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Patriots down Jaguars and secure division title, Texans upset Colts

Patriots down Jaguars and secure division title, Texans upset Colts

The New England Patriots clinched the AFC East crown in beating Jacksonville 24-21 on Sunday, and probably knocked the Jaguars out of the NFL playoffs for the second successive season.
Tom Brady directed three long touchdown drives, capped one with a perfect touch pass to David Thomas, and helped the Patriots clinch their fourth consecutive division title.
New England (11-4) also crippled Jacksonville's postseason chances. The Jaguars (8-7) need to win at Kansas City next week and get lots of help to return to the playoffs as a wild card.
Laurence Maroney, who missed the previous two games with torn rib cartilage, had a 27-yard touchdown run to put the Patriots ahead 24-14 with 4:36 remaining.
Brady had 31 yards rushing, but was at his best in the pocket, completing passes to 10 receivers and picking apart the NFL's second-ranked defense. He finished 28-of-39 for 249 yards.
Maurice Drew, starting in place of Fred Taylor (hamstring), had a 74-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and scored again in the third quarter to finished with 131 yards rushing and 41 yards receiving.
Texans 27, Colts 24
At Houston, Ron Dayne had a career-high 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Kris Brown kicked the winning 48-yard field goal as time expired, giving Houston its first win over Indianapolis.
The loss denied the AFC South champion the chance to clinch a first-round playoff bye.
It was the first time Dayne had gained 100 yards since September 2001.
The Texans (5-10) exploited the Colts' suspect run defense, ranked last in the NFL, and broke a nine-game losing streak to Indianapolis (11-4).
Houston led for most of the game, until Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison connected for their second touchdown, this one a 7-yard pass that tied it 24-24 with 2:41 remaining.
David Carr, 16-of-23 for 163 yards, and the Texans then engineered a six-play, 31-yard drive that ended with Brown's winning kick.
Ravens 31, Steelers 7
At Pittsburgh, Steve McNair threw three touchdown passes and Baltimore moved ahead in the race for a first-round AFC playoffs bye. They shut down Pittsburgh for the second time in a month and eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion from playoff contention.
The Ravens (12-3) matched a franchise record for victories in a season set by their Super Bowl championship team in 2000 and swept the season series from the despised Steelers (7-8) for the first time since the former Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996. They also won in Heinz Field for the first time since their initial game there in 2001.
With Ben Roethlisberger (156 yards passing, 2 interceptions) and Willie Parker (29 yards on 13 carries) again having rough afternoons against one of the NFL's top defenses, the Steelers (7-8) became the first Super Bowl champions since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 to miss the playoffs the following season.
Titans 30, Bills 29
At Orchard Park, New York, Vince Young threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another, keeping Tennessee's playoff hopes alive with a win over Buffalo.
Young also engineered his fourth comeback in the fourth quarter or overtime, rallying Tennessee from a 29-20 deficit. After hitting Brandon Jones for a 29-yard touchdown pass, Young led a 14-play, 75-yard drive, which Rob Bironas capped with a 30-yard field goal with 2:10 left.
The Titans (8-7), who have won six straight, close their season hosting New England. While they need help, they're still in the running to become the first NFL team to qualify for the playoffs after a 0-5 start.
The Bills (7-8) had their postseason hopes end as they were unable to complete a last-minute scoring drive. They elected against a field goal from the Titans 28, as they were driving into a wind that was gusting up to 20 mph (32 kph).
Panthers 10, Falcons 3
At Atlanta, Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak and all but ended Atlanta's playoff hopes by shutting down the NFL's top running attack.
The Falcons, who lead the league with 193 yards rushing per game, were outrushed 183-83 by a balanced Carolina attack that helped fill-in quarterback Chris Weinke snap a 17-game losing streak as a starter since his 2001 rookie season.
Weinke completed only 4 of 7 passes for 32 yards, including a 1-yard scoring pass to Jeff King. The Panthers (7-8) won the game on the ground. DeShaun Foster rushed for 102 yards on 28 carries. DeAngelo Williams added 21 carries for 82 yards rushing.
The Falcons (7-8) lost their fourth straight at home for the first time since 1989.
Saints 30, Giants 7
At East Rutherford, New Jersey, Reggie Bush ran for a career-best 126 yards and a touchdown, and New Orleans limited New York to six first downs and 142 yards.
