Help! It's ugly down here, where the Patriots and Browns and Broncos reside.
The NFL's three worst teams showed why they are floundering at the bottom of the standings with awful efforts again Sunday. While the Buffalo Bills were clinching a playoff spot, the New York Giants were taking a division crown and the San Francisco 49ers were winning an NFL-record 17th straight road game, New England, Cleveland and Denver were embarrassing themselves. Again."We have digressed as a team since I took over as head coach," Jim Shofner said after Cleveland's 58-14 rout at the hands of Houston. "There must be some lack in my ability to coach with a result like this. There must be a kink in the armor somewhere."
"Learning how to win - that's the one thing all of us have to do," Patriots running back John Stephens said following a 24-3 loss at Pittsburgh that was a club-record 11th in a row. "It was negative pretty much the whole game because we didn't do a lot of things and we're not consistent."
"The typical things that seem to happen all year," Denver coach Dan Reeves said after a 31-20 defeat at Kansas City, the Broncos' sixth straight loss. "We are ahead at halftime and we come out and lose the game."
It was one of the uglier weekends for the AFC weak sisters, whose only race is for the first pick in the draft. The Patriots are 1-12, Cleveland is 2-11, Denver 3-10.
At the other end of the NFL standings, the Bills solidified at least a wild-card spot with a 31-7 romp at Indianapolis. Buffalo (11-2) leads Miami by one game in the AFC East - the Dolphins beat Philadelphia 23-20 in overtime Sunday night.
The Giants secured the NFC East title for the second straight year with a comeback 23-15 win over Minnesota. The 49ers, with the league's best record, 12-1, needed overtime to beat Cincinnati 20-17.
Kansas City's victory gave it a half-game edge over the Raiders in the AFC West, with Los Angeles at Detroit Monday. The AFC Central is a three-way jumble again, thanks to the wins by Houston and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati's defeat.
The Bucs, Chargers, Cowboys and Jets were idle.
Oilers 58, Browns 14
Houston crushed Cleveland with a 45-point first half, keyed by Lorenzo White scoring three of his four TDs and a 72-yard run with a fumble by Terry Kinard. The Oilers set a franchise record for points in a game.
"We were due for one like this," QB Warren Moon said.
The Browns tied the club record for most losses in a season. They've given up 380 points, also a club record. Eric Metcalf provided Cleveland's scoring with a 101-yard kickoff return and a 31-yard touchdown catch.
"I have spent happier afternoons in the Astrodome," Metcalf said. "The fun isn't gone out of the game, but it's hard to stay motivated."
Steelers 24, Patriots 3
Pittsburgh grabbed its share of the AFC Central lead with Chuck Noll's 200th victory as coach. Noll, the only coach to win four Super Bowls, joined George Halas, Tom Landry, Don Shula and Curly Lambeau as the only NFL coaches to win 200 games. He is 200-146-1 in 22 seasons.
"It makes you stop and think a little bit ... about how long you've been around," he said. "We've been through this before and you know there are a lot of people that are involved in that, past and present. Actually, you feel like you have a few more than 200."
Merril Hoge ran for two touchdowns and 117 yards.
The Patriots have been outrushed by nearly 1,000 yards. They allowed an opposing back to rush for 100 yards for the seventh consecutive game and the 10th time in 13 games.
"It's inevitable the losing streak will end, but when is certainly a big question," said Patriots coach Rod Rust, the Steelers' defensive coordinator last season. "I'm happy for Chuck and the Steelers ... but I'm tired of standing up here every week and talking about (the streak)."
Chiefs 31, Broncos 20
Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer got his first victory against the Broncos as Steve DeBerg had three TD passes. Denver has lost eight times after leading at halftime.
"It has nothing to do with the personal thing," said Schottenheimer, who was 0-6 lifetime against the Broncos, including two defeats in AFC title games. "Personal things don't mean a lot in this game."
DeBerg, a 15-year veteran and former Bronco - he was their starter when John Elway was drafted - hit 18 of 27 passes for 254 yards and was not intercepted for the eighth straight game.
Bills 31, Colts 7
Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas. The usual suspects were unstoppable for Buffalo.
Four sacks by Bruce Smith, giving him 19 for the year, kept the Colts' Jeff George off-balance. Thomas rushed for 76 yards and two TDs and caught four passes for 91 yards.
