UNDATED (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers rediscovered their running game Sunday, but James Connor wasn’t the one racking up the yardage.
Rookie Jaylen Samuels ran for a career-high 142 yards and made a critical third-down reception in the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ 17-10 victory over the New England Patriots. Samuels set up Ben Roethlisberger’s (RAHTH’-lihs-bur-gurz) two touchdown passes in the first half to help Pittsburgh end a three-game losing streak. His late reception led to a field goal that capped the scoring late in the game.
Samuels got the majority of the carries while Connor missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards and two interceptions as the Steelers moved to 8-5-1 and dropped the Pats to 9-5. Chris Boswell made it a one-touchdown game by nailing a 48-yard field goal with 2 ½ minutes left after missing a 32-yarder.
Tom Brady finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards with a touchdown and an interception while losing to the Steelers for the first time since 2011.
New England was flagged 14 times for 106 yards and didn’t reach the end zone after Brady’s 63-yard play to Chris Hogan midway through the opening quarter.
The outcome keeps the Steelers a half-game ahead of Baltimore for first place in the AFC North. It also allowed the Houston Texans to move ahead of the Patriots for the second seed in the AFC.
Also in the NFL:
— The Bears have secured their first playoff berth in eight years and clinched the NFC North behind two touchdowns passes from Mitchell Trubisky in a 24-17 win over the Pacers. Trubisky was 20 of 28 for 235 yards with a 120.4 rating as Chicago beat Green Bay for just the second time in their last 11 meetings. Khalil Mack had 2 ½ of the Bears’ five sacks as they improved to 10-4. Aaron Rodgers threw for 274 yards and his first interception since September as the Packers were eliminated from playoff contention.
— The Eagles are still kicking after Nick Foles passed for 270 yards and Wendell Smallwood rushed for two touchdowns in Philadelphia’s 30-23 win at Los Angeles. Rookie Josh Adams also rushed for a score as the 7-7 Eagles kept their playoff hopes alive despite the absence of starting QB Carson Wentz due to a back injury. The Rams surrendered 17 straight points in the third quarter and fell to 11-3 with their first two-game losing streak under second-year coach Sean McVay.
— San Francisco had dropped 10 straight to Seattle before Robbie Gould kicked a 36-yard field goal with 3:06 left in overtime to give the 49ers a 26-23 victory over the Seahawks. Nick Mullens threw for 275 yards and a touchdown to help the 4-10 49ers win consecutive games for the first time this season. Russell Wilson threw for 237 yards with two TD passes to Doug Baldwin and Chris Carson ran for 119 yards and a score for Seattle. But the 8-6 Seahawks ended a four-game winning streak and failed to clinch an NFC playoff berth.
— Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for 95 yards and threw for 131 to carry the Baltimore Ravens to a 20-12 victory over the Buccaneers. Jackson directed two drives that lasted more than seven minutes, carried 18 times and completed 14 of 23 passes, one of them for a touchdown. The 8-6 Ravens have won four of five since Jackson took over for the injured Joe Flacco, who served as the backup Sunday despite being healthy.
— The Titans also sit at 8-6 after Derrick Henry had his second straight big game with a career-high 33 carries for 170 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 17-0 shutout of the Giants. Henry scored on 1-yard runs in the first and third quarters, one week after rushing for a team-record 238 yards. The Tennessee defense limited New York to 260 yards, had three sacks, a third-quarter interception in the red zone and a forced fumble that set up Henry’s second TD.
— The Cowboys failed to clinch the NFC East as Marlon Mack rushed for a career-high 139 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 23-0 shutout of Dallas. Andrew Luck was 16 of 27 for 192 yards and T.Y. Hilton caught five passes for 85 yards as the Colts dropped the Cowboys to 8-6. The 8-6 Colts stayed in the AFC playoff hunt with their seventh win in eight games and their first shutout in four years.
