Patriots Secure Top Seed in AFC Playoffs
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Dion Lewis ran for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass, helping the Patriots clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a 26-6 victory against the New York Jets.
The win clinched the seventh 13-win season for the Patriots (13-3), second in NFL history to San Francisco’s nine seasons. It was also Bill Belichick’s 250th career regular-season win, moving him into a tie with Tom Landry for third all-time among head coaches.
New England has defeated New York in four straight meetings, and the Patriots haven’t lost to the Jets (5-11) at home during the regular season with Tom Brady starting since 2006. Brady’s 13th win as a starter this season tied him with Brett Favre for most by a starting quarterback at age 40 or older.
Lewis finished with a season-high 26 carries for 93 yards . Brandin Cooks had 11 catches for 79 yards and touchdown for New England, which will have a first-round bye in the playoffs. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was held without a catch for the first time this season and the third time in his career.
James Harrison, signed by New England last Tuesday after being cut by Pittsburgh, had two sacks — on consecutive plays to end the game — and finished with five total tackles and a forced fumble.
VIKINGS 23, BEARS 10
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s defense turned in another dominant performance and Latavius Murray rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Vikings secure a first-round bye for the playoffs.
Stefon Diggs caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings (13-3), who reached 13 wins for only the second time in the history of the 57-year-old franchise after holding a second straight opponent without an offensive touchdown.
Mitchell Trubisky finished his rookie season with a turnover-free game, completing 20 of 36 passes for 178 yards. He failed, however, to guide the Bears (5-11) across the goal line despite 11 plays from the 10-yard line or closer in the fourth quarter.
Trubisky also took a safety in the second quarter on an intentional grounding call.
In what could have been the final game for coach John Fox, who’s 14-34 in three seasons, the Bears didn’t cross midfield until the fourth quarter and totaled only 30 yards rushing. They were penalized 10 times for 116 yards and went 1 for 14 on third- and fourth-down conversions.
COWBOYS 6, EAGLES 0
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dak Prescott tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler early in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys beat playoff-bound Philadelphia, preventing the Eagles from earning a franchise-record 14th win.
The Eagles (13-3) rested several starters on a frigid day and played others briefly after securing the NFC’s No. 1 seed last week. They’ll host a playoff game on Jan. 13 or 14.
The Cowboys (9-7) earned their second straight winning season for the first time since five in a row from 2005-09. That’s little consolation for Dallas, which was eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16.
Philadelphia has two weeks to work on its slumping offense.
Nick Foles struggled in one quarter, going 4 of 11 for 39 yards with one interception. Foles was excellent in his first start after Carson Wentz went down for the season, tossing four TD passes in a 34-29 win at the Giants on Dec. 17. But he has followed up with two poor performances.
The Cowboys drove 99 yards for the only score. A holding penalty on Rasul Douglas on an incomplete pass on third down extended the drive and Prescott connected with Butler on a slant on third-and-7. Dan Bailey hooked the extra point wide left, only his second career miss in 278 tries.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 103 yards, falling 17 short of 1,000 in only 10 games because of a six-game suspension.
LIONS 35, PACKERS 11
DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and the Lions beat the turnover-prone and short-handed Packers in a matchup of teams out of the playoff race.
The Lions (9-7) finished with a winning record in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing it three years in a row from 1993-95. That relative feat, along with a 36-28 record and two postseason appearances over four seasons in Detroit, may not be enough for coach Jim Caldwell to keep his job.
The Packers (7-9) have a losing record for the first time since 2008, which is also the last time they didn’t earn a spot in the playoffs. Their chances this season were crushed by Aaron Rodgers missing nine games with a collarbone injury.
Stafford was 20 of 29 for 323 yards without a turnover. He caught a 2-point conversion pass after Ameer Abdullah, who had just run for a TD, took a direct snap and pitched it to Tate, who easily connected with Stafford in the end zone to put Detroit up 35-11 midway through the fourth quarter.
COLTS 22, TEXANS 13
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jacoby Brissett threw for one touchdown and Marlon Mack ran for another as the Colts beat Houston in the season finale for both teams.
The win ended the longest losing streak of Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s six seasons. It did nothing to quell speculation whether he’ll be back next season, which has been the hottest topic in town since the Colts (4-12) were eliminated from the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Pagano has two years left on his contract.
Houston’s plight has been just as bad.
The Texans (4-12) lost their last six, nine of their last 10, finished last in the AFC South, and can’t even take solace in draft picks because they don’t own one in either the first or second round in 2018.
GIANTS 18, REDSKINS 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass in what might be his final game with the Giants and New York got a rare taste of winning.
Manning threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Sharp and Orleans Darkwa rushed for a career-high 154 yards, including a 75-yarder on the second play from scrimmage The Giants (3-13) snapped a five-game losing streak and gave interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo his first win since taking over from the fired Ben McAdoo on Dec. 4.
Aldrick Rosas kicked two short field goals and Kelvin Sheppard had two interceptions for New York, whose 13 losses are the most in franchise history.
Coupled with Indianapolis’ win over Houston, the Giants will have the No. 2 pick overall in the draft.
Kirk Cousins, who also might be playing his last game for the Redskins and can be a free agent after the season, scored on a 12-yard run for Washington (7-9), which has missed the playoffs the past two years.