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NFL Today, Week 17

December 31, 2018

SCOREBOARD

Saturday, Jan. 5

Tennessee-Indianapolis winner at Houston, 4:35 p.m. The Titans and Colts were playing Sunday night for the opportunity to face Deshaun Watson and the Texans, who won the AFC South and will make their fifth playoff appearance.

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Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks wrapped up the No. 5 seed in the NFC on Sebastian Janikowski’s 33-yard field goal on the final play for a 27-24 win over Arizona. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys enter the playoffs having won seven of their last eight games.

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STARS

Passing

— Dak Prescott, Cowboys, passed for 387 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, including three to Blake Jarwin, and added a winning 2-point conversion pass to Michael Gallup with 1:12 to play as playoff-bound Dallas beat the New York Giants 36-35.

— Tom Brady, Patriots, threw for three first-half touchdowns — four overall — and New England clinched its ninth straight first-round bye in the playoffs with a 38-3 win over the New York Jets.

— Jared Goff, Rams, had four touchdown passes to help Los Angeles secure a first-round playoff bye with a 48-32 victory over San Francisco.

— Matt Ryan, Falcons, had his first career reception for a touchdown and also threw for 378 yards and two TDs to help Atlanta top Tampa Bay 34-32.

— Josh Allen, Bills, had a career-best three touchdown passes and scored two more rushing and ran for 95 yards in Buffalo’s 42-17 win over Miami.

— Jameis Winston, Buccaneers, was 22 of 35 for 345 yards and four TDs with one interception in Tampa Bay’s 34-32 loss to Atlanta.

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Rushing

— C.J. Anderson, Rams, rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown in Los Angeles’ 48-32 win over San Francisco in his second 100-yard game in place of Todd Gurley, who sat out again to rest his knees.

— Chris Carson, Seahawks, had 122 yards and a TD on 19 attempts in Seattle’s 27-24 win over Arizona.

— Saquon Barkley, Giants, had 109 yards rushing and a touchdown and finished with 142 yards from scrimmage in New York’s 36-35 loss to Dallas.

— Kenneth Dixon, Ravens, ran for 117 of Baltimore’s season-high 296 yards rushing in a 26-2 win over Cleveland.

— Dwayne Washington, Saints, rushed for 108 yards on 11 carries in New Orleans’ 33-14 loss to Carolina.

— Jordan Howard, Bears, had two TD runs and finished with 109 yards on 21 attempts in Chicago’s 24-10 win at Minnesota.

— Alfred Morris, 49ers, rushed for 111 yards and a score in San Francisco’s 48-32 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

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Receiving

— Blake Jarwin, Cowboys, caught three touchdown passes in Dallas’ 36-35 victory over the New York Giants.

— George Kittle, 49ers, had nine receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown in San Francisco’s 48-32 loss to the Rams and set the NFL record for most yards receiving in a season by a tight end with 1,377.

— DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, had 12 catches and 147 yards receiving in Houston’s 20-3 win over Jacksonville.

— Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds, Rams. Each had two TD catches in Los Angeles’ 48-32 win over San Francisco.

— Julio Jones, Falcons, caught nine passes for 138 yards and a TD in Atlanta’s 34-32 win at Tampa Bay.

— Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, Buccaneers. Each had two touchdown receptions in Tampa Bay’s 34-32 loss to Atlanta.

— Zay Jones, Bills, had six catches for 93 yards and two TDs in Buffalo’s 42-17 rout of Miami.

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Special Teams

— Matt Prater, Lions, threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Levine Toilolo on a fake field-goal try in Detroit’s 31-0 victory at Green Bay.

— Sebastian Janikowski, Seahawks, kicked a 33-yard field goal on the final play to lead Seattle to a 27-24 win over Arizona.

— Matt Bryant, Falcons, kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, provided the winning points in Atlanta’s 34-32 victory at Tampa Bay after Jameis Winston rallied the Bucs from a 31-20 deficit to a one-point lead with just over five minutes to go.

— Cameron Malveaux and Dennis Gardeck, Cardinals. Malveaux blocked a punt and Gardeck recovered it for a touchdown in Arizona’s 27-24 loss at Seattle.

— Matt McCrane, Steelers, booted three field goals after being acquired earlier in the week, to help Pittsburgh top Cincinnati 16-13.

