Bears clinch 1st playoff berth since 2010, beat Packers
CHICAGO (AP) — Mitchell Trubisky threw for two touchdowns, Eddie Jackson ended Aaron Rodgers’ NFL-record streak without an interception and the Chicago Bears clinched the NFC North with a 24-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
The Bears (10-4) secured their first playoff appearance since the 2010 team won the division, and clinching with a rare victory over their heated rivals made it all the more sweet.
The loss, coupled with Minnesota’s 41-17 victory over Miami, keeps the Packers out of the postseason for the second year in a row.
Chicago had dropped nine of 10 against Green Bay (5-8-1). But the Bears secured their first trip to the playoffs in eight years with their seventh win in eight games.
For a team that came into the season with four straight last-place finishes, it’s quite a turnaround. But with the hiring of coach Matt Nagy and trade for Khalil Mack in a busy offseason, the Bears made a huge jump.
Trubisky gave them a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard pass to Trey Burton in the left side of the end zone. After stopping the Packers, Tarik Cohen returned a punt 44 yards to the 15. But he stepped out of bounds a yard short on a third-and-5 at the 10 when he easily could have gotten the first down.
That forced the Bears to settle for a field goal by Cody Parkey, making it 24-14. The Packers then drove to the 9, but on third down, Jackson picked off Rodgers, ending his streak at 402 passes.
STEELERS 17, PATRIOTS 10
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Rookie running back Jaylen Samuels, making his second start in place of injured James Conner, ran for a career-high 142 yards and made a critical third-down reception in the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh snapped a three-game losing streak as Ben Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with two first-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The Steelers (8-5-1) remained in front of Baltimore in the AFC North with two weeks to go in the season.
Chris Boswell, who has struggled so badly this season the team held open tryouts during the week, atoned for a 32-yard miss in the third quarter by drilling a 48-yarder with 2:30 remaining.
Pittsburgh’s defense, which let fourth-quarter leads slip away each of the last two games, made it stand. The Patriots (9-5) missed a chance to clinch their 10th straight AFC East title when Tom Brady’s pass into the end zone for Julian Edelman was knocked down by Pittsburgh’s Morgan Burnett.
Brady finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards with a touchdown and an interception while losing to the Steelers for the first time since 2011 and just the third time in 14 career meetings. The uncharacteristically sloppy Patriots were flagged 14 times for 106 yards.
EAGLES 30, RAMS 23
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles hope they’re about to make another late-season run that begins with another big road win over the Rams.
Foles took over for Carson Wentz and passed for 270 yards, and Wendell Smallwood rushed for two touchdowns in the Eagles’ victory over Los Angeles.
Rookie Josh Adams also rushed for a score as the Eagles (7-7) kept their playoff hopes alive with a gritty victory over the Rams (11-3), who lost consecutive regular-season games for the first time in coach Sean McVay’s tenure.
The Eagles scored 17 consecutive points in the third quarter and then survived the Rams’ late rally. They got help from Los Angeles returner JoJo Natson, who fumbled a punt return that D.J. Alexander recovered with 2:51 to play.
After Philadelphia’s Jake Elliott missed a field goal with 1:08 left, Jared Goff got the Rams to the Philadelphia 18 with 4 seconds to play — but he couldn’t connect with Josh Reynolds on a pass to the goal line as time expired.
COLTS 23, COWBOYS 0
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Marlon Mack rushed for a career-high 139 yards and two scores and the Colts shut out one of the league’s hottest offenses. The Colts (8-6) stayed in the AFC playoff hunt with their seventh win in eight games and their first shutout since a 27-0 victory over Cincinnati on Oct. 19, 2014.
Dallas (8-6) failed to clinch the NFC East as its five-game winning streak ended.
Mack starred in Sunday’s big show. He set the tone by running through a tackle for a 19-yard gain on his first carry, wound up carrying 22 times and matching a career high with the two scoring runs — all against the league’s No. 3 rushing defense.
