Seahawks, Packers, Cowboys, Steelers in playoffs
Dec. 22, 2014
Now that they've qualified for the postseason, there's no relaxing for the Packers, Lions, and Steelers.
Nor for the Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys, Patriots and Broncos.
Week 15 saw defending Super Bowl champion Seattle secure its passage to the playoffs with a 35-6 rout of Arizona on Sunday night. It also had Dallas clinching the NFC East; Pittsburgh setting up a showdown for the AFC North title with Cincinnati; Green Bay and Detroit winning to head into their own battle for the NFC North crown at Lambeau Field; and New England moving a step closer to home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
New Orleans fell out of the race — if you want to call it that — for the NFC South, losing at home to Atlanta. With Carolina beating Cleveland, the Panthers guaranteed that next week's visit to the Falcons will be for the division championship — even though the winner will have a losing record.
Buffalo saw its meager postseason hopes disappear; Baltimore took a major hit in its playoff aspirations; Houston stayed alive in the AFC wild-card chase; and San Diego took control of that very chase.
Meanwhile, the Bengals (9-4-1) host the Broncos (11-3) on Monday night. Denver already owns a playoff spot, but trails New England for the AFC's top slot.
Got it all?
SEAHAWKS 35, CARDINALS 6
Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, while visiting Seattle set a franchise record with 596 yards of offense. With its fifth straight win and ninth in 10 games, Seattle (11-4) moved into a tie with Arizona atop the NFC West. The Seahawks swept the Cardinals. Both already have clinched playoff berths.
"We believe in each other and have been working so hard," Wilson said. "Our defense makes us work in practice, we make them work."
Wilson had the longest run of his career (55 yards) and matched the longest pass of his career (80) to Luke Willson. Marshawn Lynch had a spectacular, multiple tackle-breaking 79-yard TD jaunt.
Seattle hosts St. Louis and Arizona is at San Francisco to finish up.
COWBOYS 42, COLTS 7
Dallas (11-4) ended a four-year playoff drought with Tony Romo throwing four touchdown passes and breaking Troy Aikman's franchise record for yards passing. The last three seasons, the Cowboys went into their finale with a chance to take the NFC East and lost. No such worries now.
"In so many ways, this is such a long journey and to get to a point to achieve your first goal of winning the division title, a lot goes into that," said coach Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys could wind up the NFC's top seed after playing at Washington next Sunday.
The visiting Colts (10-5) barely avoided their first shutout loss in 21 years.
PACKERS 20, BUCCANEERS 3
At Tampa, Aaron Rodgers threw for 318 yards and one touchdown to help the Packers (11-4) clinch a wild-card playoff berth. The NFC North is theirs if they beat the Lions next week.
Eddie Lacy scored on a 44-yard run, Jordy Nelson caught a 1-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter and had nine receptions for 113 yards, while Randall Cobb finished with 11 catches for 131 yards.
The Bucs (2-13) have lost five straight and have a strong shot at the first overall pick in the 2015 draft.
LIONS 20, BEARS 14
At Chicago, Calvin Johnson added six catches for 103 yards for Detroit (11-4), which got the winning TD on Joique Bell's fourth-quarter 17-yard run. Ndamukong Suh had two sacks.
The Bears (5-10) benched quarterback Jay Cutler this week in favor of Jimmy Clausen, but it didn't help them avoid their sixth home loss.
STEELERS 20, CHIEFS 12
At Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown caught seven passes and a touchdown for the Steelers (10-5), who have won seven of nine. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 220 yards and a touchdown, Le'Veon Bell added a score and the defense didn't allow a touchdown.
Kansas City's Alex Smith passed for a season-high 311 yards but was sacked six times. The Chiefs (8-7) have lost four of five and need to beat San Diego next Sunday for any chance to get to January.
FALCONS 30, SAINTS 14
At New Orleans, Julio Jones returned from a hip injury to catch seven passes for 107 yards.
Matt Ryan completed 30 of 40 passed for 322 yards and a touchdown, and Devonta Freeman ran for a 31-yard score for Atlanta (6-9).