— Josh Johnson won his first NFL start in seven years when Dustin hopkins hit a 36-yard field goal on the final play of Washington’s 16-13 victory at Jacksonville. Johnson completed 16 of 25 passes for 151 yards and the score while serving as the Redskins’ fourth starting quarterback in five games. The Redskins allowed just 192 total yards and evened their record at 7-7, keeping them on the fringe of an NFC playoff berth.
— Dalvin Cook had a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns on a season-high 19 carries to highlight the Vikings’ 41-17 thrashing of the Dolphins. Latavius Murray added 68 rushing yards and a score as Minnesota improved its fading playoff hopes. Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter each had two of the nine sacks of Ryan Tannehill, totaling 71 lost yards for the 7-7 Dolphins.
— Josh Allen threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster early in the fourth quarter to rally Buffalo to a 14-13 win over Detroit. Allen also scored on a 3-yard run and finished 13 of 26 for 204 yards passing and no turnovers for the 5-9 Bills. The Lions dropped to 5-9 and clinched their first losing season in three years despite rookie Kenny Golladay finishing with a career-best 146 yards receiving.
— The Bengals’ five-game losing streak is over after Joe Mixon rushing for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 30-16 thumping of the Raiders. Cincinnati QB Jeff Driskel had a 7-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd for Cincinnati’s first score, but he finished just 14 of 33 for 130 yards with an interception. Boyd reached 1,000 yards for the season before leaving with an injury.
— Julio Jones caught six passes for 82 yards and one acrobatic TD in the Falcons’ 40-15 thrashing of the Cardinals. The 5-9 Falcons forced three turnovers and sacked Arizona’s Josh Rosen seven times, a single-game season high for both teams. Deion Jones returned an interception for an early score and Atlanta snapped a five-game losing streak while dropping the Cardinals to 3-11.
Heupel, Kelly, Saban are finalists for AP coach of year
UNDATED (AP) — UCF’s Josh Heupel, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Alabama’s Nick Saban are the finalists for The Associated Press national college football coach of the year after leading their teams to unbeaten regular seasons.
The winner will be announced Monday.
Heupel guided No. 7 Central Florida to a second consecutive unbeaten season at 12-0 and a No. 11 ranking. Kelly led the third-ranked Fighting Irish to its first College Football Playoff appearance and a 12-0 mark. Saban has No. 1 Alabama 13-0 and in the CFP playoff for the fifth consecutive season.
In other college football news:
— FIU running back Shawndarrius Phillips will not accompany the team to the Bahamas Bowl this week, following his arrest on a domestic violence charge. Phillips was arrested Dec. 12, nearly six months after the alleged incident took place.
Pacers win 7th in row
UNDATED (AP) — The Indiana Pacers grabbed share of first place in the NBA’s Central Division by winning their seventh in a row.
Victor Oladipo (oh-lah-DEE’-poh) contributed 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Pacers downed the Knicks, 110-99. Myles Turner added 24 points and six boards for Indiana, which went on a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter to take an 88-81 lead.
The Pacers became the fourth NBA team to win 20 games this season as they moved within percentage points of Milwaukee for first place in the Central and second in the Eastern Conference.
In other NBA games:
— Jamal Murray delivered 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets’ 95-86 win over the Raptors. Nikola Jokic (YOH’-kihch) had 26 points for Denver, which trailed 70-57 before going on a 23-2 run to win for the 10th time in 12 games.
— The Wizards surprised the Lakers as John Wall’s 40 points and 14 assists led Washington past Los Angeles, 128-110. LeBron James was held to a season-low 13 points just a night after he and Lonzo Ball became the sixth teammates in NBA history to record triple-doubles in the same game.
— Ben Simmons recorded his third triple-double of the season by producing 22 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists for the 76ers in a 128-105 romp over the Cavaliers. Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) finished with 24 points and Jimmy Butler added 19 in his first action since missing two games with a strained groin.
— The Kings ended the Mavericks’ 11-game home winning streak as Buddy Hield (heeld) and De’Aaron Fox each scored 28 points to lead Sacramento’s 120-113 victory at Dallas. Mavs rookie Luka Doncic had 28 points and nine assists, but no other Dallas player scored more than 15.
