Kansas City clinched the top seed in the AFC and the only playoff bye when Patrick Mahomes threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with just under two minutes for a 17-14 win over Atlanta on Sunday.
The Chiefs had to watch as Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo missed a tying field-goal attempt with nine seconds left to escape.
The Chiefs (14-1) won their NFL-record seventh straight one-possession game and matched a franchise record with their 10th straight win. They took any seeding drama out of games involving Pittsburgh and Buffalo and will have that coveted first-round AFC bye when the postseason begins in two weeks.
The Falcons (4-11) took the lead when Matt Ryan hit Laquon Treadwell for a five-yard touchdown with 4:33 to go. But Mahomes kept finding Travis Kelce who had a record-setting game of his own to set up the TD pass to Robinson. And when the Falcons marched the other way in the closing seconds, Kansas City’s defense forced Koo’s 39-yard kick.
Instead of heading to overtime, the Falcons headed home with their seventh loss by six points or less this season.
Mahomes finished with 278 yards passing and two touchdowns along with an interception. Kelce had seven catches for 98 yards and a score, giving him 1,426 yards for the season, breaking George Kittle’s record for an NFL tight end.
Ryan finished with 300 yards passing and two touchdowns. Calvin Ridley had five catches for 130 yards.
Chicago Bears 41-17 Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars took care of business against Chicago on Sunday, losing their 14th consecutive game and then getting some help to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Hello, Trevor Lawrence!
Mitchell Trubisky accounted for three scores, including two touchdown passes to Jimmy Graham, and the Bears pounded the Jaguars 41-17 in a game that meant as much to Jacksonville’s long-term future as it did to Chicago’s short-term fate.
The Bears (8-7), who gained control of their postseason path when Arizona lost to San Francisco on Saturday, can make the NFC playoffs for the second time in three years by beating Green Bay next week at home.
The Jaguars (1-14), who set a franchise record for consecutive losses, locked up the top pick for the first time in franchise history when the New York Jets beat Cleveland 23-16 a few minutes later.
That means the same day Jacksonville reached its worst skid in franchise history could end up being a potential game-changer for the small-market team that’s spent the better part of the last two decades searching for a franchise quarterback.
The only thing standing between Jacksonville and Lawrence is the Clemson star formally turning pro, a decision that’s expected after the Tigers end their season in the College Football Playoff.
LA Rams 9-20 Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks claimed the NFC West title with a 20-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, with Russell Wilson throwing a 13-yard TD pass to Jacob Hollister with 2:51 left for the clinching score.
Seattle earned its first division title since 2016 and its fifth since Pete Carroll arrived in 2010 behind a stellar defensive effort and a clutch late drive engineered by Wilson.
Seattle’s quarterback scored on a 4-yard run on the opening drive of the second half for a 13-6 lead. But the final drive was Wilson at his best: Wilson was 5 for 5 for 59 yards on the drive, hitting four different receivers.
Wilson connecting with Hollister was a bit of redemption for the tight end who was stopped inches short of the same end zone on the final play a year ago in Week 17 against San Francisco. That gave the division title to the 49ers.
Wilson finished 20 of 32 for 225 yards. But unlike earlier in the season when it was Wilson that staked Seattle to a 5-0 start, this victory was carried by the defense. Seattle flustered Jared Goff, shut down the Rams’ run game, and held Los Angeles to a season-low in points.
New York Giants 13-27 Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson directed four scoring drives during the decisive first half, and the surging Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants 27-13 Sunday to gain control of their own fate in the AFC playoff chase.
Baltimore’s fourth straight victory, combined with Pittsburgh’s win over Indianapolis, lifted the Ravens past the Colts in the AFC wild-card hunt. With a victory in Cincinnati next week, the Ravens (10-5) will earn a playoff berth for the third year in a row.
The Giants (5-10) lost their third straight and were left with only a miniscule chance of making the postseason.
Jackson guided the Ravens to touchdowns on their first two possessions, then took them into field-goal position on his next two drives for a 20-3 halftime lead.
That was more than enough to defeat a struggling Giants team that totaled only 13 points in its previous two games and has scored just two touchdowns over the past three weeks.
Indianapolis Colts 24-28 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are AFC North champions. Finally.
Ben Roethlisberger overcame a month-long malaise to throw for 342 yards and three second-half touchdowns as the Steelers locked up the division title with a stunningly improbable 28-24 victory on Sunday.
Listless and lifeless for weeks thanks to a three-game losing streak that followed an 11-0 start, Pittsburgh (12-3) somehow got it together over the final 25 minutes against the Colts (10-5). Indianapolis missed a chance to inch closer to a playoff berth when it let a 17-point third-quarter lead slip away.
Roethlisberger, who looked uneven at best and ineffective at worst during Pittsburgh’s recent slide, snapped out of it. He ditched the dink-and-dunk approach that had worked during the early portion of the season but became far too predictable during a December swoon.
The 38-year-old quarterback kick-started the comeback with a 39-yard strike to Diontae Johnson and brought the Steelers within a touchdown on a 5-yard pass to Eric Ebron. He gave Pittsburgh its first second-half lead since 7 Decemberr when he audibled into a play that ended with Roethlisberger threading the ball between two Colts to JuJu Smith-Schuster from 25 yards with 7:38 to play.
