Published 12:00 am Monday, December 25, 2006
Ravens 27, Browns 17
BALTIMORE (AP) — Needing a victory over Cleveland to clinch a playoff berth, the Ravens had blown a 14-point lead and were without injured quarterback Steve McNair.
In the time it took Demetrius Williams to run under Kyle Boller’s long pass and take it into the end zone, everything changed.
Boller threw two touchdown passes, including a 77-yard strike to Williams that snapped a tie and propelled Baltimore.
Jamal Lewis ran 22 times for 109 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens (11-3), who are assured a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Baltimore will win the AFC North if Cincinnati loses to Indianapolis on Monday night.
Cleveland fell to 4-10.
Bears 34, Buccaneers 31, OT
CHICAGO (AP) — The Bears earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs the hard way.
Chicago blew a 24-3 second-half lead, then recovered with big plays from backups Rashied Davis and Adrian Peterson in overtime that led to Robbie Gould’s 25-yard field goal with 3:37 left.
Coupled with Washington’s upset of New Orleans, the Bears (12-2) got the home-field advantage in all of their games during the NFC playoffs.
Gould’s field goal came after Davis made an over-the-shoulder catch of 28 yards on a pass from Rex Grossman to the Tampa Bay 20. Peterson, Chicago’s third-team tailback, then had runs of 2 and 11 yards to move the ball to the 7.
The Bucs (3-11) stunned the Bears with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, tying the game on Tim Rattay’s 44-yard TD pass to Ike Hilliard with 3:44 left.
Eagles 36, Giants 22
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Jeff Garcia threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Brown and a 2-point conversion and Trent Cole returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown 10 seconds later in the fourth quarter.
The error-plagued game unworthy of two playoff contenders was third straight victory for the Eagles (8-6) and left them in control of their playoff destiny. If they win at Dallas (9-5) next week and beat Atlanta at home two weeks later, they win the division title.
The Giants (7-7) still have a shot at the playoffs despite losing for the fifth time in six games. They face New Orleans here next weekend and then close at Washington. However, they hold a tiebreaker with Atlanta (7-7) for the sixth and final playoff berth in the conference.
Brian Westbrook scored on runs of 1 and 28 yards and Correll Buckhalter scored on a 2-yard run for Philadelphia, which is 3-1 since McNabb was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Rams 20, Raiders 0
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The St. Louis Rams’ much-maligned defense finally found an offense it could dominate. The Rams took advantage of five Oakland turnovers, including two that set up touchdown runs by Steven Jackson.
Jackson finished with 127 yards on 31 carries, scoring on runs of 4 yards after Chris Carr fumbled a punt and 19 yards after Andrew Walter threw the first of two interceptions.
St. Louis (6-8) got just its second win in nine games.
In a season full of historic lows, the Raiders (2-12) reached another in losing their seventh straight game. They also equaled their most losses in a season since Al Davis joined the franchise in 1963.
Broncos 37, Cardinals 20
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jay Cutler has his first NFL victory as a starter, and Matt Leinart has more than a few aches and pains thanks to the Denver defense.
Cutler threw two touchdown passes and the Broncos (8-6) snapped a four-game losing streak to keep their playoff hopes alive.
In his third start, Cutler completed 21 of 31 passes for 261 yards and was intercepted once. Leinart was 20-of-35 for 214 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for the Cardinals (4-10). He was sacked three times and hit as he threw on several other occasions.
Another rookie, Mike Bell, had a pair of 1-yard TD runs and Jason Elam kicked three field goals in Denver’s highest-scoring performance of the season.
Bills 21, Dolphins 0
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — J.P. Losman kept Buffalo’s slim playoff hopes alive and provided further proof why he’s earned the Bills’ starting job beyond this season.
Losman overcame wet and blustery conditions and threw three touchdown passes. Buffalo (7-7) has won five of its last seven, rallying from a 2-5 start to the season.
The Dolphins (6-8), coming off a 21-0 win over New England, were eliminated from postseason contention despite losing for only the second time in seven weeks.
Jets 26, Vikings 13
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chad Pennington and the Jets kept their hands in the playoff chase for at least one more week. The Vikings are just about out of the running.
Pennington bounced back from a bad game with 339 yards passing and one touchdown in leading the Jets to their third straight road victory.
Brad Johnson was benched for the third time this season, but a late touchdown drive conducted by rookie Tarvaris Jackson was too little, too late for the reeling Vikings, who have lost six of eight.
Laveranues Coles had 12 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown for the Jets (8-6) before leaving with an apparent back injury late in the fourth quarter. Mike Nugent kicked four field goals, and New York improved to 5-2 on the road this year. The Vikings fell to 6-8.
Packers 17, Lions 9
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Brett Favre broke Dan Marino’s career completions record, but Green Bay had to overcome three interceptions by the three-time MVP for the win.
It was only the second home victory all season for the Packers (6-8), who have won two in a row.
Detroit (2-12) remains winless in seven games on the road.
Favre connected on a 21-yard pass to receiver Carlyle Holiday just before halftime for his league-record 4,968th completion. But Favre threw his first two interceptions in the red zone, and the third nearly proved even more costly.
Titans 24, Jaguars 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans’ magical ride isn’t close to ending.
Vince Young and the offense couldn’t move the ball against the Jaguars. So the Titans’ defense beat up David Garrard and returned turnovers 83, 92 and 61 yards for TDs and Tennessee won its fifth straight.
Adam “Pacman” Jones returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter for a 7-0 Tennessee lead. Then the Titans broke open a 10-10 game in the third quarter despite the Jaguars running 32 consecutive offensive plays.
Rookie Cortland Finnegan picked up a Garrard fumble and returned it 92 yards for the go-ahead TD with 4:51 left in the third. Six plays later, safety Chris Hope picked off a Garrard pass and ran 61 yards up the left sideline for a 24-10 lead.
Tennessee (7-7) won for the seventh time in nine games, keeping its faint playoff hopes alive. With Jacksonville (8-6) losing, Indianapolis clinched the AFC South title.
Patriots 40, Texans 7
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England wasted no time reviving themselves.
A week after their worst loss of the season raised doubts how far they could go in the playoffs, the Patriots dominated the Texans.
And on the kickoff right after Houston’s touchdown, Ellis Hobbs ran 93 yards into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown and a 34-7 lead.
After a six-week stretch in which the Patriots were just 3-3 with 19 turnovers — they lost 21-0 at Miami last week — they committed no turnovers while forcing David Carr into four interceptions.
New England (10-4) leads the AFC East and can clinch the title with a win next Sunday at Jacksonville. The Texans (4-10) were outgained 147 yards to 76 in the first two quarters.
Steelers 37, Panthers 3
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Willie Parker rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown and Ben Roethlisberger threw for a score and ran for another.
Parker, a Clinton, N.C. native and a little-used running back in college at North Carolina, ran all over his local team, including a 41-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to put it away.
The Steelers (7-7) also blocked a punt and returned another for a touchdown as they won their third straight game and kept alive their faint playoff hopes.
Chris Weinke, starting for the second straight week in place of the injured Jake Delhomme, threw for 170 yards and an interception and was sacked five times for the Panthers (6-8), who lost their fourth straight game and were all but eliminated from the playoff race.