Manning Passes Brady TD Mark
Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning (18) waves to fans following an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Houston. Manning threw his 51st touchdown pass of the season to set a new NFL record. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) hurdles New Orleans Saints' David Hawthorne (57) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. The Panthers won 17-13. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
Houston — Peyton Manning owns the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season, and the Denver Broncos own the AFC West title.
Manning regained his record with 51 when he threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter. He surpassed the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007 and led the Broncos (12-3) to a 37-13 win over the Texans (2-13) that extended Houston’s franchise-record skid to 13 games.
Manning did it on a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas with 4:28 remaining. Just 2½ minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to Eric Decker.
He entered the game with 47 and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. The second was a 10-yard throw to Decker earlier in the fourth period.
Manning had previously established the record by throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004.
Panthers 17, Saints 13
Charlotte, n.c. — Cam Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left to lift the Panthers to the team’s first playoff berth since 2008. Carolina (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South and a first-round bye with a win on Sunday at Atlanta.
The Panthers intercepted Drew Brees twice and sacked him six times to avenge a 31-13 loss two weeks ago.
Still, Carolina needed some last-minute big plays from Newton. After being held to 116 yards passing for the game’s first 59 minutes, Newton led the Panthers 65 yards in 32 seconds for the winning score.
Bengals 42, Vikings 14
Cincinnati — Vincent Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown as Cincinnati clinched the AFC North. Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes.
The Bengals (10-5) remained perfect at home and secured an unprecedented third straight playoff appearance when Miami lost at Buffalo. Then the Bengals won the division when the Ravens fell to the Patriots. In his past four home games, Dalton has thrown for five, three, three and four touchdowns.
Cardinals 17, Seahawks 10
Seattle — Carson Palmer overcame four interceptions to throw a 31-yard touchdown to Michael Floyd with 2:13 left. Arizona kept its postseason hopes going while snapping Seattle’s 14-game home win streak.
Arizona (10-5) had to win after Carolina beat New Orleans. And the Cardinals did thanks to a stingy defense that flustered Russell Wilson into one of his worst days as a pro, delaying any celebration of an NFC West championship. The Seahawks can still clinch the NFC West with a win over St. Louis next Sunday.
Steelers 38, Packers 31
Green Bay, Wis. — Le’Veon Bell ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:28 left, then Pittsburgh withstood Green Bay’s last throw into the end zone and dealt the Packers’ playoff hopes a blow.
It’s a long shot, but the Steelers (7-8) are still mathematically in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot. They need a lot of help.
Chiefs 23, Colts 7
Kansas City, Mo. — Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards and a touchdown, Donald Brown ran 51 yards for another score in a potential preview of an AFC wild-card game.
The Colts (10-5), who have already wrapped up the AFC South, took advantage of four turnovers by the Chiefs (11-4) to win for the fifth time in their last six tries against Kansas City.
If Indianapolis ends up as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs — the Chiefs are assured the fifth seed — the teams will meet again in the warmer environs of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Bills 19, Dolphins 0
Orchard Park, n.y. — Miami had a three-game winning streak snapped and are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. With the loss, the Dolphins (8-7) need help from other teams. Miami hosts the New York Jets next weekend.
The Dolphins’ loss clinched the AFC East for New England.
Cowboys 24, Redskins 23
Landover, Md. — Tony Romo recovered from a bad interception and rallied Dallas from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit. He found DeMarco Murray for a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 1:08 remaining.
The victory ended a two-game Dallas skid — as well as a five-game December losing streak — and sets up a winner-take-all regular season finale for the NFC East title next week, when the Cowboys (8-7) host the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chargers 26, Raiders 13
San Diego — San Diego beat hapless Oakland by overcoming three turnovers while benefiting from two turnovers and 12 penalties for 73 yards by the Raiders.
Philip Rivers threw a go-ahead, 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie Keenan Allen and Ryan Mathews ran for 99 yards and one touchdown, setting a career high with 1,111 yards. Nick Novak kicked four field goals for San Diego.
Giants 23, Lions 20 (ot)
Detroit — Josh Brown’s 45-yard field goal on the third drive of overtime lifted New York and knocked Detroit (7-8) from postseason consideration. They lost for the fifth time in six games, blowing fourth-quarter leads in each setback that might seal Jim Schwartz’s fate.
The embattled coach chose to play for overtime by running out the clock with 23 seconds and two timeouts left from the Detroit 25. When the crowd reacted with a chorus of boos, Schwartz turned his head toward the stands and appeared to angrily shout back at the fans.
Rams 23, Buccaneers 13
St. Louis — Robert Quinn got three of St. Louis’ seven sacks and set a franchise season record. Quinn leads the NFL with 18 sacks. He broke Kevin Carter’s franchise record of 17 in that 1999 Super Bowl title season.
Zac Stacy rushed for 104 yards on 33 carries and a touchdown, and the Rams (7-8) matched their victory total from last year.
Jets 24, Browns 13
East Rutherford, n.j. — New York’s Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes to David Nelson and ran for another score.
Smith had his first game with at least two TD passes since October, with no turnovers or sacks. The rookie was 20-of-36 for 214 yards and also ran for 48 yards — including a 17-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter.
Titans 20, Jaguars 16
Jacksonville, Fla. — Nate Washington scored on a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter and Tennessee got a much-needed defensive stop late to end a three-game losing streak.
Eagles 54, Bears 11
Philadelphia — Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, LeSean McCoy ran for two scores and Philadelphia routed Chicago in a matchup of first-place teams with opposite stakes.
Chicago’s loss sets up two winner-take-all games for NFC division crowns next week.
The Bears (8-7) came in needing a win to clinch the NFC North and secure the No. 3 seed while Philadelphia was just trying to stay healthy. But the Eagles (9-6) played like the team trying to lock up a playoff berth.
Now, the Bears must tie or beat the Packers (7-7-1) at home next week to win the North.
The Eagles (9-6) have to tie or beat the Cowboys (8-7) in Dallas next Sunday night to win the NFC East and complete a worst-to-first season under rookie coach Chip Kelly. Once Dallas rallied to beat Washington earlier, the Eagles knew they were only playing for a No. 3 seed if even they win the division.
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