|Sunday's NFL Capsules|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 30 December 2007 12:57|
Joshua Cribbs returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, Jamal Lewis rushed for 128 yards and rookie quarterback Brady Quinn made his long-awaited NFL debut as the Browns beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-7 Sunday. Then they settled in front of their TVs to cheer for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Browns (10-6), just 4-12 a year ago, would make the AFC playoffs for the first time since 2002 if the defending Super Bowl champions beat the Tennessee Titans (9-6) on Sunday night.
Derek Anderson threw a TD pass to Braylon Edwards and Phil Dawson kicked two field goals as the Browns finished 7-1 at home for the first time in club history. Cleveland's 10 wins are the most since its expansion rebirth. The Browns last posted double-digit wins in 1994 (11).
Dawson kicked field goals of 24 and 49 yards and set a club record for points by a kicker with 120 - 6 shy of tying Hall of Famer Jim Brown's overall team mark.
Anderson hurt his right pinky and was replaced by Quinn, who received a rousing ovation when he jogged into Cleveland's huddle with 3:11 left in the first half.
Anderson returned after halftime and finished 10-of-19 for 127 yards, but threw an interception and was again shaky coming off a four-pick performance last week in a loss at Cincinnati that cost Cleveland a chance to clinch a wild-card spot.
Bears 33, Saints 25
CHICAGO (AP) - Devin Hester sprinted 64 yards for a TD with a punt return - his NFL-record sixth kick runback for a score this season to break his own mark set a year ago - and also caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton.
When the teams met 11 months ago for the NFC championship on the same field, the Bears earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a 39-14 victory. Now they and the Saints (7-9) are both going home before the playoffs even start.
New Orleans' slim chances hinged on beating the Bears (7-9) and hoping for losses later in the day by the Redskins and Vikings.
Drew Brees and Marques Colston hooked up for two first-half touchdown passes, and Brees set a single-season NFL record for completions (443), passing the previous mark of 418 set by Rich Gannon in 2002. Brees completed 35 of 60 passes for 320 yards with three TDs.
Packers 34, Lions 13
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - The Packers finished their turnaround regular season with a victory while resting several key players for the playoffs.
Brett Favre extended his quarterback-record consecutive starts streak to 253 games, but didn't keep his helmet strapped on for very long. Favre led the Packers (13-3) to touchdowns on their first three possessions before handing the ball to backup Craig Nall in the second quarter.
Many of Favre's most prominent teammates didn't dress and weren't really needed to tie a franchise record for most victories in a season. Having already clinched the NFC's No. 2 playoff seed, the Packers rested top wide receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, cornerback Charles Woodson, defensive end Aaron Kampman, tight end Donald Lee and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett.
Green Bay wasn't able to completely avoid injuries Sunday, as running back Ryan Grant left the game with a stinger in the first quarter, and cornerback/punt returner Will Blackmon was carted to the locker room with a foot injury just before halftime.
The Lions delivered an uninspired performance in going from 6-2 to 7-9.
Falcons 44, Seahawks 41
ATLANTA (AP) - Chris Redman gave the Falcons a feel-good finish to an ugly season. Redman set a career high with four touchdown passes, including two to Alge Crumpler, and the Falcons rode three fourth-quarter touchdowns to victory.
The Falcons (4-12) ended a six-game losing streak, giving interim coach Emmitt Thomas his first win in three tries. Seattle (10-6), the NFC West champion, allowed the woeful Falcons to best their previous scoring high by 17 points.
Redman, the third starting quarterback for Atlanta in the post-Michael Vick era, also threw touchdown passes to Joe Horn and Roddy White. He was 17-of-27 for 251 yards with no interceptions.
Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris, who rushed for 91 yards, had touchdown runs for Seattle.
Texans 42, Jaguars 28
HOUSTON (AP) - Meaningless game? Not to Andre' Davis, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns against the Jaguars (11-5), who rested many starters with their playoff spot secure. The victory gives the Texans (8-8) a .500 finish for the first time in their six-year history, and their 42 points are a team record.
Ron Dayne added two touchdowns and 88 yards rushing after missing two starts with a sore ankle. He set a career-high with 773 yards rushing this season.
Davis' returns came on consecutive kickoffs, good for 97 and 104 yards. He became the first player in the NFL this season to return two for scores in a game and the seventh player in league history to achieve the feat.
He also had a fumble recovery that led to a touchdown.
Quinn Gray was 25-of-39 for 302 yards, while Matt Jones had eight receptions for 138 yards for the Jacksonville.
Panthers 31, Bucs 23
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay, resting most of its starters for the playoffs, didn't stop Carolina from treating its season finale as a meaningful game and giving Vinny Testaverde a nice send-off.
DeAngelo Williams rushed for 121 yards and two second-half touchdowns, lifting the Panthers with the retiring 44-year-old Testaverde taking the last snap in the same city where he began his NFL career in 1987.
Testaverde, the first pick in the '87 draft by the Bucs, entered the game after the Panthers stopped Tampa Bay's final drive on downs with 35 seconds remaining. He received polite applause from what was left of a crowd of 65,609, then took a knee on the last play.
The veteran of 21 seasons hugged his wife as he left the field, saying: ``That's it. It's all over.''
Matt Moore threw for 174 yards and two TDs for Carolina (7-9) in his third pro start, preventing Tampa Bay (9-7) from joining the 1999 St. Louis Rams as the only teams since 1970 to go unbeaten in division play the year after going winless.
Instead, the Bucs will enter the playoffs on a two-game losing streak after treating the past two weeks much like the preseason.
Bengals 38, Dolphins 25
president of football operations and watched the game from a press box suite with retired Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf.
Only an overtime win against Baltimore two weeks ago allowed Miami to avoid the NFL's first 0-16 season, and it's uncertain whether coach Cam Cameron will return for a second year.
Palmer went 23-for-32 and threw for three scores to help the Bengals finish 7-9. It's their first losing season since 2002, the year before Marvin Lewis took over as coach. Palmer finished with 4,131 yards passing to break the Cincinnati record of 4,035 he set last year.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh made nine receptions to tie New England's Wes Welker for the NFL lead with 112, a Bengals record, but dropped the final pass thrown to him. Chad Johnson had four catches for 131 yards to reach 1,440 yards, another team record.
Eagles 17, Bills 9
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - With the Eagles eliminated from a playoff spot, Brian Westbrook still gave their fans a reason to celebrate with a pair of team records.
The finale was meaningless for both teams, though the Eagles (8-8) did finish at .500 on the strength of a three-game winning streak. Had Donovan McNabb performed at the start of the season as he did at the end, perhaps his future wouldn't be the topic of endless speculation.
McNabb was 29-for-41for 345 yards, one TD and one interception.
Westbrook set Eagles records for catches in a season and total yards from scrimmage, putting the finishing touches on a Pro Bowl season.
Westbrook's third reception gave him 89 this season, one more than Irving Fryar's total in 1996. He rested in the second half and had four catches for 57 yards. He also gained 10 yards on his first carry to set the franchise record for yards from scrimmage. Wilbert Montgomery had 2,006 total yards in 1979. Westbrook finished the season with 2,104.
The Bills (7-9) failed in their bid for a .500 record and missed the playoffs for an eighth straight year, establishing the longest drought in franchise history.