Eagles beat Cowboys for final playoff spot
Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 131 yards and a receiving score and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys, 24-22, in a win-or-go-home game for the NFC East title last night.
The Cowboys (8-8), with Kyle Orton filling in two days after Tony Romo had back surgery, lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year.
The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans a wild-card game Saturday night.
Dallas trailed 24-16 when Orton threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Orton went back to Bryant for the 2-point conversion, but Cary Williams dove to punch the ball away.
The Cowboys got another chance with a stop from their beleaguered defense, but Orton’s pass was intercepted by Brandon Boykin on the first play to seal the win.
McCoy finished with 1,607 yards.
PACKERS 33, BEARS 28
Aaron Rodgers fired a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute, and Green Bay beat Chicago to capture the NFC North title.
Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide open Cobb on fourth-and-8 at the 48 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.
Green Bay will host San Francisco in the playoffs next weekend.
The Bears had one final drive, but Jay Cutler’s deep pass to Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Sam Shields on the final play.
That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
BENGALS 34, RAVENS 17
Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records, leading Cincinnati to a victory that eliminated defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
It was an erratic performance by the third-year quarterback, who also threw four interceptions for AFC North winner Cincinnati (11-5).
The Ravens (8-8) lost their last two games, denying them a chance to make the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
BRONCOS 34, RAIDERS 14
Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to help Denver clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
Manning needed just one half to add the yards record to the touchdown mark he set last week and assure that the Broncos (13-3) won’t have to leave home again until the Super Bowl if they make it that far. He threw touchdown passes to Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter and added two to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. He broke Drew Brees’s record of 5,476 yards set in 2011 with a 5-yard pass to Thomas with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 31-0.
That ended Manning’s day having completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards. He finished the season with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes.
SAINTS 42, BUCCANEERS 17
Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans (11-5) clinched a wild-card spot with a victory over Tampa Bay.
Three of Brees’s scoring strikes were longer than 40 yards – 76 to Kenny Stills, 44 to Lance Moore and 41 to Robert Meachem. Brees passed for 381 yards, eclipsing 5,000 yards in a season for an unprecedented fourth time. He finished the season with 5,162 yards to go with 39 touchdowns.
CHARGERS 27, CHIEFS 24, OT
Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime, ending San Diego’s three-year playoff drought.
The Chargers (9-7) needed help for weeks, and everything fell into place, with the last piece being their win over a Chiefs team that already had clinched the AFC’s No. 5 seed and rested 20 of 22 starters.
The Chargers, who trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, held the Chiefs on downs to win it after they reached the San Diego 41.
Earlier in the day, the Chargers got the help they needed when Miami and Baltimore both lost. San Diego has won four straight and five of six heading into a wild-card game next weekend at AFC North champion Cincinnati.
The Chiefs (11-5) go into the playoffs having lost five of seven. They play at AFC South champion Indianapolis.
SEAHAWKS 27, RAMS 9
Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seahawks clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the St. Louis Rams.
Seattle (13-3) matched the franchise record for wins in a season and finally wrapped up the No. 1 seed after losses to San Francisco and last week to Arizona, which snapped a 14-game home winning streak.
Russell Wilson finished 15-of-23 for 172 yards.
JETS 20, DOLPHINS 7
The Dolphins (8-8) were eliminated from the scramble for the AFC’s final wild-card berth by the Jets, who thrived in the role of spoilers against their rivals.
Then owner Woody Johnson said Coach Rex Ryan would return despite the Jets (8-8) sitting out the postseason themselves for the third year in a row.
Geno Smith led three long scoring drives, ran for a touchdown and threw for 190 yards, while two interceptions by rookie Dee Milliner and one by 35-year-old Ed Reed prevented a Miami comeback.
STEELERS 20, BROWNS 7
Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers drubbed the Cleveland Browns, though Pittsburgh’s bid to become the second team in NFL history to go winless in September and make the playoffs ended when San Diego edged Kansas City.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions as the Steelers (8-8) won their third straight to avoid the franchise’s first losing season since 2003.
PANTHERS 21, FALCONS 20
Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks and the Panthers clinched the NFC South.
The Panthers (12-4) earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Carolina, which won 11 of its final 12 games, set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defense also produced a touchdown on Melvin White’s 7-yard interception return in the second quarter.
49ERS 23, CARDINALS 20
Phil Dawson made a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift San Francisco over Arizona to clinch the NFC’s No. 5 playoff seed.
San Francisco will visit Green Bay in the wild-card round next weekend.
Dawson had matched his career best with a 56-yarder to put the 49ers (12-4) up 20-17 with 1:45 to go. Jay Feely’s 43-yard field goal then tied it for Arizona with 34 seconds left. LaMichael James’s 45-yard kickoff return and two quick completions by Collin Kaepernick set up Dawson’s game winner.
Arizona (10-6) rallied from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit to tie it on Carson Palmer’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts with 3:20 remaining.
COLTS 30, JAGUARS 10
Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead and Adam Vinatieri joined the 2,000-point club.
The AFC South champs have won three straight, matching their longest streak of the season. Indy (11-5) finished with a 6-0 mark against division foes and has outscored its last three opponents 78-20.
Jacksonville (4-12) lost its third straight.
TITANS 16, TEXANS 10
Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans, a win that may help Coach Mike Munchak’s argument to stay on the job in 2014.
With their 14th straight loss, the Texans (2-14) clinched the No. 1 selection in next May’s draft for the next head coach owner Bob McNair hires.
The Titans (7-9) scored 16 straight points in snapping a five-game home skid that was their longest since leaving Houston for Tennessee in 1997. They also won a second straight game for the first time since September, when they started 3-1.
GIANTS 20, REDSKINS 6
New York’s Jerrel Jernigan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran 49 yards for another score in what might be Mike Shanahan’s final game as Redskins coach.
Shanahan has not only seen the Redskins (3-13) finish the season with an eight-game losing streak just a year after winning the NFC East, but his future is uncertain because of his shaky relationship with oft-injured franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The Giants (7-9) also aren’t going to the playoffs, but they closed the season with a 7-3 record after losing their first six games.
VIKINGS 14, LIONS 13
Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two more touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings won their final game at the Metrodome after 32 seasons.
With the Vikings (5-10-1) and the Lions (7-9) out of the playoffs, both coaches also faced the possibility of their last full day with their teams. Jim Schwartz fell to 29-52 in five years with the Lions. Leslie Frazier raised his record with the Vikings in three-plus years to 21-33-1.