Published December 23, 2014
Detroit, MI – Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Jeremy Hill rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown and Dre Kirkpatrick posted two interceptions as the Cincinnati Bengals clinched a playoff spot for a fourth straight season with a 37-28 win over the Denver Broncos on Monday. Andy Dalton completed 17-of-26 passes for 146 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Bengals (10-4-1), who will battle Pittsburgh for the AFC North title on Sunday night. Jermaine Gresham caught nine passes for 62 yards and a score and Giovani Bernard also hauled in a TD pass in the win. Peyton Manning struggled throughout, picked off four times while finishing with 311 yards and two scores on 28-of-44 passing for the Broncos (11-4), who had a four-game win streak come to an end. C.J. Anderson rushed for 83 yards and a score on 18 carries, Emmanuel Sanders had two scores to go with 70 yards on six catches and Demaryius Thomas finished with seven catches for a game-high 115 yards in defeat. New England clinched the first overall seed in the AFC due to Denver's loss.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21
Final Score: Carolina 17, Cleveland 13
Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Cam Newton accounted for two touchdowns and the Carolina Panthers picked up a crucial win to set up a winner-take-all NFC South showdown next week. Newton's 9-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Stewart in the fourth quarter was the difference, and Carolina topped the Cleveland Browns, 17-13, on Sunday. The scoring strike to Stewart, which capped a 7-play, 66-yard drive, came less than three minutes after the Browns took their first lead on Brian Hoyer's 81-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Cameron. Hoyer replaced Johnny Manziel late in the first half after the rookie exited with a hamstring injury. The Panthers (6-8-1) will travel to Atlanta next week with the division on the line. Whoever wins that game will clinch the NFC South and host a playoff game.
Final Score: Detroit 20, Chicago 14
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Joique Bell's touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Detroit Lions a 20-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Detroit's win coupled with Green Bay's triumph in Tampa Bay, means the winner of the NFC North will be decided next week as the Lions will travel to Lambeau Field in a winner-take-all Week 17 matchup. The Lions came into the game having been assured of a playoff spot due to Philadelphia's loss to Washington on Saturday. It is the first time since the 2011 season that the team has made it to the postseason. Green Bay also locked up a playoff spot Sunday. Matthew Stafford had a rough game as he went just 22-for-39 for 243 yards with a pair of red zone interceptions, while Reggie Bush also had a rushing touchdown for the Lions (11-4), who have won four straight to reach 11 wins for the first time since going 12-4 in 1991. Jimmy Clausen played admirably in the start, as he was under center in favor of a benched Jay Cutler. Clausen finished the game 23-for-39 for 181 yards and a pair of touchdown passes along with an interception for the Bears (5-10), who have lost their past four games.
Final Score: Houston 25, Baltimore 13
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Randy Bullock converted a franchise-record six field goals while Arian Foster threw a touchdown pass as the Houston Texans downed the Baltimore Ravens, 25-13, in Week 16 action. Case Keenum passed for 185 yards and was picked off once after completing 20-of-42 passes to record his first career win as a starter for the Texans (8-7), who guaranteed themselves at least a .500 season with their third win in the last four. Foster also racked up a game-high 96 yards rushing on 25 attempts while C.J. Fiedorowicz was the beneficiary of his scoring throw. Andre Johnson totaled 65 yards on six catches and reached the 1,000-reception plateau. Joe Flacco had one of his worst days as a professional, completing only 21 of his 50 passes for 195 yards, two touchdowns to Torrey Smith and three interceptions for the Ravens (9-6), who had a two-game win streak snapped. Baltimore needs a win next week at home against Cleveland and some help in order to snag a wild-card berth. Steve Smith picked up 49 yards on five grabs, while Justin Forsett was held to 19 yards on 10 carries.
Final Score: Miami 37, Minnesota 35
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Terrence Fede blocked Jeff Locke's punt out of the end zone for a safety with 41 seconds left, sending the Miami Dolphins to a 37-35 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The blocked punt came after Damien Williams' 3-yard TD catch tied the game for the Dolphins. The fourth quarter featured a combined 41 points. Despite the win, Miami (8-7) was eliminated from playoff contention due to the Steelers' win over Kansas City. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in the locker room after the game that head coach Joe Philbin will be back next season. Ryan Tannehill completed 35-of-47 passes for 396 yards, four touchdowns and an interception for the Dolphins, who snapped a two-game skid. Lamar Miller carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards and a score and caught five passes for 58 yards. Mike Wallace hauled in five passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Teddy Bridgewater connected on 19-of-26 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Vikings (6-9), who have lost two in a row. Matt Asiata carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Greg Jennings caught three passes for 56 yards and a score.
