dismal first half.
Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace had touchdown receptions for Miami, while Tannehill finished 28 for 43 with an interception.
Smith was 4 for 10 for 29 yards with an interception and an 8.3 quarterback rating before being replaced by Simms, who went 9 for 18 for 79 yards and an interception as New York’s postseason hopes were severely damaged.
FALCONS 34, BILLS 31
TORONTO — Matt Bryant hit a 36-yard field goal 3 minutes into overtime in Buffalo’s annual “home” game in Toronto.
Falcons safety William Moore set up the decisive score in a back-and-fourth game by forcing a fumble on Buffalo’s second play from scrimmage. He punched the ball out of the arms of Bills tight end Scott Chandler.
Cornerback Robert McClain also forced a fumble on the Bills’ final possession of regulation, when he knocked the ball out of the hands of receiver Stevie Johnson at the Falcons 30 with 20 seconds remaining.
Steven Jackson scored twice, including the tying 1-yard plunge with 1:28 left for the Falcons (3-9), who snapped a five-game skid and won for the first time in six road games this season.
Fred Jackson scored twice for Buffalo (4-8).
JAGUARS 32, BROWNS 28
CLEVELAND — Cecil Shorts caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 40 seconds left, rallying the Jaguars. On third-and-9, Henne lofted a perfect pass to the left corner for Shorts, who had beaten cornerback Joe Haden to get open. Shorts got both feet down in the end zone before tumbling out of bounds. It was a dream moment for Shorts, who grew up in Cleveland.
Henne drove the Jaguars (3-9) 80 yards in nine plays for the winning TD.
The Browns (4-8) had taken a 28-25 lead on Brandon Weeden’s 95-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon with 3:55 remaining. Gordon returned from a head injury and finished with 10 catches for a team record 261 yards. Gordon is the first player in NFL history to have consecutive 200-yard games. He had 237 in a loss last week against Pittsburgh.