Yes, folks, it’s still OK to play dominant defense in the NFL. Just ask Von Miller, Justin Houston, Khalil Mack and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Before the Chiefs’ 30-27 overtime victory over the Broncos on Sunday night turned into a wild-as-can-be shootout — replete with Tyreek Hill’s star turn for Kansas City (TDs on a run, catch and return), a replay review with a second left in regulation that resulted in the tying touchdown , Denver coach Gary Kubiak’s ill-fated choice to try a 62-yard field goal that missed and set up the Chiefs with a short field for the game-winning drive, and Cairo Santos’ concluding kick that ricocheted off the left upright and sailed barely inside the right post as time expired in the extra period — Miller and Houston were terrific.
For starters, each had three sacks. It took until midway through the third quarter for either team’s offense to put the football in the end zone. The Chiefs reached halftime with 49 yards of total offense.
By the end, Denver’s defense wasn’t looking all that great against Alex Smith and Co., frankly. And KC managed to make Broncos QB Trevor Siemian look like the real deal for the first time in his pro career.
But for more than a half, this game was filled with big hits and tight “D.” And there were other examples of that earlier.
Mack returned an interception of Cam Newton for a TD and strip-sacked Newton to seal Oakland’s 35-32 victory over Carolina. Jason Pierre-Paul returned a fumble 43 yards for a TD and had a trio of sacks to help the Giants top the Browns 27-13 , pushing Cleveland to 0-12. And Tampa Bay forced three turnovers and sacked Russell Wilson a half-dozen times during a 14-5 win over Seattle.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season’s 12th Sunday:
PAYTON VS. WILLIAMS
Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and that was certainly the case when it came to Sean Payton’s Saints dropping 49 points — the last TD via a trick-play pass by a receiver — on the Rams and their defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. This was their first game as opponents since both were suspended by the NFL for a cash-for-hits bounty program when Williams worked for Payton in New Orleans. Payton chose not to make a big deal about the matchup, but as Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said after a 49-21 victory: “He was fired up. We all know why.”
CAN I KICK IT?
Here’s what Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs said about teammate Justin Tucker after the Ravens beat the Bengals 19-14 : “We’ve got the best kicker in the league. There’s no doubt about it.” Hard to argue. Tucker became the first player in league history with three 50-yard field goals in the first half of a game — hitting from 52, 54 and 57 — and made a fourth kick, too, to improve to 27 for 27 on FGs. He’s also 15 for 15 on PATs. As if to prove Suggs’ point, meanwhile, Cincinnati PK Mike Nugent stretched his extra-point drought to three misses in a row; he had two flubs last week, when kickers set an NFL record by missing 12.
TAKING A TROLL
The Atlanta Falcons’ Twitter feed took a shot at the Browns franchise after speedy WR Taylor Gabriel — who was cut by Cleveland in September — scored on catch-and-run plays of 25 and 35 yards in a 38-19 victory over Arizona.
ICYMI, OTHER GAMES
In other games Sunday, it was Chargers 21, Texans 13 ; Bills 28, Jaguars 21 ; Titans 27, Bears 21 ; Dolphins 31, 49ers 24 ; Patriots 22, Jets 17 . The Eagles host the Packers on Monday night.
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