Jared Goff threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, Riley Patterson kicked a 41-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired, and the Detroit Lions prevailed in a 41-38 shootout over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
The Chargers (4-5) tied it at 38-all with 3:34 remaining when Justin Herbert threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day, a 38-yarder to Keenan Allen on fourth-and-1.
Goff responded by leading the Lions (7-2) on a nine-play, 53-yard drive, culminating in Patterson’s kick. The key play was Goff’s 6-yard completion to rookie tight end Sam LaPorta on fourth-and-2 from the LA 26-yard line.
Goff, playing in SoFi Stadium for the second time since being traded by the Rams to the Lions in 2021, was 23 of 33.
David Montgomery had 116 yards on 12 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Jahmyr Gibbs added 77 yards and two touchdowns for the NFC North-leading Lions.
Amon-Ra St. Brown had a career-high 156 receiving yards on eight catches, including a 20-yard TD to put the Lions ahead 31-24 in the third quarter. He is the first Detroit receiver to have six 100-yard games in a seven-game span since Calvin Johnson in 2012.
Herbert completed 27 of 40 passes for 323 yards with the four TDs and an interception. Allen had 11 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including a 29-yard TD in the second quarter.
The teams traded field goals before a pair of 1-yard TD runs by Gibbs put the Lions up 17-3 midway through the second quarter. His first score was set up by a 35-yard scamper where he went off right end and then made a nice cut before being tackled at the Chargers 1-yard line.
The Chargers got within 24-17 on Austin Ekeler’s 2-yard carry with 23 seconds remaining in the first half. After forcing Detroit to punt on the opening series of the second half, Los Angeles tied it for the second time when Herbert threw a 18-yard bullet to Jalen Guyton.
After that, the game settled into a pattern of Detroit taking the lead and LA rallying to tie it.
Following St. Brown’s score, Chargers first-round pick Quentin Johnston scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard reception on fourth-and-goal with 11:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Four minutes later, the Lions’ Brock Wright was wide open down the middle on a 25-yard TD reception.
One play after Allen’s TD, Montgomery took a handoff from Goff, went up the middle, caused three Chargers defenders to miss at the Detroit 45, and then made a cut and found a lane up the left sideline to put Detroit ahead 24-10. There was a replay review to determine if Montgomery stepped out at the LA 16, but the play was upheld.
It was the Lions’ longest touchdown run since Jahvid Best went 88 yards in 2011. Montgomery is also the first Detroit player to have two rushing TDs of at least 40 yards since Barry Sanders in 1998. — Joe Reedy in Inglewood, Calif.
Najee Harris stopped paying attention to the circumstances long ago. Maybe because they almost never change for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s going to get tight. It’s going to get late. And Pittsburgh is going to somehow find a way.
Even when the Steelers are outgained — which is always, at least in 2023. Even when they’re out played — which is frequently. Even when the only place they regularly look like a team in playoff contention is the standings — which is essentially the story of the first half of a season that is somehow both chaotic and utterly predictable at the same time.
Maybe that’s why Harris more or less shrugged after a 23-19 win over Green Bay on Sunday that had all the hallmarks of so many victories that have come before. A little offense. A couple of timely turnovers, and just enough of everything else to survive.
“I’m just so used to (close games), I don’t even realize it,” Harris said after running for 82 yards and a touchdown. “That’s just how we are.”
Seemingly every single week. The Steelers (6-3) have ripped off nine straight wins in one-score games dating to last season. All six of their wins so far in 2023 have come by eight points or less, a trend that defies the logic of the “every game is a coin flip” NFL.
The odds figure to even out at some point. They’re just not in Pittsburgh. Not yet anyway.
“It just shows in those pressure moments, we come up making the big plays,” outside linebacker Alex Highsmith said.
The patched together Steelers secondary provided two of them late. Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson tipped Jordan Love’s pass into the hands of safety Keanu Neal in the end zone with 3:20 to go to end one threat. Safety Damontae Kazee later stepped in front of Love’s last-second heave at the goal line on the final play as the Steelers head into a pivotal two-game road trip to AFC North rivals Cleveland and Cincinnati with momentum.
Jaylen Warren, introduced as a co-starter with Harris for the first time, ran for a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown on a day the two running backs combined for 206 of Pittsburgh’s 324 total yards. Chris Boswell kicked three field goals — including two in the 16 minutes after Green Bay took a slim 19-17 lead — to help the Steelers improve to 3-1 since their bye week.
“All that matters is we keep winning games,” center Mason Cole said. “We don’t care how we get them as long as we get them.”
Love completed 21 of 40 for 289 yards and two touchdowns for Green Bay, but the Packers (3-6) were unable to back up last week’s victory over the Los Angeles Rams despite outgaining the Steelers by 75 yards.
