NFL roundup: Browns clinch first playoff spot since 2002
Nick Chubb rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown, and the Cleveland Browns clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2002 with a 24-22 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
The Browns (11-5) snapped the NFL’s longest current playoff drought. They will be the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
Pittsburgh (12-4), which clinched the AFC North and a playoff spot in Week 16, will be the No. 3 seed in the AFC. The Steelers will host the Browns in a rematch next weekend in the wild-card round.
The win was just the second for the Browns in their last 12 meetings against their division rival, and only the eighth versus the Steelers since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999. The Browns won the regular-season finale for the first time since 2009.
Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield completed 17 of 27 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a season-high 44 yards. Mason Rudolph completed 22 of 39 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Pittsburgh.
Washington Football Team 20, Eagles 14
Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes and Washington won the NFC East with a victory against host Philadelphia in the final game of the 2020 regular season.
Washington (7-9) clinched the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs and will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a wild-card game on Saturday night. It is Washington’s first division title and first playoff appearance since the 2015 season.
Back after missing two games with a calf injury, Smith improved to 5-1 as a starter this season as he completed 22 of 32 passes for 162 yards with two interceptions. Rookie Jalen Hurts, in his fourth start for the Eagles (4-11-1), completed 7 of 20 passes for 72 yards and an interception and rushed for 34 yards and two touchdowns.
Packers 35, Bears 16
Aaron Rodgers threw for four touchdowns to help Green Bay pull away for a win over host Chicago to clinch the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.
Rodgers completed 19 of 24 passes for 240 yards and Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and tight ends Robert Tonyan and Dominique Dafney each hauled in a touchdown reception for Green Bay (13-3). Safety Adrian Amos, a former Bears defender, had an interception late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed 33 of 42 passes for 252 yards to go along with his interception. David Montgomery scored the lone touchdown for Chicago (8-8), which still sneaked into the NFC playoffs as the No. 7 seed. The Bears will face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the wild-card round.
Titans 41, Texans 38
Derrick Henry rushed for a career-high 250 yards and became the eighth player in NFL history to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season, and Sam Sloman banked home a 37-yard field goal on the final play as Tennessee clinched the AFC South with a win over host Houston.
Ryan Tannehill totaled three touchdowns, and his 5-yard run with 1:42 left capped a 19-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Titans (11-5) a 38-35 lead. The Texans (4-12) countered with a 58-yard drive that culminated in a game-tying, 51-yard field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn with 18 seconds remaining. But on the first snap of the ensuing series, Tannehill connected with A.J. Brown for a 52-yard pass play, setting the stage for Sloman, whose kick caromed off the right upright.
Henry became the first player in the Super Bowl era to rush for 200-plus yards in three consecutive games against the same team. He finished the season with 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns after scoring twice against the Texans’ 31st-ranked rush defense.
Saints 33, Panthers 7
Drew Brees threw touchdown passes to three different receivers as New Orleans defeated host Carolina in the regular-season finale at Charlotte, N.C.
The Saints (12-4), who had five different defenders make interceptions, became the first NFC South team to complete a six-game season sweep of the other three teams in the division. New Orleans will be the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and host the seventh-seeded Chicago Bears on Sunday.
New Orleans did it without running back Alvin Kamara, who was out because of a positive coronavirus test; his status for the playoffs is unclear. Brees finished 22 of 32 for 201 yards. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who played for the Saints last season, was 13 of 23 for 176 yards and two interceptions for the Panthers (5-11) before he was replaced midway through the third quarter.
Colts 28, Jaguars 14
Jonathan Taylor rushed for 253 yards and two touchdowns, Philip Rivers threw for another score and Rodrigo Blankenship kicked two field goals to help host Indianapolis defeat reeling Jacksonville to clinch its second AFC playoff berth in three seasons.
Needing a victory of their own as well as a loss from one of four fellow postseason contenders in order to make the playoffs, Indianapolis (11-5) took the field with the latter part of that equation solved as the Miami Dolphins fell 56-26 at Buffalo earlier in the day.
Jacksonville (1-15) lost its 15th straight game to close the season, extending the franchise-record skid the Jaguars set with their Week 16 home loss to Chicago. The Jaguars’ lone victory came in Week 1, when they defeated the visiting Colts, 27-20
Bills 56, Dolphins 26
Miami native Isaiah McKenzie scored three second-quarter touchdowns to lead Buffalo past visiting Miami at Orchard Park, N.Y.
The Bills (13-3) clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC, giving the Bills home field for their first two games, if they advance. The Dolphins (10-6) were denied a playoff spot with the loss, and when the Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars later on Sunday.
McKenzie caught touchdown passes of 7 and 14 yards from Josh Allen, who set the Bills single-season, passing-yardage record in the second quarter, beating Drew Bledsoe’s 2002 mark of 4,359 yards. Allen played just one half, completing 18 of 25 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns to complete the regular season with 4,544 yards. Miami rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed 35 of 58 passes for 361 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Giants 23, Cowboys 19
Daniel Jones passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns as New York kept its NFC East title hopes alive — albeit briefly — with a win over Dallas in East Rutherford, N.J.
Looking to win the division for the first time since their Super Bowl-winning 2011 season, the Giants (6-10) instead will miss out on the playoffs altogether when the Washington Football Team beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night to improve to 7-9 and win the East.
