As it is, this was going to be an emotional afternoon for Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who grew up in suburban Atlanta and was playing at the Falcons for the first time as a pro — and, more meaningfully, the first time since he was treated for cancer in the city.
“I shed a few tears before the game. I shed a few during the game. And I shed a few after,” Berry said. “So I think I held it together pretty good.”
Did he ever.
Berry picked off a 2-point conversion throw and returned it 99 yards for the go-ahead score with 4 1/2 minutes left, after earlier going 37 yards with an
interception for a TD, leading Kansas City to a 29-28 victory over Atlanta.
He accounted for eight points all by himself, more than the output of three entire teams Sunday (Carolina, Miami and San Francisco).
“The last time I came home during the season, it was to get chemotherapy,” said Berry, who had a mass found in his chest late in the 2014 season that turned out to be lymphoma. “This time, it was actually to play the game, so I was just thankful for the opportunity.”
Berry earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors last season, when he helped Kansas City reach the playoffs. The Chiefs (9-3) are in line for a wild-card berth at the moment, and their Thursday night showdown against the Oakland Raiders (10-2) could determine which team winds up winning the AFC West.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season’s 13th Sunday:
YOU ARE WHAT YOU WEAR
It was bizarre enough that reigning MVP Cam Newton was not on the field for the opening play of Carolina’s 40-7 loss to Seattle. It was even nuttier that Panthers backup QB Derek Anderson was picked off on that play. And it was downright ludicrous-sounding when Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he held out Newton for what he termed a “travel dress-code violation.” (On a serious note, the most significant moment of this lopsided game was when Seahawks safety Earl Thomas broke his left leg.)
TOM GETS 201
Tom Brady set a record for most career victories by a quarterback, including postseason, with No. 201 — one more than Peyton Manning — as New England beat Los Angeles 26-10 to improve to 10-2. Brady is 201-61 as a starter in the NFL, a “Did I read that right?” winning percentage of .767. The Rams, meanwhile, confirmed that they gave coach Jeff Fisher a two-year contract extension a while back. Yes, you read that right. The lasting image of Fisher from the day his team dropped to 4-8: When he searched his coat pocket, struggling to locate his red challenge flag. (Then again, why does the NFL even have that silly system for challenging calls?)
BRADLEY AND BORTLES
No one would be surprised if the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) have a new coach AND a new quarterback next season. That’s because the team has posted double-digit loss totals in each of Gus Bradley’s four years in charge, as of a 20-10 loss to Denver and backup rookie QB Paxton Lynch. And Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ pick-6 against the Broncos means his career total of interceptions returned for TDs (11) is higher than his NFL victory total (10).
The Dallas Cowboys (11-1) became the first NFL team to clinch a playoff berth this season, and they did it without playing a down Sunday, because NFC East rival Washington (6-5-1) lost at Arizona 31-23 . Dallas edged Minnesota 17-15 on Thursday night.
ICYMI, OTHER GAMES
In other games Sunday, it was Ravens 38, Dolphins 6 ; Bears 26, 49ers 6 ; Bengals 32, Eagles 14 ; Packers 21, Texans 13 ; Raiders 38, Bills 24 ; Buccaneers 28, Chargers 21 ; Steelers 24, Giants 14 . The Jets host the Colts on Monday night.
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