Seahawks, Bengals, Colts secure playoff berths: NFL roundup
Ravens wrap up AFC North, Cowboys fall, Griffin III lifts Redskins to 6th straight win
SEATTLE — Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes to move into second place for TD passes by a rookie, Marshawn Lynch scored twice, and led by their rocking crowd the Seattle Seahawks clinched a spot in the NFC playoffs with a 42-13 rout of San Francisco on Sunday night.
Wilson threw TDs to Lynch, Anthony McCoy and two in the second half to Doug Baldwin to give him 25 for the season, one shy of Peyton Manning's record of 26. Lynch added 111 yards rushing and a 24-yard TD run on Seattle's opening drive that set the tone.
Richard Sherman returned a block field goal 90 yards for a touchdown and added an interception for the Seahawks (10-5).
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers (10-4-1) struggled with the deafening noise echoing around CenturyLink Field, making for a miserable 49th birthday for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh
PITTSBURGH — Josh Brown kicked a 43-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining to lift the Cincinnati Bengals over the Pittsburgh Steelers 13-10 on Sunday, sending the Bengals into the playoffs for a second straight season.
Andrew Luck has broken the NFL rookie record for yards passing, and rookie kicker Blair Walsh has broken the league mark for 50-yard plus field goals in a season.
On a Sunday featuring a slew of records, Luck topped Cam Newton's year-old mark for yards passing in the first half of Indianapolis' win at Kansas City. Newton's record was 4,051 yards. Luck entered the game needing 74 yards to break the mark. He finished with 205 yards and now has 4,183 yards with a game against Kansas City remaining in the regular season.
"Yes, it definitely means something," Luck said of the record. "And after the season I'll have a chance to look back and reflect on it. It's nice; obviously it's nicer to be in the playoffs but it's nice to have a couple records, which I'm sure will be broken in the next year."
Minnesota's Walsh kicked a 56-yard field goal in the second quarter against Houston, giving him a record ninth field goal of 50 yards or more.
Also, Redskins kicker Kai Forbath set the NFL record for consecutive field goals to begin a career with 17 straight. He had field goals of 45 and 42 yards in the first half against the Eagles. New Orleans' Garrett Hartley had 16 straight.
On Saturday, Detroit's Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season yards receiving record, and is at 1,892 with a game left. He also became the only NFL player with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games, and with 10-plus receptions in four straight games.
— The Associated Press
Brown missed a 56-yarder earlier in the quarter but earned a second chance when Reggie Nelson picked off Ben Roethlisberger and returned it to the Pittsburgh 46 with 14 seconds remaining. Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green for 21 yards on the next play, setting up Brown's game-winner.
Dalton completed 24 of 41 for 278 yards and two interceptions for the Bengals (9-6), who snapped a five-game losing streak to Pittsburgh (7-8).
Roethlisberger completed 14 of 28 passes for 220 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, including his costly mistake in the final seconds that ended Pittsburgh's playoff hopes.
KANSAS CITY — Andrew Luck threw for 205 yards to break the single-season rookie record, and his touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter Sunday gave the Indianapolis Colts a 20-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs and a berth in the playoffs.
Luck surpassed Cam Newton's year-old record of 4,051 yards passing by a rookie in the second quarter, and then came through in the closing minutes. He marched Indy to the Chiefs 7, and then found Wayne in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal for the go-ahead score.
It was the seventh time Luck has rallied his team to victory in the fourth quarter.
Darius Butler returned an interception 32 yards for a TD in helping the Colts (10-5) join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season.
BALTIMORE — Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants 33-14 Sunday to capture the AFC North title.
The Ravens (10-5) led 24-7 at halftime and cruised to the finish behind a short-handed defence that harassed quarterback Eli Manning and limited New York (8-7) to 186 yards.
Playing its second game with Jim Caldwell as offensive co-ordinator, Baltimore scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and amassed a season-high 533 yards — including 289 in the first half alone.
