Baltimore Ravens 20 (10-6), Cleveland Browns 10 (7-9)
The Ravens clinched a playoff berth with a 20-10 win over the division rival Browns.
A defensive first half ended in a 3-3 tie after field goals in the second quarter by Justin Tucker (25 yards) and Garrett Hartley (38), but Cleveland took the lead when undrafted rookies Connor Shaw and Taylor Gabriel connected on a 49 yard pass play, setting up fellow first-year player Terrance West for a two-yard touchdown nine and a half minutes into the third quarter. With ten and a half minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Tucker made a 28 yard field goal, and then Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith connected on a pair of key passes: a 53 yard bomb, and then a 16 yard touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter to take the lead, and then Flacco sealed the win with a two-yard touchdown throw to Kamar Aiken with 3:44 left. The Ravens were able to clinch a playoff berth with a 20-10 win over the Browns.
Flacco was 22 of 36 for 312 yards and two touchdowns, with Justin Forsett running for 119 yards, and Steve Smith (8 catches for 90 yards) and Torrey Smith (4 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown pacing the passing game). Shaw was 14 of 28 for 177 yards and an interception, while West had 94 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Dallas Cowboys 44 (12-4), Washington Redskins 17 (4-12)
The Cowboys finished the regular season undefeated on the road with a dominant 44-17 win over the division rival Redskins.
Following a 36 yard field goal by Dan Bailey less than five minutes into the game, Washington took just over a minute and a half to take the lead, as DeSean Jackson scored on a 69 yard screen pass from Robert Griffin III, though just over two minutes later, Dez Bryant caught a 65 yard touchdown from Tony Romo for Dallas to go back ahead, and four minutes later caught a 23 yard scoring pass from Romo to make it 17-7. The Cowboys continued the scoring barrage in the second quarter, as Dan Bailey kicked a 32 yard field goal and DeMarco Murray ran for a 9 yard touchdown with 8:10 to go in the half, with 25 yard Kai Forbath field goal cutting it to 27-10 as the teams went to the locker room.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Redskins cut into the lead with a two-yard touchdown run by Griffin, but a 23 yard field goal by Bailey, 5 yard fumble return for a touchdown by Anthony Spencer, and a 65 yard touchdown run by Joseph Randle in the final four minutes led to a blowout victory for Dallas. Romo was 22 of 34 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, with Murray rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown and Bryant catching four passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while Griffin was 27 of 41 for 336 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions, and a lost fumble.
Indianapolis Colts 27 (11-5), Tennessee Titans 10 (2-14)
Indianapolis finished a stretch of five wins in six weeks with a 27-10 win over division rival Tennessee.
Andrew Luck got back into rhythm for the Colts early in this one, as he found Coby Fleener for a 7 yard touchdown just over twelve minutes into the first quarter, and then went to Reggie Wayne for an 80 yard gain before going to Jack Doyle for a one-yard touchdown just over six minutes into the second quarter for an early 14-0 lead. The Titans finally got on the board with a 6 yard touchdown pass from Charlige Whitehurst to Kendall Wright with just over five minutes left in the half, but Adam Vinatieri kicked a 23 yard field goal just over two minutes later to make it 17-6 heading into the locker room.
Tennessee cut the lead to 7 with a 31 yard field goal by Ryan Succop in the third quarter, but a 26 yard field goal by Vinatieri on the first play of the fourth quarter, and an 8 yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Fleener sealed a 27-10 win. Luck was 10 of 16 for 160 yards and two touchdowns in limited time, with Wayne catching two passes for 91 yards, while Whitehurst was 12 of 28 for 72 yards and a touchdown, with Shonn Greene running for 94 yards.
Houston Texans 23 (9-7), Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (4-12)
The Texans finished their first season under Bill O’Brien with four wins in five weeks, condluding with a 23-17 win over the division rival Jaguars.
Houston took their opening possession 83 yards in 5 plays, with Case Keenum finding Arian Foster for a 10 yard touchdown just over four and a half minutes into the game, but Jacksonville responded with a 53 yard Josh Scobee field goal four minutes later and then a 55 yard interception return for a touchdown by Dwayne Gratz with just under three minutes left in the first quarter, though the Texans retook the lead with a 14 play, 74 yard drive, with rookie Alfred Blue running for a one-yard touchdown with 6:39 to go in the second quarter, making it 14-10 at the half.