Indianapolis, so dominant during a first half in which it outgained the Steelers 206-28, had two chances to reclaim the lead in the fourth quarter. The first drive ended with Philip Rivers throwing an interception deep in Pittsburgh territory. The second ended with Rivers’ heave to Zach Pascal sailing high on fourth down.
Cincinnati Bengals 37-31 Houston Texans
Samaje Perine capped a 75-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run with 1:57 remaining and the Cincinnati Bengals turned the first sack of the game into a 37-31 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen passed for a career-high 371 yards and also threw two touchdown passes and engineered the scoring march that lifted the Bengals (4-10-1) to their second consecutive victory. Cincinnati last won back-to-back games in Weeks 4 and 5 in 2018.
The Bengals racked up 540 yards, while the Texans had 488. Houston lost its fourth straight game.
Houston (4-11) had taken its first lead at 31-27 when Deshaun Watson found Darren Fells for a 22-yard touchdown with 6:15 left. Watson, who passed for 324 yards and three touchdowns, set a franchise record with his 30th scoring pass this season. But with 1:28 left, Sam Hubbard recorded a strip-sack of Watson and Margus Hunt recovered the fumble to seal the win for Cincinnati.
Cleveland Browns 16-23 New York Jets
Jamison Crowder caught a touchdown pass and threw a touchdown pass as the New York Jets pulled another stunning upset, this time 23-16 over the visiting, short-handed Cleveland Browns on Sunday at East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Crowder, uncovered, hauled in a 30-yard touchdown from Sam Darnold early in the third quarter as the Jets (2-13) took a 20-3 lead. Crowder had seven catches for 92 yards, and added a touchdown pass, while Darnold finished 16-of-32 for 175 yards and two TDs.
The Browns (10-5), who entered with a chance to clinch a playoff berth, played without a half-dozen starters. Starting offensive linemen Jedrick Wills (illness) and Wyatt Teller (ankle), linebackers BJ Goodson and Jacob Phillips and the team’s top four wide receivers – Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge – all were unavailable due a combination of injury, positive Covid-19 tests and contact tracing.
Carolina Panthers 20-13 Washington Football Team
Dwayne Haskins turned the ball over three times before getting benched, Steven Sims muffed a punt return that turned into a Panthers touchdown and Washington blew their first chance to clinch the NFC East by losing to Carolina 20-13 Sunday.
Haskins was 14 of 28 with a fumble and two interceptions after starting in place of injured veteran Alex Smith, despite violating Covid-19 protocols last week. After being stripped of his captaincy and fined $40,000 for partying without a mask, he was stripped of the ball by Marquis Haynes in the first quarter and picked off by Tahir Whitehead and Tre Boston in the second.
Meanwhile, Washington’s defense allowed two Panthers touchdown drives and 202 yards in the first half alone. Had there been fans at FedEx Field, they would have booed Washington off the field at halftime.
Down 14 early in the fourth quarter, coach Ron Rivera pulled Haskins and handed the ball to Taylor Heinicke for his first NFL action since 2018 with Carolina. Heinicke was 12 of 19 for 137 yards in relief and threw a 29-yard TD pass to JD McKissic with 1:50 left.
Denver Broncos 16-19 LA Chargers
Justin Herbert set the rookie record for most touchdown passes in a season and the Los Angeles Chargers defeated the Denver Broncos 19-16 on Sunday for their third straight win.
Michael Badgley tied a career high with four field goals, including the winning kick with 41 seconds remaining.
Herbert’s nine-yard screen pass to Austin Ekeler in the second quarter was his 28th touchdown throw of the season, surpassing the 27 that Baker Mayfield had for Cleveland in 2018.
Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the April draft and third QB taken, completed 21 of 33 passes for 253 yards. He also became the fourth player to throw for over 4,000 yards as a rookie, joining Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
Badgley came into the game making three of his last seven on field goals, but was perfect on all four of his attempts Sunday. After Brandon McManus tied it at 16 with 2:47 remaining with a 52-yard field goal, the Chargers (6-9) drove to the Broncos 19, and the third-year kicker won it from 37 yards
Philadelphia Eagles 17-37 Dallas Cowboys
Andy Dalton threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns, two to Michael Gallup, and the Dallas Cowboys stayed alive in the playoff race with a 37-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
The Cowboys (6-9) won their third consecutive game and still have a chance to win the NFC East thanks to Washington’s 20-13 loss to Carolina, which guaranteed that the NFL’s worst division won’t have a team with a winning record.
Dallas can overtake Washington (6-9) with a win at the New York Giants and a Washington loss to the Eagles on the final weekend of the regular season. The Giants (5-10) can get in by beating the Cowboys if Washington loses.
The Eagles (4-10-1) led 14-3 in the first quarter after DeSean Jackson’s 81-yard touchdown catch in his first game in two months coming off an ankle injury, and they would have controlled their playoff fate against Washington with a win.
Instead, Philadelphia and Jalen Hurts couldn’t keep the offense rolling while giving up points on five consecutive Dallas possessions. The defending NFC East champions were eliminated from the postseason with their sixth loss in seven games.