— The Heat were 102-96 winners at New Orleans as Josh Richardson scored 22 points and Dwyane (dwayn) Wade added 19. Hassan Whiteside had 17 points and 12 rebounds in his matchup with Anthony Davis, who finished with 27 points, 12 boards, three blocks and three steals,
— The Nets stretched their season-high winning streak to five games by getting 32 points from D’Angelo Russell in a 144-127 win against the Hawks. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 18 points and Joe Harris had 16 for Brooklyn, which hadn’t won a fifth straight game since April 2, 2015.
Jets knock off Bolts in OT
UNDATED (AP) — Mark Scheifele (SHY’-flee) has been a major force in the Winnipeg Jets’ season-high, five-game winning streak.
The Jets forward came through again by scoring 4:18 into overtime to finish a 5-4 win over the Lightning. Scheifele extended his point streak to five games with five goals and eight assists.
Nikolaj Ehlers (NIH’-koh-ly EE’-lurz) added a pair of goals and Connor Hellebuyck (HEH’-leh-buhk) stopped 42 shots as the Jets took over first place in the Central Division by one point over Nashville.
The Lightning ended an eight-game winning streak and saw their lead in the Atlantic Division cut to seven points over Buffalo.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Jeff Skinner’s second goal of the game was the go-ahead tally with 3:13 left in the Sabres’ 4-2 victory at Boston. Skinner’s team-leading 24th goal came off a feed behind the net from Boston native Jack Eichel (EYE’-kul), who had two goals and two assists.
— Johnny Gaudreau and Alan Quine each scored twice in the Flames’ eighth win in nine games, a 7-2 rout of the Blues. Defenseman Mark Giordano scored for the third straight game and David Rittich stopped 26 shots as Calgary expanded its lead in the Pacific Division to five points over Anaheim.
— Alex Tuch scored 2:11 into overtime to give the Golden Knights a 4-3 win over the Rangers. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots in his 423rd career victory, tying Tony Esposito for ninth on the NHL’s all-time list.
— The Sharks spotted the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead before Melker Karlsson, Evander Kane, Kevin Labanc, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture each had a goal and an assist in San Jose’s fourth straight win, 7-3 at Chicago. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford left the game with 1:30 left in the first period after the back of his head struck the right post during a goalmouth pileup.
— Warren Foegele (FOH’-gul) scored his first goal since October and Petr Mrazek (muh-RA’-zehk) notched his first shutout of the seaon by handling 23 shots in the Hurricanes’ 3-0 decision over the Coyotes.
Power-play goals by Brock Boeser (BEH’-sur), Alexander Edler and Elias Pettersson sent the Canucks past the Oilers, 4-2. Boeser also had two assists and Jacob Markstrom needed to make just 20 saves in Vancouver’s fifth win in six games.
T25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Ward leads Spartans
UNDATED (AP) — Ninth-ranked Michigan State rode the hot shooting of Nick Ward to a 104-83 rout of Green Bay.
Ward shot 9-for-9 while scoring 22 of his 28 points in the first half. He also nailed his first two attempts of the second half and finished 12-for-13 to help the Spartans move to 9-2.
Cassius had 16 points and a game-high 12 assists for the Spartans, who actually trailed 24-20 before going on a 27-4 spurt.
Also in top-25 men’s basketball:
Corey Davis Jr. hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 29 seconds left and had 17 points in No. 24 Houston’s 68-64 comeback victory over Saint Louis.
Mets get a backstop
NEW YORK (AP) — A person familiar with the negotiations says the New York Mets have agreed to a two-year, $19.5 million deal with free agent catcher and two-time All-Star Wilson Ramos, pending a physical.
Ramos batted .306 with 15 home runs and an .845 OPS last season. He made the All-Star team but missed the game with a hamstring injury.
The deal likely signals an end to the Mets’ pursuit of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto..