Panthers 17, Saints 13
Cam Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left to lift the Carolina Panthers to a win over the visiting New Orleans Saints and clinch the team’s first playoff berth since 2008 on Sunday.
Carolina (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win next Sunday at Atlanta.
The Panthers intercepted Drew Brees twice and sacked him six times to avenge a 31-13 loss two weeks ago.
Still, the Panthers needed some last-minute big plays from Newton to seal the win. After being held to 116 yards passing for the game’s first 59 minutes, Newton led the Panthers 65 yards in 32 seconds for the go-ahead score.
The Saints (10-5) can still clinch a playoff berth if Arizona loses to Seattle.
New Orleans’ road woes persist. The Saints have dropped five of their last six games away from the Superdome.
Cowboys 24, Redskins 23
Tony Romo threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray on fourth down with 1:08 remaining, giving the Dallas Cowboys a win over the host Washington Redskins and setting up a winner-take-all regular season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles next week for the NFC East title.
After a one-point, meltdown loss to the Green Bay Packers the previous week, the Cowboys nearly pulled a repeat — blowing a second-half lead after committing turnovers on back-to-back drives.
But Romo recovered and rallied the Cowboys from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit. He hit Murray after a long scramble as Dallas snapped a two-game skid — as well as a four-game losing streak in the month of December.
The Cowboys (8-7) host the Eagles next week for the division crown.
Steelers 38, Packers 31
Le’Veon Bell scored a 1-yard touchdown with 1:28 left and the Pittsburgh Steelers withstood Green Bay’s last throw into the end zone, dealing the host Packers’ playoff hopes a blow with a wild win.
Bell soon scored five plays after scrambling Packers quarterback Matt Flynn fumbled while being tackled by safety Troy Polamalu. The Steelers recovered at the Green Bay 17.
Micah Hyde returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards and the Packers (7-7-1) moved through the snow to the Pittsburgh 1. After a penalty, Flynn’s pass was incomplete on the final play.
Despite the win, Pittsburgh (7-8) was eliminated from the playoff race after the Chargers beat the Raiders.
Chargers 26, Raiders 13
Philip Rivers threw a go-ahead, 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie Keenan Allen in the third quarter and San Diego remained alive in the playoff race by overcoming three turnovers to beat visiting Oakland.
The Chargers also got help from Buffalo, which beat Miami 19-0, and was getting help from New England, which was leading Baltimore.
The Chargers (8-7), who have won three straight games for the first time this season, need more help to end a three-year playoff drought. They have to beat Kansas City at home next Sunday and have Miami and Baltimore both lose.
Bills 19, Dolphins 0
Kyle Williams had two sacks as Buffalo set a single-season record and put a dent into visiting Miami’s playoff chances with a win.
Fred Jackson had 111 yards rushing and scored on a 9-yard run, while the Bills limited the Dolphins to a season-low 103 yards offense and six first downs. The Bills (6-9) closed their home schedule with seven sacks for 56 this season, breaking their previous high of 50 during a 14-game season in 1964.
Colts 23, Chiefs 7
Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards and a touchdown, Donald Brown ran 51 yards for another score and Indianapolis beat host Kansas City in a potential preview of an AFC wild-card playoff game.
The Colts (10-5) took advantage of four turnovers by the Chiefs (11-4) to win for the fifth time in their last six tries against Kansas City. If Indianapolis ends up as the No. 4 seed and the Chiefs the No. 5 for the playoffs, they’ll meet again at Lucas Oil Stadium in two weeks.
Alex Smith threw for 153 yards for Kansas City, but he also lost a fumble and was picked off twice. He had thrown just six interceptions in the first 14 games.
Titans 20, Jaguars 16
Nate Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter, Tennessee got a defensive stop late and the Titans ended a three-game losing streak with a victory over host Jacksonville.
The Titans (6-9) overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and won for just the third time since September.
Washington made several key plays, none bigger than when he slipped behind Alan Ball for the go-ahead score. He finished with six catches for 117 yards.
The Jaguars (4-11) were in position to take the lead, but Ropati Pitoitua stuffed Maurice Jones-Drew on a fourth-and-1 play at the Tennessee 20 with 5:21 remaining.
Giants 23, Lions 20 (OT)
Josh Brown’s 45-yard field goal on the third drive of overtime lifted New York to a win over host Detroit and eliminated the Lions from postseason contention.
Detroit (7-8) lost for the fifth time in six games.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz chose to play for overtime by running out the clock with 23 seconds and two timeouts left from the Detroit 25. When the crowd reacted with a chorus of boos, Schwartz turned his head toward the stands and appeared to angrily shout back at the fans.
Cardinals 17, Seahawks 10
Carson Palmer overcame four interceptions to throw a 31-yard touchdown to Michael Floyd with 2:13 left, and Arizona kept playoff hopes alive with a win over host Seattle, snapping the Seahawks’ 14-game home win streak.
Arizona (10-5) had to win after Carolina beat New Orleans. And the Cardinals did thanks to a stingy defense that flustered Russell Wilson into one of his worst days as a pro, delaying any celebration of an NFC West championship. The Seahawks can still clinch the NFC West with a win over St. Louis Sunday.
Patriots 41, Ravens 7
Logan Ryan had two interceptions, LeGarrette Blount scored twice and playoff-bound New England breezed past host Baltimore, ending the Ravens’ four-game winning streak and diminishing postseason hopes of the defending Super Bowl champs.
This rematch of the AFC championship game was a mismatch from the outset. New England took a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter and never let up behind a defense that forced four turnovers and had four sacks.
Broncos 37, Texans 13
Peyton Manning threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter to surpass the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007. Manning led the Broncos (12-3) to a win over the host Texans (2-13) that extended Houston’s franchise-record skid to 13 games.
Manning did it on a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas with 4:28 remaining. Just 2 ½ minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to Eric Decker.
He entered the game with 47 and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter, and the second one was a 10-yard throw to Decker earlier in the fourth period.
Bengals 42, Vikings 14
Linebacker Vincent Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown and Cincinnati’s defense set up another fast start, and Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes and the Bengals pulled away to a victory over visiting Minnesota.
The Bengals (10-5) remained perfect at home and clinched an unprecedented third straight playoff appearance when Miami lost at Buffalo 19-0. They could clinch the AFC North title if Baltimore lost at home to New England later Sunday.
Rams 23, Buccaneers 13
Zac Stacy rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown, and two other rookies also had big games for the St. Louis Rams in their victory over visiting Tampa Bay.
Stedman Bailey scored on a 27-yard reverse, and Alec Ogletree forced two fumbles.
Robert Quinn had three of the seven sacks of Mike Glennon to give him an NFC-high 18, breaking Kevin Carter’s franchise record of 17 sacks in 1999.
Eagles 54, Bears 11
Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, LeSean McCoy ran for two scores and host Philadelphia routed Chicago in a matchup of first-place teams with opposite stakes. Chicago’s loss sets up two winner-take-all games for NFC division crowns next week.