CINCINNATI (AP)Evan McPherson kicked a 20-yard field goal as time ran out, and the Cincinnati Bengals earned their first AFC North title and postseason appearance in six years with a wild 34-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Rookie Ja’Marr Chase had a franchise-record 266 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 11 catches, Joe Burrow threw for 466 yards and four scores while outdueling Patrick Mahomes, and the Bengals rallied from three 14-point deficits against the AFC West champs.
Chase broke Jerry Butler’s NFL rookie record set for Buffalo against the Jets with 255 on Sept. 23, 1979.
Kansas City (11-5) had its eight-game winning streak ended and lost the top seed in the AFC to the Titans.
The Bengals’ winning drive was filled with drama.
On fourth-and-inches with under a minute left, the Bengals (10-6) went for a touchdown instead of calling on McPherson for a field goal and giving the Chiefs the ball back with a chance to win.
Burrow threw incomplete in the end zone, but Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was flagged for illegal use of hands. Backup quarterback Brandon Allen was called on to kneel twice before McPherson came on for the winning kick.
Burrow was outstanding again, completing 30 of 39 attempts. He was sacked four times and hit at least six more times but was as accurate as ever, and Chase caught everything that was thrown near him.
Mahomes looked as if he had the game under control early. He threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to give the Chiefs the early lead, but he didn’t get another one.
The Chiefs (11-5) led 14-0, 21-7 and 28-14 in the first half. They were ahead 28-17 at halftime before the Bengals began the latest of several second-half surges this season.
A 69-yard TD pass from Burrow to Chase early in the second half cut the Chiefs’ lead to 28-24. Kansas City responded with Harrison Butker’s 34-yard field goal.
Burrow then hit Tyler Boyd for a 5-yard TD, capping an 86-yard drive that was twice extended by flags on Sneed, including an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave Cincinnati first-and-goal at the Kansas City 7.
Patrick Mahomes was 26 for 35 for 259 yards and threw touchdown passes to Demarcus Robinson. Tight end Travis Kelce, who caught a pass in his 125th straight game.
BUCCANEERS 28, JETS 24
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Antonio Brown was kicked off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a bizarre, shirtless exit from the field before Tom Brady coolly led the Bucs (12-4) on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes.
Coach Bruce Arians said after the game that Brown was off the team.
”He is no longer a Buc,” Arians said.
Brown’s meltdown came late in the third quarter with Tampa Bay trailing 24-10. He appeared animated while talking to teammate Mike Evans when he stripped off his pads, jersey, gloves and T-shirt – tossing the gloves and T-shirt into the stands – and walked bare-chested down the sideline and into the end zone. He then waved to fans as HE jogged through the end zone and into the tunnel at MetLife Stadium.
It appeared to be a show of frustration by Brown, who had three catches for 26 yards.
Brown was suspended last month for three games for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols. He also has a history of personal conduct issues and bizarre behavior.
Brady connected with Cameron Brate on a 4-yard touchdown shortly after Brown’s exit, and the star quarterback finished the Bucs’ rally with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Cyril Grayson with 15 seconds left.
New York (4-12) went on a late fourth down deep in Tampa Bay territory and was stopped before the long winning drive.
PACKERS 37, VIKINGS 10
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes, A.J. Dillon ran for two more scores and Green Bay routed Minnesota to wrap up the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed.
Green Bay’s victory, coupled with Philadelphia’s 20-16 triumph at Washington earlier in the day, dropped the Vikings (7-9) from postseason contention and gave the Eagles a playoff berth. The Vikings were playing without quarterback Kirk Cousins after he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.
The Packers (13-3) are the lone NFL team with an unbeaten home record and have a chance to reach the Super Bowl without leaving Lambeau Field. Sunday night’s game exemplified the potential advantage the Packers have playing home games in January, as the temperature was 11 degrees with a wind chill of 1 just before kickoff.
Green Bay has won 13 straight regular-season home games, but lost 31-26 at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last season’s NFC championship game.
Rodgers went 29 of 38 for 288 yards with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard and an 11-yarder to Davante Adams, who had 11 catches for 136 yards. Adams has 117 receptions to break the Packers’ season record he set last year.
Sean Mannion started in place of Cousins and went 22 of 35 for 189 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn.
Dillon ran for two second-half touchdowns and gained 63 yards on 15 carries. Aaron Jones had 76 yards on eight carries.