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Defense

— Cory Littleton, Rams, returned one of his two interceptions for a TD to help Los Angeles top San Francisco 48-32.

— Kyle Van Noy, Patriots, returned a fumble by Sam Darnold 46 yards for a TD in New England’s 38-3 victory over the New York Jets.

— Reshad Jones, Dolphins, scored a touchdown on a 29-yard interception return in Miami’s 42-17 loss at Buffalo.

— Daniel Sorensen, Chiefs, brought back an interception 54 yards for a TD in Kansas City’s 35-3 win over Oakland.

— Olivier Vernon, Giants, had 2 1/2 sacks in New York’s 36-35 loss to Dallas.

— J.J. Watt, Texans, had 1 1/2 sacks in Houston’s 20-3 win over Jacksonville to give him 16 this year for his fourth season with 15 or more sacks, second most in NFL history to Reggie White’s five.

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WELCOME!

Six of the 11 teams that qualified for the playoffs did not play in the postseason last year: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle. Indianapolis was playing Tennessee on Sunday night, and would increase that number to seven if the Colts win.

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WORST-TO-FIRST

Chicago won the NFC North and Houston took the AFC South title, both completing worst-to-first turnarounds. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

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MILESTONES

The Giants’ Saquon Barkley ended the season with 91 catches, breaking Reggie Bush’s NFL record (88) for most receptions by a rookie running back. The No. 2 overall pick also finished with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, joining Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history. ... Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins had 12 catches and 147 yards receiving against Jacksonville, giving him 115 receptions and 1,572 yards receiving — both career highs. His catch total tied Andre Johnson (2008) for the most in franchise history. He’s the fourth player in NFL history (Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison and Brandon Marshall) to have at least 100 receptions, 1,500 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns in multiple seasons. ... Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who ran for 66 yards, is the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards (4,165) and 25 touchdowns (26) and rush for 500 yards (551) and five touchdowns (five) in a season. ... Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara joined Herschel Walker as the only running backs in NFL history to have 1,500 yards rushing and receiving in their first two NFL seasons combined. ... Buffalo’s Josh Allen had eight TD runs this season, the second most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Cam Newton had 14 in 2011. With a 35-yard scamper in the third quarter of the Bills’ 42-17 win over Miami, Allen topped the single-season team record for yards rushing by a quarterback with 630. ... Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield threw three touchdown passes in a 26-24 loss at Baltimore to finish with 27, an NFL record for a rookie.

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STREAKS & STATS

Miami’s defense allowed 381 yards in a 42-17 loss at Buffalo to finish the season with a franchise-worst 6,257 yards allowed. Its previous worst was 6,122, set in 2016. ... Detroit’s 31-0 victory at Green Bay gave the Lions their fourth straight win against their NFC North rival for the first time since 1982-83. ... New England clinched its ninth straight first-round bye in the playoffs with a 38-3 victory over the New York Jets. ... Carolina led New Orleans 23-0 at halftime, marking the first time since coach Sean Payton was hired by New Orleans in 2006 that the Saints were shut out at home in a first half. The Panthers won 33-14.

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HIT THE ROAD

Some teams started cleaning out their coaching staffs right away. The New York Jets fired Todd Bowles after four seasons and a 24-40 record with no playoffs. Tampa Bay also parted ways with Dirk Koetter after he was 19-29 in three years with the Buccaneers. Cleveland and Green Bay are also looking for new coaches after making in-season changes.

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HOME SWEET HOME

The Patriots finished the season undefeated at home, where they’ll have at least one playoff game. After back-to-back December losses left the Patriots with a losing record on the road, they finished with two straight wins in New England to finish with the NFL’s only perfect home record and avoid playing in the wild-card round for the first time since 2009.

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KC MASTERPIECES

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes threw 50 touchdown passes this season, joining Peyton Manning (55 in 2013) and Tom Brady (50 in 2007) as the only players with at least 50 in a single season in NFL history. Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had five receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard reception in a 35-3 win over Oakland, giving him 16 career TDs of at least 50 yards — tying him with Gale Sayers for the most such scores by a player in his first three seasons. Hill also set the Chiefs’ single-season record with 1,479 yards receiving.

