By The Associated Press
The Latest from Week 16 of the NFL (all times EST):
The Pittsburgh Steelers are still struggling.
Pittsburgh trailed 23-0 after two quarters at Kansas City on Sunday, becoming the first NFL team to be behind by 23-plus points at halftime in three straight road games.
Home or away, the Steelers are challenged offensively.
Pittsburgh has failed to score a touchdown in the first half of five consecutive games for the first time since 1940.
The NFC’s playoff field is mostly set while the race for spots in the AFC is much less clear.
The NFL-leading Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Arizona are five of the NFC’s seven teams with a spot in the postseason.
The Kansas City Chiefs are closing in on earning the AFC’s first playoff berth. They led the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-0 at home after a half Sunday, a win away from clinching the AFC West and an automatic berth in the postseason.
Patrick Mahomes sure didn’t need tight end Travis Kelce on the Kansas City Chiefs’ opening series against Pittsburgh.
Mahomes was 7 of 8 for 58 yards and connected with six different targets in a 14-play, 83-yard touchdown drive. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire bounced off Robert Spillane and into the end zone to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
Kelce is among three starters that were ruled out early Sunday when they failed to test out of COVID-19 protocols. The Chiefs also are missing leading tackler Nick Bolton and starting right tackle Lucas Niang.
For just the third time since Lumen Field opened in 2002, the Seattle Seahawks are playing a home game in the snow.
A weather system moved into the Seattle metro area in the early hours on Sunday and snow was continuing to fall as the Seahawks’ game against the Chicago Bears kicked off.
The last time Seattle played a home game in the snow was the home finale of the 2008 season when the Seahawks beat the New York Jets. Previous to that was a November 2006 Monday night game against Green Bay also a Seattle victory.
In both those games, Hall of Famer Brett Favre was the starting quarterback for the visitors.
The star receivers for the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings have each put their names in the record books.
Justin Jefferson passed his fellow LSU alum and friend Odell Beckham Jr. for the most receiving yards in NFL history in a player’s first two seasons.
Cooper Kupp became the first player of all time to record at least 90 receiving yards in 14 different games in a single season. Antonio Brown (2014) and Michael Irvin (1995) did it in 13 games.
Pro Bowl linebacker Shaquil Barrett has left Tampa Bay’s game against Carolina with a knee injury and will not return.
Barrett was injured in the second quarter while applying pressure to Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold.
Barrett is the latest in a series of injuries for the defending Super Bowl champions, who are already playing without wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, running back Leonard Fournette and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. due to injuries.
Barrett has 36 1/2 sacks over the last three seasons for Tampa Bay and is one of its key players on defense.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders is was out against the New York Giants with a hand injury.
Sanders entered with 709 yards rushing and added another 45 in the first half before he left with the injury. The Eagles announced just after halftime that he would not return.
Sanders has yet to rush for a touchdown this season, but was coming off his best two games of the season. He ran for 120 yards in a win over the New York Jets and followed up with a career-high 131 yards against Washington.
Chicago rookie quarterback Justin Fields is inactive at Seattle due to an ankle injury.
Nick Foles was announced as the starter for Chicago on Friday, but there was a chance Fields would have been his backup. Instead, it will be Ryan Willis backing up Foles. Willis was elevated from the practice squad for Sunday’s game.
Seattle listed running back Alex Collins and defensive lineman Kerry Hyder Jr. inactive despite both clearing protocols and being activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Collins was activated on Wednesday and Hyder was cleared on Saturday.
Joe Burrow threw a 1-yard touchdown to Tee Higgins to give the Cincinnati Bengals a 31-14 lead over Baltimore at the half.
Baltimore quarterback Josh Johnson had a 4-yard TD pass in the opening quarter, making him the first player to throw touchdown passes for multiple teams in one season since 2015. Johnson threw three for the Jets earlier this season. He signed as a free agent 10 days ago.
The Ravens’ depleted secondary took another hit when cornerback Anthony Averett was carted off with a chest injury in the first quarter.
Antonio Brown is back, and playing a big role for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brown was targeted nine times in the first half by Tom Brady and has seven catches for 67 yards against Carolina. The veteran receiver returned from an ankle injury and a league-imposed, three-game suspension for violating COVID-19 protocols,
Brown has the bulk of Brady’s attention with Mike Evans out with a hamstring injury and Chris Godwin out for the season because of a knee injury.
The Bucs led the Panthers 19-6 at halftime and can clinch the NFC South with a win. They’ve gotten some big contributions from unheralded players such as wide receiver Cyril Grayson, who has a 62-yard reception, and running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who ran for a 55-yard touchdown.
The Buffalo Bills’ already beleaguered offensive line was dealt another blow in their pivotal matchup with New England.
Left guard Ike Boettger was carted off the field early in the second quarter with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Buffalo looked to be on its way to being in decent health up front shape after left tackle Dion Dawkins was cleared from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday. Starting right guard Jon Feliciano, though, wasn’t cleared from COVID-19 list in time to play Sunday.
Sam Darnold has checked into the game at quarterback with the Carolina Panthers losing 10-3 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Darnold replaces starter Cam Newton, who threw an interception on the team’s second series. As Darnold checked into the game, fans began booing.
