New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, center, is tackled by Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson after a long run that set up his second touchdown of the afternoon --- a score that broke the NFL's single-season TD record for tight ends.
LANDOVER, Md. — Tom Brady's first interception in more than a month led to a screaming match on the sideline.
That's how perfection-driven the New England Patriots are. On a day when tight end Rob Gronkowski is simultaneously strong and nimble while setting an NFL record, on a day when the defense again makes just enough plays to compensate for all the yards it allowed, on a day when a 34-27 score vs. the Washington Redskins meant a fifth straight victory, it was Brady who had to be calmed down after a rare fourth-quarter mistake.
With the Patriots leading by seven, Brady tried to find Tiquan Underwood at the back of the end zone and was instead picked off by Josh Wilson with 6:30 remaining. The Redskins then began a march downfield that could have sent Sunday's game to overtime — even as Brady sat on the bench and exchanged words with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
"I threw a pretty bad interception, so he wasn't happy about it," said Brady, who completed 22 of 37 passes for 357 yards with three touchdowns and his first interception since Nov. 6. "And there was probably a long line of coaches and players that were pretty (upset) at me after that, but Billy got to me first. He let me have it; I deserved it."
And yet Brady had a 107.6 rating and upped his career touchdown pass total to 294, moving ahead of Warren Moon (291) into sole possession of sixth place all-time. Brady also surpassed the 4,000-yard mark for the fourth time in his career.
But the Patriots (10-3) have such high expectations that a miscue in a close win over a struggling team like the Redskins (4-9) gets the juices flowing between player and coach.
"We're both pretty emotional guys," Brady said.
Gronkowski, meanwhile, caught six passes for a career-high 160 yards and set the NFL single-season mark for touchdown receptions by a tight end. His 14th was an 11-yard grab that moved him ahead of Antonio Gates (2004) and Vernon Davis (2009), and No. 15 was a 24-yard scoring strike in the second half.
But it was the play immediately before No. 14 that everyone will remember.
Gronkowski made a diving catch, got up, dragged DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty a few yards and escaped while tiptoeing along the sidelines. Gronkowski tiptoed again when hit by Wilson and stumbled ahead to complete the 49-yard gain.
"That play was right in front of us," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "He did a great job there, getting the ball off the ground, breaking a couple tackles, staying in bounds — he had almost no room to work with on the sideline. ... He's a tough guy to cover, a tough guy to match up on."
GIANTS 37, COWBOYS 34: Eli Manning ended New York's four-game losing streak in style, leading the Giants to two touchdowns in the final 3:14 to beat the Dallas Cowboys 37-34 Sunday night in a showdown for first place in the NFC East.
Dallas appeared to tie the game with a 47-yard field goal as time expired, but New York called a timeout. Given another chance to force overtime, rookie Dan Bailey's kick was blocked by Jason Pierre-Paul — who also had a sack for a safety and forced a fumble.
The Giants (7-6) and Cowboys are tied atop the division, but this victory gives New York the inside track. The teams will meet again in the season finale, on New Year's Day, at the Giants' home field.
Dallas lost its second straight.
TEXANS 20, BENGALS 19: Rookie T.J. Yates led the biggest drive in Houston Texans history, throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds left for a 20-19 victory that brought the first playoff berth in franchise history.
With their seventh straight win, the Texans (10-3) moved to the threshold of their first playoff berth. They clinched the AFC South title a few minutes later when Tennessee lost to New Orleans.
Cincinnati (7-6) couldn't prevent the Texans from going 80 yards in the closing minutes behind their third quarterback in the last four games. Yates' 6-yard throw to Kevin Walter — uncovered at the goal line — set off a celebration on the Houston sideline.
SAINTS 22, TITANS 17: Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes to Marques Colston in the fourth quarter to lead New Orleans to its fifth straight victory.
The NFC South-leading Saints (10-3) had little trouble picking up yards, but struggled to score until Brees and Colston connected on passes of 35 and 28 yards.
The Titans (7-6) twice had the ball in the final minutes with a chance to win. The first time, New Orleans stopped backup Jake Locker on fourth-and-1 at the Saints 24 with 2:18 left. The second time, Jo-Lonn Dunbar sacked a scrambling Locker on third-and-goal as time expired.
Brees threw for 347 yards and joined Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas as the only quarterbacks to throw a touchdown pass in 40 straight games.
Locker replaced Matt Hasselbeck, who hurt his left calf in the second quarter.