Reed set a team record for career touchdown receptions with 37. He had seven catches for 95 yards and two scores Sunday.
"I think he was a little rattled," Smith said of Jeff George, the top pick in this year's draft. "If you get constant pressure on any quarterback, he's going to wonder where it's going to come from next. That's what was happening today."
Dophins 23, Eagles 20, OT
Miami clinched at least a wild-card playoff berth - its first postseason appearance since 1985 - as Pete Stoyanovich kicked two key field goals against Philadelphia.
Stoyanovich's 34-yarder with three seconds left forced overtime, and his 39-yarder with 2:28 to go in sudden death won the game.
The Dolphins trailed 20-10 with less than six minutes remaining, but they improved their record to 10-3 and stayed one game back of AFC East leader Buffalo. The Eagles fell to 7-6 with their second consecutive loss after a five-game winning streak.
Stoyanovich's winning kick was set up when the Eagles' Jeff Feagles bobbled a bad snap and managed only a 23-yard punt. Starting from the Miami 43, Dan Marino completed passes of 12 yards to Troy Stradford and 14 to Mark Duper to reach the Eagles' 31.
Marino, who completed 27 of 54 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns, moved the Dolphins 71 yards to set up Stoyanovich's game-tying kick.
Giants 23, Vikings 15
For three quarters, Bill Parcells might have wished he had remained in his hospital bed - he was admitted for kidney stones Saturday night.
But the Giants came back and ended Minnesota's five-game winning streak, handing the Vikings their eighth consecutive loss outdoors.
Trailing 15-10, the Giants rallied behind their defense in the final period. Greg Jackson's interception at the Vikings' 37 led to Matt Bahr's wind-aided, 48-yard field goal.
"We hadn't played any football at all and we were only down by two points," said linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who gave a fiery halftime speech to his teammates.
New York forced a punt and the Giants drove 42 yards to Ottis Anderson's second TD of the game. Anderson gained 26 yards to become the eighth player in the NFL to rush for 10,000 yards.
Another interception with three minutes to go set up a game-clinching 18-yard field goal by Bahr.
Then Parcells headed back to the hospital for treatment.
Redskins 10, Bears 9
All season, the Bears have prospered because of turnovers. But they managed only three field goals by Kevin Butler despite picking off five passes, and Brad Muster's fumble gave Washington a chance to win.
Chip Lohmiller, who moments earlier had missed a 54-yard field goal, booted one from 35 yards and Jim Harbaugh threw two interceptions to blunt any hopes of a comeback by the Bears (10-3).
Rookie Mark Carrier had three interceptions for NFC Central champion Chicago (10-3), which slipped a game behind the Giants and two in back of the 49ers in the overall NFC standings.
Earnest Byner gained 121 yards rushing for Washington.
Seahawks 20, Packers 14
For the fifth consecutive week, Seattle went down to the final minute. The Seahawks built a 20-0 lead behind 112 yards rushing for Derrick Fenner.
Then Blair Kiel, Green Bay's third-string quarterback, replaced Anthony Dilweg.Playing in his first game since Nov. 13, 1988, Kiel hit two scoring passes and had Green Bay (6-7) at the Seattle 8 before the Packers bogged down. Seattle climbed to 7-6.
Saints 24, Rams 20
New Orleans (6-7) made a late comeback, then held on in the final moments. Steve Walsh found Eric Martin for a 4-yard TD pass to win it. Earlier, rookie Gill Fenerty had a 60-yard scoring run and Brett Maxie went 50 yards with an interception for New Orleans.
The Rams moved to the New Orleans' 9 with 58 seconds to play. On fourth down, Jim Everett was sacked and fumbled. But the Saints were called for offside on the play. Everett threw incomplete on the extra play and the game ended.
Cardinals 24, Falcons 13
Phoenix (5-8) continued its resurgence with its third straight win, paced by interceptions and rookies. Marcus Turner returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown, Cedric Mack set up another score with a pickoff and rookies Ricky Proehl and Anthony Thompson had big games. Proehl made 6 catches for 102 yards and a 45-yard touchdown, while Thompson ran for 96 yards.
Atlanta (3-10) has dropped six straight and was without starting QB Chris Miller. Backup Scott Campbell was just 13-for-30 and threw three interceptions.