The Latest: Lynch 1 of 18 players protesting during anthem

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) is helped off the field after being injured during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The Latest on the NFL’s 15th Sunday of the regular season (all times Eastern):

11:55 p.m.

Dallas kept its playoff hopes alive by the slimmest of margins after Dak Prescott converted a fourth-down sneak by the width of an index card in a 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders.

The fourth-down conversion set up Dan Bailey’s go-ahead 19-yard field goal. Dallas then held on when Derek Carr fumbled the ball inches from the goal line, giving the Cowboys a game-clinching touchback with 31 seconds left.

On Prescott’s fourth-down sneak, referee Gene Steratore called for the chains to come out, but even that wasn’t enough. He then tried to slide what appeared to be an index card between the tip of the ball and the end of the chain. When the card didn’t slide through, Steratore gave Dallas (8-6) a first down.

The Raiders fell to 6-8, all but ending their playoff hopes.

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8:30 p.m.

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem before Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, as he has done routinely this season.

That brought to 18 the number of NFL players The Associated Press observed protesting during the anthem this week. The players who protested Sunday have been doing so for most of the season.

Ten Seattle Seahawks players either knelt or sat for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Three San Francisco 49ers also knelt ahead of their home game with Tennessee.

Three players protested during early games.

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem last season to protest racial injustice.

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7:23 p.m.

New England rallied to beat Pittsburgh 27-24 on the road in a thrilling matchup of the AFC’s top two teams, while the Los Angeles Rams throttled Seattle 42-7 to take control of the NFC West.

Tom Brady drove the Patriots 77 yards in just five plays, and Dion Lewis scored from eight yards out to put New England ahead with just 56 seconds left. The Steelers reached the Patriots 7-yard line before Duron Harmon’s interception sealed the win for New England .

The Patriots can now clinch home-field advantage by winning their last two games.

The Rams had much less drama with Seattle, racing out to a 34-0 halftime lead and cruising to a five-touchdown win.

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6:02 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to protect their lead over the New England Patriots without wide receiver Antonio Brown.

The NFL’s leading receiver left in the second quarter with a left calf injury. The team says Brown was taken to the hospital for further evaluation and will not return.

Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes to Eli Rogers and Martavis Bryant as the Steelers took their first lead over the Patriots since 2011.

Pittsburgh held the ball for nearly 20 minutes in the first half, keeping Tom Brady and the New England offense on the sideline for long stretches.

—Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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5:40 p.m.

The Los Angeles Rams are dethroning the Seattle Seahawks from the top of the NFC West in emphatic fashion.

The Rams lead 34-0 at halftime after a thoroughly dominating the Seahawks in the first half. Todd Gurley has rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, including a 57-yard run on third-and-20 in the final minute of the first half as scored completely untouched .

The Seahawks left the field at halftime to the sound of boos after the ugliest first half in Pete Carroll’s tenure.

The 34 points were the most allowed in a first half by a Carroll-coached Seattle team. It’s also the biggest home deficit for the Seahawks since Carroll’s first season in 2010, when they trailed the Giants 35-0 at halftime on their way to a 41-7 loss.

The Rams can’t clinch the division with a victory. But they would have a two-game lead with two games remaining.

— Tim Booth reporting from Seattle.

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5:25 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to find out what they can do without wide receiver Antonio Brown.

The NFL’s leading receiver left their showdown with New England in the second quarter with a left leg injury. Brown was attempting to haul in a pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone when the leg got caught between two New England defenders. Brown didn’t put any weight on the leg leaving the field and went to the locker room for further evaluation with the game tied at 10-all.

—Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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4:40 p.m.

Nick Foles threw for four touchdowns to help the Eagles beat the Giants 34-29 and remain one game ahead of the Vikings, who throttled Cincinnati 34-7 to win the NFC North, in the battle for home-field advantage.

Cam Newton threw four TD passes and Carolina beat Green Bay 31-24 in Aaron Rodgers’ return. Rodgers had three touchdown passes but three interceptions.

The Saints held off the Jets 31-19 to keep pace with the Panthers in the NFC South.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are returning to the playoffs for the first time in a decade thanks to a 45-7 drubbing of rival Houston.

The Redskins, Bills and Ravens also won on Sunday. Baltimore beat Cleveland 27-10, leaving the woeful Browns just two losses away from a 0-16 season.

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4:30 p.m.

Ten Seattle Seahawks players knelt or sat for the national anthem before their home game against the Rams, among 17 players protesting this week.

Defensive players Michael Bennett, Dion Jordan, Sheldon Richardson, Marcus Smith, Quinton Jefferson, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark, Paul Dawson and Branden Jackson sat during the anthem, while offensive tackle Duane Brown knelt. No Rams players sat or knelt, but defensive end Robert Quinn had his fist raised during the anthem.

