Packers, Eagles Clinch
Chicago — Aaron Rodgers fired a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 33-28 to capture the NFC North championship.
Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide open Cobb on fourth-and-8 at the 48 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.
Green Bay will host San Francisco in the playoffs next weekend.
The Bears had one final drive, but Jay Cutler’s deep pass to Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Sam Shields on the final play.
That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
Eagles 24, Cowboys 22
Arlington, Texas — Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 120 yards and a receiving score and Philadelphia beat Dallas in a win-or-go-home game for the NFC East title Sunday night.
The Cowboys (8-8), with Kyle Orton filling in two days after Tony Romo had back surgery, lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year.
The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans a wild-card game Saturday night.
Dallas trailed 24-16 when Orton threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Orton went back to Bryant for the 2-point conversion, but the ball fell incomplete.
The Cowboys got another chance with a stop from their beleaguered defense, but Orton’s pass was intercepted by Brandon Boykin on the first play to seal the win.
Bengals 34, Ravens 17
Cincinnati — Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records, leading Cincinnati to a victory that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens (8-8) became the 15th Super Bowl champ that failed to reach the playoffs the following season, and the sixth in the last 12 years.
Broncos 34, Raiders 14
Oakland, Calif. — Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to help the Denver Broncos clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a win over the Oakland Raiders.
He threw touchdown passes to Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter and added two to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. He broke Drew Brees’ record of 5,476 yards set in 2011 with a 5-yard pass to Thomas with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 31-0.
Saints 42, Bucs 17
New Orleans — Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans clinched a wild-card spot with a victory over Tampa Bay.
Three of Brees’ scoring strikes were longer than 40 yards — 76 to Kenny Stills, 44 to Lance Moore and 41 to Robert Meachem. Brees’ other TD was a 10-yard pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, and the Saints (11-5) finished 8-0 in the Superdome.
Chargers 27, Chiefs 24 (ot)
San Diego — Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime, ending the San Diego Chargers’ three-year playoff drought with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chargers (9-7) needed help for weeks, and everything fell into place on Sunday, with the last piece being their win over a Chiefs team that already had clinched the AFC’s No. 5 seed and rested 20 of 22 starters.
The Chiefs (11-5) go into the playoffs having lost five of seven.
Seahawks 27, Rams 9
Seattle — Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seahawks clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the St. Louis Rams.
Seattle (13-3) matched the franchise record for wins in a season and finally wrapped up the No. 1 seed after losses to San Francisco and last week to Arizona, which snapped a 14-game home winning streak.
Jets 20, Dolphins 7
Miami Gardens, Fla. — The Dolphins were eliminated from the scramble for the AFC’s final wild-card berth by the Jets, who thrived in the role of spoilers against their archrivals.
Then owner Woody Johnson said coach Rex Ryan would return despite the Jets (8-8) sitting out the postseason themselves for the third year in a row.
Steelers 20, Browns 7
Pittsburgh — Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers drubbed the Cleveland Browns, though Pittsburgh’s bid to become the second team in NFL history to go winless in September and make the playoffs ended when San Diego edged Kansas City.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions as the Steelers (8-8) won their third straight to avoid the franchise’s first losing season since 2003.
The Browns fired coach Rob Chudzinski following one season, which started promising but ended with a seven-game losing streak.
Chudzinski had only been in place since Jan. 11, when the Ohio native and lifelong Browns fan was hired for his dream position by owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner. The Browns started 4-5, but collapsed in the final two months and the organization decided Sunday night to cut ties before heading into a second season with Chudzinski.
Panthers 21, Falcons 20
Atlanta — Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks and the Panthers clinched the NFC South.
The Panthers (12-4) earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game.
49ers 23, Cardinals 20
Glendale, Ariz. — Phil Dawson made a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift the 49ers to a win over Arizona that clinched the NFC’s No. 5 playoff seed.
San Francisco will visit Green Bay in the wild-card round next weekend.
Dawson had matched his career best with a 56-yarder to put the 49ers (12-4) up 20-17 with 1:45 to go. Jay Feely’s 43-yard field goal then tied it for Arizona with 34 seconds left.
Colts 30, Jaguars 10
Indianapolis — Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead and Adam Vinatieri joined the 2,000-point club.
The AFC South champs have won three straight, matching their longest streak of the season.
Titans 16, Texans 10
Nashville, Tenn. — Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans, a win that may help coach Mike Munchak’s argument to stay on the job in 2014. With their 14th straight loss, the Texans (2-14) clinched the No. 1 selection in next May’s draft.
Giants 20, Redskins 6
East Rutherford, n.j. — New York’s Jerrel Jernigan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran 49 yards for another score in what might be Mike Shanahan’s final game as Redskins coach.
Shanahan has not only seen the Redskins (3-13) finish the season with an eight-game losing streak just a year after winning the NFC East, but his future is uncertain because of his shaky relationship with oft-injured franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The Giants (7-9) also aren’t going to the playoffs, but they closed the season with a 7-3 record after losing their first six games.
Vikings 14, Lions 13
Minneapolis — Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two more touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings won their final game at the Metrodome after 32 seasons.
With the Vikings (5-10-1) and the Lions (7-9) out of the playoffs, both coaches also faced the possibility of their last full day with their teams. Jim Schwartz fell to 29-52 in five years with the Lions.
Leslie Frazier raised his record with the Vikings in three-plus years to 21-33-1. Each of them has reached the playoffs once.