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Fournette’s four TDs lead Bucs past Colts, Bengals pound Steelers

INDIANAPOLIS: Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers carries the ball down the field as Bobby Okereke #58 of the Indianapolis Colts defends in the fourth quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday in Indianapolis, Indiana. – AFP

LOS ANGELES: Tom Brady completed 25 of 34 passes for 226 yards and running back Leonard Fournette scored four touchdowns as the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Indianapolis Colts 38-31 on Sunday. Fournette’s fourth touchdown came off a 28-yard run with just 20 seconds left in front of a crowd of 63,000 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Fournette busted loose for the long run and the touchdown while running left in an attempt to get within field-goal range for kicker Ryan Succop. He fell into the endzone after avoiding a couple of arm tackles by Colt defenders. “It was great capping off the game like that with a punch,” Fournette said. “It got scary at the end, but it’s a team sport. We came together and made it happen.”

Fournette finished with 100 yards rushing on 17 carries for the Buccaneers, who are in first place in the NFC South with an 8-3 record. Tampa receiver Rob Gronkowski caught seven passes for 123 yards. While the Bucs typically rely on Brady’s throwing arm with an occasional running play thrown in, the Colts like to rush the ball to set up passing opportunities and field goals. Jonathan Taylor, who leads the NFL in rushing, gained 83 yards on 16 carries in the loss. The 22-year-old tied the game at 31-31 with a four-yard run at the 3:29 mark. The difference was turnovers — the mistake-prone Colts had five and Brady took advantage of them.

Indianapolis had a final opportunity to get into overtime after Isaiah Rodgers returned a kickoff 72 yards to Tampa Bay’s 32-yard line. But quarterback Carson Wentz’s pass on the final play was intercepted by Pierre Desir at the two yard line to end the contest. Wentz completed 27 of 44 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble early in the third quarter as the Colts dropped to 6-6 to remain two games behind Tennessee in the AFC South. “It is frustrating,” Wentz said. “I don’t know how many times we can turn the ball over against a good team like that, that many times, and still score that many points. It’s not going to happen.”

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Elsewhere, Joe Mixon rushed for a career-high 165 yards as the Cincinnati Bengals clobbered the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-10 in Cincinnati. Mixon delivered a couple of one-yard touchdowns as the Bengals improved to 7-4 on the season. He has scored a touchdown in eight consecutive games. Mixon was coming off a 123-yard, two-touchdown game in a win over Las Vegas last week. Against the Steelers he scored 117 yards in just the first half. “To be honest, I feel like I’m starting to reach that point, my prime, like starting to get there,” said Mixon.

Cincinnati also swept the season series from the Steelers for the first time since 2009. The Bengals have now beaten Pittsburgh in three straight games. Quarterback Joe Burrow completed 20 of 24 passes for 190 yards with a touchdown. In Santa Clara, California, Deebo Samuel rushed for two touchdowns and Elijah Mitchell ran for 133 yards and a touchdown as the San Francisco 49ers held on for a 34-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings. In the late game, Lamar Jackson overcame a career-high four interceptions by throwing for 165 yards and rushing for another 68 yards as the Baltimore Ravens edged the Cleveland Browns 16-10. The Ravens improved to 8-3 on the season to take over top spot in the AFC standings. – AFP

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