San Francisco safety Eric Reid, linebacker Eli Harold and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin knelt for the anthem ahead of their home game with Tennessee.

Three players protested during the early games.

— Tim Booth reporting from Seattle and Janie McCauley reporting from Santa Clara, California

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3:35 p.m.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has taken the field in a game for the first time in nearly 16 months.

With the Vikings leading the Cincinnati Bengals 34-0, Bridgewater replaced Case Keenum and drew a loud roar from the home crowd. Bridgewater dislocated his left knee in practice on Aug. 30, 2016, less than two weeks before the regular season. He returned to the active roster on Nov. 8 as Keenum’s backup.

The last time Bridgewater appeared in a non-exhibition game was Jan. 10, 2016, when the Vikings lost 10-9 to the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs.

— Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis

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3:17 p.m.

The Packers have announced that wide receiver Davante Adams has a concussion and will not return to Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Adams took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on an interception return by Colin Jones. As Adams was running to make the tackle on Jones, Davis hit Adams with a peel-back block, immediately sending the wide receiver to the ground.

Davis was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.

Davis immediately appeared to know what he had done wrong, cupping his head in hands as he sat on the Panthers bench.

Adams finished with five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.

—Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina

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2:45 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings are cruising toward their second NFC North title in three years.

They’re leading the Cincinnati Bengals 24-0 at halftime, needing a win to clinch the division crown. The Vikings have allowed only one first down and 42 total yards to the Bengals.

Cincinnati began the game missing five starters on defense to injuries. They lost a sixth when free safety George Iloka hurt his shoulder in the first quarter.

As if the game wasn’t bad enough, the Bengals are also dealing Sunday with reports that coach Marvin Lewis intends to leave the team after his contract expires following the season.

— Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis

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2:30 p.m.

Aaron Rodgers isn’t showing any lingering effects from a broken collarbone.

The Packers quarterback is 10 of 17 passing for 128 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the first half as Green Bay leads the Panthers 14-10. Green Bay (7-6) is looking to keep its playoff hopes alive with Rodgers playing in his first game since Oct. 15.

Along with displaying strong velocity on his throws , Rodgers has scrambled three times for 16 yards, twice sliding to avoid contact. Green Bay’s offensive line is doing its part to protect Rodgers, who hasn’t been sacked.

— Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina

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2:18 p.m.

The NFL and the Carolina Panthers have declined comment on a report that at least four former team employees received monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by owner Jerry Richardson.

Sports Illustrated reported that Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report states that the settlements came with non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details.

The NFL on Sunday said it has taken over the investigation of allegations of workplace misconduct by the 81-year-old owner. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment on the report.

Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said that the team requested that the league take over the investigation.

— Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina

2:00 p.m.

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy has become the NFL’s 30th player to surpass 10,000 yards rushing.

The ninth-year player, who entered the game against the Dolphins with 9,961 yards rushing, topped the milestone with a 14-yard gain in the second quarter. McCoy burst through a hole off right guard but was shaken up after a tackle by linebacker Kiko Alonso.

McCoy lay on the field for a few minutes before getting up on his own, and he returned after sitting out one play. McCoy scored his 80th career touchdown with a 4-yard run on Buffalo’s opening drive.

— John Wawrow reporting from Orchard Park, New York

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1:42 p.m.

Just three NFL players protested visibly during the national anthem at early games.

Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon was the only player to kneel during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” before New York hosted Philadelphia, and Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Julius Thomas took a knee prior to Miami’s game at Buffalo , according to the Miami Herald. All three have been protesting most of the season.

Roughly a couple dozen Saints, as they have since Week 4, knelt before the national anthem and then stood up as the song started prior to their home game against the Jets.

No players from the Saints or Jets knelt during the anthem.

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1:41 p.m.

Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee is questionable to return with an ankle injury.

Lee rolled his right ankle on a running play in the first quarter against Houston and had to be helped off the field and to the locker room.

Lee leads the Jaguars with 56 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns.

His injury is the latest to Jacksonville’s receiving corps. Allen Robinson was lost for the season in the opener, and Allen Hurns has missed five consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain.

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12:30 p.m.

The Packers likely need to win their last three games to reach the playoffs, and they hope the return of Aaron Rodgers will help against the Panthers.

Green Bay (7-6) is at Carolina (9-4) in one of the biggest games of the NFL’s Week 15. The Panthers are tied atop the NFC South with the Saints (9-4), who host the Jets.

Philadelphia (11-2), with Nick Foles replacing the injured Carson Wentz, has clinched the NFC East and can secure home-field with a win against the Giants and a Minnesota loss.

The Vikings (10-3) can lock up the NFC North by beating the Bengals.

Jacksonville (9-4) will earn a playoff spot with a win over the Texans, while the Bills (7-6) host Miami.

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