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NFL round-up: Controversy assistants Patriots as Rams, Chiefs, Panthers reach play-offs

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A controversial replays facilitated the Patriots past the Bills, the Browns move to the brink of a winless season while the Chiefs and Panthers booked play-off spots

Tom Brady overtook for a duo of touchdowns and the New England Patriots stood on track to claim home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a 37 -1 6 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Dion Lewis caught a touchdown pass and hastened for a 4-yard score. He carried 24 seasons for career-high 129 gardens. It was just his second-career 100 -yard game. Mike Gillislee, active for the first time in six tournaments, contributed a one-yard speed touchdown.

New England( 12 -3) can lock up first-round bye-bye with either a Pittsburgh or Jacksonville loss. If both of those teams misplace, the Patriots will secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The Jaguars play at San Francisco Sunday. The Steelers play at Houston Monday.

Even with the loss, the Bills (8 -7) remain in contention to break their 17 -year playoff drought. It is longest active stripe in North America’s four major professional athletics. It is the longest postseason absence since NFL merger in 1970.

New England has acquired at least 12 recreations in eight straight seasons- an NFL record.

Buffalo abode close throughout and went into halftime locked in a 13 -1 3 tie.

But the Bills coped simply three points in the final 30 instants, after a touchdown at the end of the first half was taken away.

Trailing 13 -1 0, Buffalo was in position to take the lead, but an apparent 4-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Kelvin Benjamin in the reces of the end zone was overturned after public officials review.

NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron said in a Twitter post Benjamin was juggling the projectile and was only able to get one of his feet away before completing the catch.

” When Kelvin Benjamin incomes command, his left foot is off the soil. The receiver only has one paw down in bounds with self-control. Hence, it is an incomplete pass ,” Riveron wrote.

The Bills were forced to settle for a 23 -yard Hauschka field goal as the half expired.

The play elicited immediate reaction on social media.

” Regarding the Buffalo no touchdown , nothing more haras to an official than to make a great call and then someone in a clothing in country offices in New York incorrectly changes it ,” he wrote his Twitter feed.

The game was tied at 13 at the half.

The game was tied at 3 on Buffalo’s second possession when Taylor was sacked on a fourth-and-2 run by Marquis Flowers.

On the New England drive, Brady’s third down pass intended for Kenny Britt was intercepted by Jordan Poyer and returned 19 gardens for a touchdown.

It was Brady’s eighth interception of the season. He shed two selects in the first 10 weeks, but now has six in his last five games.

The mistake only momentarily slowed down New England’s offense. Brady capped a nine-play, 75 -yard drive with a 17 -yard pass that Rob Gronkowski pulled in with one handwriting to tie the game at 10.

Seahawks 21, Cowboys 12

Russell Wilson didn’t have to do much to keep alive Seattle’s hopes for a sixth straight excursion to the playoffs, despite the return of idol Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott from a six-game suspension.

Justin Coleman placed the Seahawks in front for good with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Seattle drummed the Cowboys 21 -1 2 in a playoff elimination tournament Sunday.

Dak Prescott threw two interceptions and the Dallas offense didn’t score a touchdown despite the reunion with his backfield copulate, the one he shared a impressive rookie season with a year ago when Cowboys had an NFC-best 13 wins.

Now Dallas (8 -7) is eliminated from the postseason with the end of its three-game winning stripe, and the Seahawks( 9-6) still have life after Wilson hurled for two touchdowns despite a career-low 93 yards passing.

Dak
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is wrapped up by the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner during Sunday’s game. Photograph: Larry W. Smith/ EPA

” In these situations where it rightfully is a must-win competition, we don’t have to make anything up ,” receiver Doug Baldwin said.” We’re well-prepared for it. The process that we’ve gone through the whole season truly helped us today .”

Coleman generated Seattle a 14 -9 leading in the third largest part where reference is contacted down to catch Prescott’s badly overthrown pass to Elliott and ran untouched 30 gardens for a touchdown.

It was the fourth pick-six of the season for Prescott, who shed simply four interceptions last season when he was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Time. He has 13 interceptions for the season.

The Seahawks were eliminated in the NFC West race by the Los Angeles Rams’ 27 -2 3 triumph at Tennessee. But they can still oblige the postseason with some facilitate despite gaining exactly 136 total yards- their fewest since going 135 in a 14 -9 win over the St. Louis Rams in 2013.

Seattle’s first two offensive touchdowns were set up by pass interference retributions in the end zone. The first was a three-yarder to Jimmy Graham, the second a six-yarder to Baldwin after running plays backed up the Seahawks both times.

The Cowboys, who lost their first three without Elliott before the prize fleck, didn’t take it easy on last year’s NFL hastening commander after his six-week layoff, rendering him 15 carries for 73 grounds in the first half.

