NFL Weekend in Review
UNDATED (AP) — The last three AFC division races were decided on Sunday, but the four NFC division crowns remain in play.
Carolina has a one-game lead over New Orleans in the NFC South after Cam Newton's 14-yard touchdown pass to Dominek Hixon with 23 seconds gave the Panthers a 17-13 win over the Saints. After being held to 116 yards passing for the game's first 59 minutes, Newton led the 11-4 Panthers 65 yards in 32 seconds for the go-ahead score. The last-minute TD also gave Carolina its first playoff berth since 2008.
The 10-5 Saints still haven't clinched a playoff berth. New Orleans closes against Tampa Bay, while Carolina visits Atlanta.
The NFC East and North division races will come down to games pitting the first- and second-place teams. That scenario was secured when the Eagles crushed Chicago 54-11 in Philadelphia, preventing the Bears from clinching the NFC North.
The Eagles rolled up 510 yards of total offense, with LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown combining for 248 rushing yards. McCoy ran for 133 yards and a pair of TDs, and Brown capped his 115-yard game with a 65-yard scoring run.
Nick Foles threw both of his scoring strikes while the Eagles were building a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
Philadelphia leads the NFC East by one game over the Cowboys heading into their game next Sunday night in Dallas. The Cowboys stayed alive by beating the Redskins 24-23 on Dan Bailey's extra point following Tony Romo's 10-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray on fourth down with 1:08 remaining. Romo rallied the Cowboys from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit and hit Murray for the winning score following a long scramble. Dallas snapped a two-game skid, as well as a four-game losing streak in the month of December. Murray rushed for 96 yards and scored twice.
Green Bay's playoff hopes stayed alive with the Bears' loss in Philly, but the Packers dropped to 7-7-1 with a 38-31 setback against Pittsburgh. Le'Veon (LEH'-vee-ahn) Bell broke a 31-all tie by running for a one-yard touchdown with 1:25 remaining. Bell finished with 124 yards on 26 carries, and Ben Roethlisberger (RAWTH'-lis-bur-gur) threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to help the Steelers improve to 7-8.
Matt Flynn threw for a touchdown but had his lone interception returned 40 yards by Cortez Allen for a second-half TD. Flynn also fumbled to set up the game-winning score.
The Packers and Bears will play for the NFC North crown next Sunday in Chicago.
Arizona kept its playoff hopes alive, prevented Seattle from clinching the NFC West and ended the Seahawks' 14-game home win streak. Carson Palmer overcame four interceptions to throw a 31-yard touchdown to Michael Floyd with 2:13 left to lift the Cardinals past the Seahawks 17-10.
After Seattle took a 10-9 lead on Russell Wilson's 11-yard scoring pass to Zach Miller with 7:26 left, Palmer led the Cardinals 75 yards and found Floyd for a juggling TD catch. Palmer's TD throw leaves the Cardinals at 10-5.
Wilson had one of his worst days as a pro, rushing twice for 32 yards and completing just 11 of his 27 passes for 108 yards and one interception as the Seahawks dipped to 12-3. However, Seattle will claim its division if San Francisco loses to Atlanta on Monday night.
Over to the American Football Conference, where Peyton Manning's record-setting afternoon helped the Denver Broncos wrap up the AFC West crown and a first-round bye. Manning broke the single-season record for passing touchdowns while engineering the Broncos' 37-13 rout of Houston. Manning threw for four touchdowns to give him 51 for the season, breaking Tom Brady's mark. The record-breaking toss was a 25-yarder to Julius Thomas with just over four minutes left.
Manning threw for 400 yards for the 12-3 Broncos, leaving him on pace to break Drew Brees' single-season record for passing yards. He completed 32-of-51 passes with no interceptions.
The Denver victory, combined with Kansas City's home loss to Indianapolis, gives the division title to the Broncos as well as a first-round bye.
Houston drops to 2-13 with a franchise-record 13th straight loss.
Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards and a touchdown to lead Indianapolis to a 23-7 win over the Chiefs. The 10-5 Colts took advantage of four turnovers by the Chiefs to win for the fifth time in their last six tries against Kansas City. Donald Brown scored twice for the Colts, once taking a short pass from Luck and rumbling 33 yards. He also scored on a 51-yard touchdown run.
Kansas City's Alex Smith threw for 153 yards but fumbled once and was picked off twice after throwing just six interceptions his first 14 games. Jamaal Charles ran for 106 yards and the game's opening score.
New England did both Miami and Cincinnati a favor by destroying the Ravens 41-7 in Baltimore. The outcome allowed the Bengals to win the AFC North and set up a four-team scramble between the Dolphins, Ravens, Chargers and Steelers for the second AFC wild-card berth.
LeGarrette Blount ran 16 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Blount's second TD sparked a game-ending span in which the Patriots scored three touchdowns in the final 2:05. The last two scores came on Chandler Jones' fumble recovery in the end zone and Tavon Wilson's 74-yard interception return for the 11-4 Pats.
Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes as the Bengals pulled away to a 42-14 victory over Minnesota. Dalton has thrown 31 touchdown passes this season, one off the team record. He finished the game 27-38 for 366 yards and no interceptions.
Linebacker Vincent Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown as the Bengals remained perfect at home this season.
Buffalo added to its NFL leading sack total with seven more and shut down Miami's offense in 19-0 win. The Dolphins loss gave the AFC East title to New England.
The Bills defense limited the Dolphins to a season-low 103 total yards. Buffalo now has a franchise-record 56 sacks for the season.
Fred Jackson rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown for the 6-9 Bills, who also got four field goals from former Dolphin Dan Carpenter.
Also in the NFL:
- The Giants eliminated Detroit from the playoff hunt as Josh Brown drilled a 45-yard field goal on the third drive of overtime to give New York a 23-20 win over the Lions. Detroit had a 20-13 lead until Will Hill returned a Matthew Stafford interception 38 yards for a touchdown with 4:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. Stafford was picked off twice while completing just 25 of his 42 passes for 222 yards. The 7-8 Lions lost for the fifth time in six games.
- The Chargers kept their playoff hopes alive, but they'll still need help next Sunday. Philip Rivers threw for 201 yards and a go-ahead touchdown pass to Keenan Allen as San Diego downed Oakland 26-13. Nick Novak hit four field goals and Ryan Mathews ran for 99 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the 8-7 Chargers held the 4-10 Raiders to 261 total yards, including 59 on 17 carries.
- Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes to David Nelson and ran for another score as the Jets topped Cleveland 24-13. Smith finished 20 of 36 for 214 yards and ran for 48 more without committing a turnover. Chris Ivory had 109 yards on 20 carries for the 7-8 Jets, who intercepted Jason Campbell twice as the 4-11 Browns lost their sixth straight.
- Nate Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter, as Tennessee ended a three-game losing streak with a 20-16 victory over Jacksonville. Washington had 117 yards on six catches for the 6-9 Titans, who overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and won for just the third time since September.
- Zac Stacy rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown to pace St. Louis to a 23-13 victory over the Tampa Bay. Robert Quinn had three of the seven sacks of the Buccaneers' Mike Glennon to give him an NFC-high 18, breaking Kevin Carter's franchise record of 17 sacks in 1999. The 4-11 Buccaneers managed just 170 total yards, setting a season low for the second straight week. The Rams improved to 7-8.