TITANS 34, DOLPHINS 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes as the Titans clinched their second straight AFC South title, snapping the Dolphins’ seven-game winning streak.
The Titans (11-5) won their second straight overall and third in four games to clinch their first back-to-back division titles since the start of the AFL when this franchise was the Houston Oilers and won three straight Eastern Division championships. They also won 11 games for a second consecutive season for the first time since 2002-03 – and currently are the AFC’s top seed after Kansas City lost at Cincinnati.
Miami (8-8) came in as the first team in NFL history to win seven straight after a seven-game skid. That surge helped push the Dolphins into the third and final wild-card spot in the AFC, but this loss ended their playoff hopes.
On a cold and rainy day, the Titans ran more than they threw. Tannehill was 13 of 18 for 120 yards and a 127.1 passer rating against the team that drafted him eighth overall in 2012 before trading him to Tennessee in March 2019. Tannehill is 31-15 as the Titans’ starter with his third straight playoff berth clinched.
D’Onta Foreman ran for 132 yards and a TD. Dontrell Hilliard ran for a 39-yard TD as the Titans scored 10 points off a pair of turnovers by Tua Tagovailoa.
The Titans also sacked Tagovailoa four times – a season high for the Dolphins quarterback.
CARDINALS 25, COWBOYS 22
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Kyler Murray threw two touchdown passes to Antoine Wesley. The outcome didn’t do much to change the races for the NFC’s No. 1 seed or the NFC West, but the Cardinals ended a three-game skid a week after backing into the postseason, and stopped the NFC East champion’s four-game winning streak.
Murray improved to 8-0 as a starter at the home of the Cowboys. Most of those victories were as a Texas high school playoff star, but the past two have been as a pro after last season’s 38-10 rout.
The Cardinals (11-5) are still a game behind the Los Angeles Rams in their division with LA rallying to beat Baltimore 20-19.
Arizona pulled even with the Cowboys (11-5) while leaving both teams a Green Bay victory away from elimination for the NFC’s first-round bye. The Packers played Minnesota later Sunday.
Dallas was out of timeouts and couldn’t challenge when officials ruled Chase Edmonds down near the sideline when the ball came out and was recovered by Osa Odighizuwa before the two-minute warning. It appeared the call could have been overturned.
CHARGERS 34, BRONCOS 3
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) – Justin Herbert threw for two touchdowns and set the franchise single-season record, while Andre Roberts returned a kick 101 yards for a score.
Los Angeles (9-7) is in the final wild-card spot but needs a win at Las Vegas next week to wrap up its first postseason berth since 2018. The Colts, Chargers and Raiders all have the same record, but the Chargers currently hold the tiebreaker over Las Vegas after their 28-14 victory on Oct. 4.
Denver (7-9) has lost four of its last five, was eliminated from playoff contention and is assured of its fifth straight losing season.
Herbert, the AFC starter for the Pro Bowl, has 35 touchdown passes this season, surpassing Philip Rivers’ 2008 mark of 34. Herbert completed 22 of 31 passes for 237 yards. He became the fastest player to reach 800 career completions (31 games) and at 23 years, 298 days is the second-youngest player in league history to get to 65 TD passes.
Roberts became the first Charger since 2012 to score on a kickoff return.
49ERS 23, TEXANS 7
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – Rookie Trey Lance threw two touchdown passes in the second half of his second career start, and the 49ers closed in on a playoff berth.
Lance got the nod for the 49ers (9-7) for the first time since Week 5 with Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined by a thumb injury and overcame an interception in the first half to lead San Francisco to the win. The Niners can clinch their second playoff berth in five seasons under coach Kyle Shanahan with a loss by New Orleans or a win next week against the Rams.
The Texans (4-12) struggled to get much of anything going offensively and failed in their attempt at their first three-game winning streak since 2018.
Rookie Davis Mills went 21 for 32 for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and Houston was held to 222 yards on offense.
Lance fared much better against lesser competition in his second start than he did in a 17-10 loss to Arizona in October. He went 16 for 23 for 249 yards with his biggest play coming in the fourth quarter when he rolled right and then threw deep over the middle to Deebo Samuel, who caught it for a 45-yard touchdown that put the Niners up 17-7.
BILLS 29, FALCONS 15
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Buffalo clinched a playoff berth when Devin Singletary scored two touchdowns rushing in the second half to make up for Josh Allen’s sloppiness.
