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Pats denied, Saints fall to Rams Chiefs clinch playoff berth with win over Raiders

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida, Dec 16, (AP): Tom Brady’s latest comeback bid came up short, and the Miami Dolphins helped their playoff chances with a 24-20 breakthrough victory Sunday over the AFC East-leading New England Patriots. A fourth-down pass from Brady was intercepted by reserve safety Michael Thomas, in his first NFL game, in the end zone with 2 seconds left, and Miami held on to win. The Patriots had mounted second-half rallies to win their past three games, and Brady moved them from their own 20 with 1:15 remaining to the Miami 14. But he threw three consecutive incompletions before Thomas sealed the third consecutive victory for the Dolphins (8-6), who improved to 5-2 since tackle Jonathan Martin left the team in a bullying scandal. Miami snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses against the Patriots (10-4). Ryan Tannehill threw for 312 yards and three touchdown passes, including a 14-yarder to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 left that provided the winning margin. Brady went 34 for 55 for 364 yards and two scores. Julian Edelman made 13 catches for 139 yards, and Danny Amendola added 10 receptions for 131 yards.

Chiefs 56, Raiders 31
In Oakland, California, Jamaal Charles tied a franchise record with five touchdowns in a game and gained 215 yards from scrimmage as the Chiefs beat the Raiders and clinched at least a wild-card spot.
Alex Smith threw five TD passes, going 17 for 20 for 287 yards to make the Chiefs the fourth team ever to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 14 games. Kansas City (11-3) is tied for first place in the AFC West with Denver but needs help to win the division because the Broncos swept the season series.
Matt McGloin threw four interceptions and lost a fumble while sharing time with Terrelle Pryor as Oakland (4-10) allowed the most points in franchise history and lost its fourth straight game. The Raiders had seven turnovers overall.
Knile Davis’ 17-yard run midway through the fourth quarter gave the Chiefs the highest-scoring game in the NFL this season and the most points ever scored against the Raiders, breaking the mark of 55 last reached by Baltimore in 2012.

Packers 37, Cowboys 36
In Arlington, Texas, Matt Flynn threw four touchdown passes in the second half, Eddie Lacy had the winning score on a 1-yard plunge after an interception by Tony Romo gave them another chance, and Green Bay rallied from 23 points down at halftime to beat Dallas.
Romo tossed two interceptions in the final 3 minutes, the first one giving Green Bay a chance for the go-ahead score with the Cowboys in position to run out the clock with a 36-31 lead. Lacy scored with just over 1 1-2 minutes left.
Playing on the same field where they won the 2011 Super Bowl, the Packers matched the 1982 team, which rallied past the Los Angeles Rams after trailing by 23.

Steelers 30, Bengals 20
In Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown caught a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a score in a 64-second span in the first quarter and Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati.
Shaun Suisham added three field goals for the Steelers (6-8), who built a 24-point lead and hardly looked like a team playing out the string. Ben Roethlisberger completed 20 of 25 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Le’Veon Bell added 117 yards of total offense.
The Bengals (9-5), looking to move closer to a third straight playoff berth, were undone by a series of special teams miscues.

Falcons 27, Redskins 26
In Atlanta, Desmond Trufant deflected Kirk Cousins’ pass on a potential winning 2-point conversion with 18 seconds remaining, and the Atlanta Falcons edged the Washington Redskins.
The Falcons (4-10) scored 20 points off seven Washington turnovers. The Redskins (3-11) tied a team record with five lost fumbles.
Cousins passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but had three turnovers in his first start of the season after coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench Robert Griffin III. Griffin watched from the sideline. Cousins’ touchdown pass to Santana Moss gave Washington a chance to force overtime by kicking the extra point. Instead, Cousins’ attempted go-ahead 2-point pass for Pierre Garcon was deflected by Trufant.

