NFL Roundup: Cassel returns to fuel Chiefs
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Matt Cassel was supposed to be a game-day decision. The quarterback had no doubt he'd be in the visiting Chiefs lineup.
Cassel went the distance only 11 days after an emergency appendectomy, leading the way in a 27-13 victory against the suddenly sagging St. Louis Rams. He didn't think it was a big deal, either.
"Everything felt good," Cassel said. "I feel good now. And a win makes it feel better."
Before the game, Cassel said one of the team doctors texted that he was probably more nervous than the quarterback about what might happen. Teammates were impressed at the quarterback's toughness, too.
"For a guy to come back after having an organ removed from his body, playing the next week, yeah it's definitely extraordinary," running back Thomas Jones said. "I'm proud of him, really proud of him."
To the Rams, Cassel didn't look a man who'd just been stitched up.
"He's a tough dude," defensive end Chris Long said. "I mean, he came out there and slung it around a little, he took a hit or two.
"A lot of people wondered if he'd even play and he played a good game."
Jamaal Charles scored on a short run and helped clinch it with a late 80-yard burst for the Chiefs (9-5), who retained a one-game lead over the Chargers in the AFC West.
Kansas City managed only 67 yards in a 31-0 loss at San Diego last week with backup quarterback Brodie Croyle starting, and ended a seven-quarter scoreless drought on Cassel's 2-yard pass to Leonard Pope midway through the second quarter.
The Rams (6-8) fizzled after a strong start, losing their second in a row and missing a shot to solidify first place in the weak NFC West.
Sam Bradford became the third rookie in the NFL to pass for 3,000 yards but it came in one of his worst performances.
"I didn't play well at all," Bradford said. "We let it get away and there's nothing we can do about it now."
• Falcons 34, Seahawks 18: Matt Ryan and Atlanta are going back to the playoffs. And they're one step closer to making the rest of the NFC go through Atlanta in the postseason. Ryan threw for three touchdowns, Jonathan Babineaux recovered a fumble for a touchdown, and the visiting Falcons wrapped up a playoff berth with the win against Seattle.
• Lions 23, Buccaneers 20: Calvin Johnson and Detroit found a way to end their long road skid. Dave Rayner's third field goal, a 34-yarder with 9:51 left in overtime gave the Lions the victory against Tampa Bay and ended the longest road losing streak in league history at 26 games.
• Bills 17, Dolphins 14: Buffalo showed just how much its improved, and Miami again looked lousy at home. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and the resurgent Bills made themselves at home in Miami to eliminate the Dolphins from the AFC playoff race. Fitzpatrick went 16 for 26 for 223 yards.
• Titans 31, Texans 17: Kerry Collins threw for two touchdowns and 237 yards and Chris Johnson ran for a touchdown and 130 yards as the Tennessee snapped a six-game skid by beating visiting Houston. With the win the Titans (6-8) kept their anemic playoff hopes alive for another week with their first victory since Oct. 24.
• Panthers 19, Cardinals 12: Jimmy Clausen outplayed John Skelton in a matchup of rookie quarterbacks, and John Kasay kicked four field goals as host Carolina beat punchless Arizona to snap a seven-game losing streak. Clausen threw only his second touchdown pass of the season in his first win in eight starts.
• Raiders 39, Broncos 23: Jason Campbell threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Marcel Reece and Jacoby Ford scored on a 71-yard run to help host Oakland overcome Tim Tebow's two long touchdowns in his first career start and beat Denver. Michael Bush added two short touchdown runs in the win by Oakland.
First Published December 20, 2010 12:00 am