The Saints (10-5) can clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a bye if Dallas losses either of its final two games or with a home win next week against Carolina.
Unbelievably, the Giants (7-8), who didn't have a snap in Saints' territory, remain in the playoff hunt despite losing for the sixth time in seven games. The sellout crowd was so upset with the performance that twice it chanted "Fire Coughlin" toward coach Tom Coughlin before heading for the exits.
Rams 37, Redskins 31, OT
At St. Louis, Steven Jackson wrapped up a big day with a 21-yard touchdown run in overtime and Marc Bulger tied his career best with four touchdown passes in St. Louis' victory over Washington.
The Rams (7-8) rallied on the day the team's 95-game, 11-year streak of regular-season sellouts ended with an attendance of 62,324 _ more than 3,000 shy of capacity.
Ladell Betts tied a franchise record with his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game for the Redskins (5-10), and topped 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career.
Jackson had 150 yards on 33 carries and six catches for 102 yards, a 252-yard day that allowed him to become the Rams' first 2,000-yard man since Marshall Faulk in 2001. Isaac Bruce caught nine passes for 148 yards, giving him his eighth 1,000-yard season.
Bears 26, Lions 21
At Detroit, backup quarterback Brian Griese directed a 72-yard drive that set up Robbie Gould's field goal midway through the fourth quarter, helping Chicago beat Detroit.
Gould's fourth field goal _ after Jon Kitna made his NFL-high 30th turnover _ gave Chicago a five-point cushion with 2:50 left while starting QB Rex Grossman watched from the sideline.
With a chance for a winning touchdown, the Lions drove to the Chicago 22. Kitna threw a pass into the end zone on the final play that leaping wide receiver Mike Williams got his hands on, but couldn't control.
Buccaneers 22, Browns 7
At Cleveland, Derrick Brooks returned one of Tampa Bay's four interceptions 21 yards for a touchdown and Tampa Bay won its first road game in more than a year.
The Buccaneers (4-11) had lost eight straight outside Florida since winning at Carolina on Dec. 11 last season. But they had little trouble with Cleveland (4-11), which lost its third straight, managed just 187 yards of offense, and was taunted by its own fans.
Broncos 24, Bengals 23
At Denver, Cincinnati lost on a snowy day when Brad St. Louis' long snap on an extra point in the final minute sailed wide of holder Kyle Larson.
That was enough to hand a win to Denver (9-6), which can clinch a playoff spot with a win next week against San Francisco.
Needing only to beat the Broncos to get into the postseason, the Bengals (8-7) drove 90 yards in 12 plays, with Carson Palmer tossing a 10-yard touchdown strike to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 46 seconds left. Then came the bad snap that doomed the Bengals.
The Broncos got four takeaways, two from Champ Bailey, who recorded his NFL-high ninth interception and recovered Chad Johnson's first career fumble.
The Bengals lost for the eighth straight time in Denver despite big games from Houshmandzadeh (nine catches, 94 yards) and Rudi Johnson (30 carries, 129 yards and a touchdown).
Denver's Jay Cutler became the first NFL quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns in each of his first four games.
Chargers 20, Seahawks 17
At Seattle, Philip Rivers, who missed on 22 of his first 28 passes, found Vincent Jackson alone in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left to lift San Diego over stunned Seattle.
But Arizona's upset at San Francisco minutes earlier meant Seattle (8-7) clinched its third consecutive NFC West title despite its third straight loss.
San Diego (13-2), the AFC West champion, clinched a first-round bye and will need to beat Arizona to ensure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Shaun Alexander ran for 140 yards and both Seattle touchdowns to rally the Seahawks from a 10-0 deficit in the second half.
Then Rivers got going. He completed two throws for 24 yards before Jackson made his second touchdown catch of the game.
Cardinals 26, 49ers 20
At San Francisco, Matt Leinart passed for 162 yards before spraining his left shoulder in the first half, and Kurt Warner finished up with 105 yards passing in Arizona's fourth victory in six games that eliminated San Francisco from postseason contention.
Edgerrin James had 105 yards to become Arizona's first 1,000-yard rusher in eight years, and Marcel Shipp ran for a score as the Cardinals (5-10) jumped to an early 20-3 lead, then held on for their fourth straight win over the 49ers (6-9). Arizona is a division-best 4-2 against NFC West opponents during its eighth consecutive losing season.
Alex Smith passed for 190 yards, and Frank Gore rushed for just 51 yards for the 49ers, failing to surpass Garrison Hearst's single-season rushing record.


Updated : 2020-12-05 08:10 GMT+08:00