By The Associated Press on December 24, 2023.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – Jason Sanders kicked his fifth field goal of the game, a 29-yarder as time expired, and the Miami Dolphins secured a playoff berth with a 22-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Tua Tagovailoa threw for 293 yards and a touchdown for the AFC East-leading Dolphins (11-4), who beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season. He connected with Tyreek Hill twice on the decisive drive, which covered 64 yards and took the final 3:27 off the clock.
Hill had nine catches for 99 yards after missing last week’s victory over the New York Jets with an ankle injury.
Dak Prescott went 20 of 32 for 253 yards and two touchdowns for the Cowboys (10-5), who have already clinched a playoff spot but fell a half-game behind Philadelphia in the NFC East. Prescott put Dallas in front 20-19 with an 8-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Brandin Cooks in the corner of the end zone.
Sanders’ first field goal was a career-long 57-yarder in the first quarter. He added kicks of 52, 54 and 35 yards.
LIONS 30, VIKINGS 24
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Detroit clinched its first division title in 30 years, using two rushing touchdowns from Jahmyr Gibbs and 106 receiving yards and a third-quarter go-ahead score by Amon-Ra St. Brown to beat injury-plagued Minnesota.
Ifeatu Melifonwu picked off Minnesota’s Nick Mullens at the 5-yard line on an off-target pass to an open Justin Jefferson with 49 seconds left to seal the win. Mullens was intercepted four times.
Jared Goff passed for 257 yards without a turnover and David Montgomery had a rushing touchdown for the Lions (11-4). Detroit secured a home playoff game for the first time in 22 seasons at Ford Field, where an NFC North champions banner will soon hang. The last one was for winning the NFC Central in 1993.
Mullens threw for two scores, a diving 26-yard catch by Jefferson with 29 seconds left in the first half and a 6-yard toss to K.J. Osborn that gave the Vikings (7-8) a 21-17 lead early in the third quarter one play after a 47-yard heave to Osborn.
BUCCANEERS 30, JAGUARS 12
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Baker Mayfield threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, and NFC South-leading Tampa Bay won its fourth straight while extending Jacksonville’s skid to four games.
Mayfield threw a pair of TD passes as the Buccaneers (8-7) built a 20-0 halftime lead. In both cases, the Bucs cashed in after intercepting Trevor Lawrence, who struggled after spending the past week in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Lawrence threw a second-half TD pass to Calvin Ridley before spending the fourth quarter on the bench with what the Jaguars announced was a shoulder injury.
The Bucs are alone atop their division, one game ahead of New Orleans and Atlanta.
The Jaguars (8-7) remained in a first-place tie atop the AFC South with Indianapolis and Houston because both rivals also lost on Sunday.
BROWNS 36, TEXANS 22
HOUSTON (AP) – Amari Cooper set a franchise record with 265 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion as Cleveland beat Houston to move closer to a playoff berth.
The Browns (10-5) are all but guaranteed to secure their second postseason appearance since 2002. It’s the third time since 1999 that they’ve reached double-digit wins, doing so in 2007 and 2020.
Joe Flacco threw for 368 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in his fourth start for the Browns, who built a 22-7 halftime lead and cruised to their third straight victory.
Cooper broke the Browns record previously held by Josh Gordon, who had 261 yards receiving against Jacksonville on Dec. 1, 2013. Cooper has 1,250 yards receiving, making him the first receiver in team history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
The Texans (8-7) saw their playoff chances diminish. Case Keenum threw for 62 yards with two interceptions in his second start in place of star rookie C.J. Stroud, who remains out with a concussion. Keenum was replaced by Davis Mills late in the third quarter.
SEAHAWKS 20, TITANS 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Geno Smith threw his second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter, a 5-yarder to Colby Parkinson with 57 seconds left, and Seattle beat Tennessee to remain in playoff contention.
The Seahawks (8-7) have won two straight but still need to win out and get some help to clinch their second playoff berth in three seasons. The Titans (5-10) lost consecutive games for the third time this season.
Smith, who missed the past two games with an injured groin, gave the Seahawks their first lead at 13-10 when he found DK Metcalf in the left corner for an 11-yard TD with 12:10 left.
Derrick Henry put Tennessee back up 17-13 with a 2-yard TD run with 3:21 left.
Smith responded by driving the Seahawks 75 yards over 14 plays for the decisive score.
FALCONS 29, COLTS 10
ATLANTA (AP) – Taylor Heinicke provided turnover-free leadership at quarterback, passing for 229 yards and a touchdown to lead Atlanta past Indianapolis.
The Falcons (7-8) benched Desmond Ridder this week for the second time this season following two straight losses. Heinicke delivered, completing 23 of 33 passes, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Pitts. Tyler Allgeier added a 31-yard touchdown run. The Falcons set a season high in scoring.
The Colts (8-7), who had won five of six, struggled offensively after opening the game with a long drive capped by Jonathan Taylor’s 1-yard scoring run. Gardner Minshew for 201 yards and was intercepted by Jessie Bates in the fourth quarter.
Younghoe Koo kicked five field goals for Atlanta.
PACKERS 33, PANTHERS 30
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Jordan Love threw for two touchdowns, ran for one and made two big completions to set up Anders Carlson’s 32-yard field goal with 19 seconds left, and Green Bay survived a fourth-quarter rally by Carolina.
Love threw touchdown passes of 21 yards to rookie Dontayvion Wicks and 5 yards to Romeo Dobbs and scored on a quarterback sneak as the Packers snapped a two-game losing streak. Aaron Jones became the first Packers player this season to exceed 100 yards rushing or receiving in a game, rushing for 127 yards on 21 carries.
The Packers (7-8) remain one game behind the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams in the NFC wild-card race.
Bryce Young threw for a career-high 312 yards with two touchdown passes to DJ Chark for the Panthers (2-13). Carolina trailed 30-16 in the fourth quarter before rallying to tie the game, but Love came through for Green Bay in the closing minutes.
JETS 33, COMMANDERS 30
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with 5 seconds left, and New York beat Washington after blowing a 20-point, third-quarter lead.
Jacoby Brissett replaced the benched Sam Howell in the third quarter and led the Commanders on three straight touchdown drives, including Antonio Gibson’s 2-yard run that put Washington ahead 28-27 with 4:52 remaining.
The Jets (6-9) got the ball back with 1:41 remaining, and Trevor Siemian marched New York into range for Zuerlein’s kick. It was the second win in eight games for the Jets.
Siemian finished 27 of 49 for 217 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception in his first start in place of the injured Zach Wilson. Breece Hall ran for 95 yards and two TDs and caught 12 passes for 96 yards.
Brissett was 10 of 13 for 100 yards and a touchdown in relief of Howell, who was benched for the second straight game. Howell was 6 of 22 for 56 yards and two interceptions with a 1.7 rating for the Commanders (4-11), who have dropped six straight.
BEARS 27, CARDINALS 16
CHICAGO (AP) – Justin Fields threw for a touchdown and ran for a score, and Chicago beat Arizona.
Tight end Cole Kmet caught four passes for a career-high 107 yards despite missing the second half because of a knee injury.
Khalil Herbert ran for a season-high 112 yards and a touchdown, and the Bears (6-9) bounced back after a late collapse at Cleveland a week earlier.
Chicago scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the first half to take a 21-0 lead and held on from there.
Kyler Murray threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns for the Cardinals (3-12).
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