Then again, that doesn’t mean much when playing Pittsburgh. The Steelers have been outgained in every game this season, and it somehow hasn’t stopped them from staying in the thick of the playoff race as Thanksgiving approaches.
Green Bay, meanwhile, has dropped 5 of 6 since a 2-1 start.
“You see how close we are, a play here or a play there,” Packers running back Aaron Jones said. “I feel like we just keep pushing at it. If we keep putting in the work, it’ll go in our favor.”
If Green Bay wants to find a team to emulate, it could do worse than Pittsburgh. The Steelers don’t win games so much as they don’t beat themselves. Wearing the vintage block numbers from the franchise’s iconic 1970s teams, Pittsburgh didn’t turn the ball over for the third time in four games and let the team on the other side of the field make the costly mistakes when it mattered.
It may not always look pretty. The Steelers are aware of this. They also don’t particularly care. They’re winning games while not always playing winning football. Yet they’re also not playing losing football. It may not be sustainable long term. But for now, it’s working.
“We should just be better in certain ways so that you don’t have to have such a heart attack at the end of the game,” Highsmith said. “But whenever we’re in those ‘got to have it’ moments, we’re capitalizing.” — Will Graves in Pittsburgh
This latest stop in Minnesota on Joshua Dobbs’ seven-year, seven-team NFL journey has become his most eventful experience in less than two weeks.
The Vikings have enjoyed having him even more.
Dobbs kept an injury-thinned offense on track in his first start, throwing for a career-high 268 yards and contributing two touchdowns to help the Vikings build a 24-point halftime lead and hold on to beat the New Orleans Saints 27-19 on Sunday for their fifth straight victory.
“I did pinch myself,” Dobbs said, just 12 days after he was acquired in an emergency trade with Arizona and two days after he finally moved out of his hotel. “It’s just been really cool being able to take it all in.”
After an injury to Jaren Hall pressed Dobbs into action in Atlanta without any prior work with the first team offense, the former aerospace engineering major at Tennessee nicknamed “The Passtronaut” further impressed coach Kevin O’Connell and his staff with his preparation.
“He had a fantastic week of practice,” O’Connell said. “I’m having fun coaching him right now.”
T.J. Hockenson outgained the Saints by himself in the first half with 10 catches for 128 yards and a score for the Vikings (6-4), who stalled out after the hot start. Mekhi Blackmon and Byron Murphy had fourth-quarter interceptions of downfield heaves by Jameis Winston that ended consecutive Saints possessions, and Winston’s last-chance throw into a crowd in the end zone on the final play was knocked safely to the turf.
“We let some get away from us there at the beginning of the second half we’d like to have back,” safety Harrison Smith said, “but when the time came, we made the plays.”
After Derek Carr was forced out in the third quarter with a concussion and a shoulder injury, Winston entered with a 27-3 deficit and delivered touchdown passes to Chris Olave and A.T. Perry on highlight-reel, high-degree-of-difficulty catches in the end zone over Murphy. Alvin Kamara contributed the vital 2-point conversion runs.
The Saints (5-5) caught a break when Ty Chandler, whose first career touchdown run came in the first quarter for the Vikings, had a third-and-1 scamper for a 29-yard score called back for a questioned holding call on right tackle Brian O’Neill midway through the fourth quarter.
But the NFC South leaders have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season.
“We can’t keep digging ourselves into these holes,” coach Dennis Allen said.
With the adrenaline of the comeback victory over the Falcons worn off, the Vikings faced a significant challenge against a dangerous Saints secondary that entered the game leading the NFL in interceptions and passes defensed.
Superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson (hamstring) was held out for the fifth straight game, and starting wide receiver K.J. Osborn (concussion) didn’t play. Hockenson played through a painful rib injury that was aggravated multiple times. Then starting running back Alexander Mattison (concussion) was forced out of the game in the third quarter. Dobbs was only here, after all, because of the season-ending torn Achilles tendon for Kirk Cousins.
But he went 23 for 34 without a turnover and rushed eight times for 44 yards, including a third-and-6 scramble that started with a 360-degree spin around the pocket to find a crease and ended with a 7-yard touchdown when he juked cornerback Alontae Taylor at the 5 and beelined inside the pylon.
“We’ve got to get him down,” Saints defensive tackle Malcolm Roach said. “We can’t ask these guys to cover for 30 seconds.”
Dobbs has three straight games with at least one passing and one rushing touchdown, including his last game with Arizona. The only players with longer streaks since the 1970 merger: Justin Fields (five, 2022), Kyler Murray (five, 2020) and Michael Vick (four, 2010).
“Sometimes it’s good coverage,” left tackle Christian Darrisaw said. “Josh just has the ability to use his legs, and I guess the defenders forget about it.”
Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, who was arrested Friday on simple battery and criminal mischief charges following an alleged confrontation with a construction worker near his home, had one catch for 9 yards before leaving in the first quarter with a knee injury. — Dave Campbell in Minneapolis