|Redskins, Titans earn wild-card berths on last day of season|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 31 December 2007 02:00|
First, Todd Collins carried the Redskins past the Dallas Cowboys 27-6 Sunday, securing an NFC wild-card berth. Washington (9-7) has won four in a row.
``To think four weeks ago, where we were, and where we are tonight, it was a great experience and a great ride,'' said coach Joe Gibbs, who has quieted doubters with perhaps the best performance of his Hall of Fame career. ``To get in the playoffs was a dream of ours, and four weeks ago, obviously everybody would have said, 'You know, it looks next to impossible.'''
It wasn't. Nor was it for the Tennessee Titans, even when starter Vince Young went down at Indianapolis with a quadriceps problem. In stepped Kerry Collins, another veteran QB, who led his team to three field goals by Rob Bironas and an AFC wild-card spot with a 16-10 victory.
``That's life as a backup. You never know when you'll go in,'' Collins said.
Elsewhere, it was San Diego 30, Oakland 17; Baltimore 27, Pittsburgh 21; Chicago 33, New Orleans 25; Green Bay 34, Detroit 13; Atlanta 44, Seattle 41; Houston 42, Jacksonville 28; Carolina 31, Tampa Bay 23; Cincinnati 38, Miami 25; Philadelphia 17, Buffalo 9; the New York Jets 13, Kansas City 10 in overtime; and Arizona 48, St. Louis 19.
On Saturday night, New England finished its perfect regular season with a 38-35 win over the New York Giants. The Patriots' Tom Brady set a record with 50 touchdown passes, and Randy Moss established the mark of 23 touchdown receptions.
The Patriots (16-0) are the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to win every game on the schedule; Miami went 14-0 in the regular season. New England also has won 19 straight overall, a league record.
``It's a relief that we played the regular season and it's finished,'' Brady said. ``Now we get ready for what we've been preparing for all season. The week off is extremely important for us to rest and a little bit of pressure is relieved for this week. Coach will turn up the pressure Thursday when we go back.''
The Patriots, Colts, Cowboys and Packers have byes next weekend. Washington is at Seattle and Jacksonville at Pittsburgh on Saturday, then the Giants (10-6) are at Tampa Bay and Tennessee is at San Diego on Sunday.
Redskins 27, Cowboys 6
The Redskins capped an emotional renaissance since the slaying of safety Sean Taylor. They are 4-0 since Taylor's funeral, and all the victories were engineered by Collins after Jason Campbell dislocated a kneecap.
Clinton Portis ran for two touchdowns and had 104 yards on 25 carries and 27 yards on four receptions. His yards from scrimmage in the four-game winning streak: 122, 126, 124 and 131. Santana Moss caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Visiting Dallas (13-3) rested anyone who was questionable with an injury because it had clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Still, the Cowboys played their healthy starters most of the game.
Titans 16, Colts 10
At Indianapolis, A 54-yarder by Bironas retook the lead and left Tennessee celebrating and Cleveland grimacing. The Titans had to win to make the playoffs for the first time since 2003. A loss would have given Cleveland its first playoff berth since 2002.
When Peyton Manning left after two series, things looked good for the Titans.
Instead, the offense bogged down after a touchdown drive on the game's opening series. When Young left in the third quarter, Tennessee appeared to be in trouble. Collins replaced Young in the middle of a 13-play, 56-yard drive that ended with Bironas' tying 40-yard field goal late in the third quarter.
Collins moved the Titans 58 yards in 12 play and Bironas curled the 54-yarder inside the right goal post for a 13-10 lead. Bironas sealed the win with a 33-yarder with 2:56 to go.
``This is why we got him here,'' coach Jeff Fisher said of Collins. ``He's done a great job for us since he got here.''
Manning and Reggie Wayne played just long enough to reach milestones for the Colts (13-3). Manning extended his NFL record of most 4,000-yard seasons to eight, and Wayne became the second Colt with 100 receptions in a season and passed Randy Moss for the league title in yards receiving.
Browns 20, 49ers 7
At Cleveland, 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. But the Browns (10-6), just 4-12 a year ago, fell short of the postseason despite handling the 49ers (5-11).
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 it had 11 in 1994 .
Broncos 22, Vikings 19, OT
At Denver, Jason Elam kicked a 30-yard field goal less than a minute into overtime.