The Saints (6-9) committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter, lost their fifth straight at home and were eliminated. One of those giveaways came when Jimmy Graham fumbled inside the Atlanta 1 early in the fourth quarter.
PANTHERS 17, BROWNS 13
Cam Newton threw for one touchdown and ran for another as host Carolina (6-8-1) took over sole possession of first place in the NFC South. On the 2010 Seahawks reached the postseason in a non-strike-shortened season with a losing record. And they actually won a wild-card game.
Newton threw for 201 yards and ran for 63 yards just 12 days after he suffered two fractures in his lower back following an automobile accident. Jonathan Stewart ran for 122 yards and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Johnny Manziel made his second NFL start for Cleveland (7-8) but left with 1:49 remaining in the first half with a hamstring injury and did not return.
PATRIOTS 17, JETS 16
New York couldn't find the end zone enough, and that doomed it.
Jonas Gray scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter after the Patriots intercepted Geno Smith, and New England clinched a first-round playoff bye.
Tom Brady threw a 3-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski for the Patriots (12-3), who could earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if Denver loses at Cincinnati. Or with a victory at home against Buffalo next Sunday.
Nick Folk's 52-yard field goal attempt could have given host New York (3-12) a lead with just over five minutes left, but it was partially blocked.
TEXANS 25, RAVENS 13
At Houston, Arian Foster threw a touchdown pass and Randy Bullock made a franchise-record six field goals. The Texans (8-7) remained in the wild-card hunt, needing a win and several teams to lose next week.
With three quarterbacks hurt, the Texans started Case Keenum, who got his first win in nine NFL starts. But Foster was the star. He ran for 96 yards, and he took a pitch from Keenum and, with a defender in his face, threw a 5-yard TD pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz.
The Ravens (9-6) now need some help to make the postseason after Joe Flacco threw a season-high three interceptions.
RAIDERS 26, BILLS 24
At Oakland, Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes and Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals.
The Bills (8-7) needed to win their final two games and get some help to end the NFL's longest active playoff drought at 14 seasons. Didn't happen.
Oakland (3-12) has the second-longest active postseason drought at 12 years.
DOLPHINS 37, VIKINGS 35
At Miami, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced that Joe Philbin will return as coach next season. Ross made his announcement in the locker room shortly after the Dolphins (8-7) won on a safety.
Rookie Terrence Fede blocked a punt for a safety with 41 seconds left for the decisive points.
Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdown passes against Minnesota (6-9).
GIANTS 37, RAMS 27
At St. Louis, the spectacular rookie Odell Beckham Jr. caught two touchdown passes and had 148 yards receiving against a defense that hadn't allowed a TD in three straight games.
Beckham set a franchise rookie record with his 10th and 11th TD catches, and went over 1,000 yards while shrugging off a pair of late hits in the second quarter. The second led to a brawl and three ejections.
The Giants (6-9) had a season-best 514 yards in total offense and have won three in a row. They had lost seven straight before the current winning streak.
Kenny Britt made nine catches for 103 yards and Tre Mason had 13 carries for 76 yards and a score for the Rams (6-9).
CHARGERS 38, 49ERS 35, OT
Nick Novak's 40-yard field goal won it after Philip Rivers rallied San Diego back from a 21-point deficit. The Chargers (9-6) will advance by winning at Kansas City next Sunday.
Rivers threw a tying 11-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd with 29 seconds left in regulation. After Quinton Patton fumbled in overtime for the 49ers (7-8), Novak made his kick.
The host 49ers blew just their second game when leading by 21 or more at halftime. They lost 42-41 to Minnesota on Oct. 24, 1965, after leading 35-14 at halftime.
REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 24
Philadelphia was knocked from contention with this defeat and the Dallas win. Kai Forbath kicked 26-yard field goal with 5 seconds left after Mark Sanchez was picked off.
The host Redskins (4-11) snapped a six-game losing streak. The Eagles (9-6) lost their third in a row.
Robert Griffin III returned as the Washington starter and won in his first complete game in more than a year.
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