The longest carry was a nine-yarder as he averaged 4.7 per carry. Elliott, who was suspended on domestic violence cases accusations, finished with 97 yards on 24 carries.

But Dallas didn’t establish Elliott the ball with a first down at the Seattle 3 when trail by nine parts midway through the fourth part. After a Prescott run, a holding penalty on a pass play and the third sack of Prescott, Dan Bailey missed a 34 -yarder.

Bailey, who had two 51 -yarders among his four kickings, missed again in the closing seconds.

” It’s hard to get over ,” said Prescott, who was 21 of 34 for 182 grounds.” I’m sure I’ll get over it at some time. But right now’s not the time. Didn’t play well enough for us to prevail. Simple as that .”

Chiefs 29, Dolphins 13

Alex Smith threw for 304 yards and a touchdown, Kareem Hunt ranged for 91 gardens and a score and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins 29 -1 3 on Sunday to fasten back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history.

Tyreek Hill had six catches for 109 grounds, and Harrison Butker converted five field goals, as the Chiefs( 9-6) scooted what faint postseason hope the Dolphins( 6-9) still harbored.

Jay Cutler hurled for 286 yards and a touchdown, but a clump of that came on a 65 -yard toss to Jakeem Grant late in the first half. Otherwise, Miami contended against a Chiefs defense that has been stingy and opportunistic the past two weeks.

That’s coincided with the yield of Marcus Peters from his disciplinary suspension.

The Chiefs’ hotshot cornerback had two interceptions and obliged a fumble against the Chargers last week, a win that pushed them to the brink of the playoffs. He recovered a fumble and action another on Sunday, making Peters a hand in five turnovers the past two weeks.

Both turnovers led to degrees, but they weren’t the Dolphins’ merely expensive miscues.

They also were nailed for defensive holding four times, all of which came on three scoring drives for Kansas City. And the Dolphins inability to get by the field on third down, after impounding rivals to 8 for 39 the past two activities, was similarly deflating.

Still, the Dolphins had the dance trailing 17 -1 3 sometime in the first half, the outcome and their longshot playoff hopes were still in the balance. But they soon went three-and-out and the Chiefs contributed a field goal to make it 20 -1 3 at the end, then another to start the second half.

Even when the Dolphins made a crucial stop on fourth down to get the projectile back eventually in the third one-quarter, they squandered the possibilities of. Peters stripped Kenny Stills to give the Chiefs the pellet, and Butker stumbled his fourth chip-shot field goal for a 26 -1 3 make with 12:19 to go.

That sacrificed a sparse army that turned out on Christmas eve, defying slick streets from an overnight snowfall frigid gust shiverings at commencement, abundance of time to celebrate a separation title.

Turn their supposes toward a home playoff game in the brand-new time, too.

Rams 27, Titan 23

The Los Angeles Rams and first-year tutor Sean McVay saved the real festivity for the cupboard room.

That’s where McVay, a very young manager in modern NFL history, channeled wrestler Ric Flair after the Rams fixed the franchise’s first NFC West title since 2003 by vanquishing the Tennessee Titans 27 -2 3 on Sunday.

” When you find a way to come on the road and finish up your street record 7-1 and win a disagreement claim, there’s only one thing you can say. Woooo! One more: Woooo !” McVay said before devoting the Rams off until Wednesday.

Los Angeles trailed 23 -2 0 before Jared Goff hurled a 14 -yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with 11:41 left. The Rams( 11 -4 ), who came in needing a triumph or a loss by Seattle ensuring the disagreement, took care of business themselves, with Todd Gurley II and Goff contributing the lane again.

Gurley bolstered his argument for NFL MVP with 118 grounds racing and 158 grounds receiving with two TDs, including a screen “hes taking” 80 yards for a long time reception of his occupation. He grew simply the third largest in NFL history to put together such a conduct in the same tournament, connecting Ollie Matson( 1954) and Herschel Walker( 1986 ). Goff finished with four touchdowns and 301 grounds passing.

” He is in my work ,” Goff said, vouching for Gurley for MVP.” If there’s anyone out there that’s a running back that deserves it, he’s the guy .”

The Titan (8 -7) lost their third straight activity, damaging their chances of objective their own playoff drought elongating to 2008. The loss handed the AFC South name to the Jaguars, and Tennessee emcees Jacksonville in the regular-season climax requiring a win to reaching the postseason.

” We still have an opportunity to get into the playoffs, and that is the next objective ,” coach-and-four Mike Mularkey said.

The Titan had the projectile and a chance to acquire belatedly in the game. On fourth-and-4 at the Rams 44, Marcus Mariota rolled right and chucked the ball incomplete under pressure from Connor Barwin.