Sterling Shepard caught eight passes for 112 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for another score for New York. Leonard Williams recorded three of New York’s six sacks on the day. Andy Dalton completed 29 of 47 passes for 243 yards and an interception for Dallas (6-10), which fell behind 20-6 in the first half and had a seven-game win streak over the Giants snapped.
Ravens 38, Bengals 3
Lamar Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in multiple seasons while leading Baltimore to its third straight AFC playoff berth with a win over host Cincinnati.
The Ravens (11-5) enter the postseason as a wild card on a five-game winning streak, while Cincinnati ends the season 4-11-1. Baltimore, a No. 5 seed, faces the fourth-seeded Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Jackson rushed for 97 yards on 11 carries to give him 1,005 yards for the season and the Ravens finished with 404 rushing yards, which was the fourth most by a team since 1950. Cincinnati quarterback Brandon Allen was 6-for-21 passing for 48 yards and two interceptions as the Bengals finished 4-11-1.
Buccaneers 44, Falcons 27
Tom Brady passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns as Tampa Bay clinched the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs by beating visiting Atlanta.
Antonio Brown (11 receptions, 138 yards) and Chris Godwin (five catches, 133 yards) each caught two touchdowns for the Buccaneers (11-5), who notched their fourth straight win. Ronald Jones II rushed for a touchdown while Brady completed 26 of 41 passes with one interception during the 99th 300-yard passing game of his career.
Matt Ryan completed 29 of 44 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a score for the Falcons. Russell Gage (nine catches, 91 yards) and Hayden Hurst caught touchdown passes but couldn’t prevent Atlanta (4-12) from losing its fifth straight game.
Patriots 28, Jets 14
Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes and caught a fourth as New England rallied in the second half for a season-ending win over visiting New York in Foxborough, Mass.
In what is likely his last game of his only season with New England (7-9), Newton enjoyed one of his best performances. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 242 yards while adding 79 yards on 11 carries. But the Patriots will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Sam Darnold was effective for the Jets (2-14), hitting 23 of 34 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown but had two interceptions. New York saw its two-game winning streak snapped in Adam Gase’s last game as head coach as the Jets fired him hours later.
Vikings 37, Lions 35
Kirk Cousins passed for 405 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score to lead Minnesota to a 37-35 season-ending victory over host Detroit.
Alexander Mattison rushed for 95 yards on 21 carries and also caught three passes for 50 yards and another score. Justin Jefferson caught nine passes for 133 yards and set the NFL rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards on the season.
The Vikings (7-9), who were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, snapped a three-game losing streak. The Lions (5-11) finished their season with a four-game skid. Matthew Stafford passed for 293 yards and three touchdowns for Detroit. Marvin Jones Jr. caught eight passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Chargers 38, Chiefs 21
Justin Herbert concluded his season with an NFL rookie-record 31 touchdown passes, tossing three as Los Angeles pounded host Kansas City, which played without Patrick Mahomes and several other standouts.
The Chargers finished 7-9 with four straight victories while snapping a 10-game winning streak for the Chiefs (14-2).
Herbert, who completed 22 of 31 attempts for 302 yards, also set a rookie record for completions (396) and tied a franchise record with his eighth 300-yard outing. Kansas City’s Chad Henne, drawing his first start since 2014 with Jacksonville, passed for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
Raiders 32, Broncos 31
Derek Carr threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns, Josh Jacobs ran for 89 yards and two more scores, and visiting Las Vegas rallied to beat Denver by a point.
Darren Waller had nine catches for 117 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion and Bryan Edwards also had a TD reception for Las Vegas (8-8). Waller set the franchise record for receptions in a season with 107.
Drew Lock was 25-of-41 passing for 339 yards and two touchdowns, Jerry Jeudy had five catches for 140 yards and a score, and Melvin Gordon rushed for 93 yards and a TD for the Broncos (5-11).
Rams 18, Cardinals 7
In a battle of backup quarterbacks, John Wolford outdueled Chris Streveler to carry Los Angeles into the playoffs with a victory over Arizona in Inglewood, Calif.
The Cardinals (8-8) were eliminated from playoff consideration with the loss with the Rams (10-6) earned the NFC’s sixth seed and a road playoff game against their NFC West-rival Seattle Seahawks.
Wolford, who had never seen action in a regular-season NFL game, took over for starter Jared Goff, who had thumb surgery following an injury last Sunday. The Rams’ stout defense stepped up for their inexperienced quarterback with a safety and pick-six. Chris Streveler, who had never thrown a pass in a regular-season NFL game, was 11 of 16 for 105 yards and a touchdown in addition to the costly interception for the Cardinals.
Seahawks 26, 49ers 23
Tyler Lockett caught a go-ahead 4-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson on fourth-and-goal with 2:20 remaining as Seattle rallied to defeat host San Francisco in Glendale, Ariz.
Lockett had 12 receptions for 90 yards and two TDs, breaking a franchise record for most catches in a season with 100. Wilson completed 20 of 36 passes for 181 yards, helping the Seahawks (12-4) come back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
San Francisco’s Jeff Wilson rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown and also caught a late TD pass. Tristan Vizcaino, signed Friday because kicker Robbie Gould was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, added three field goals for the 49ers (6-10), who played their final three “home” games in Arizona because of coronavirus restrictions in Santa Clara County.
–Field Level Media