EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With two teams whose seasons have been defined by their play in the fourth quarters, it made sense that hardly anything of note occurred in the first three quarters Sunday night.
The final 15 minutes, though, not only clarified who would win the game but muddied the standings in the NFC East. The Eagles chugged down the field on an 18-play, 80-yard drive that swallowed up 8:51 and then held on to beat the Giants, 17-10, at MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles had allowed leads to slip away in the fourth quarter in five of their six losses, and the Giants had come from behind for five of their wins.
The Giants now are tied with the Cowboys at 6-4 atop the NFC East, with two games remaining against each other. The Eagles, meanwhile, kept their mathematical chances alive at 4-6.
It’s not that the Giants didn’t try to turn in another exciting comeback. Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for a 47-yard completion to the Eagles’ 21 with 1:25 left. But on the next play, Manning was sacked from behind by Jason Babin and fumbled the ball, giving it to the Eagles for a chance to seal the win. LeSean McCoy, who had been quiet, ran 60 yards to the Giants’ 2 to set up the final kneel-downs and run out the clock.
The Eagles took the lead for good on a monstrous drive that included six third-down conversions. The Giants’ defense would hold them for two plays and then not be able to get off the field. The final third-down conversion came when Vince Young hit Riley Cooper in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown and a 17-10 lead with 2:45 remaining.
That seemed to play right into the hands of the Cardiac Giants. Instead, with a chance to tie the score late for the second straight week, the Giants’ offense flatlined.
Bears 31, Chargers 20
CHICAGO — Jay Cutler led the Bears to their fifth straight victory Sunday. It could be his last game with Chicago for a while.
The Chicago Tribune reported later Sunday that Cutler broke his right thumb during a 31-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers and was expected to miss six to eight weeks.
The Bears would not confirm the report. Cutler’s agent, Bus Cook, did not return messages from The Associated Press.
The Tribune reported that Cutler was injured trying to prevent a touchdown on a 64-yard interception return by San Diego’s Antoine Cason in the fourth quarter. Cutler got knocked to the ground by linebacker Donald Butler.
He stayed in the game and wound up with 286 yards passing, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another.
Cutler took longer than usual to come out for his postgame news conference but showed no visible signs of an injury. He and coach Lovie Smith did not mention it.
Losing Cutler clearly would be a huge blow for the Bears. They’ve made a big leap into contention in the NFC after they appeared to be coming apart, and without him, they’ll have to go with backup Caleb Hanie.
The reports about Cutler clearly overshadowed everything else on a day when Chicago (7-3) handed the Chargers (4-6) their fifth straight loss, their longest slide since an 0-5 start in 2003.
49ers 23, Cardinals 7
SAN FRANCISCO — Alex Smith threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns and San Francisco forced five turnovers on a soggy day at Candlestick Park.
Smith tossed scores to Kyle Williams and Vernon Davis on the first two drives of the third quarter to help the 49ers pull away for their eighth straight victory. San Francisco (9-1) can clinch the NFC West with a win at Baltimore on Thursday and a loss by Seattle against Washington next weekend.
Patrick Willis, Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson all intercepted passes by John Skelton. The quarterback for the Cardinals (3-7) lost for the first time in three starts this season in place of the injured Kevin Kolb.
Falcons 23, Titans 17
ATLANTA — Roddy White had seven receptions for a season-high 147 yards and Jonathan Babineaux led an Atlanta defense that held off Tennessee.
The Falcons (6-4) bounced back from an overtime loss to New Orleans, but it wasn’t easy. Jake Locker took over for injured Matt Hasselbeck and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Nate Washington to make a game of it for the Titans (5-5).
Atlanta jumped ahead on Matt Ryan’s 17-yard TD pass to Tony Gonzalez and was up 20-3 in the third quarter after Michael Turner scored on a 4-yard run.
Hasselbeck went out with a sprained elbow and Locker nearly led an improbable comeback. The rookie threw for 140 yards after taking over late in the third quarter.
Cowboys 27, Redskins 24
LANDOVER, Md. — Dan Bailey kicked a 39-yard field goal 9:21 into overtime to give Dallas its third straight win.
The Cowboys rallied after allowing a late fourth-quarter touchdown and improved to 6-4, keeping the pressure on the first-place New York Giants in the NFC East.
The Redskins lost their sixth straight, their longest skid since their 0-7 start in 1998. They sent the game to overtime on Rex Grossman’s 4-yard fade pass to Donte’ Stallworth with 14 seconds remaining in regulation.
