|National Football League|
NFL Today, Week 17
By The Associated Press
Saturday, Jan. 6
Tennessee at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. EST. The Titans (9-7) ended an eight-season playoff drought as quarterback Marcus Mariota helped them to the franchise's first back-to-back winning seasons since 2007 and 2008. Andy Reid's Chiefs (10-6) are in the postseason for the third straight year and the fourth time in five years.
Atlanta at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. EST. Matt Ryan and the defending NFC champion Falcons (10-6) clinched a playoff spot on the last day of the regular season with a 22-10 win over division rival Carolina. Todd Gurley and Jared Goff led the Rams (11-5) to their first postseason appearance since the 2004 season.
- Philip Rivers, Chargers, passed for 387 yards and three touchdowns in Los Angeles' 30-10 victory over Oakland.
- Matt Ryan, Falcons, completed 28 of 45 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown in playoff-bound Atlanta's 22-10 win over Carolina.
- Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers, threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns to lead San Francisco to its fifth straight victory, 34-13 against a Los Angeles Rams team that rested its big stars.
- Orleans Darkwa, Giants, rushed for a career-high 154 yards, including a 75-yarder on the second play from scrimmage, in New York's 18-10 win over Washington.
- Latavius Murray, Vikings, rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns in Minnesota's 23-10 victory over Chicago.
- Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, ran for 103 yards in Dallas' 6-0 win at Philadelphia.
- Frank Gore, Colts, rushed for 100 yards on 24 carries in Indianapolis' 22-13 win over Houston, falling 39 yards short of his second straight 1,000-yard season.
- Dion Lewis, Patriots, had a season-high 26 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown and also caught six passes for 40 yards and a TD in New England's 26-6 win over the New York Jets.
- Carlos Hyde, 49ers, ran 15 times for 90 yards, scoring on runs of 8 and 5 yards in San Francisco's 34-13 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers, caught nine passes for 143 yards and a score in Pittsburgh's 28-24 win over Cleveland.
- Keenan Allen, Chargers, scored on a 27-yard fumble recovery and a 6-yard TD catch, and finished with nine receptions for 133 yards in Los Angeles' 30-10 win over Oakland.
- Josh Gordon, Browns, had four receptions for 115 yards in Cleveland's 28-24 loss at Pittsburgh.
- Albert Wilson, Chiefs, caught 10 passes for 147 yards in Kansas City's 27-24 win at Denver.
- Amari Cooper, Raiders, had 115 yards receiving and a touchdown on three catches in Oakland's 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
- Alvin Kamara, Saints, scored on a 106-yard kickoff return in New Orleans' 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers, returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to help lead Pittsburgh to a 28-24 victory over winless Cleveland.
- Matt Bryant, Falcons, kicked five field goals, including a 56-yarder, for all of Atlanta's second-half points in a 22-10 win over Carolina that clinched a playoff spot.
- Phil Dawson, Cardinals, booted four field goals, the last from 42 yards with 2:21 left, to lead Arizona past Seattle 26-24.
- Tyler Lockett, Seahawks, scored a touchdown on a 99-yard kickoff return in Seattle's 26-24 loss to Arizona.
- Darqueze Dennard, Bengals, returned an interception 89 yards for a TD in Cincinnati's 31-27 victory at Baltimore.
- Yannick Ngakoue, Jaguars, returned a fumble 67 yards for a touchdown in Jacksonville's 15-10 loss to Tennessee.
- Ezekiel Ansah, Lions, had three sacks for the second straight week, helping Detroit top Green Bay 35-11.
- Jordan Poyer, Bills, sealed a 22-16 victory for playoff-bound Buffalo with an interception in the closing moments at Miami.
- Marcus Williams, Saints, intercepted two passes in New Orleans' 31-24 loss at Tampa Bay.
- James Harrison, Patriots, had two sacks - on consecutive plays to end the game - and finished with five total tackles and a forced fumble in his first game since being cut by Pittsburgh, a 26-6 win over the New York Jets.
STREAKS & STATS
New England finished the regular season with three players with 1,000-plus yards from scrimmage in the same year for the first time in franchise history: running back Dion Lewis, tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandin Cooks. ... Gronkowski was not targeted in a game for the first time in his career. ... The Giants snapped a five-game losing streak with an 18-10 win over Washington and gave interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo his first victory since taking over from the fired Ben McAdoo on Dec. 4. New York finished 3-13, the most losses in team history. ... Detroit (9-7) failed to make the playoffs, but finished with a winning record in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing it three years in a row from 1993-95. ... Green Bay (7-9) finished with a losing record for the first time since 2008, which is also the last time the Packers didn't earn a spot in the playoffs.
New England's 26-6 victory over the New York Jets was Bill Belichick's 250th career regular-season win, moving him into a tie with Tom Landry for third all-time among head coaches. ... The Patriots haven't lost to the Jets 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 the most by a starting quarterback at age 40 or older. Brady, who turned 40 earlier this year, finished with 4,577 yards passing to become the oldest player in NFL history to lead the league in that category. ... Stefon Diggs became the fastest player in Vikings history to reach 200 receptions, doing it in 40 games. ... Arizona's Chandler Jones finished with two sacks in a season-ending win over Seattle, surpassing Simeon Rice and setting a franchise record with 17 sacks. ... Kansas City's Alex Smith finished the regular season with 4,042 yards passing and five interceptions, becoming the first QB in NFL history to pass for at least 3,000 yards and throw fewer than 10 interceptions in five consecutive seasons. ... Pittsburgh's JuJu Smith-Schuster, who turned 21 in November, had 1,157 all-purpose yards (917 receiving, 240 kickoff returns) to become the youngest player to gain 1,000 all-purpose yards in a season.