The victory ended a three-game skid for the Ravens and assured them of a home playoff game in the first weekend of January.
The defeat eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Giants (8-7) from contention in the NFC East and severely damaged their chances of qualifying for a playoff berth.
New York has lost five of seven and was coming off a 34-0 defeat at Atlanta.
PHILADELPHIA — Robert Griffin III threw two touchdown passes in his first game back from a knee injury, Kai Forbath set the NFL record for consecutive field goals to begin a career and the Washington Redskins held on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 for their sixth straight win.
Nick Foles drove the Eagles to the Redskins five before his intentional grounding penalty ended the game.
The Redskins (9-6) can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Dallas at home next Sunday. They haven't won it since 1999 and last reached the playoffs in 2007.
Trying to play spoiler, the Eagles (4-11) fell short in what could've been Andy Reid's last game coaching the team at the Linc. Reid is unlikely to return to Philadelphia for his 15th season next year.
ARLINGTON — Garrett Hartley kicked a 20-yard field in overtime, and the New Orleans Saints damaged Dallas' playoff hopes with a 34-31 victory against the Cowboys on Sunday.
Record day for Witten
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has broken the NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end.
Witten's 103rd catch of the season came in overtime Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Tony Gonzalez held the mark with 102 catches for Kansas City in 2004.
Witten had consecutive catches in overtime, the second being his sixth of the game.
— The Associated Press
Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns and led a drive to the winning kick. The Saints all but clinched it when a fumble by Marques Colston rolled forward about 20 yards to the Dallas 2. Jimmy Graham recovered.
The Cowboys lost despite rallying for two touchdowns in the final 3:35 of regulation. Tony Romo, who threw for 416 yards and four scores, hit Miles Austin for the tying touchdown with 15 seconds left in regulation.
The playoff hopes for the Saints (7-8) ended with Minnesota's victory against Houston. The Cowboys (8-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost control of their playoff fate.
DENVER — Denver won its 10th straight game Sunday as Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes for the 72nd time of his career in a 34-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Denver (12-3) pulled into a tie for first place in the AFC with Houston, which fell 23-6 to the Vikings.
Manning finished with 339 yards on 30-for-43 passing. Von Miller was in on two sacks for the Broncos, the second of which knocked Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden out of the game with a right shoulder injury.
Miller has 17 1/2 sacks on the season, breaking Elvis Dumervil's franchise record.
If Denver defeats Kansas City at home next week and Houston loses at Indianapolis, the Broncos would be the AFC's top seed.
HOUSTON — Adrian Peterson rushed for 86 yards, falling far short of the 2,000-yard mark, yet helping the Minnesota Vikings keep their playoff hopes alive with a 23-6 upset of the Houston Texans.
Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass, Toby Gerhart added a score and Blair Walsh kicked three field goals.
The loss kept the Texans (12-3) from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They could still secure a first-round bye if Denver loses later Sunday.
Peterson had his lowest rushing total since getting 79 yards on Oct. 14 in a loss at Washington. He has 1,898 this season and needs 208 yards to break the NFL single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.
The Texans failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2006.
JACKSONVILLE — Tom Brady overcame a rough start by throwing two touchdown passes, and the playoff-bound New England Patriots held on to beat the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16.
Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter, the second one helping the Jaguars (2-13) build a 10-0 lead.
But the Jaguars faded in the third quarter for the fourth consecutive week, lost for the 11th time in the last 12 games and set a franchise record for losses in a season.
Brady had a lot to do with the home team's latest setback, finding his rhythm after a sluggish start and picking apart Jacksonville's defense.
He hooked up with Wes Welker for a 2-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots (11-4) ahead 23-13, what seemed like plenty of cushion against the offensively challenged Jaguars.
But Jacksonville had two chances to tie things in the closing minutes.
