NFL Game Capsules - Week 17
Atlanta, GA (.com) - Cam Newton tossed two touchdown passes and the Panthers' potent defense made life miserable for Atlanta's Matt Ryan, as Carolina claimed the NFC South crown with a 21-20 win over the Falcons on Sunday. Newton completed 15-of-27 passes for 149 yards with an interception and added 72 rushing yards on 12 carries for Carolina (12-4), which secured a first- round bye in the playoffs with its 11th win in the last 12 games. The defense, meanwhile, sacked Ryan nine times, including a Carolina single- game record four from end Greg Hardy, while also receiving an 8-yard interception return TD from rookie cornerback Melvin White en route to the team's first division title since 2008. With their postseason hopes long gone, the Falcons (4-12) were looking to play spoiler while also trying to send Tony Gonzalez out on a high note, with the legendary tight end expected to retire at season's end. Gonzalez finished with four catches for 56 yards and, if it truly is over, the 13-time Pro Bowler will finish his career with a number of NFL records at the tight end position, including most career receiving yards (15,127), most career receptions (1,325) and most touchdown catches (111).
Final Score: Cincinnati 34, Baltimore 17
Cincinnati, OH (.com) - A new Super Bowl champion will be crowned this season. Andy Dalton ran for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and the Cincinnati Bengals closed out the regular season by defeating the Baltimore Ravens 34-17. The loss, coupled with Pittsburgh's win over Cleveland, eliminated the defending champion Ravens from playoff contention. Dalton had an uneven performance with two touchdown passes and four interceptions that Baltimore could only turn into a trio of Justin Tucker field goals. Dalton was 21-of-36 for 281 yards as the Bengals (11-5) posted an unblemished 8-0 record at home for the second time in franchise history. The AFC North champs will secure the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye if New England loses to Buffalo on Sunday. Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw three interceptions, the last of which Dre Kirkpatrick returned 21 yards for the game-sealing touchdown with 4:07 remaining. Flacco was 30-of-50 for 192 yards and one touchdown for Baltimore (8-8), which will miss the playoffs for the first time in six years under head coach John Harbaugh.
Final Score: Indianapolis 30, Jacksonville 10
Indianapolis, IN (.com) - Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and a touchdown as the Indianapolis Colts cruised to a 30-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the final week of the NFL season. Luck completed 26- of-37 passes, 11 of which went to T.Y. Hilton, who finished with 155 yards receiving. Donald Brown and Trent Richardson added one rushing touchdown apiece and Griff Whalen caught one TD pass for the Colts (11-5), who had already wrapped up the AFC South and are a New England loss away from securing the third seed in the upcoming AFC Playoffs. Should the Patriots win, the Colts can finish no worse than fourth. Chad Henne was 30-for-51 passing for 331 yards, one touchdown and an interception and Kerry Taylor caught eight passes for 75 yards and a score for the Jaguars (4-12), who secured the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Final Score: NY Jets 20, Miami 7
Miami, FL (.com) - Three weeks ago the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots for control of their own postseason destiny with games against lesser division rivals Buffalo and the New York Jets remaining. The Dolphins, however, lost both and will be watching the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. After a shutout loss at Buffalo last week, the Jets put the nail in Miami's coffin on Sunday with a 20-7 victory at Sun Life Stadium. Geno Smith engineered a pair of second-quarter touchdown drives, scoring on a 7-yard run to put the Jets ahead for good. Smith, benched in the Jets' 23-3 loss to Miami on Dec. 1., completed 17-of-27 passes for 190 yards and ran for 44 yards on 10 carries. Bilal Powell finished with 76 yards on the ground and threw a pass out of the wildcat to set up a Nick Folk field goal that helped seal it for the Jets (8-8), who won consecutive games for the first time this season to finish at .500 for coach Rex Ryan, whose job security has been a topic of conversation all season. After the game, Jets owner Woody Johnson said Ryan will return for the 2014 season. Ryan Tannehill threw for 204 yards with a touchdown on 20-of-40 efficiency, but was picked off three times for Miami (8-8), which has not had a winning season since beating the Jets on the final day of the 2008 campaign for a surprising AFC East title.