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TENACIOUS TEXANS

The Houston Texans clinched the AFC South title as Deshaun Watson threw for 234 yards and ran for a touchdown, and DeAndre Hopkins had 147 yards receiving in a 20-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans (11-5) won nine in a row after starting 0-3 to save their season, and will make their fifth playoff appearance after winning the division for the fifth time in franchise history. Houston returns to the postseason for the third time in four years after bouncing back from last year’s 4-12 record in a season when Watson and J.J. Watt sustained season-ending injuries.

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DAK ATTACK

Dallas’ Dak Prescott threw a 32-yard fourth-down touchdown pass to Cole Beasley on a play that was reversed by video replay and added a winning 2-point conversion pass to Michael Gallup with 1:12 to play as the NFC East champion Cowboys rallied twice in the final 10 minutes to beat the New York Giants 36-35. Prescott was 27 of 44 for 387 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, three to tight end Blake Jarwin.

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FOND FAREWELL

Buffalo’s Kyle Williams, who is retiring, got to enjoy his final game by contributing on both offense and defense in the Bills’ 42-17 win over Miami. On first-and-10 from Miami’s 40, Williams caught a 9-yard pass with under five minutes left. The crowd cheered and began chanting “Kyle Williams!” after he made the catch and was pushed out bounds. With 2 minutes left, the crowd stood and began chanting: “Thank you, Kyle!” The only thing missing was a sack from Williams, who closed the season with five and his career with 48½ — the most by a Bills defensive tackle.

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STEPPING IN

Undrafted rookie Kyle Allen passed for 228 yards and two touchdowns before injuring his shoulder, and the Carolina Panthers cruised to a 33-14 victory over a Saints squad looking ahead to the playoffs. Allen, a third-stringer pressed into service with Cam Newton and backup Taylor Heinicke out, also ran for a short touchdown as Carolina snapped a seven-game slide. He led the Panthers to three TDs and a field goal on the first four drives of his first NFL start. He played until the fourth quarter, when he was hit hard by Saints rookie end Marcus Davenport while releasing an incomplete pass.

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TEDDY’S BACK

Having already clinched the NFC’s top seed, New Orleans coach Sean Payton scratched several healthy offensive starters against Carolina, including record-setting quarterback Drew Brees. That gave Teddy Bridgewater the opportunity to start an NFL game for the first time since the 2015 season. The move gave Bridgewater a chance to rebuild his credentials as a potential NFL starter after missing most of the past two seasons with a career-threating knee injury. He struggled much of the game, however, going 14 of 22 for 118 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Saints’ 33-1 loss.

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THEY CAN CATCH, TOO

A pair of quarterbacks caught touchdown passes in their games Sunday, with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill doing their best wide receiver impressions. It marked the first week in the Super Bowl era in which multiple quarterbacks recorded a TD reception.

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SIDELINED

The Philadelphia Eagles were down to their third-string quarterback at the end of their playoff-clinching victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Nick Foles left the game with a chest injury in the fourth quarter, and Nate Sudfeld relieved him and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass on his only attempt. Foles said after the game he was sore near his ribs and would know more Monday. ... Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers left with a concussion in the second quarter of the Packers’ 31-0 loss to the Detroit Lions. ... Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth left the field gingerly with a knee injury in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t return, but rookie Joseph Noteboom appeared to play well in his absence. Coach Sean McVay said he was cautiously optimistic Whitworth’s injury is no more than a bruise. ... Kansas City, the AFC’s top seed, had three defensive players injured in a victory over the Oakland Raiders: linebacker Reggie Ragland (hip), free safety Jordan Lucas (neck) and defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (concussion). ... The NFC North champion Chicago Bears could be thin at wide receiver for their playoff game against the Eagles next week. Anthony Miller injured a shoulder against the Vikings and didn’t return. Taylor Gabriel suffered a rib injury a little later, leaving the Bears with only three healthy receivers.

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SPEAKING

“No matter the situation, even when it’s not looking good, everybody wants to ignore us and say we’re finished. We just ignored the noise, come to fight, work hard, every week.” — New England safety Duron Harmon after the Patriots’ secured a first-round bye with a 38-3 win over the Jets.

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“Slow delivery, lollipop, but it was on target, so that was a plus,” Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford on kicker Matt Prater, who threw an 8-yard TD pass to Levin Toilolo on a fake field goal in the Lions’ 31-0 win at Green Bay.

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