Just over ten minutes into the third quarter, the Jaguars took the lead with a running back throw from Jordan Todman that went to a wide-open Cecil Shorts for a 23 yard touchdown, but a 12 play, 80 yard drive by Houston that ended in an 8 yard touchdown from Keenum to Andre Johnson less than a minute in a half into the fourth quarter made it 21-17 Texans, and a J.J. Watt sack for a safety and great Texans defense the rest of the way gave them the win.
Kansas City Chiefs 19 (9-7), San Diego Chargers 7 (9-7)
The Chiefs were able to knock the division rival Chargers out of the playoffs with a 19-7 win.
Kansas City started hot, as after a 43 yard Cairo Santos field goal in the first quarter, the Chiefs drove 94 yards in 9 plays, with Chase Daniel throwing a pass to Dwayne Bowe, who fumbled at the one, but Travis Kelce recovered the ball in the endzone for a score, keeping Kansas City receivers out of the endzone for all season. San Diego responded two minutes later with a 6 play, 69 yard drive, as Branden Oliver ran for a one-yard touchdown, though Santos made a 21 yard kick with just under four minutes left in the half and a 27 yard kick in the final minute of the second quarter to make it 16-7 heading into the locker room, and the Chiefs’ defense held the rest of the way for a win.
Daniel was 16 of 27 for 157 yards, while Philip Rivers was 20 of 34 for 291 yards and two interceptions, with Eddie Royal catching four passes for 95 yards. Justin Houston sacked Rivers four times, finishing with 22 sacks on the seasons, one half a sack away from Michael Strahan’s single-season record.
New York Jets 37 (4-12), Miami Dolphins 24 (8-8)
In what was maybe his last game as head coach for New York, Rex Ryan’s team played hard and defeated division rival Miami 37-24.
After Miami started the scoring with a field goal, the Jets answered with a 6 play, 78 yard drive, with receiver Chris Owusu scoring on a 23 yard run with 3:11 left in the first quarter, but the Dolphins went back ahead, taking advantage of a Geno Smith fumble from New York’s 21, scoring five plays later with a one-yard touchdown from Daniel Thomas with 10:44 to go in the second quarter.New York took the lead back four minutes later with a 7 play, 79 yard drive, with Smith finding Chris Ivory for an eight-yard touchdown pass, but Miami would take back the advantage with an 11 play, 93 yard drive, as Tannehill found Charley Clay for a 23 yard touchdown in the final minute of the half to make it 17-14 heading into the locker room.
Just over two minutes into the second half, Lamar Miller found a huge hole and ran through it for a 97 yard touchdown for the Dolphins, but the Jets took just three plays to get into the endzone, Smith found Eric Decker for a 74 yard scoring pass. Nick Folk added two field goals (26, 23), and then a 23 yard touchdown pass from Smith to Jeff Cumberland with 3:22 left sealed a win for New York.
Smith was 20 of 25 for 358 yards and three touchdowns, finding Decker ten times for 221 yards and a touchdown, while Tannehill was 23 of 39 for 253 yards and a touchdown, with Miller rushing for 178 yards and a touchdown.
Minnesota Vikings 13 (7-9), Chicago Bears 9 (5-11)
The Vikings ended a tumultuous but productive season with a 13-9 over the division rival Bears, who lost their final four games of the season.
Both teams struggled offensively early, as the only scoring in the first half was a 37 yard field goal from Blair Walsh for Minnesota in the first quarter and a 48 yard field goal from Jay Feely for Chicago in the final minute of the half. Following a 25 yard kick from Feely to give the Bears the lead, the Vikings finally got into the endzone on a 6 play, 80 yard drive, with rookie Teddy Bridgewater finding Adam Theilen for a 44 yard touchdown four minutes into the second half, and the teams exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota’s defense held the rest of the way for the victory.
Bridgewater was 17 of 25 for 209 yards, a touchdown and an interception, with Matt Asiata running for 91 yards, while Jay Cutler was 23 of 36 for 172 yards.
Buffalo Bills 17 (9-7), New England Patriots 9 (12-4)
The Bills ended the Patriots’ streak of 16 straight home games with a 17-9 win.
