Bengals 13, Steelers 10
Josh Brown kicked a 43-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining to lift the visiting Cincinnati Bengals over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, sending the Bengals into the playoffs for a second straight season. 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.
Packers 55, Titans 7
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 as the host Green Bay Packers routed the Tennessee Titans. 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. It was the first time the Packers scored more than 50 points in a game since 2005.
Colts 20, Chiefs 13
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 gave the visiting Indianapolis Colts a victory 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 Indianapolis to the Chiefs’ 7-yard line, 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 rallied his team to victory in the fourth quarter.
Dolphins 24, Bills 10
Reggie Bush caught two touchdown passes and scored on a short run to help the host Miami Dolphins beat the Bills. 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 offense, safety Reshad Jones recovered two fumbles and made an interception at the Miami 1 with 71 seconds left to seal the victory.
Chargers 27, Jets 17
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 visiting Chargers’ victory. McElroy, the third-stringer who was starting for the benched Mark Sanchez, moved the offense 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.
Redskins 27, Eagles 20
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 visiting Washington Redskins held on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles for their sixth straight win. Nick Foles drove the Eagles to the Redskins 5 before his intentional-grounding penalty ended the game. The Redskins (9-6) can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Dallas at home Sunday. They haven’t won it since 1999 and last reached the playoffs in 2007.
Rams 28, Buccaneers 13
Sam Bradford tossed two touchdown passes and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth TD of the season, helping the visiting St. Louis Rams keep their hopes for a winning record alive with a 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.
Panthers 17, Raiders 6
Cam Newton threw for 171 yards and a touchdown and ran for 60 yards and another score, and the host Carolina Panthers defeated the Oakland Raiders. 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.
Patriots 23, Jaguars 16
Tom Brady and the playoff-bound Patriots settled down in time to beat the host Jaguars. Brady overcame a rough start by throwing two touchdown passes, and New England held on for a win. Brady had 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. New England, coming off a 41-34 home loss to San Francisco, avoided consecutive losses in December for the first time since 2002.
Vikings 23, Texans 6
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 an upset of the host 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 lost 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.
Saints 34, Cowboys 31 (OT)
Garrett Hartley kicked a 20-yard field in overtime, and the visiting New Orleans Saints damaged Dallas’ playoff hopes with a victory against the Cowboys. 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.
Ravens 33, Giants 14
Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, and the host Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants to capture the AFC North title. The Ravens (10-5) led 24-7 at halftime and cruised to the finish behind a short-handed defense that harassed quarterback Eli Manning and limited New York (8-7) to 186 yards. Playing its second game with Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator, 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 out of seven and was coming off a 34-0 defeat at Atlanta.
Bears 28, Cardinals 13
Chicago’s defense outscored Arizona all by itself on a day when the visiting Bears had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score and Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another touchdown in the Bears’ victory over the punchless Cardinals. It was the third interception Tillman has brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. 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. To make the playoffs as a wild card, the Bears must win at Detroit in their regular-season finale next Sunday, then have Minnesota lose to Green Bay or have Seattle lose its final two games. Matt Forte gained 88 yards in 12 carries, including a 4-yard TD run, for Chicago before leaving with an ankle injury early in the second half. Jay Cutler completed just one of his first 11 passes, then went 5-of-5 on a touchdown drive in the final minutes of the first half. He finished 12-of-26 for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Seahawks 42, 49ers 13
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 host Seattle Seahawks clinched a spot in the NFC playoffs with a rout of San Francisco. 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.