The Rams led out the final 1:35 for the second largest straight win and fourth in five games.

Cardinals 23, Giants 0

Larry Fitzgerald had never ended an NFL pass, from the hurling aim of one regardles. He’d never been on the prevailing result of a shutout, either.

Both things happened and more in the Arizona Cardinals’ reigning 23 -0 victory over the New York Giant on Sunday in what might have been Fitzgerald’s final dwelling game.

” No11( Fitzgerald) was perhaps my fault ,” Giants interim coach-and-four Steve Spagnuolo said.” We should have double-teamed him more .”

Fitzgerald caught nine transfers for 118 gardens and a touchdown. In the process, he has become the oldest musician, at 34 to top 100 receptions and 1,000 gardens receiving in a season.

Deone
Cardinals inside linebacker Deone Bucannon leaps for a football intended Giants wide-cut receiver Roger Lewis during Sunday’s game. Picture: Ross D. Franklin/ AP

” It’s nice to play a game you adoration and be able to do it at a high level still ,” Fitzgerald said,” and specially being able to do it in a win .”

He was expected this week when he will decide whether to come back for a 15 th NFL season but saying : that he’d take some time to representation it out. If he leaves, he will have that elusive ending, a 21 -yarder to Jaron Brown after two incomplete tosses earlier in his career.

Fitzgerald said it never participated his imagination that this might be the final age he plays at University of Phoenix Stadium.

” I don’t like to get into these sorts of guessing ,” he said,” because it’s a lot a lot bigger than me .”

The Cardinals( 7-8) shut out an opponent for the first time in 25 years.

49ers 44, Jaguars 33

Forty-four levels against the team with the league’s stingiest justification. MVP chants for the quarterback who has single-handedly changed the climate all over the San Francisco 49 ers.

The legend of Jimmy G is indicating no clues of slowing down.

Jimmy Garoppolo threw two touchdown proceeds and ran for a third rating against the security that allowed the fewest moments in the league, and the 49 ers won their fourth straight behind their brand-new quarterback, trouncing the Jacksonville Jaguars 44 -3 3 on Sunday.

” It’s awesome. Situations are extending good right now ,” Garoppolo said.” There’s a buzz in the air. You can feel it as soon as you walk into the stadium. The crowd’s going nuts precisely in pregame. It’s exciting. It’s a nice situation to be a part of .”

Garoppolo has been the major reason for the turnaround for the 49 ers( 5-10) since being inserted into the starting lineup earlier this month following a midseason sell from New England.

He has led San Francisco to four straight-shooting prevails, but this one might have been the most impressive, considering the quality of Jacksonville’s defense. The Jaguars came into the game having allowed the fewest places and grounds legislating in the conference, while acquiring “the worlds largest” sacks.

” Since Jimmy G went here things have been a lot different ,” running back Carlos Hyde said.” Things have been experiencing really good around here. It’s been a good vibe. That power in the locker chamber right now is really good. Guys are teeing off that and ready to play .”

Garoppolo carved Jacksonville up, completing 21 for 30 transfers for 242 grounds with TD jettisons to George Kittle and Trent Taylor as San Francisco plucked away in the second half. Garoppolo help enhance 6-0 in his vocation as a starter.

Panthers 22, Buccaneers 19

Cam Newton scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds remaining to lift the Carolina Panthers to a 22 -1 9 win over the upset-minded Tampa Bay Buccaneers and secure a blot in the NFC playoffs.

The Panthers( 11 -4) trailed most of the second half, but Newton drove the Panthers 59 grounds ending 4 of 7 passes for 52 gardens in the final 3 minutes before tallying on a what could have been a ruinous participate. Newton flub the snap from the shotgun, alertly picked it up and then hastened across the goal line for the go-ahead score.

Newton celebrated the score by means of the football as a prop, pretending to ignited a candle on a patty in fete of his son Chosen’s 2nd birthday.

Carolina can fix the NFC South championship with a win over Atlanta and a New Orleans loss to Tampa Bay.

The Panthers sealed the game when Kawann Short sacked Jameis Winston on Tampa Bay’s final drive, and pressured a fumble that Julius Peppers recovered. Winston hurled for 367 yards and a touchdown but was sacked six experiences and flub three times. The Bucs are 4-11.

The Panthers offense contended all day.

Newton threw for just 160 grounds and ran for 52 yards on 14 carries. Carolina’s only touchdown in the first 3 quarterss came on a 103 -yard kickoff return by Damiere Byrd.

Tampa Bay’s justification determined the ambiance early, restriction the Panthers to exactly 78 yards in the first half- the fewest in an opening half since Newton took over as Carolina’s starting QB in 2012.

Bears 20, Browns 3

The Cleveland Browns went pushed to the brink of a winless season, hurt by two more interceptions by DeShone Kizer and two turnovers in the red zone on the way to a 20 -3 loss to the Chicago Bears on a snowy Sunday.