Washington’s Graham Gano missed a 52-yard field goal in overtime.
Bailey’s winning kick was set up by Tony Romo’s 26-yard pass to Dez Bryant.
Browns 14, Jaguars 10
CLEVELAND — Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s pass into the end zone on the game’s final play was incomplete, allowing the Browns to escape.
Gabbert rifled a 3-yard pass high over the middle that went off wide receiver Mike Thomas’ outstretched hands, and the Browns (4-6) celebrated a win they nearly gave away.
Colt McCoy shook off an apparent injury and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Josh Cribbs in the fourth to give Cleveland a 14-10 lead. A missed field goal by Browns kicker Phil Dawson with 2:49 left gave the Jaguars (3-7) a final chance and Gabbert nearly pulled off the comeback.
Chris Ogbonnaya rushed for 115 yards and scored on a 1-yard run for Cleveland, ending a TD drought at home that lasted more than 158 minutes.
Packers 35, Bucs 26
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and Green Bay survived a scare to remain unbeaten.
With the Packers leading by two points and trying to fend off a rally by Tampa Bay in the fourth quarter, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for a clinching 40-yard touchdown with 2:55 left in the game — Nelson’s second TD catch of the day.
The Packers ran their record to 10-0, leaving them as the NFL’s lone undefeated team going into a Thanksgiving Day matchup at Detroit.
Josh Freeman threw for 342 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Buccaneers (4-6), who have lost four straight but didn’t back down against one of the NFL’s elite teams.
Raiders 27, Vikings 21
MINNEAPOLIS — Carson Palmer threw for 164 yards and a touchdown and Oakland capitalized on several mistakes by Minnesota.
Michael Bush rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown for the Raiders (6-4).
Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off the field with a neck injury in the fourth quarter. Coach Hue Jackson said Heyward-Bey had total movement in his limbs, and hoped the player would join the team on the trip home and undergo further tests in Oakland.
Heyward-Bey was injured when linebacker E.J. Henderson’s knee inadvertently hit him in the back of the head while he was being tackled.
Adrian Peterson left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle and the Vikings (2-8) weren’t able to complete a fourth-quarter rally. Peterson will have an MRI to make sure there’s no more damage, and he said he hoped to play next Sunday at Atlanta.
Dolphins 35, Bills 8
MIAMI — Miami set up two touchdowns with interceptions, Matt Moore threw for three scores, and the Dolphins’ improbable midseason surge gained momentum.
After losing their first seven games, the Dolphins (3-7) have three consecutive victories for the first time since 2008, winning by a combined score of 86-20. Buffalo (5-5) has been outscored 106-26 while losing three in a row.
To make matters worse for the injury-riddled Bills, they lost NFL rushing leader Fred Jackson in the third quarter when he hurt his leg. Receiver Donald Jones (left ankle) and cornerback Terrence McGee (left leg) were carted off the field in the second period.
For the third game in a row, the Dolphins held the opposition without a touchdown.
Lions 49, Panthers 35
DETROIT — Matthew Stafford’s fifth touchdown pass of the game, a 7-yarder to Brandon Pettigrew with 2:32 left, completed another big rally.
Detroit (7-3) became the first NFL team since at least 1950 to win three games in a season after trailing by at least 17 points, according to STATS, LLC. Carolina (2-8) led 24-7 in the second quarter.
The Panthers tied it at 35 with 4:59 left on Cam Newton’s 6-yard run and 2-point conversion pass to Steve Smith.
Stafford started the game-winning drive with a 30-yard pass to Calvin Johnson and capped it by converting a third down with his TD pass to Pettigrew in the end zone.
Newton, who threw one TD pass and ran for two others, was intercepted four times.
Seahawks 24, Rams 7
ST. LOUIS — Sidney Rice caught a touchdown pass, drew a pass interference that led to a field goal for Seattle.
Chris Clemons had three of Seattle’s five sacks on Sam Bradford, and he also forced the Rams quarterback to fumble twice, both leading to touchdowns.
Marshawn Lynch scored for the fourth straight week, although he missed on a third straight 100-yard game, finishing with 88 yards. The Rams (2-8) totaled 185 yards.
The Seahawks (4-6) won on consecutive weeks for the first time, following up on an upset over Baltimore, and have won 12 of 13 in the series. The game featured 19 punts, including a season-high 10 by the Rams’ Donnie Jones.