Final Score: Atlanta 30, New Orleans 14
New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Ryan threw for 322 yards and the Atlanta Falcons' maligned defense rose to the occasion in a season-saving 30-14 victory over New Orleans that dropped the erratic Saints out of the NFC South race. Entering this critical divisional showdown ranked at the bottom of the NFL in total defense, pass defense and sacks, the Falcons put forth their best effort of the year on that side of the ball to set up a winner- take-all matchup with Carolina for the NFC South crown next Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta (6-9) held the Saints to 328 total yards and came up with five sacks and four takeaways, including a pivotal fumble from Jimmy Graham at the goal line early in the fourth quarter and Osi Umenyiora's 86-yard fumble return touchdown on the final play. Ryan did his part as well, completing a sharp 30-of-40 passes with a touchdown and no turnovers. Julio Jones racked up 107 yards on seven catches after not practicing the entire week due to a hip injury. Drew Brees finished 30-of-47 for 313 yards and a touchdown to Graham, but was intercepted twice in the loss, the fifth straight at the Superdome for New Orleans (6-9).
Final Score: Pittsburgh 20, Kansas City 12
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Steelers are back in the playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass and Pittsburgh's defense held strong in a 20-12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field. The Steelers (10-5) secured a wild card berth and will host Cincinnati next Sunday for the AFC North title. The Bengals (9-4-1) host AFC West-champion Denver Monday night. Pittsburgh, in the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season, held the Chiefs (8-7) out of the end zone and limited them to four Cairo Santos field goals. Kansas City's playoff hopes are slim heading into next Sunday's home game against San Diego (9-6). The Steelers exacted revenge on the Chiefs for last season. In the final week, Kansas City rested the majority of its starters in a 27-24 overtime loss to San Diego. That ultimately knocked Pittsburgh out of playoff contention. The Chiefs lost for the fourth time in five games.
Final Score: Green Bay 20, Tampa Bay 3
Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Packers clinched a spot in the playoffs for the sixth straight season on the backs of their defense, limiting the Buccaneers to 109 yards of offense in a 20-3 win over Tampa Bay Sunday. Next week the Packers host the Detroit Lions, and the winner of that game clinches the NFC North title. Detroit rallied for a 20-14 win at Chicago Sunday. Offensively the Packers (11-4) were led by Aaron Rodgers once again as he threw for 318 yards and a touchdown to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers completed 31-of-40 passes. Nelson caught nine passes for 113 yards and fellow receiver Randall Cobb set career highs with 11 catches and 131 receiving yards. Eddie Lacy ran for 99 yards on 17 carries, including a 44- yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter. Tampa Bay (2-13) got only 16 rushing yards, led by Doug Martin with 17. His longest run of the day was four yards. McCown completed just 12-of-26 passes for 147 yards. Vincent Jackson caught three passes for 60 yards, and Mike Evans added 49 yards on four receptions.
Final Score: NY Giants 37, St. Louis 27
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Odell Beckham Jr. put on a show once again, amassing 148 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches to help the New York Giants record a 37-27 win over the St. Louis Rams. New York's third straight victory featured another jaw-dropping performance by the rookie sensation, who followed up an 11-reception, 130-yard effort at Tennessee in Week 14 with last Sunday's 12-grab, 143-yard, three-touchdown display against Washington. Beckham wasn't the only Giant to put up big numbers on a day in which New York (6-9) piled up a season-best 514 yards. Eli Manning threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns while completing 25-of-32 attempts, Rueben Randle caught six passes for 132 yards and a touchdown and Andre Williams added 110 rushing yards on 26 carries. St. Louis (6-9) hadn't allowed a touchdown in any of its previous three games, having yielded only 12 points during that stretch. Shaun Hill hit on 24-of-32 throws for 290 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Rams. Kenny Britt finished with 103 yards on nine catches, while Tre Mason had 76 yards and a touchdown on 13 rushes in the loss.
Final Score: Dallas 42, Indianapolis 7
Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Tony Romo threw for 218 yards with four touchdowns on 18-of-20 efficiency to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 42-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, and help clinch the franchise's 19th NFC East title in the process. Dallas (11-4), which just needed a win in one of its final two games after Philadelphia's loss to Washington on Saturday, captured the division crown for the first time since 2009. The Eagles, meanwhile, have been eliminated from playoff contention. DeMarco Murray was active even though he underwent surgery Monday on his fractured left hand sustained in last Sunday's win over the Eagles. Murray rushed for 58 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown. Terrance Williams hauled in two touchdown passes, while Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley each had a touchdown grab in the Cowboys' third straight win. The Colts (10-5), who clinched the AFC South last week, had their four-game winning streak snapped. Andrew Luck threw for a career-low 109 yards on 15-of-22 passing with two interceptions before getting substituted for Matt Hasselbeck late in the third. Luck's 41.7 passer rating was the lowest of his career.
Final Score: Oakland 26, Buffalo 24
Oakland, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Derek Carr passed for 214 yards and two touchdowns, while Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals as the Oakland Raiders topped the Buffalo Bills, 26-24, on Sunday. Carr completed 17-of-34 attempts and tossed scores to James Jones and Jamize Olawale for the Raiders (3-12), who have a chance to match their win total of the past two seasons if they top the Broncos in Denver next week. Latavius Murray and Darren McFadden combined for 140 yards on 32 attempts, while Kenbrell Thompkins posted 90 yards on five receptions. Kyle Orton finished 32-of-49 for 329 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Bills (8-7), who conclude the regular season at New England seven days from now having been eliminated from postseason contention. With the running game largely shackled to the tune of 13 yards on 13 attempts, Fred Jackson totaled 93 yards on nine catches, while Sammy Watkins, Scott Chandler and Robert Woods posted a TD catch apiece.