It marked the first time since Week 9 that Dallas allowed a team to top the 100-yard mark, and the Cowboys were shut out for the first time in more than 15 years. New England was the previous team to achieve the feat with a 12-0 victory on Nov. 16, 2003.
Mack even outperformed Ezekiel Elliott, who came into the weekend as the NFL’s leading rusher. Elliott had 18 carries for 87 yards and caught seven passes for 41 yards.
49ERS 26, SEAHAWKS 23
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Robbie Gould kicked a 36-yard field goal with 3:06 left in overtime and the 49ers snapped a 10-game losing streak against Seattle.
Nick Mullens threw for 275 yards and a touchdown to help the 49ers (4-10) win consecutive games for the first time this season. Richie James Jr. returned a kick 97 yards for a touchdown and Gould kicked four field goals to give San Francisco its first win in the rivalry since 2013, when Jim Harbaugh was still coach.
The Seahawks (8-6) had their four-game winning streak snapped and missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth. Russell Wilson threw for 237 yards with two TD passes to Doug Baldwin and Chris Carson ran for 119 yards and a score for Seattle. But Wilson was unable to generate any points on his final three drives.
VIKINGS 41, DOLPHINS 18
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dalvin Cook had a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns on a season-high 19 carries as the Vikings recommitted themselves to running the ball.
Latavius Murray added 68 rushing yards and a score on 15 of the team’s season-high 40 attempts. The Vikings (7-6-1) converted each of their first three drives under interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski into touchdowns before turning the game over to the defense.
Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter each had two of the nine sacks of Ryan Tannehill, totaling 71 lost yards for the Dolphins (7-7). Miami came crashing down from the euphoria of defeating New England with that double-lateral 69-yard score on the final play last week.
Minkah Fitzpatrick returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and Kalen Ballage scored on a 75-yard run on the first snap of the second half to bring the Dolphins within 21-17. But on their next five possessions they netted a staggering minus-27 yards on 16 plays.
Though Chicago won the NFC North by beating Green Bay, the Vikings moved a critical step closer to returning to the postseason. With enough help, they could clinch the second wild-card spot next week.
TITANS 17, GIANTS 0
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Bruising halfback Derrick Henry had his second straight big game with a career-high 33 carries for 170 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Henry, who had a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Jacksonville on Dec. 6, scored on 1-yard runs in the first and third quarters.
That was all the Titans’ defense needed on a wet and rainy day at MetLife Stadium as it shut down Saquon Barkley (31 yards on 14 carries) in helping Tennessee win its third straight game, matching its season high.
The defense limited New York to 260 yards, had three sacks, a third-quarter interception that stopped a New York drive inside the red zone with the score 7-0, and a forced fumble that set up Henry’s second TD.
The shutout was the Titans’ first since a 31-0 win over the Cowboys on Christmas Day in 2000. It needed a late stand to make it happen.
It was the first time New York was blanked since Arizona posted a 23-0 win last Dec. 24.
Eli Manning finished 21 of 44 for 229 yards as New York lost for only the second time in six games since the bye week.
Marcus Mariota hit 13 of 20 passes for 88 yards as the Titans ground it out against New York, rushing 42 times for 216 yards.
RAVENS 20, BUCCANEERS 12
BALTIMORE (AP) — Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson picked apart the Tampa Bay defense on a soggy field, running for 95 yards and throwing for 131.
Anointed the starter over veteran Joe Flacco earlier in the week, Jackson justified the decision with a riveting performance. Slipping between and sliding around potential tacklers, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner operated the run-pass option in much the same fashion as during his glory days at Louisville.
Jackson directed two drives that lasted more than seven minutes, carried 18 times and completed 14 of 23 passes, one of them for a touchdown.
Baltimore (8-6) is 4-1 since Jackson took over for the injured Flacco, the only loss in overtime at Kansas City. Jackson has rushed for 427 yards in those five games.