The AFC East-leading Bills rallied to clinch their third consecutive playoff spot. Buffalo (10-6) did so by beating the Falcons, coupled with the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Falcons (7-9) went down swinging in being eliminated from the NFC race to extend their postseason drought to a fourth year in their first season under coach Arthur Smith. The Falcons forced four turnovers, with an injury and COVID-19-depleted secondary intercepting Allen on three consecutive possessions spanning halftime.
Allen did a much better job running than throwing by scoring two touchdowns rushing on a snow-dusted field, and with temperatures in the low 20s.
Buffalo won its third straight and needs only to beat the New York Jets in its finale next weekend to clinch its second consecutive division title – and assure the Bills home-field advantage for the wild-card playoff round.
Atlanta’s Kyle Pitts set the franchise rookie record for yards receiving and became the NFL’s second rookie tight end to top 1,000 yards receiving. Pitts finished with two catches for 69 yards before being limited by a hamstring injury in the second half.
With 1,018 yards receiving, he broke the team’s rookie record set by Julio Jones, who had 959 yards in 2011. Pitts also inched within 58 yards of the NFL record set in 1961 by Mike Ditka for rookie tight ends.
RAIDERS 23, COLTS 20
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Derek Carr directed Las Vegas to Daniel Carlson’s winning 33-yard field goal as time expired as the Raiders beat Jonathan Taylor and the Colts 23-20 to move one step closer to an AFC wild card.
After Michael Badgley kicked a tying 41-yard field goal for Indianapolis with 1:56 left, Carr and the Raiders got the ball at their 25. Carr found Hunter Renfrow for 24 yards on third-and-10 in the final minute, setting the stage for Carlson’s third field goal of the game.
Carr passed for 255 yards and a touchdown for Las Vegas (9-7), and Zay Jones had eight receptions for 120 yards.
Rallying after an embarrassing email scandal that led to coach Jon Gruden’s resignation, the Raiders can wrap up an improbable playoff spot with a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers next weekend.
Indianapolis (9-7) had won three straight and eight of 10 to move one win away from a postseason berth. But it couldn’t hold a second-half lead.
Taylor finished with 20 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown. The NFL’s leading rusher broke Edgerrin James’ single-season franchise record of 1,709 yards rushing on a 9-yard carry midway through the third quarter. He has 1,734 yards to go with one game left in the league’s first 17-game season.
PATRIOTS 50, JAGUARS 10
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – New England returned to the playoffs when rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw three touchdown passes and Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for two scores apiece.
The victory by the Patriots (10-6) snapped a two-game losing streak and gave Bill Belichick his 20th 10-win season as a head coach, tying Don Shula for the most in NFL history. A loss by Miami at Tennessee secured New England’s first trip to the postseason since Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay following the 2019 season.
The Jaguars (2-14) have lost eight consecutive games, including three straight since firing coach Urban Meyer. It was their 17th consecutive loss on the road, the longest streak in the league.
Jones finished 22 of 30 for 227 yards and set a franchise record for touchdown passes by a rookie with 21. Stevenson had 107 yards on 19 carries. Patriots receiver Kristian Wilkerson had two touchdown catches – the first of his career – after being elevated from the practice squad for the second consecutive week.
Myles Bryant, J.C. Jackson and Kyle Dugger all had interceptions.
EAGLES 20, WASHINGTON 16
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – Jalen Hurts scrambled out of trouble while showing no ill effects from a recent ankle injury, Boston Scott rushed for two touchdowns, and the Eagles beat Washington, clinching a playoff berth several hours later when Minnesota lost to Green Bay.
Hurts ran six times for 45 yards and was 17 of 26 passing for 214 yards in leading the Eagles to a fourth consecutive victory. Philadelphia (9-7) started slowly yet again, and its league-leading rushing attack was held to a season-low 3.4 yards a carry with Miles Sanders out because of a broken left hand. Twelve days after racking up 238 yards on the ground against Washington (6-10), the Eagles had 119 yards rushing.
But the defense finally got to Taylor Heinicke, and the Eagles wore down a banged-up opponent, erasing a 16-7 deficit. Jake Elliott connected on field goals of 42 and 41 yards in the fourth quarter, and Rodney McLeod picked off Heinicke in the end zone with 24 seconds remaining to seal it.
Scott’s second touchdown gave the Eagles 24 scores on the ground this season. That’s the most in the league and the organization’s most in a season since 1949.