The New England Patriots clinched home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs with a 26-6 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. The win clinched the seventh 13-win season for the Patriots (13-3), which is second in NFL history to San Francisco's nine seasons.
The Buffalo Bills snapped the longest current non-playoff streak in North American pro sports with a 22-16 victory at Miami and Cincinnati's victory at Baltimore. The Bills hadn't made the postseason since 1999. Buffalo (9-7) will travel to Jacksonville next weekend in a wild-card game.
WOE AND 16
The Cleveland Browns joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go winless during a 16-game season when they lost 28-24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Owner Jimmy Haslam reiterated Hue Jackson will return in 2018 as coach despite a 1-31 record through two seasons. Cleveland is 4-48 since Week 12 of the 2014 season, has dropped 21 straight road games and 17 straight games to AFC North opponents. "You can say a lot of things about us this year, but down to the last minute or two minutes, our guys played hard," Haslam said.
The Indianapolis Colts fired coach Chuck Pagano less than two hours after they ended a 4-12 season with a 22-13 victory over Houston. Team owner Jim Irsay made the announcement in a statement, wishing Pagano and his wife well in the future. The move comes after Indy missed the playoffs for the third straight year, the team's longest postseason drought since a seven-season absence from 1988-94. ... Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was fired after his third year when the impressive turnaround job he engineered for his hometown team collapsed with a disappointing six-win season. Del Rio said owner Mark Davis told him after the team's season-ending 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers that he would not be retained as coach. Del Rio had signed a four-year contract extension last February after Oakland ended a 13-year playoff drought with a 12-win season.
Minnesota reached 13 wins for only the second time in the history of the 57-year-old franchise, holding a second straight opponent without an offensive touchdown in a 23-10 win over the Chicago Bears. The Vikings finished 12-2 four times with a 14-game schedule (in 1969, 1970, 1973 and 1975), but the only other time they've topped 12 victories was their 15-1 record in 1998. The Vikings also clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs.
FEELING THE DRAFT
The top of the NFL draft is set, with the winless Cleveland Browns getting the No. 1 spot, along with the fourth pick (from Houston). The New York Giants have the No. 2 selection, followed by Indianapolis at No. 3. Denver rounds out the top five selections.
Kansas City's Kareem Hunt had a 35-yard touchdown run on his only carry in the Chiefs' 27-24 win at Denver. But it gave Hunt 1,327 yards, making him the second rookie not selected in the first round of the draft to lead his league since 1967. Hunt, who was a third-rounder, joins Cincinnati's Paul Robinson, who led the AFL with 1,023 yards rushing in 1968.
Dallas' 6-0 win at Philadelphia marked the first NFL game to be 0-0 at halftime since Chicago and Denver played in Week 14 of 2011. Denver won 13-10 in overtime.
It was the first time in a Cowboys-Eagles game since the series began in 1960 to go 0-0 at the half.
It was 13 degrees at kickoff of New England's 26-6 win over the New York Jets, and the Patriots wanted to make sure their visitors knew it. A thermometer was hung in the Jets' tunnel, which New York players filed past on their way to and from the field before the game. It was the coldest regular-season home game in Patriots history. They had a playoff game that was colder - a divisional-round game against the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 10, 2004, when it was 4 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like minus 10. Jets safety Jamal Adams went out pregame without a shirt to test the weather. He soon got a text from his mother. "I put my shirt on, real quick," he said.
New Orleans' Alvin Kamara (1,554 yards) and Mark Ingram (1,540) became the first running back teammates in NFL history to each get at least 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same season. Kamara, who returned a kickoff 106 yards for a TD in the Saints' loss at Tampa Bay, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers as the only rookies in league history to have at least five rushing TDs, five TD catches and a kickoff return for a score.
Atlanta's Matt Ryan has 41,796 career yards passing and passed Peyton Manning (41,626) for the most by a player in his first 10 seasons. Falcons teammate Julio Jones has 9,054 career yards receiving, reaching the 9,000-yard mark in his 95th game - the fastest in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown finished the regular season with an NFL-best 1,533 yards receiving, becoming the first player in franchise history to lead the league in receiving yards multiple times. He has 582 receptions and 7,848 yards receiving over the past five seasons, the most in NFL history over any five-year span for both categories.
Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy was carted off the field with a right ankle injury in the third quarter of Sunday's 22-16 victory at Miami. After being tackled, he pounded the turf with his fist as trainers attended to him. He had 10 yards on 11 carries, giving him 1,138 yards rushing on the season. ... Arizona tight end Jermaine Gresham tore his right Achilles tendon against Seattle, creating doubt about his ability to return in time for the start of the 2018 season. ... San Francisco receiver Marquise Goodwin sustained a concussion on a vicious hit by Los Angeles Rams safety Blake Countess, who likely will be fined. ... Jacksonville safety Barry Church (hamstring) left the loss at Tennessee in the second half and did not return. ... Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins (calf) missed the first game of his NFL career, leaving four catches short of his second 100-reception season. Houston took another hit when receiver Will Fuller departed with a left knee injury on the first offensive series.
"Everybody went crazy. I've been a wreck for 10 to 15 minutes." - Buffalo's Kyle Williams after the Bills clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 1999.
"Our biggest games are ahead of us. We're 13-3, that's the best in the AFC, that's what we're playing for, so that's pretty good." - New England's Tom Brady after the Patriots clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs with a 26-6 win over the New York Jets.
"It's probably been my toughest year of football, I would say, with the losses, the injuries, the benching and coming back and everything going on, the losses more than anything." - Giants quarterback Eli Manning after New York finished 3-13, a franchise-worst for losses.
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Updated December 31, 2017