The Los Angeles Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, the NFL's most successful teams from 1965-85, are back in the playoff picture for the first time since the end of their dominant era.
The Raiders got three touchdown passes from Jay Schroeder on Sunday, two of them to Tim Brown, to clinch their first playoff berth since 1985 with a 24-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Raiders (10-4) had 16 straight winning seasons from 1965-80 and made the playoffs 15 times from 1967-85."The first step is to qualify for the playoffs, and we did that in grand style," said Raiders coach Art Shell, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman during the glory years. "Our team understands what has to be done in order to win."
The Cowboys, also out of the playoffs since 1985, aren't quite there yet, but they have the inside track to the NFC's third and final wild-card berth. They could become the second team in NFL history - after Baltimore in 1975 - to make the playoffs after having the worst record in the league the year before.
"We've done better than I ever imagined," Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson said. "We knew we had to win this game and the team responded."
Dallas, which made the playoffs 18 times and had 20 consecutive winning seasons from 1966-85, routed Phoenix 41-10 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory - the longest current streak in the NFL.
"It's our most important victory by far," Johnson said. "Now we are in a position to make the playoffs."
Wins in their last two games at Philadelphia and Atlanta would clinch the postseason spot for the Cowboys (7-7), and with a logjam of five NFC teams with eight losses, Dallas could make it even with another loss.
In two Saturday games, Buffalo beat the New York Giants 17-13 and Washington defeated New England 25-10. Tonight, San Francisco is at the Los Angeles Rams.
Rookie Emmitt Smith tied a Cowboys record with four touchdowns in the victory over the Cardinals, who beat Dallas 20-3 on Oct. 14.
The Raiders, now one game ahead of Kansas City in the AFC West, haven't been in the playoffs since winning the AFC West title in 1985, and haven't won a playoff game since beating Washington 38-9 in the 1984 Super Bowl. From 1986 through 1989, the Raiders were 28-35.
"We played a great game," Schroeder said. "I am happy to be in the playoffs, but being division champs is our goal. We now have a two-game season, and we will achieve that goal."
Los Angeles clinched the victory when Schroeder threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Horton with 9:07 left in the third quarter to make it 24-7. The score came two plays after an 88-yard run by Bo Jackson put the ball at the 1.
Eagles 31, Packers 0
Philadelphia (8-6) clinched a playoff berth with a shutout of Green Bay as Randall Cunningham hurdled five yards for one touchdown and passed for another.
The Eagles led 17-0 at halftime and let their defense take over in the second half. Cunningham gave way to Jim McMahon in the fourth quarter and he set up a touchdown with a completion on his first pass of the season.
Dolphins 24, Seahawks 17
Miami (11-3) stayed a game behind first-place Buffalo in the AFC East, and a victory over the Bills next Sunday would give the Dolphins a two-game sweep and a tie for the lead.
The Dolphins dodged four scoring threats by Seattle (7-7) inside the 30 in the second half and scored touchdowns with a fumble recovery at the Seattle 9 and a 45-yard pass from Dan Marino to Tony Martin.
Steelers 9, Saints 6
Pittsburgh's Gary Anderson won a battle of field goals against Morten Andersen of New Orleans.
Anderson, who had a 29-yard field goal in the second period, kicked a 42-yard field goal to tie the score and a 43-yarder to win it with 1:44 left. Andersen had a 50-yarder and a 43-yarder.
The Saints (6-8) are now one of the teams chasing the Cowboys for the NFC's final playoff spot.
Lions 38, Bears 21
Chicago's chances of getting a bye in the first round of the playoffs were hurt by Rodney Peete's career-high 316 passing yards and four touchdowns for Detroit.
The Bears (10-4) now trail the Giants by a game in the NFC and will have to play a wild-card team in the first round unless Chicago wins twice and the Giants lose twice.
Peete threw scoring passes of 20 yards to Robert Clark, 44 yards to Richard Johnson and 1 yard to Clark - all in the second quarter - for a 21-7 halftime lead. Peete connected with Terry Greer for a 68-yard scoring play in the third quarter.
Broncos 20, Chargers 10
John Elway threw two touchdown passes to Michael Young as Denver snapped a six-game losing streak by defeating San Diego (6-8).
The Broncos (4-10) contained the NFL's leading rusher, Marion Butts, and got two field goals and a goal-line interception in the fourth quarter.
Elway hit Young on a 25-yarder with 15 seconds left in the first half and connected with him again on a 3-yarder midway through the third quarter, giving the Broncos a 14-3 lead.
Bucs 26, Vikings 13
Vinny Testaverde scrambled for 105 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown in the first quarter, as Tampa Bay beat Minnesota in Richard Williamson's debut as interim coach.
Testaverde also threw a 25-yard TD pass to Mark Carrier for a 23-0 halftime lead, and Steve Christie kicked four field goals as the Bucs (6-8) took advantage of eight turnovers by Minnesota (6-8).
Browns 13, Falcons 10
Cleveland snapped an eight-game losing streak, while Atlanta lost its seventh straight and 18th in a row on the road.
The win was Jim Shofner's first in five games since replacing fired Bud Carson as Cleveland's coach on Nov. 5.
The Browns took the lead for good on Kevin Mack's 5-yard scoring run in the second quarter.
Colts 29, Jets 21
Eric Dickerson rushed for 117 yards and two short touchdowns, one of them set up by a successful fake punt.
It was the fourth straight victory for Indianapolis (6-8) over New York (4-10). Dickerson now has 89 touchdowns in his eight-year career, and he has rushed for 100 or more yards 60 times.