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Green Bay claims NFC North title

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POSTED December 30, 2013 12:27 a.m.

CHICAGO (AP) — Aaron Rodgers fired a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 33-28 to capture the NFC North championship.

Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide-open Cobb on fourth-and-8 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.

Green Bay will host San Francisco in the playoffs next weekend.

The Bears had one final drive, but Jay Cutler’s deep pass to Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Sam Shields on the final play.

That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.

EAGLES 24, COWBOYS 22: ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 131 yards and a receiving score, and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys in a win-or-go-home game for the NFC East title.

The Cowboys (8-8), with Kyle Orton filling in two days after Tony Romo had back surgery, lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year.

BENGALS 34, RAVENS 17: CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records, leading Cincinnati to a 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.

SAINTS 42, BUCCANEERS 17: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans clinched a wild-card spot with a victory over Tampa Bay.

Three of Brees’ scoring strikes were longer than 40 yards — 76 to Kenny Stills, 44 to Lance Moore and 41 to Robert Meachem. Brees passed for 381 yards, eclipsing 5,000 yards in a season for an unprecedented fourth time. He finished the season with 5,162 yards to go with 39 touchdowns.

CHARGERS 27, CHIEFS 24, OT: SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime, ending the San Diego Chargers’ three-year playoff drought with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers (9-7) needed help for weeks, and everything fell into place on Sunday, with the last piece being their win over a Chiefs team that already had clinched the AFC’s No. 5 seed and rested 20 of 22 starters.

The Chiefs (11-5) go into the playoffs having lost five of seven. They play at AFC South champion Indianapolis.

SEAHAWKS 27, RAMS 9: SEATTLE (AP) — Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seahawks clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the St. Louis Rams.

Seattle (13-3) matched the franchise record for wins in a season and finally wrapped up the No. 1 seed after losses to San Francisco and last week to Arizona, which snapped a 14-game home winning streak.



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 owner Woody Johnson said coach Rex Ryan would return despite the Jets (8-8) sitting out the postseason themselves for the third year in a row.

STEELERS 20, BROWNS 7: PITTSBURGH (AP) — Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers drubbed the Cleveland Browns, though Pittsburgh’s bid to become the second team in NFL history to go winless in September and make the playoffs ended when San Diego edged Kansas City.

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

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.

PATRIOTS 34, BILLS 20: FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — LeGarrette Blount rushed for a career-high 189 yards and two touchdowns and had two long kickoff returns as the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills and clinched a first-round AFC bye.

Tom Brady was content to hand the ball off during a steady downpour against a team leading the NFL in sacks and second in interceptions. And Blount responded, leading the charge into the playoffs. Stephen Gostkowski helped make sure the Patriots (12-4) wouldn’t have a game next weekend with four field goals.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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