|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 December 2013 11:45|
By The Associated Press
CINCINNATI (AP) - Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records on Sunday, leading Cincinnati to a 34-17 victory that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
It was an erratic performance by the third-year quarterback, who also threw four interceptions for AFC North winner Cincinnati (11-5).
The Ravens (8-8) lost their last two games, denying them a chance to make the playoffs for a sixth straight season. They couldn't avoid the Super Bowl slump that's so common.
The Ravens became the 15th Super Bowl champ that failed to reach the playoffs the following season, and the sixth in the last 12 years.
In Cincinnati, there's only one thing in mind: finally win a playoff game. The Bengals haven't done that since the 1990 season. They lost opening-round games in Houston each of the last two seasons as wild cards.
JETS 20, DOLPHINS 7
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - The Dolphins were eliminated from the scramble for the AFC's final wild-card berth by the Jets, who thrived in the role of spoilers against their archrivals.
Then Jets owner Woody Johnson said coach Rex Ryan would return.
The Jets (8-8) will sit out the postseason themselves for the third year in a row.
Geno Smith led three long scoring drives, ran for a touchdown and threw for 190 yards, while two interceptions by rookie Dee Milliner and one by 35-year-old Ed Reed prevented a Miami comeback.
The Dolphins (8-8) squandered a shot at their first playoff berth since 2008 by losing their final two games. It was a dismal end to a roller-coaster season that included a four-game losing streak and a bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny.
STEELERS 20, BROWNS 7
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Le'Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown and Pittsburgh maintained its unlikely pursuit of a playoff berth.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions as the Steelers (8-8) won their third straight to avoid the franchise's first losing season since 2003. The victory also continued a furious second-half rally by the Steelers, who went 6-2 over the season's final eight weeks to fuel an improbable run at the AFC's final postseason spot.
Jason Campbell completed 23 of 40 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown, but the Browns (4-12) lost their seventh straight, fueling speculation first-year coach Rob Chudzinski's job could be in jeopardy.
PANTHERS 21, FALCONS 20
ATLANTA (AP) - Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team- record four sacks and the Panthers clinched the NFC South.
The Panthers (12-4) earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Carolina, which won 11 of its final 12 games, set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defense also produced a touchdown on Melvin White's 7-yard interception return in the second quarter.
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement.
COLTS 30, JAGUARS 10
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead and Adam Vinatieri joined the 2,000-point club.
The AFC South champs have won three straight, matching their longest streak of the season. Indy (11-5) finished with a 6-0 mark against division foes and has outscored its last three opponents 78-20.
Jacksonville (4-12) lost its third straight.
Luck was 26 of 37 and became the first player in league history to top 8,000 yards in his first two NFL seasons. Mathis retook the sacks lead in the first half and added another in the second half, giving him 19 1/2. Vinatieri moved into fifth on the career scoring list with 2,006 points, passing George Blanda and Matt Stover.
TITANS 16, TEXANS 10
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans, a win that may help coach Mike Munchak's argument to stay on the job in 2014.
With their 14th straight loss, the Texans (2-14) clinched the No. 1 selection in next May's draft for the next head coach owner Bob McNair hires.
The Titans (7-9) scored 16 straight points in snapping a five-game home skid that was their longest since leaving Houston for Tennessee in 1997. They also won a second straight game for the first time since September, when they started 3-1.
Rob Bironas kicked three field goals, including a season-long 55-yarder. Linebacker Akeem Ayers intercepted a pass and forced a fumble as the Titans got four turnovers they turned into 10 points.
GIANTS 20, REDSKINS 6
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - New York's Jerrel Jernigan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran 49 yards for another score in what might be Mike Shanahan's final game as Redskins coach.
Shanahan has not only seen the Redskins (3-13) finish the season with an eight-game losing streak just a year after winning the NFC East, but his future is uncertain because of his shaky relationship with oft-injured franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The Giants (7-9) also aren't going to the playoffs, but they closed the season with a 7-3 record after losing their first six games. It's a finish that probably will have two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin back next season, unless the 67-year-old decides he has had enough.
The game was the final one at MetLife Stadium until the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
VIKINGS 14, LIONS 13
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two more touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings won their final game at the Metrodome after 32 seasons.
With the Vikings (5-10-1) and the Lions (7-9) out of the playoffs, both coaches also faced the possibility of their last full day with their teams. Jim Schwartz fell to 29-52 in five years with the Lions. Leslie Frazier raised his record with the Vikings in three-plus years to 21-33-1. Each of them has reached the playoffs once.
The building will be torn down next month to make room for a new domed stadium on the same site.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org