Buffalo started fast, as a 43 yard pass from Orton to rookie Sammy Watkins helped set up a 6 yard tiouchdown pass from Orton to Robert Woods to end a 6 play, 80 yard opening drive just three minutes into the game. The Patriots answered nearly nine minutes later with a 13 play, 80 yard drive that ended in a 24 yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, but then the Bills went on their own 13 play, 80 yard jaunt, with Boobie Dixon running for a one-yard run with 10:38 left in the half, with Gostkowski (44) and Dan Carpenter (48) exchanging field goals before the half to make it 17-6 Buffalo, and Gostkowski’s 35 yard field goal near the end of the third quarter was the only score to get the Patriots closer.
Orton was 16 of 23 for 176 yards and a touchdown, while Brady was 8 of 16 for 80 yards.
Philadelphia Eagles 34 (10-6), New York Giants 26 (6-10)
After three straight tough losses, Philadelphia got back in the win column with a 34-26 win over division rival New York.
The two teams offenses started fast, as the Giants went 80 yards in 6 plays, with rookie Andre Williams rushing for a one-yard touchdown less than three minutes in, but the Eagles took just over a minute to respond with a 3 play, 80 yard drive, with Mark Sanchez finding rookie receiver Jordan Matthews for a 44 yard touchdown, and then took the lead with a 7 play, 75 yard drive, with Sanchez going to tight end Brent Celek for a one-yard touchdown with just over six minutes left in the first quarter. New York answered with three Josh Brown field goals (38, 20, 36), but Philadelphia took the halftime lead with a 32 yard field goal from Cody Parkey.
The Eagles increased their lead with a punt block by James Casey that was returned by Trey Burton for a 27 yard touchdown two in a half minutes into the second half, and then after a 53 yard Josh Brown field goal later in the third, Chris Polk ran for a one-yard touchdown two minutes into the fourth quarter to make it 31-19. The Giants responded with a 63 yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to rookie stud Odell Beckham Jr., a 39 yard field goal by Parkey and stiffling Philadelphia defense down the stretch sealed the win.
Sanchez was 23 of 36 for 296 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, with LeSean McCoy rushing for 99 yards, and Matthews catching eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Manning finished 28 of 53 for 429 yards, a touchdown and an interception, with Beckham catching 12 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, and Rueben Randle grabbing six passes for 158 yards.
New Orleans Saints 23 (7-9), Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 (2-14)
New Orleans rallied in a 23-20 win that gave the Buccaneers the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Following a 39 yard field goal by Patrick Murray nine minutes into the game, Tampa Bay put more points on the board, as an 11 play, 80 yard drive ended with a 6 yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Mike Evans three and a half minutes into the second quarter. The Saints answered with a 12 play, 80 yard drive, with Khiry Robinson running for a one-yard touchdown just over nine minutes into the second quarter, but in the final two minutes, rookie Charles Sims ran for an 8 yard touchdown, and Murray hitting a 27 yarder to make it 20-7 at halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Mark Ingram ran for a one-yard touchdown less than a minute into the fourth, and then Drew Brees found Marques Colston for a 36 yard touchdown in the final two minutes, before a safety on a sack by Junior Gallette gave New Orleans the win, 23-20. Brees was 24 of 38 for 281 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, while McCown was 14 of 23 for 115 yards a touchdown and interception, with Doug Martin rushing for 108 yards.
Carolina Panthers 34 (7-8-1), Atlanta Falcons 3 (6-10)
Following a 21 yard field goal by Graham Gano just over seven minutes into the game, Carolina drove 87 yards in 10 plays, with Cam Newton going to Ed Dickson for a four-yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter to go up 10-0. After a 21 yard field goal by Matt Bryant for Atlanta four and a half minutes into the second quarter, Roman Harper intercepted a Matt Ryan pass and took it 31 yards for a touchdown with 4:18 left in the half, and then Newton ran in from four yards out with 1:47 to go to make it 24-3 heading into the locker room. In a battle for the NFC South division title and a playoff berth, the Panthers went into Atlanta and blew out the Falcons, ___-___.
Gano added a 48 yard field goal with 8:43 to go in the third quarter, Tre Boston returned another Ryan interception 84 yards for a touchdown at the end of the quarter to put the game to bed. Newton was 10 of 16 for 114 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 51 yards and another score. Ryan was 29 of 47 for 260 yards and two interceptions, throwing to White eight times for 104 yards.