RAVENS 24, COLTS 10: Terrell Suggs had three sacks and forced three fumbles to keep Indianapolis winless.
Baltimore (10-3) limited the Colts (0-13) to 167 yards — 53 through three quarters. Were it not for a touchdown on the game's final play, Indianapolis would have been held without a TD for the second time since the 2003 season opener.
Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes and Ray Rice ran for 103 yards and a score to help the Ravens win their fourth straight and improve to 7-0 at home. Baltimore is tied with Pittsburgh for the lead in the AFC North. The Ravens hold the tiebreaker with two wins over the Steelers.
Dan Orlovsky was 17 for 37 for 136 yards and an interception. He was sacked four times.
LIONS 34, VIKINGS 28: Backup Joe Webb fumbled deep in Lions territory in the final seconds, and Detroit escaped with a much-need victory.
Matthew Stafford threw for two scores in the first quarter to give Detroit one of its three-touchdown leads. The Lions (8-5) had lost five of seven, and played without defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is serving the second game of his two-game suspension.
Webb led the Vikings (2-11) to TDs on his first two drives after rookie Christian Ponder was benched.
On first-and-goal from the 1 with 9 seconds left, a replay appeared to show DeAndre Levy grabbing Webb's facemask, but a flag wasn't thrown. The ball popped free at about the 11, and was batted back toward midfield by Detroit's Stephen Tulloch. Webb ran it down and tried to pick it up, but the ball came loose again and Cliff Avril finally fell on it to end the game.
CHARGERS 37, BILLS 10: Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Antonio Gates, and the San Diego Chargers beat the Buffalo Bills 37-10 Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Buffalo (5-8) lost its sixth straight game and was eliminated from playoff contention for the 12th straight year. The Chargers (6-7) have won two straight following their six-game losing streak.
Rivers was 24 of 33 for 240 yards. Ryan Mathews gained 114 yards on 20 carries, the first time he's had three straight 100-yard games.
CARDINALS 21, 49ERS 19: John Skelton stepped in for the injured Kevin Kolb and threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns, and the Arizona Cardinals rallied to hand the San Francisco 49ers just their third loss of the season, 21-19 on Sunday.
Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 149 yards, including a 46-yarder for a touchdown and a 53-yarder to set up the go-ahead score in the fifth victory in six games for Arizona (6-7).
Kolb left the game after a blow to the head on Arizona's third play. Skelton, benched after throwing three interceptions in the Cardinals' 23-7 loss at San Francisco on Nov. 20, had a 60-yard TD pass to Early Doucet and a 3-yard toss to Andre Roberts for what proved to be the winning score early in the fourth quarter.
EAGLES 26, DOLPHINS 10: Philadelphia forced three turnovers while scoring four times during a nine-minute span in the second quarter and totaled nine sacks.
Michael Vick, back after missing three games with broken ribs, threw for 208 yards and a touchdown. LeSean McCoy scored two touchdowns to hike his season total to 17.
The Eagles (5-8) won for only the second time in the past six games and still need a sweep of the final three games to have any chance of repeating as NFC East champions. The Dolphins (4-9) had a three-game home winning streak snapped and sank deeper into last place in the AFC East.
Philadelphia sent quarterback Matt Moore to the sideline in the second half with a head injury.
JETS 37, CHIEFS 10: Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as the Jets kept pace in the AFC playoff race.
The Jets got things started quickly by scoring 28 points in the first half and were helped by an inept Chiefs offense that managed 4 total yards in the first two quarters.
Shonn Greene had a season-high 129 yards rushing and a score, and Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson each caught touchdown passes for the Jets (8-5), who have won three straight and improved to 6-1 at home.
Tyler Palko was sacked five times for the Jets in a miserable outing by the penalty-plagued Chiefs (5-8), a week after he earned his first victory as a starter against Chicago.
JAGUARS 41, BUCCANEERS 14: Maurice Jones-Drew scored four times, setting the franchise record for career touchdowns, and Jacksonville rolled up 41 unanswered points.
Jones-Drew finished with 136 total yards, including 85 on the ground against one of the league's worst run defenses.
Tampa Bay's bigger problem in its seventh consecutive loss was turnovers.
The Buccaneers (4-9) had seven of them, helping set up each of Jacksonville's four TDs in the second quarter. The Jaguars (4-9), who hadn't scored more than 20 points all season, scored four times in a span of 7:32. They scored on offense, defense and special teams in the same game for the first time since Nov. 1, 1998, at Baltimore.