Final Score: Minnesota 14, Detroit 13
Minneapolis, MN (.com) - Cordarrelle Patterson scored both of Minnesota's touchdowns, as the Vikings took a 14-13 win over the Detroit Lions in their final game ever in the Metrodome. It was a disappointing season for Minnesota (5-10-1) as the team followed a surprising playoff appearance in 2012 by missing the playoffs for a third time in the past four seasons. The poor season has put Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier on the hot seat, as his team is 21-32-1 during his three-plus seasons with the team. Minnesota will be moving to the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium for the next two seasons as its new home is being built. The team posted an overall record of 168-92, including regular season and playoff games, at the Metrodome during its run there. Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz has also been the subject of job security rumors, as the Lions (7-9) have had consecutive poor seasons after making the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 1999.
Final Score: NY Giants 20, Washington 6
East Rutherford, NJ (.com) - Jerrel Jernigan scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown to help offset an injury to Eli Manning and lift the New York Giants to a 20-6 victory over the Washington Redskins as both NFC East rivals wrapped up disappointing seasons. Jernigan hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Manning in the second quarter and came through with a 49-yard scoring run in the third. He finished with 90 yards on six catches and added 57 yards on a pair of rushes. Manning completed 10-of-24 throws for 152 yards with an interception before exiting with a sprained left ankle near the end of the first half, with Curtis Painter handling the offense over the final two quarters. Painter managed a mere 11 yards and was intercepted once on 2-of-8 passing, but got a boost from a New York defense that limited the dysfunctional Redskins to 251 total yards and forced four turnovers. The win was the seventh in 10 games for the Giants (7-9) following an 0-6 start and sent Washington (3-13) to an eighth consecutive loss in what is widely speculated to be Mike Shanahan's last game as head coach of the Redskins. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins' offense struggled throughout the afternoon, with the quarterback hitting on just 19-of-49 passes for 169 yards and tossing two interceptions.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 20, Cleveland 7
Pittsburgh, PA (.com) - The Steelers cruised to a win Sunday and got the early help they needed if they want to sneak into the postseason. Le'Veon Bell ran for a touchdown and set a long-standing franchise record as Pittsburgh kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 20-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns at a rain-soaked Heinz Field. The Steelers (8-8) can become just the second team to reach the playoffs after beginning a season with four straight losses. They came into Sunday's regular season finale needing a minor miracle, but three of the games have already gone their way, as the Dolphins and Ravens both lost and are eliminated from postseason contention. The final AFC wild card team will be the Steelers or the San Diego Chargers, who can steal the last spot with a win against a Chiefs team that will likely rest their starters with the No. 5 seed already locked up. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 179 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Steelers, who have won 10 consecutive home games against the Browns. Cleveland (4-12) finished another forgettable season with seven straight losses. Jason Campbell completed just 23-of-41 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Josh Gordon ended his huge campaign with a relatively quiet seven catches for 82 yards. Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski is rumored to be on the hot seat after just one year at the helm.
Final Score: Tennessee 16, Houston 10
Nashville, TN (.com) - Neither team had a chance to make the playoffs, so they played for pride and possibly their jobs. The contest was highlighted with records and milestones but one record stood out the most, it was for the Houston Texans. They fell to 2-14, to match the franchise worst record, and secured the No.1 spot in the upcoming draft. Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries to lead the Tennessee Titans (7-9) to a 16-10 win over the Texans. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 15-of-24 passes for 166 yards and an interception. Johnson became the sixth player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first six seasons with his effort. In his first career start Jonathan Grimes carried the ball 16 times for 50 yards and a touchdown for Houston, which moved the franchise worst losing streak to 14 games. Matt Schaub was 22-for-34 with 229 yards and two interceptions.
December 29, 2013, at 06:17 PM ET
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Houston secures No. 1 spot in draft with loss to Tennessee
Bengals send Ravens home early
Steelers top Browns to keep playoffs hopes alive