San Francisco 49ers 20 (8-8), Arizona Cardinals 17 (11-5)
In what was perhaps his final game as coach of the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh’s squad played well in a 20-17 victory over the Cardinals.
It was Arizona who started the scoring, though, as an 8 play, 80 yard drive concluded with a 20 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Lindley to Michael Floyd just over four minutes into the game, but San Francisco only took a minute and a half to answer, as Anquan Boldin scored on a catch and run of 76 yards from Colin Kaepernick to tie it. Followint a pair of Phil Dawson field goals in the second quarter (53, 37), Chandler Catanzaro made a 36 yarder with 1:35 left in the half, and Lindley found Floyd again a minute later for a 41 yard touchdown to make it 17-13 at half, but Kaepernick completed a 10 play, 82 yard drive with a three-yard touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter, with the 49ers defense holding the rest of the way.
Lindley was 23 of 39 for 316 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, going to Floyd eight times for 153 yards and two touchdowns, while Kaepernick was 15 of 26 for 204 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 63 yards, with Frank Gore rushing for 144 yards.
Detroit Lions Green Bay Packers
Seattle Seahawks 20 (12-4), St. Louis Rams 6 (6-10)
The Seahawks clinched the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 20-6 win over the division rival Rams.
St. Louis held a 6-0 advantage at halftime following a pair of Greg Zuerlein field goals (33,52), but it was tied after three quarters when Steven Haushka made two kicks of his own (42, 45), and then Seattle dominated in the fourth, with Marshawn Lynch rushing for a 9 yard touchdown three minutes into the fourth quarter, and Bruce Irvin returning an interception 49 yards for a touchdown just over two minutes later to help put the game out of reach. Russell Wilson was 17 of 25 for 239 yards and an interception, while Shaun Hill was 26 of 37 for 243 yards and two interceptions.
Denver Broncos 47 (12-4), Oakland Raiders 14 (3-13)
The Broncos clinched the No.2 seed and a bye in the AFC Playoffs with a dominant 47-14 win over the Raiders.
Denver started the scoring with a Connor Barth 49 yard field goal with 9:40 left in the first quarter, and C.J. Anderson ran for an 11 yard touchdown four minutes later, but less than two minutes after that, Keith McGill returned a fumble 18 yards for a touchdown to get the Raiders on the board. Just under two minutes into the second quarter, Anderson capped a 10 play, 80 yard drive with a one-yard run, and Barth made a 36 yard field goal in the final minute of the half to make it 20-7 at halftime, and Anderson started a great second half for the Broncos with a 25 yard touchdown less than a minute into the second half.
Just over six minutes into the third quarter, though, Derek Carr concluded a 10 play, 80 yard drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Jamize Olawale, but Denver added two more Barth field goals (35, 21), a 20 yard fumble return for a touchdown by Tony Carter, and a one-yard touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler to Virgil Green. Manning was 21 of 37 for 273 yards and a lost fumble, with Anderson rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown, and DeMaryius Thomas catching 8 passes for 115 yards, while Carr was held to 18 of 36 for 158 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble.
Green Bay Packers 30 (12-4), Detroit Lions 20 (11-5)
The Packers clinched the NFC North and the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoffs with a 30-20 win over the division rival Lions.
Green Bay started the scoring with a 55 yard punt return for a touchdown by Micah Hyde just over ten minutes into the game, and then increased their lead to 14 with a four-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb with 2:24 left in the half, but Rodgers left the game on a cart with a calf injury. Detroit answered two minutes later with an 8 play, 77 yard drive, with Matthew Stafford finding Calvin Johnson for a 20 yard touchdown, and then tied the game midway through the third quarter with any Stafford to Johnson touchdown connection for 4 yards out.
But Rodgers returned to the game, and led a four-minute scoring drive that ended in another touchdown pass to Cobb, this time from 13 yards out, and then a one-yard touchdown run from Rodgers with 8:45 left and a safety with 2:32 left sealed a Packers win. Rodgers was 17 of 22 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, with Eddie Lacy running for 100 yards, while Stafford was 20 of 41 for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
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