NFL Weekend Wrap-Up
Courtesy of AP | 12/21/2009, 1:21 p.m.
Colts remain undefeated, Saints fall to Cowboys; Eagles, Chargers, Vikings, Cards get playoff spots
The Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers are used to making the playoffs. For the Arizona Cardinals, going to the postseason in consecutive seasons is unfamiliar turf.
The Eagles clinched a postseason berth for the eighth time this decade when they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 27-13 on Sunday, Dec. 20. The loss by the 49ers also clinched the NFC West title for the Cardinals after Arizona's 31-24 win in Detroit (2-12). Kurt Warner threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin with 1:54 left for the Cardinals.The Cardinals (9-5) have won consecutive division titles for the first time since 1974-75. Arizona got the news of its division title at 30,000 feet while flying over the greater Chicago area on the way home.
The defending NFC champs are also closing in on another milestone: They haven't won 10 games since 1976.
Donovan McNabb threw for one touchdown and ran for another, DeSean Jackson had 140 yards receiving to lead the Eagles (10-4), who lead the NFC East by a game over the Cowboys. Philadelphia visits the Cowboys for the regular season finale in two weeks. Frank Gore ran for 107 yards, becoming the first player to surpass 100 yards against the Eagles in 24 games, but the 49ers (6-8) couldn't overcome three interceptions thrown by Alex Smith.
The start of the Philly game was pushed back three hours because the city was still recovering from the second-largest snowfall it has seen since records began in 1884. A total of 23.2 inches of snow fell in Philadelphia on Saturday.
The Chargers won their fourth consecutive AFC West title with their 27-24 win over the Bengals combined with Denver's 20-19 loss to the Raiders. Nate Kaeding kicked a 52-yard field goal with 3 seconds left for San Diego after Philip Rivers moved the Chargers 46 yards in 51 seconds with no timeouts to set up the winning kick.
The Minnesota Vikings also clinched the NFC North when the Green Bay Packers lost 37-36 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the final play of the game. The Vikings lost to the Carolina Panthers 26-7 later Sunday night.
Steelers 37, Packers 36
At Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger ended the game the way he started it by throwing a touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, a desperation 19-yarder on the final play that ended the Packers' five-game winning streak and the Steelers' five-game losing streak.
The Packers (9-5) stalled in their playoff run as they couldn't hold leads of 28-27 and 36-30 in a frantic fourth quarter. Green Bay could have secured a playoff spot with its first win in Pittsburgh since 1970 and a Giants loss or tie on Monday night.
Wallace also caught a 60-yard scoring pass on Pittsburgh's first play of the game as Steelers (7-7) joined five other AFC teams tied at 7-7 in the chase for the AFC's last playoff spot.
Panthers 26, Vikings 7
At Charlotte, N.C., given a chance to get back into the race for the best record in the NFC, Brett Favre and the Vikings fell flat with another Sunday night dud.
Steve Smith caught the go-ahead touchdown pass and his long catch and run set up the clinching score and Carolina (6-8) used a ferocious defense to stifle Favre, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. Smith caught nine passes for 157 yards and keyed Carolina's 20-point fourth quarter.
Hours after clinching the NFC North when Green Bay lost, the Vikings (11-3) failed to move within a game of NFC-leading New Orleans a night after the Saints' first loss of the season.
Jonathan Stewart had 109 yards rushing on 25 carries, snapping Minnesota's NFL-long steak of 36 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.
Titans 27, Dolphins 24, OT
At Nashville, Tenn., Rob Bironas kicked a 46-yard field goal in overtime, and the Titans won after blowing an 18-point lead, preserving their faint playoff hopes.
Vince Young threw for a career-high three touchdowns and Chris Johnson ran for 104 yards as the Titans (7-7) reached .500 for the first time this year.
The Dolphins (7-7) also viewed this as an elimination game for their own playoff hopes. They trailed 24-6 in the third quarter before rallying, tying on Ricky Williams' 2-point conversion run with 1:34 left.
Browns 41, Chiefs 34
At Kansas City, Mo., Jerome Harrison scored his third touchdown with 44 seconds left and rushed for a team-record 286 yards, and Joshua Cribbs returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Cribbs started the Browns (3-11) off with kickoff returns of 100 and 103 yards in the first half, breaking the NFL career record and tying the single-game mark.
Harrison took it from there, scoring all of his touchdowns in the second half to break Jim Brown's team record of 237 yards, set in 1957 and 1961. He closed it out with a 28-yard run off right tackle to finish behind only Adrian Peterson and Jamal Lewis in the NFL record book.
Kansas City (3-11) got a career-high 154 yards and a touchdown from Jamaal Charles and tied the game at 34-all on Matt Cassel's 12-yard touchdown pass to Mark Bradley on a fourth-and-6 with 2:20 left.
Raiders 20, Broncos 19
At Denver, JaMarcus Russell threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chaz Schilens with 35 seconds left.
Russell was benched a month ago and passed by Charlie Frye on the depth chart this week.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick entered when Frye was knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter by a blow to the head from linebacker Andra Davis. He went 5-of-11 for 47 yards.
The Broncos (8-6) are still in the AFC wild-card hunt but they were expecting a win over Oakland (5-9), who won at Invesco Field for the second straight season.
Patriots 17, Bills 10
At Orchard Park, N.Y., Randy Moss bounced back a week after being accused of quitting by Carolina defenders with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Tully Banta-Cain had three of New England's six sacks to anchor a banged-up defense.
The Patriots (9-5) won their first road game on this side of the Atlantic this season by beating their AFC East rival for the 13th straight time and 18th time in 19 meetings.
The Bills (5-9) were undone by 11 penalties for 124 yards, including a pair of pass-interference calls that set up New England's first two scores.
Buffalo's 104 yards in penalties in the first half were the most by an NFL team in an opening half this season.
Ravens 31, Bears 7
At Baltimore, Joe Flacco threw a career-high four touchdown passes, and the Ravens capitalized on six Chicago turnovers.
Baltimore (8-6) led 14-0 after 13 minutes and 31-7 after three quarters. The victory solidified the Ravens' hold on the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC and improved their record against teams currently with losing records to 6-0.
Jay Cutler threw three interceptions, upping his NFL-high total to 25, and backup Caleb Hanie was also picked off. In addition, the Bears (5-9) lost two fumbles.
Chicago's only score came on a 49-yard punt return by Earl Bennett.
Falcons 10, Jets 7
At East Rutherford, N.J., Tony Gonzalez caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan on a fourth-down play with 1:38 remaining.
A day after the Falcons (7-7) were eliminated from playoff contention, they likely also ended the chances for the stunned Jets (7-7), whose three-game winning streak was stopped.
Ryan, starting after missing two games with a toe injury, drove Atlanta downfield for the win at a cold, windy and half-filled Meadowlands.
The Falcons are still in contention to post back-to-back winning records for the first time in their 44-year history.
Texans 16, Rams 13
At St. Louis, Matt Schaub had his eighth 300-yard passing game and Andre Johnson set a season best with 196 yards receiving, but the Texans (7-7) ended up leaning on field goals to hold off the lowly Rams.
The Rams (1-13) lost their 12th in a row at home and for the 23rd time in 24 games overall only three days after canceling practice after a confirmed case of swine flu.
Buccaneers 24, Seahawks 7
At Seattle, rookie Josh Freeman shook off his ninth interception in just over two games to throw two touchdown passes in the second half to top Seattle (5-9).
Tampa Bay's 26th-ranked defense forced five turnovers by Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, as the Buccaneers (2-12) won for just the second time in 17 games.