x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Packers, Saints, Chargers and Eagles secure NFL play-off spots

Philadelphia beat Dallas in a head-to-head battle for the NFC East division crown, while New Orleans secured a post-season position with a rout of Tampa Bay and San Diego edged Kansas City in overtime to seal a playoff berth.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left, and running back Eddie Lacy smile as they walk off the field following their last-minute victory over Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday. The Packers earned a play-off spot with the victory. EPA / TANNEN MAURY
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left, and running back Eddie Lacy smile as they walk off the field following their last-minute victory over Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday. The Packers earned a play-off spot with the victory. EPA / TANNEN MAURY

Aaron Rodgers threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds remaining Sunday to give Green Bay a 33-28 victory at Chicago and a National Football League playoff berth.

The Packers joined the New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles in claiming playoff spots on the final day of the regular season.

Philadelphia beat Dallas 24-22 in a head-to-head battle for the NFC East division crown and a playoff spot, while New Orleans secured a post-season position with a 42-17 rout of Tampa Bay and San Diego edged Kansas City 27-24 in overtime to seal a playoff berth.

Rodgers, who missed the past seven games with a broken collarbone suffered in a loss to Chicago last month, connected with wide-open Cobb, who had been out for more than two months with a knee injury, to convert a third consecutive fourth-down play on the winning drive.

“This is an amazing feeling. What a game,” Rodgers said. “So many plays. I felt like I was in a rhythm, like we were moving good.

“We left some points out there but against our rivals, win or go home game, I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Bears saw their season end on an interception off a desperation pass on the game’s final play as the Packers took the NFC North division title.

“You have to give the Packers credit,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “They were able to convert three fourth downs and Aaron Rodgers was able to make a great play to win the game.”

Philadelphia led Dallas 17-16 late in the third quarter, but the Cowboys’ denied the Eagles on a fourth-down run from the 1-yard line.

But on the next Eagles possession, Bryce Brown scored on a 6-yard touchdown run around left end, giving Philadelphia a 24-16 edge with 6:09 to play.

The Cowboys, guided by Kyle Orton after Tony Romo was sidelined after surgery Friday on a herniated disk, answered on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Orton to Dez Bryant, but when a two-point conversion pass failed, Dallas still trailed 24-22 with 3:50 to play.

The Eagles were forced to punt to Dallas but Brandon Boykin intercepted an Orton pass to end the last Cowboys threat.

It marked the third consecutive season the Cowboys had reached a season-ending game where the winner made the playoffs and the loser was out. Dallas lost all three.

CHARGERS 27, CHIEFS 24, OT 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), who trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, held the Chiefs on downs to win it after they reached the San Diego 41. The Chiefs (11-5) go into the playoffs having lost five of seven.

SAINTS 42, BUCCANEERS 17 Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans (11-5) clinched a wild-card spot with a victory over Tampa Bay.

Mike Glennon passed for 219 yards and two TDs for Tampa Bay (4-12), who closed the season with losses in their last three games, and four of their last five.

BENGALS 34, RAVENS 17 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 (8-8) for the play-offs.

It was an erratic performance by the third-year quarterback, who also threw four interceptions for AFC North winner Cincinnati (11-5).

BRONCOS 34, RAIDERS 14 Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to help the Denver Broncos (13-3) clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a win over the Oakland Raiders (4-12), who ended their 11th straight non-winning season with six straight losses.

SEAHAWKS 27, RAMS 9 Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seahawks (13-3) clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the St. Louis Rams.

JETS 20, DOLPHINS 7 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 Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers (8-8) drubbed the Cleveland Browns. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions as the Steelers won their third straight to avoid the franchise’s first losing season since 2003.

PANTHERS 21, FALCONS 20 Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks and the Panthers (12-4) clinched the NFC South. Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement.

PATRIOTS 34, BILLS 20 LeGarrette Blount rushed for a career-high 189 yards and two touchdowns and had two long kickoff returns as the New England Patriots (12-4) beat the Buffalo Bills and clinched a first-round AFC bye. The Bills (6-10) missed the playoffs for the 14th straight year, the league’s longest current streak.

49ERS 23, CARDINALS 20 Phil Dawson made a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift the San Francisco 49ers (12-4) to a win over the Arizona Cardinals that clinched the NFC’s No. 5 playoff seed.

COLTS 30, JAGUARS 10 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. Indy (11-5), the AFC South champs have won three straight, matching their longest streak of the season.

TITANS 16, TEXANS 10 Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans (7-9), 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 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 (3-13) coach. 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 Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two more touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings (5-10-1) won their final game at the Metrodome after 32 seasons. Lions (7-9) coach Jim Schwartz fell to 29-52 in five years with the Lions.

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