Darnold was expected to play this week, according to coach Matt Rhule. Darnold has not played in the last five games due a shoulder injury, but was activated off injured reserve this week.
Jacksonville running back James Robinson left the Jaguars’ game against the New York Jets with a Achilles tendon injury. He was ruled out for the rest of the game.
Robinson went down without contact on Trevor Lawrence’s handoff to Tavon Austin with 3:12 left in the opening quarter. He stayed down on the field away from the play for a few moments, appearing to reach at his lower right leg. Robinson was checked on by doctors and trainers, who then helped him limp off the field to the medical tent on the sideline.
Robinson, who had 10 yards on three carries, had a towel draped over his head as he was carted from the sideline to the locker room. Dare Ogunbowale took over as the Jaguars’ lead running back.
— Dennis Waszak Jr. reporting from East Rutherford, New Jersey
The Detroit Lions led the Atlanta Falcons 3-0 after the first quarter with some rookies leading the way.
Detroit had three sacks on the game-opening drive, including Derrick Barnes’ first and Alim McNeill’s second sack. Levi Onwuzurike started the game with a sack, giving the Lions three players with at least one sack since 1990.
Lions rookie Riley Patterson capped a 13-play drive that took nearly 8 minutes off the clock with a 26-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Patterson is 8 of 8 on field goals, setting a team record for the longest streak to start a career.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff is still on the reserve/COIVD-19 list and Tim Boyle is expected to make his second career start at Atlanta.
Goff was placed on the list nearly a week ago.
Lions running back D’Andre Swift is missing his fourth consecutive game with a sprained right shoulder on Sunday despite returning to practice ahead of the Week 16 game against the Falcons.
Detroit cornerback Amani Oruwariye was placed on injured reserve on Saturday with a thumb ailment, ending his season with a team-high six interceptions.
Atlanta placed starting defensive tackle Tyeler Davison on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday. Davison joins another defensive tackle, Marlon Davidson, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.
Falcons wide receiver Tajae Sharpe is out with a foot injury against Detroit.
The Minnesota Vikings have placed backup quarterback Sean Mannion on the COVID-19 reserve list, raising concerns for them about the status of starting quarterback Kirk Cousins because he remains unvaccinated.
There was no change to the status of Cousins for the game Sunday against the Los Angles Rams. Cousins has a rib injury and was listed on the injury report for the first time in eight years.
The Vikings also put backup tackle Rashod Hill on the COVID-19 reserve list prior to the game. Running back Dalvin Cook landed on the list after testing positive for the virus earlier in the week.
Minnesota did get wide receiver Adam Thielen back in the lineup after a sprained ankle kept him out of the previous two games.
After their roster was ravaged by COVID-19 earlier this month, the Rams have returned to nearly full strength. They placed starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth on the COVID-19 reserve list on Saturday.
The Baltimore Ravens will be without star quarterback Lamar Jackson and backup Tyler Huntley at Cincinnati.
Huntley has been the starter the last two weeks while Jackson has been out with an ankle injury. Huntley was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday.
Josh Johnson is expected to start for the Ravens, giving the 35-year-old quarterback his first start since 2018 and the ninth of his career. He played for San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football in 2019 and for the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats last year.
The Ravens elevated quarterback Kenji Bahar to the active roster on Saturday.
The Ravens have five other players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including starting defensive end Justin Madubuike and starting safety Geno Stone.
The Bengals listed three on the reserve/COVID 19 list, including starting defensive tackle D.J. Reader.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets each lost key defensive players a few hours before kickoff of their game at MetLife Stadium.
Jacksonville placed linebacker Myles Jack on the COVID-19 list and New York put defensive lineman Quinnen Williams on the list Sunday.
Jack joined pass rusher Josh Allen, wide receiver Laviska Shenault and guard Ben Bartch, who were placed on the reserve list Friday. They didn’t make the trip to New Jersey. Allen, who is unvaccinated, will be out at least 10 days, according to current NFL protocol, and will miss the team’s game Jan. 2 at New England.
Williams is the latest loss for a Jets team hit particularly hard by a surge of COVID-19 cases. There were 20 players on the active and practice squad rosters — including injured reserve — on the COVID-19 list as of Sunday morning.
Jets coach Robert Saleh was ruled out for the game Saturday because he didn’t clear COVID-19 protocols Saturday. Tight ends coach Ron Middleton is assuming the head coaching duties.
Saleh tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday and needed to have two negative tests by Saturday afternoon to return to the sideline. The coach has been quarantining in a hotel while running team meetings remotely.
Jets quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese will also miss the game because of COVID-19 protocols. Senior offensive assistant Matt Cavanaugh is assuming Calabrese’s game-day duties.
— Dennis Waszak Jr. reporting from East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Kansas City Chiefs have ruled out Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce, starting linebacker Nick Bolton and starting right tackle Lucas Niang on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The three players tested positive for COVID-19 last week and missed every practice, but the Chiefs had activated each from the list by the Saturday afternoon deadline to give them a chance of playing at home against Pittsburgh. All three needed to pass protocols on Sunday morning, though, and none did.
The Chiefs did get some good news Saturday when wide receiver Tyreek Hill tested out of protocol. He didn’t practice all week and is expected to start as usual against the Steelers.
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