EAST RUTHERFORD — San Diego sacked Greg McElroy 11 times, ruining the New York Jets quarterback's first NFL start, and Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes in the Chargers' 27-17 victory.
McElroy, the third-stringer who was starting for the benched Mark Sanchez, moved the offence for the Jets (6-9) early but faced pressure all game.
With a chance to get New York back into it with less than 5 minutes remaining, McElroy was sacked by Shaun Phillips and lost the ball. Phillips recovered and San Diego sealed the win.
With most of the pregame drama centered around whether Sanchez or Tim Tebow would back up McElroy (it was both) Rivers made long touchdown tosses of 37 yards to Danario Alexander and 34 yards to Antonio Gates to lead the Chargers (6-9).
It was Gates' 82nd touchdown catch, snapping a tie with Lance Alworth for the franchise lead.
MIAMI — Reggie Bush caught two touchdown passes and scored on a short run Sunday to help the Miami Dolphins beat the Bills 24-10.
Six minutes after they won, the Dolphins (7-8) were eliminated from playoff contention when Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh.
The Bills (5-10) came into the game assured of missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year.
While Bush led an efficient offence, safety Reshad Jones recovered two fumbles and made an interception at the Miami 1 with 71 seconds left to seal the victory.
The Dolphins stymied Buffalo's offence playing with a patchwork secondary that included starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson, acquired Tuesday after being waived by Cleveland.
Bush's first TD catches of the season covered 17 and 12 yards.
TAMPA — Sam Bradford tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth TD of the season Sunday, helping the St. Louis Rams keep their hopes for a winning record alive with a 28-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bradford connected with Lance Kendricks on an 80-yard scoring play on the first play of the third quarter. The Rams (7-7-1) intercepted Josh Freeman four times, turning three of the turnovers into TDs, including Jenkins' pick and 41-yard return early in the second quarter.
Steven Jackson rushed for 81 yards and one TD, moving within 10 yards of reaching 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season for the Rams, who can finish with a winning record for the first time since 2003 by beating Seattle next week.
Tampa Bay (6-9) turned the ball over five times and was stopped on downs twice inside the Rams 10 en route to its fifth straight loss.
GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, Ryan Grant scored twice and Randall Cobb set a single-season franchise record for net yardage Sunday as the Green Bay Packers routed the Tennessee Titans 55-7 on Sunday.
The victory ensured the Packers (11-4) will at least be the NFC's No. 3 seed. They still have a shot at the No. 2, and the first-round bye that goes with it , if Seattle beats San Francisco on Sunday night.
It was the first time the Packers have scored more than 50 points since 2005.
Jake Locker and the Titans (5-10) had a miserable day. Locker was sacked seven times and picked off twice, and Tennessee needed until 1:39 left in the game to avoid the shutout.
CHARLOTTE — Cam Newton threw for 171 yards and a touchdown and ran for 60 yards and another score, and the Carolina Panthers defeated the Oakland Raiders 17-6 on Sunday.
The Panthers held the Raiders to 189 total yards and 12 first downs in a game featuring several shoving matches, plenty of heated exchanges and six unnecessary roughness penalties, including one that sidelined Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer for the day.
Even Newton drew a flag after bumping an official with his chest for what he perceived as the latest in a series of late hits by Raiders defenders. Newton was not ejected.
Newton and the Panthers built a 14-3 lead at halftime and let linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Greg Hardy do the rest.
Oakland's offence was essentially rendered useless after Hardy delivered a blow to Palmer's back late in the first quarter. Matt Leinart managed only 115 yards passing in three-plus quarters.
Newton accounted for 231 of the 271 yards for the Panthers (6-9), who have now won four of their last five under coach Ron Rivera.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Chicago's defence scored two touchdowns and the Bears beat the Arizona Cardinals 28-13 on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score, the third pick he's brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another Bears score.
Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 68 yards and a TD, breaking the Bears franchise record for yards receiving in a season in the process.
Chicago (9-6) snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.