Minnesota (8-8), which scored 16 points in the final 5:18 to erase a 19-3 deficit, won the overtime coin flip, but on the Vikings' second snap, Tavaris Jackson was sacked and fumbled. Elvis Dumervil recovered at the Minnesota 12, and Elam won it for the Broncos (7-9).
With the playoffs out of his reach, Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson settled for the NFC rushing title. He gained 36 yards on 11 carries and his 1,341 yards edged Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook by 8 yards.
Chargers 30, Raiders 17
At Oakland, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 56 yards to win his second straight rushing title with 1,474 yards, Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes, and the Chargers spoiled JaMarcus Russell's first career start.
By ending the season with six straight wins, the Chargers (11-5) beat out Pittsburgh for the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
Russell, the No. 1 overall draft pick for Oakland (4-12), got off to a slow start by throwing an interception on his first play and losing a fumble in the end zone that led to a touchdown by Jyles Tucker midway through the third quarter. Russell finished 23-for-31 for 224 yards.
Ravens 27, Steelers 21
At Baltimore, Musa Smith ran for 83 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start, helping the Ravens (5-11) earn their first victory since Oct. 14 and end a nine-game losing streak.
The Steelers (10-6) had already clinched the AFC North and were locked into a wild-card game at home next weekend. So they rested quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Hines Ward, safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback/kick returner Allen Rossum.
Bears 33, Saints 25
At Chicago, 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, both 7-9, are going home before the playoffs even start.
Drew Brees and Marques Colston hooked up for two first-half touchdown passes, and Brees set a single-season NFL record for completions (443).
Packers 34, Lions 13
The host 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 yielding to backup Craig Nall in the second quarter.
Green Bay 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 (7-9) delivered an uninspired performance in finishing with seven losses in their last eight games.
Falcons 44, Seahawks 41
At Atlanta, Chris Redman set a career high with four touchdown passes, including two to Alge Crumpler, and 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 beat their previous scoring high by 17 points.
Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris, who rushed for 91 yards, had touchdown runs for Seattle.
Texans 42, Jaguars 28
At Houston, Andre' Davis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns against the Jaguars (11-5), who rested many starters with their playoff spot secure.
The victory gave the Texans (8-8) a .500 finish for the first time in their six-year history, and their 42 points are a team record.
Davis 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.
Panthers 31, Bucs 23
At Tampa, Fla., the Buccaneers rested most of their key players for the playoffs, and DeAngelo Williams rushed for 121 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
The retiring 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde took 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.
Bengals 38, Dolphins 25
Host Miami allowed 316 yards passing by Carson Palmer, gave up a touchdown on a fumble return and staggered to the end of the worst season in franchise history. The Dolphins became the eighth team to finish 1-15 and flopped in their audition for new boss Bill Parcells.
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 Chad Johnson had four catches for 131 yards to reach 1,440 yards, another team record.
Eagles 17, Bills 9
At Philadelphia, with the Eagles (8-8) eliminated from a playoff spot, Brian Westbrook still gave their fans a reason to celebrate with a pair of team records. Westbrook set Eagles marks for catches in a season (89) and total yards from scrimmage (2,104), putting the finishing touches on a Pro Bowl season.
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.
Jets 13, Chiefs 10, OT
Mike Nugent kicked a 43-yard field goal, after having a 33-yarder negated by a penalty in the extra period.
Nugent made the 33-yarder that appeared to win it, but the Jets were called for holding. The officials didn't announce who the penalty was on. After Edwards called a timeout, Nugent sliced the uprights to give the Jets (4-12) the victory.
The loss was the ninth straight for the Chiefs (4-12), who had tied it at 10 with just under 3 minutes remaining in regulation.
One of the few bright spots for Kansas City was Tony Gonzalez breaking the NFL record for receptions by a tight end, when he caught his 816th career pass early in the third quarter.
Cardinals 48, Rams 19
Larry Fitzgerald caught 11 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and Arizona finished an 8-8 season with the Cardinals' highest-scoring game in 30 years.
The .500 record under first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt is Arizona's best since going 9-7 and making the playoffs in 1998. The Cardinals' only other non-losing season in 23 years was 8-8 in 1994.
The visiting Rams (3-13), plagued by injuries most of the year, finished with a four-game losing streak after opening 0-8.