x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

NFL: Luck shines on Indianapolis as Colts and Bengals grab play-off spots

First draft pick Andrew Luck claimed a single-season rookie record as he helped the Colts to a 20-13 win over Kansas City to secure a play-off berth.

Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck lines up a pass while under pressure from Kansas City's Justin Houston.
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck lines up a pass while under pressure from Kansas City's Justin Houston.

Cincinnati and Indianapolis qualified for the National Football League playoffs with narrow victories while Minnesota's postseason bid was boosted by an upset of Houston.

Josh Brown's 43-yard field goal with four seconds remaining gave Cincinnati a 13-10 victory at Pittsburgh that clinched a playoff berth for the triumphant Bengals and left the Steelers sitting home after a fifth loss in six games.

The Bengals are in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1981 and 1982.

"Huge team win," Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said. "It's exactly what we needed. Our defence played great, giving us good field position. Obviously there are areas we can improve, but it feels good to get the win."

Top draft pick Andrew Luck threw for 205 yards to break the single-season rookie record as the Indianapolis Colts beat the Kansas City Chiefs 20-13 to secure their play-off berth.

Luck surpassed Cam Newton's year-old record of 4,051 yards in the second quarter and then threw a touchdown pass late in the fourth to Reggie Wayne for the decisive score.

"I'm very proud to be a part of this team, to be associated with a playoff team," said Luck afterwards.

"We've been in that situation before when we've been down or tied. It was a great all-around effort on that last drive."

The Colts join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season.

The Seattle Seahawks ensured the NFC West title race will go down to the final week with a playoff-clinching 42-13 home rout of the San Francisco 49ers.

Marshawn Lynch triggered the rout with two touchdowns in the first quarter before Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal attempt 90 yards to give Seattle a 21-0 lead at the start of the second as the home crowd were whipped into a deafening frenzy.

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson added touchdown passes in each of the final three quarters, finishing the game with four, to emphatically outplay San Francisco's second-year signal caller Colin Kaepernick.

Adding injury to the insult of a heavy defeat, tight end Vernon Davis (concussion) and receiver Mario Manningham (knee) were both knocked out of the game.

Lynch finished with 111 yards rushing and Seattle punished San Francisco with the type of bruising style usually attributed to the 49ers.

Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Green Bay Packers thrashed the Tennessee Titans 55-7.

The victory ensured the Packers will at least be the NFC's number three seed. It was the first time the Packers have scored more than 50 points since 2005.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 86 yards as the Minnesota Vikings kept their play-off hopes alive with a surprise 23-6 win over the Houston Texans, who failed to score a TD for the first time since 2006.

The loss kept the Texans from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC play-offs. They could still secure a first-round bye if Denver lose later on Sunday.

Minnesota's win also ended the play-off hopes of the New Orleans Saints, despite their overtime win over Dallas.

Garrett Hartley kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime as the Saints won 34-31, while the Cowboys had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost control of their play-off fate.

Tom Brady overcame a rough start by throwing two touchdown passes as the play-off-bound New England Patriots held on to beat the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16.

Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter to help the Jaguars lead 10-0, but the home side faded in the third quarter for the fourth consecutive week and set a franchise record for losses in a season.

Washington Redskins welcomed rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III back to the line-up after a knee injury as they held on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 for their sixth straight win.

The Redskins escaped a scare when Philadelphia had a first-and-goal at the five-yard line with 11 seconds left but failed to score a touchdown that would have sent the game to overtime.

"Winning always cures all ills. It was just good to be back out there with the guys," said Griffin.

"We're playing the best ball we've played all year at the right time. We're rolling. We know that we can win any kind of game we have to, whether it's a high-scoring game or a low-scoring game or a gut-wrencher at the end."

The Redskins can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Dallas at home next Sunday. They have not won it since 1999 and last reached the play-offs in 2007.

Josh Brown kicked a 43-yard field goal with four seconds left to lift the Cincinnati Bengals to a 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending the Bengals into the play-offs for a second straight season and ending the Steelers' hopes.

Reggie Bush caught two touchdown passes and scored on a short run to help the Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills 24-10.

But just minutes after they won, the Dolphins were eliminated from play-off contention when Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh.

Sam Bradford threw two touchdown passes as the St Louis Rams beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-13, while Cam Newton threw for 171 yards and a touchdown and ran for 60 yards and another score as the Carolina Panthers defeated the Oakland Raiders 17-6.

San Diego sacked Greg McElroy 11 times, ruining the New York Jets quarterback's first NFL start, and Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes in the Chargers' 27-17 victory.

Baltimore clinched the AFC North division crown with a 33-14 home triumph over the reigning Super Bowl champion Giants, with Joe Flacco throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns to dim New York's playoff hopes.

Peyton Manning threw for a season-high 339 yards and three touchdowns to lead Denver over Cleveland 34-12, stretching the Broncos' win streak to 10 games, while the Chicago Bears stayed in playoff contention with a 28-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

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