RAMS 20, RAVENS 19
BALTIMORE (AP) – Matthew Stafford shook off three turnovers to guide a fourth-quarter rally that carried the Rams to their fifth straight victory.
Stafford threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr. with 57 seconds left immediately after completing a 5-yarder to Beckham on a fourth-and-5. After Los Angeles failed on a 2-point conversion, the Ravens – playing a third straight game without injured quarterback Lamar Jackson – never got close enough for a field-goal try.
The victory pushed the Rams (12-4) to the cusp of their second straight NFC West title. Arizona needed to beat Dallas later Sunday to avoid elimination in that race. Both teams already are in the postseason.
At one point this season, Baltimore was 8-3 and the top seed in the AFC. The Ravens (8-8) have since lost five straight, their longest skid since a nine-game run in 2007 under Brian Billick paved the way for current coach John Harbaugh to take over in 2008.
Four of those defeats during this slump have come by a total of five points.
The loss ousted undermanned Baltimore from the AFC North title hunt. The Ravens were not officially eliminated from the playoff chase, but to get in as a wild card they’ll need a win next week and a whole lot of help.
SAINTS 18, PANTHERS 10
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Alvin Kamara turned a short pass into New Orleans’ first touchdown in more than 11 quarters, Brett Maher kicked four field goals, and the Saints’ defense was dominant.
The third victory in four games for the Saints (8-8) – just their second triumph in the Superdome in their regular-season home finale – assured New Orleans would head into the final week of the regular season still in the hunt for an NFC wild-card spot.
Taysom Hill completed 17 of 28 passes for 222 yards and also led the Saints in rushing with 45 yards while playing behind an offensive line missing four season-opening starters. Marquez Callaway caught six passes for 97 yards and Kamara had five catches for 68 yards, including his 12-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans’ defense did the rest, sacking Sam Darnold seven times. Cameron Jordan had 3 1/2 sacks, his third straight game with at least two. C.J. Gardner Johnson sealed it with an interception in the final minute, dooming the Panthers (5-11) to a sixth straight loss.
SEAHAWKS 51, LIONS 29
SEATTLE (AP) – Rashaad Penny rushed for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns, Russell Wilson threw three of his four TD passes to DK Metcalf. Seattle (6-10) closed out its home schedule with its most impressive offensive showing of the season, raising questions about where those fireworks have been for most of the disappointing year.
Penny rumbled for 144 yards in the first half, while Wilson threw TD passes to Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as Seattle built a 31-7 halftime lead.
Wilson added a third TD to Metcalf on the third play of the second half. Wilson finished 20 of 29 for 236 yards, while Metcalf had a career-high three touchdown catches. Metcalf has 12 TD catches this season, also a career best.
It was the fifth 50-point game in franchise history and first since 2012 when Seattle beat Buffalo 50-17 in a game played in Toronto.
Despite the offensive fireworks, it wasn’t all good for Seattle. On Detroit’s first offensive play, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner suffered a knee injury when he slipped and fell awkwardly trying to defend a screen pass for Jamaal Williams. He eventually walked to the sideline and then to the locker room but never returned to the sideline.
Amon-Ra St. Brown ran for one touchdown and caught another for the Lions (2-13-1).
BEARS 29, GIANTS 3
CHICAGO (AP) – Robert Quinn broke Hall of Famer Richard Dent’s franchise single-season record with his 18th sack. Trevis Gipson added a career-high two sacks, and the Bears joined Green Bay as the only franchises with 800 victories counting the postseason. They also gave the embattled Matt Nagy a win in what might have been his final home game as their coach.
Quinn broke Dent’s mark of 17 1/2 set in 1984 when he took down Mike Glennon in the fourth quarter.
Gipson had a strip-sack on the game’s first play from scrimmage and Tashaun Gipson picked off Glennon on the next possession. The two takeaways led to a scoring run by David Montgomery and touchdown catch by Darnell Mooney, making it 14-0 and sending the Bears (6-10) to their second straight win after losing eight of nine.
The Giants (4-12), who could also be in for changes, lost their fifth straight game. They set a season low in yards for the second week in a row, finishing with 151 after being held to 192 against Philadelphia.
The 31-year-old Quinn continued his remarkable turnaround after finishing with two sacks last season, his first in Chicago. He now has 100 1/2 sacks and needs one to match his career high of 19 with St. Louis in 2013.
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