DENVER — Tom Brady and the Patriots shut down Tim Tebow and clinched a playoff berth with their sixth straight victory in a 41-23 dismantling of the Broncos.
The Patriots (11-3) won another AFC East title by bouncing back from an early 17-6 deficit and an awful first quarter in which they were outgained on the ground 167 yards to 4.
This time, there was no last-minute magic from Tebow, Denver's enigmatic quarterback who had guided the Broncos (8-6) to four straight fourth-quarter comebacks and six straight wins.
Instead of another slow start followed by a fantastic finish, the Broncos started out fast and then fizzled. They scored on their first three possessions and then were done in by a trio of second-quarter turnovers.
EAGLES 45, JETS 19: At Philadelphia, LeSean McCoy ran for three touchdowns to set two team records and keep Philadelphia alive in the NFC East race. The Eagles (6-8) have won two straight for the second time this season and somehow still have a chance to repeat as division champions despite underachieving most of the year. But they have to catch Dallas (8-6) and the New York Giants (7-7). The loss snapped New York's three-game winning streak, dropping the Jets (8-6) into a tie with Cincinnati for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Michael Vick threw for 274 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a score. McCoy had 102 yards rushing and surpassed Hall of Famer Steve VanBuren with his 19th touchdown of the season and 16th rushing TD.
LIONS 28, RAIDERS 27: At Oakland, Calif. Matthew Stafford threw a 6-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson with 39 seconds remaining to cap a 98-yard scoring drive as Detroit rallied from 13 points down late in the fourth quarter. The win wasn't sealed until Ndamukong Suh blocked Sebastian Janikowski's 65-yard field goal attempt on the final play. Suh threw his helmet in celebration after providing a perfect exclamation in his return from a two-game suspension. The Raiders (7-7) appeared in control of the game when Aaron Curry returned a fumble 6 yards for a touchdown to make it 27-14 with 7:47 remaining. But Stafford led two late scoring drives to win it and give the Lions (9-5) a two-game lead in the NFL wild-card race.
CARDINALS 20, BROWNS 17 OT: At Glendale, Ariz. — Patrick Peterson returned a punt 32 yards and John Skelton threw 32 yards to Larry Fitzgerald to set up a 22-yard field goal by Jay Feely. It was the Cardinals' third overtime win in seven games.
Arizona (7-7), winner of six of its last seven, trailed 17-7 entering the fourth quarter. Both teams were without their starting quarterbacks because of concussions. Skelton, in relief of Kevin Kolb, completed 28 of 36 for 313 yards with a touchdown and interception. SenecaWallace, starting for ColtMcCoy, was 18 of 31 for 226 yards, including a 76-yard TD play to GregLittle. The Browns are 4-10.
SEAHAWKS 38, BEARS 14: At Chicago, Red Bryant returned an interception 20 yards for the go-ahead TD in the third quarter and Seattle kept its faint playoff hopes alive. Chicago quarterback Caleb Hanie was hit hard on the play by K.J. Wright and threw the ball right into Bryant's arms as Seattle (7-7) scored two TDs in a 50-second span early in the third quarter. Brandon Browner returned another interception 42 yards for a TD in the final quarter as the Seahawks outscored Chicago 31-0 in the second half. Marshawn Lynch added two touchdown runs for Seattle. Chicago (7-7) lost its fourth straight and played most of the game without wide receiver Johnny Knox, who was carted off the field after injuring his back while scrambling for a fumble early in the game.
SAINTS 42, VIKINGS 20: At Minneapolis, Drew Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns to New Orleans to its sixth win in a row.
Brees completed 32 of 40 passes to help the Saints (11-3) overcome a slow and sloppy start and stay two games ahead of Atlanta in the NFC South. Brees is 304 yards from breaking Dan Marino's single-season record for yards passing with two games to play. Brees threw two touchdown passes to Lance Moore and one each to Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham and John Gilmore. The maligned Saints pass defense held the Vikings to 94 yards passing. Adrian Peterson rushed for 60 yards in his return from a three-game absence for the Vikings (2-12).
REDSKINS 23, GIANTS 10: At EastRutherford, N.J. — Rex Grossman threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss and Washington hurt New York's playoff hopes. Grossman threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Santana Moss, Darrel Young scored on a 6-yard run after one of three interceptions by the Redskins (5-9) and Graham Gano kicked three field goals. It was Washington's second win in its last 10 games. The loss knocked the Giants (7-7) out of first place in the NFC East. Dallas (8-6) now leads the division by a game with two to go, including one with Giants on the final weekend. If New York beats the Jets and the Cowboys in its final two games it will win the division.
PANTHERS 28, TEXANS 13: At Houston, Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, DeAngelo Williams ran for a score and Carolina ended Houston's seven-game winning streak. Newton completed 13 of 23 passes for 149 yards, outplaying opposing rookie quarterback T.J. Yates. The Panthers (5-9) built a 21-0 halftime lead, then ended Houston's second-half rally when linebacker James Anderson intercepted Yates in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter. The Texans (10-4) are playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs after clinching the AFC South last weekend. But their top-ranked defense looked vulnerable without coordinator Wade Phillips, who's on medical leave after undergoing kidney and gall bladder surgery this week. Linebackers coach Reggie Herring made the defensive calls.
DOLPHINS 30, BILLS 23: At OrchardPark, N.Y., ReggieBush ran for a career-best 203 yards and touchdown to lead Miami to a 30-23 win over the Buffalo Bills in interim Dolphins coach Todd Bowles first game. Bush sealed the win with a 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Matt Moore threw two touchdowns passes, and Vontae Davis had two of Miami's three interceptions. Bowles replaced the fired Tony Sparano last Monday. Miami (5-9) has won five of seven. The Bills (5-9) have lost seven straight and could finishing last in the AFC East for the fourth straight year. Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 31 of 47 for 316 yards and a TD.
BENGALS 20, RAMS 13: At St. Louis, Rookie A.J. Green had six catches and topped 1,000 yards for the season, and Cincinnati kept pace in the AFC playoff race. Brandon Tate's 56-yard punt return set up Bernard Scott's go-ahead touchdown run late in the third quarter and Cedric Benson added a short scoring run in the fourth for the Bengals (8-6), who won for the second time in six games. Green caught a 55-yarder to set up a field goal for the game's first score. He has 1,006 yards receiving, leaving him 3 shy of Cris Collinsworth's franchise rookie record in 1981. Kellen Clemens was 25 for 36 for 229 and a late touchdown pass to Danario Alexander for the Rams (2-12), who have lost five in a row.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company