Tampa Bay (5-9) simply couldn’t find a way to stop Jackson and the running game, which amassed 242 yards on 49 attempts. Baltimore is the first team since the 1976 Steelers to rush for at least 190 yards in five straight games, according to the Ravens.
Baltimore’s second-ranked defense did its part, holding the Buccaneers to one touchdown and 241 yards.
REDSKINS 16, JAGUARS 13
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Josh Johnson’s first NFL start in more than seven years ended with a victory, snapping the Redskins’ four-game losing streak and keeping them on the fringe of the NFC playoff picture.
Johnson and Adrian Peterson drove the Redskins (7-7) into field-goal range in the closing minutes, and Dustin Hopkins made a 36-yarder on the final play to win it.
Washington had lost every game since quarterback Alex Smith sustained a season-ending leg injury.
The Jaguars (4-11) have dropped nine of 10, raising more questions about the future of coach Doug Marrone, decision-maker Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell.
Jacksonville managed 192 yards, another anemic performance under Marrone.
Washington was better, especially late.
Johnson, the team’s fourth starting quarterback in as many weeks, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Sprinkle with 5:47 remaining that tied it. He completed 16 of 25 passes for 151 yards and the score. He also ran for 49 yards.
Peterson edged him on the final drive, finishing with 51 on the ground.
FALCONS 40, CARDINALS 14
ATLANTA (AP) — Julio Jones made an acrobatic touchdown catch and Deion Jones returned an interception for an early score as the Falcons snapped a five-game losing streak.
The Falcons (5-9) forced three turnovers and sacked Arizona’s Josh Rosen seven times, a single-game season high for both teams. Arizona (3-11) has dropped two straight and five of six under first-year coach Steve Wilks.
Julio Jones caught six passes for 82 yards, all in the first half. His 22-yard score in the closing seconds before intermission put the Falcons up 26-7. Jones beat Patrick Peterson’s bump-and-run coverage down the left sideline, turning the cornerback around and twisting around him to make a diving catch.
Matt Ryan ran for a 1-yard score early the second quarter and finished with 231 yards passing. Matt Bryant added two short field goals and Tevin Coleman had a 43-yard TD run in the third quarter as Atlanta won for the first time since Week 9 at Washington.
Grady Jarrett had two of the Falcons’ season-high seven sacks, and Arizona’s run defenses allowed 215 yards to the NFL’s worst rushing attack.
BENGALS 30, RAIDERS 16
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Mixon had another big game, rushing for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the Bengals ended one of their longest losing streaks under coach Marvin Lewis.
The Bengals (6-8) had dropped five straight — their third-worst slump during Lewis’ 16 seasons — before finding a team struggling as much as them. Mixon’s 15-yard touchdown with 4:04 left clinched the Bengals’ first win since October and capped his second straight 100-yard game.
Cincinnati wrapped up its home season before another sparse crowd, with 44,568 tickets distributed. The Bengals had the second-smallest season attendance in Paul Brown Stadium’s 19 seasons as fans showed frustration with another disappointing season under Lewis.
The Raiders (3-11) are already in next-year mode. They fired general manager Reggie McKenzie on Monday and had little on the line against the Bengals.
BILLS 14, LIONS 13
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Josh Allen threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Robert Foster early in the fourth quarter to rally Buffalo and eliminate the Lions from playoff contention.
Allen also scored on a 3-yard run and finished 13 of 26 for 204 yards and no turnovers. Foster had four catches for 108 yards to top 100 for the third time in five games since being promoted from the practice squad.
With Buffalo (5-9) trailing 13-7, Allen stayed patient in the pocket and waited for Foster to complete an up-and-out to the right side of the field. Foster was wide open as he reached the right hash mark and caught Allen’s pass in stride, and then beat a defender to the pylon with 10:56 remaining.
Matthew Stafford responded by marching the Lions (5-9) 45 yards on the next possession only to have kicker Matt Prater miss a 48-yard field goal wide right. Detroit also botched an early extra point that proved decisive.