It is that point in the N.F.L. season when each week’s winners and losers start to become solidly predictable. Kansas City will beat Cleveland, and the Panthers will not be the reason the Buccaneers get a Week 9 win.
But it is what happens before the final score locks in that keeps things interesting: Ben Roethlisberger takes a big hit in the fourth quarter, and now it’s suddenly a question whether the Steelers can hang on to beat Baltimore. Sam Darnold throws four interceptions against Miami, but somehow, the Jets still have a chance to win.
And then there is this, in Seattle:
Here is what happened in Week 9:
Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Baltimore Ravens 16
Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, ran for a score and put up an unexpected left-footed punt to help the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-16 Sunday.
James Conner rushed for 107 yards and caught a touchdown pass for the Steelers (5-2-1), who have won four straight since falling to the Ravens at home on Sept. 30.
Roethlisberger went 28 for 47 for 270 yards. The 36-year-old showed his grit by missing only one play after being flattened during a sprint from the pocket with just over 13 minutes left.
The Ravens (4-5) scored only one touchdown in their third straight defeat, managing two field goals in the first half while falling behind 14-6. Baltimore had converted 72.4 percent of its red zone opportunities into touchdowns — the fourth-best percentage in the N.F.L. — but on this day it was a struggle.
“To hold those guys to field goals in the first half when they were down there was significant,” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said.
Kansas City Chiefs 37, Cleveland Browns 21
Patrick Mahomes is making this look way too easy.
Mahomes passed for 375 yards, threw three touchdown passes — two to Travis Kelce — and continued the best start by an N.F.L. quarterback in 68 years as Kansas City’s impossible-to-handle offense kept rolling with a 37-21 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, who played their first game since Coach Hue Jackson’s firing.
Cleveland native Kareem Hunt had two scoring runs and one receiving for the Chiefs (8-1), who came in averaging 36.3 points with an offense overloaded with weapons for Mahomes.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Mahomes, 23, said. “It makes my job a lot easier knowing that I can trust these guys are going to be in the right spot. They’re taking care of their business. They’re running the routes and making route adjustments on the fly just because they’ve looked at the film and know how to do those things.”
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett said preparing for the Chiefs is not like playing them.
“Their offense has a nice tempo and he gets the ball out of his hand pretty quick, so it’s hard to stop,” Garrett said of Mahomes. “He spreads the ball around really well and everybody is getting touches. You don’t know who it’s going to go to next.”
Carolina Panthers 42, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28
Cam Newton completed 19 of 25 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns, Christian McCaffrey racked up 157 yards from scrimmage and scored twice and the Carolina Panthers held on to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 42-28, after building an early lead.
Newton threw touchdown passes of 19 yards to Curtis Samuel and 17 yards to Greg Olsen, the seventh straight game he has thrown for at least two touchdowns. McCaffrey had 17 carries for 79 yards and five catches for 78 yards and turned in the play of the game when he leapt over a defender after a reception in the flat and kept going, turning it into a 32-yard gain.
The Panthers (6-2) scored touchdowns on five straight possessions during the first half to build a commanding 35-7 lead before the Buccaneers battled back to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.
But the return of “Fitzmagic” wasn’t enough. He was picked off late in the fourth quarter by rookie cornerback Donte Jackson, sealing the win for Carolina.
Miami Dolphins 13, New York Jets 6
Rookie linebacker Jerome Baker intercepted Sam Darnold and scored the only touchdown on a 25-yard return with 11 minutes left, and a resilient defense helped the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets, 13-6, on Sunday.
Darnold threw four interceptions and took four sacks, and the Jets went 2 for 15 on third and fourth down.
The hobbled Dolphins endured another wave of injuries and the mysterious departure of safety Reshad Jones, who pulled himself out of the game. But their defense was much improved after three consecutive poor games.
“We never panicked; we knew what our defense was capable of,” Baker said. “When we are executing and do our job and play together, we’re one of the best defenses out there.”
The quality of the opposition helped the defense dominate; Miami won with only seven first downs.
Darnold tried to rally his sputtering team from a 6-3 deficit, but following a punt the rookie took a high snap and made an ill-advised throw to tight end Eric Tomlinson. Baker stepped in front for his first career interception and scored untouched.
“I didn’t throw it with confidence,” Darnold said. “I just alligator-armed it — threw it a little bit short.”