Final Score: Seattle 35, Arizona 6
Glendale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Marshawn Lynch wasn't on the field for the start of the game due to an upset stomach. Following a drink of water and a mouthful of skittles, he was ready to go. Lynch then gave the Arizona Cardinals faithful nausea with a back-breaking touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Lynch broke off a career-high 79-yard scamper to put the game away as the Seahawks seized control of the NFC West with a 35-6 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday night. The Seahawks had already held a 21-6 advantage before Lynch took a handoff off left tackle. He burst through the hole and cut across the field along the right sideline and stiff-armed Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson at the Seattle 45. Lynch then powered through Peterson and Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson across midfield and Alex Okafor was unable to make a shoe-string tackle at the 20 before he leapt into the end zone to complete the phenomenal touchdown. Seattle won for the eighth time in nine games following a 3-3 start and can win the NFC West and clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs with a win over the St. Louis Rams next Sunday afternoon. The Seahawks hold the tiebreaker over Arizona after sweeping the season series. Lynch carried the ball 10 times for 113 yards and two scores. Russell Wilson was 20-of-31 for 339 yards and two touchdowns, while racking up 88 yards and a score on the ground for Seattle (11-4), which totaled a franchise-record 596 yards.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20
Final Score: Washington 27, Philadelphia 24
Landover, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Kai Forbath kicked a 26-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to lift the Washington Redskins to a 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday. The Redskins snapped a six-game losing streak and dealt a significant blow to the Eagles' playoff hopes. Philadelphia has lost three straight games since a Thanksgiving win at Dallas gave it sole possession of first place in the NFC East. A win at home by the Cowboys against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday will eliminate the Eagles from postseason contention. The Eagles (9-6) have been prone to turning the ball over this season and cornerback Bashaud Breeland intercepted Mark Sanchez's pass at the Washington 42-yard line inside the two- minute warning. Robert Griffin III then threw a short pass to Pierre Garcon, who spun out of a defender's grasp for a 23-yard gain. A roughing the passer penalty tacked on 15 more yards and the Redskins added one more first down, forcing Philadelphia to use each of its three timeouts before Forbath nailed the go-ahead kick. The Eagles, who had erased a 24-14 deficit, were still alive with three seconds remaining because Forbath drilled Trey Burton with the kickoff at midfield. Cornerback David Amerson knocked down Sanchez's pass in the end zone to end the game. Griffin completed 16-of-23 passes for 220 yards with one interception and Darrel Young had two 1-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter for Washington (4-11). Sanchez was 37- of-50 for 374 yards and threw two touchdown passes to Riley Cooper. Tight end Zach Ertz set an Eagles franchise record with 15 catches for a career-high 115 yards.
Final Score: San Diego 38, San Francisco 35 (OT)
Santa Clara, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Philip Rivers' arm got the San Diego Chargers to overtime. Eric Weddle's arm helped them win the game once they got there. Rivers led two touchdown drives in the final nine minutes of regulation and Weddle forced a fumble that led to Nick Novak's winning 40-yard field goal in overtime, as the Chargers rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers 38-35 in a thriller on Saturday night. San Diego trailed by 21 points at halftime and by 14 in the fourth quarter before Rivers' touchdown passes to Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd, the last one coming with 29 seconds left on the clock. Weddle, the veteran safety, stripped wide receiver Quinton Patton on a 20-yard end-around -- just San Francisco's second play in overtime -- and Novak split the uprights for the win. Rivers passed for 356 yards with four touchdowns and San Diego (9-6) overcame his three interceptions, including two that led to 14 San Francisco points in the first half. The playoff-hopeful Chargers stopped a two-game losing streak, winning without injured stars Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen. Despite 355 rushing yards, the 49ers (7-8) suffered their fourth straight loss, guaranteeing them their first non-winning season under Jim Harbaugh. Colin Kaepernick had the second-longest touchdown run by a quarterback in NFL history, a 90-yarder late in the third quarter that restored San Francisco's 14-point lead. It came two just two plays after his fumble was recovered in the end zone by Corey Liuget for a San Diego touchdown. Kaepernick passed for 114 yards with a touchdown to Bruce Ellington and rushed for 151 on seven carries. Frank Gore added 158 yards on 26 rushes, including a 52-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18
Final Score: Jacksonville 21, Tennessee 13
Jacksonville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jordan Todman's 62-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter highlighted the Jacksonville Jaguars' 21-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. Blake Bortles completed 13-of-26 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown for the Jaguars, who scored 21 straight points after falling behind 10-0. Todman carried the ball five times for 71 yards for Jacksonville (3-12), which avenged a 16-14 loss to these Titans on Oct. 12. Toby Gerhart rushed for 53 yards and a score on 12 carries. Tennessee turned back to Charlie Whitehurst due to injuries and he connected on 24-of-35 passes for 287 yards and one touchdown. Leon Washington caught seven passes for 62 yards and a score. Bishop Sankey carried the ball 14 times for 44 yards for the Titans (2-13), who have lost nine in a row.