49ers 33, Buccaneers 14
In Tampa, Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass for the fifth straight game and Michael Crabtree scored his first TD since returning from injury to help the San Francisco 49ers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The victory was the fourth straight for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers (10-4), who pulled away for good with a 10-minute, fourth-quarter drive that produced a field goal. Kendall Hunter put it well out of reach, scooping up a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and diving 2 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
Tampa Bay got within 20-14 on Mike Glennon’s TD pass to Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Seahawks 23, Giants 0
In East Rutherford, Richard Sherman had two interceptions, Marshawn Lynch scored on a twisting, triple-effort 2-yard run, and Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals as Seattle manhandled the New York Giants for its sixth road win.
Russell Wilson toyed with New York’s defense, running for 50 yards and throwing for 206 and a touchdown before sitting out the last few minutes. Wilson has 23 wins, the most for a quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era.
The Seahawks (12-2) are closing in on the NFC West title and their best overall record; they went 13-3 in 2005 before losing to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

Bears 38, Browns 31
In Cleveland, Jay Cutler shook off some early rustiness and threw three touchdown passes in his first start since Nov. 10, leading Chicago past Cleveland.
Cutler, who missed Chicago’s previous four games with a sprained left ankle, threw a 4-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett with 5:41 left as Bears (8-6) rallied in the second half and stayed in contention for an NFC playoff spot. Cutler finished 22 of 31 for 265 yards and validated coach Marc Trestman’s decision to stick with him over backup Josh McCown, who had played well while filling in for Chicago’s starter.
Michael Bush’s 40-yard TD run with 2:17 left sealed it for the Bears, who completed a four-game sweep of the AFC North and won their first road game since Nov. 4, when McCown led them to a win over Green Bay.

Colts 25, Texans 3
In Indianapolis, Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, and Robert Mathis broke Indianapolis’ single-season and career sacks records by forcing a second-half safety to lead the Colts past Houston.
Luck finished 19 of 32 for 180 yards with one interception and needed only two quarters to put up 20 points, four short of Indy’s combined first-half point total from the previous six games. But the Colts (9-5) did it against a team that has lost 12 straight overall and is 0-12 all-time in Indy.
Mathis, the NFL sacks leader, now has 161/2 this season and 108 in his career, breaking the franchise records held by longtime teammate and close friend Dwight Freeney.

Bills 27, Jaguars 20
In Jacksonville, Florida, EJ Manuel threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the Buffalo Bills to a victory against the banged-up Jacksonville Jaguars.
Manuel bounced back from the worst game of his rookie season - a four-interception performance at Tampa Bay last week - and left his college state with his first win in five road starts.
The former Florida State star didn’t do anything spectacular, just dinking and dunking the Jaguars for 193 yards. He also ran for 37 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Manuel completed 17 of 24 passes.


Panthers 30, Jets 20
In Charlotte, North Carolina, Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a touchdown, Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and returned an interception for a score and the Panthers bounced back from their most lopsided loss of the season.
With New Orleans losing 27-16 to St. Louis, the Panthers (10-4) pulled even with the Saints with the rematch set for next Sunday in Charlotte. If Carolina wins its final two games, it will clinch the division and the first-round bye. The Panthers haven’t been to the postseason since 2008.


Rams 27, Saints 16
In St Louis, Drew Brees threw interceptions that led to touchdowns on New Orleans’ first two possessions St. Louis got big days from Zac Stacy, Robert Quinn and on special teams in the victory.
Quinn had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, and his quarterback hit on the Saints’ first snap of the game altered the flight of the ball on T.J. McDonald’s interception.
The Saints (10-4) missed their first chance to clinch a playoff berth, trailing 24-3 at the half, but made it look respectable with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.


Cardinals 37, Titans 34, OT
In Nashville, Jay Feely kicked a 41-yard field goal in overtime, and the Arizona Cardinals edged the Tennessee Titans in overtime after blowing a 17-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Cardinals (9-5) won their sixth in seven games. With San Francisco and Carolina winning, they remained a game back of both for a NFC wild-card berth.

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