JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Fred Taylor's 62-yard touchdown run on Jacksonville's opening play set the tone for Sunday's 49-11 rout of the Oakland Raiders that propelled the Jaguars into the playoffs.
Taylor finished with 111 yards as the Jaguars (11-4) won for the sixth time in seven games and clinched the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs.
So much for a letdown after last week's big win at Pittsburgh. So much for a Pro Bowl hangover. And so much for having to worry about winning at nemesis Houston in the season finale.
In fact, Jacksonville could use next week to rest several starters and prepare for the first round of the playoffs at either San Diego or Pittsburgh. Coach Jack Del Rio even got a jump on that Sunday, pulling Taylor, quarterback David Garrard and several others in the blowout.
The Raiders (4-11), who took their worst loss of the season, finally turned things over to No. 1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell. Russell was 7-of-23 for 83 yards with a touchdown a 2-yard pass to Zach Miller with 6 seconds remaining three interceptions and a fumble.
GIANTS 38, BILLS 21: At Orchard Park, N.Y., the Giants clinched a playoff berth by overcoming a Bills team inspired by Kevin Everett's return to the field where he was injured. Brandon Jacobs scored twice and Ahmad Bradshaw had an 88-yard TD run in sloppy conditions as the usually pass-happy Giants leaned heavily on their running attack. Kawika Mitchell's 20-yard interception return produced the go-ahead points and sparked a three-touchdown fourth-quarter rally. The Giants (10-5)o reached the playoffs for a third straight season.
BENGALS 19, BROWNS 14: At Cincinnati, Derek Anderson's consecutive interceptions set up a pair of rapid-fire touchdowns late in the first half, and he threw four in all in a loss that left the Browns scrambling for a playoff spot. Cleveland (9-6) could have clinched with a victory over the down-and-out Bengals (6-9), who had nothing more than pride on the line and several starters out with injuries. The Browns are scuffling with Tennessee for a wild-card berth. With Cleveland's loss, Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North title.
EAGLES 38, SAINTS 23: At New Orleans, Donovan McNabb passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns, jeopardizing the Saints' chances for making the playoffs. McNabb's 40-yard scramble on the third play led to a bizarre touchdown after his fumble was recovered in the end zone by former Aggie Kevin Curtis. Drew Brees threw for 289 yards and a touchdown but lost his best receiver when Marques Colston left the game in the first half with a chest contusion.
COLTS 38, TEXANS 15: At Indianapolis, Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes, Joseph Addai and Clifton Dawson ran for TDs, and the Colts scored on six of their first eight possessions. In what was likely to be the last significant action for Indy's starters until mid-January when the AFC's No. 2 seed will play in the divisional round of the playoffs, Manning & Co. finished with 458 yards, scored 38 unanswered points and won their sixth in a row.
The Super Bowl MVP was 28-of-35 for 311 yards with a rating of 132.3 before leaving late in the third quarter. Three Indy running backs Addai, Dawson and Kenton Keith combined to give the Colts (13-2) their first 100-yard rushing day since Thanksgiving night, and Dallas Clark broke the single-season franchise records for receptions and touchdown catches by a tight end.
Clark caught six passes for 60 yards and two TDs, giving him 57 receptions for 661 yards and 11 TDs this season. Hall of Famer John Mackey held the previous records of 55 receptions and nine TDs.
Bob Sanders, Matt Giordano and Melvin Bullitt all had interceptions. Houston (7-8) was trying to win a franchise record eighth game.
LIONS 25, CHIEFS 20: At Detroit, the Lions took advantage of playing a team slumping more than them and avoided making NFL history. The Lions (7-8) snapped a six-game losing streak and surpassed the most victories they've had in any of seven seasons under team president Matt Millen. Detroit also guaranteed it won't be the first team in the league to finish 6-10 after winning six of its first eight games. Kansas City (4-11) has dropped eight straight, the franchise's worst skid since losing nine in a row in 1987.
T.J. Duckett ran for a season-high 102 yards and a touchdown, and Detroit had a 19-point lead in the first half, but the victory wasn't sealed until Chiefs receiver Samie Parker foolishly dived to the ground at the Lions 30 after getting a lateral with no time left.
SEAHAWKS 27, RAVENS 6: At Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck shook off two interceptions to throw two touchdown passes and Shaun Alexander had his biggest rushing day since Week 4 as the Seahawks clinched the No. 3 seed in the NFC. Hasselbeck's scores gave him a career-high 27 TD throws this season. One went to Alexander, on a screen pass of 14 yards. That gave Seattle (10-5) a 21-0 lead late in the first half. Alexander turned a season of being booed at home into holiday cheers by gaining 73 yards on 13 carries.
49ERS 21, BUCCANEERS 19: At San Francisco, Shaun Hill passed for three touchdowns to remain unbeaten as an NFL starter, and Michael Clayton landed out of bounds with his catch on a 2-point conversion attempt with 1:20 left for Tampa Bay (9-6). Nate Clements' 62-yard interception return set up Frank Gore's TD catch with 14:11 left for the 49ers (5-10), who beat a team with a winning record for the first time this year. Darrell Jackson and Vernon Davis also caught touchdown passes for San Francisco, which also won consecutive games for the first time since the season's first two weeks.
Jeff Garcia passed for 196 yards and a touchdown against his former team before coach Jon Gruden removed him and most of the Buccaneers' playmakers late in the first half, apparently to rest the NFC South champions, who'll be the fourth seed, for a playoff game in two weeks. Luke McCown passed for 185 yards in relief for Tampa Bay, which hasn't won in San Francisco in 27 years.
McCown rallied the Bucs for a late 61-yard TD drive in 85 seconds, with Jerramy Stevens catching his second TD pass. But Clayton's foot was clearly out of bounds when he came down with a pass on the 2-point attempt, and San Francisco recovered the onside kick.
CARDINALS 30, FALCONS 27 (OT): At Tempe, Ariz., Neil Rackers kicked a 29-yard field goal to force overtime, then booted one from 31 yards on the first possession of the extra session. The Falcons (3-12), who rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to take the lead, lost their sixth in a row.
TITANS 10, JETS 6: At Nashville, Tenn., the Titans are back in control of their chase for their first playoff berth since 2003. Pro Bowler Kyle Vanden Bosch had three of Tennessee's six sacks and Chris Brown ran for a touchdown. The Titans (9-6) have the edge over Cleveland in tiebreakers if tied for the AFC's final wild-card berth. They still must close out the season with a victory over the defending Super Bowl champs in Indianapolis.