One more loss and the Browns will join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to croak 0-16.

And the Browns will wrap up the season at AFC North leader Pittsburgh next week.

Then again, the Browns( 0-15) preserve racking up losings no matter whom they’re playing.

They’re 1-30 in two seasons under manager Hue Jackson. And after overpowering the then-San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve last year, there was no holiday festivity for them this time.

Kizer threw for 182 yards and ran his conference leading-interception total to 21. One of those was to a wide-open Kyle Fuller in the end zone in the second quarter.

Defensive end Myles Garrett had what looked like a 42 -yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third largest one-quarter wiped out because Carl Nassib was offside.

Rashard Higgins lost a fumble near the goal line that Chicago( 5-10) recovered in the end zone.

Mitchell Trubisky hurled for 193 yards and ran for a touchdown against his hometown team to help the Bears pick up the prevail in what are likely to be tutor John Fox’s final home game at Soldier Field. With a 14 -3 3 preserve, he could be on his way out after three seasons.

Bengals 26, Lions 17

Giovani Bernard flowed for 116 grounds and a securing touchdown in the closing hours, moving Cincinnati to a 26 -1 7 succes Sunday that excreted the Detroit Lions from playoff allegation and dedicated Marvin Lewis a good instant in what was perhaps his final dwelling play as Bengals coach.

Matthew Stafford and the Lions (8 -7) couldn’t enjoy the benefits of an injury-depleted squad that leaved apathetic performances the last two tournaments. It was a fitting finish for Detroit, which opened the season 3-4 and frequently squandered chances to move to the forefront of the playoff chase.

Tion Green’s 5-yard touchdown drive introduced the Lions ahead 17 -1 6 early in the fourth quarter, but defensive penalties increased Cincinnati’s drive that led to Randy Bullock’s go-ahead kick with 4:42 left.

Given one last chance, Detroit self-destructed with a holding penalty, a false-hearted start and a short punt, letting the Bengals( 6-9) to finish it off in front of a half-empty stadium. Bernard break-dance free for a 12 -yard touchdown run with 1:54 to croak, communicating fans to the exits.

There wasn’t much action from the smaller bunch when Lewis’ reputation was announced within the framework of the pregame crew introductions. He is finishing his contract and has been cryptic of determining whether he thinks he’ll render for a 16 th season.

Chargers 14, Aircrafts 7

Philip Flow threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates, Melvin Gordon led for a rating, and the Los Angeles Chargers abode alive in the AFC playoff race with a 14 -7 succes over the New York Jets on Sunday.

The Chargers (8 -7) entered the weekend needing to prevail both of their abiding activities- including next Sunday at home against Oakland- and get lots of promotion elsewhere to remain in the mingle. Rivers& Co. held up their result of things, but barely.

Los Angeles, which started the season 0-4, had a tough time getting much working against a spirited struggle by the defense of the Jets( 5-10 ). Rivers finished 22 of 40 for 290 yards.

Gordon had 81 yards on 19 carries, but left late in the game with an ankle harm. He remained standing on the sideline as the Chargers tried to run out the clock.

Bryce Petty, doing his second start this season in place of the injured Josh McCown, struggled all activity. He missed open receivers and frequently flexed his right hand, which he banged up early in video games. But he remained in, going 15 of 28 for 119 yards and an interception.

Bilal Powell was the luminous place for the Jets’ offense, racing for 145 gardens, including a 57 -yard TD, on 19 carries.

Los Angeles took a 7-0 precede with 8: 55 left in the first half on Gates’ 3-yard touchdown catch, capping a 12 -play, 71 -yard drive.

The Chargers had a chance to increase their advantage early in the third quarter, but Nick Rose, signed earlier this week, was wide-cut right on a 47 -yard attempt.

New York took advantage of the miss to tie it on Powell’s long touchdown run.

Los Angeles retrieved the lead speedily, however, on Gordon’s 1-yard move. Gordon affected the hole and pushed over the goal line with a strong second and third effort.

The Jets had the opportunity to tie in the closing instants, getting a roughing-the-passer call on Joey Bosa to help extend their drive. But on fourth-and-7 from the Chargers 17, Petty’s heave to Robby Anderson in the end zone with 3:07 left fell incomplete.

Washington 27, Denver 11

Kirk Cousins shed for 299 grounds and three touchdowns in what could be his final home game for Washington as they pulsate the Denver Broncos and their top-ranked justification 27 -1 1 Sunday.

Cousins was 19 of 37 with TD proceeds to Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Vernon Davis and an interception. He grew the first quarterback in Washington history with three seasons of 25 or more TD moves, and involves 65 yards for his third in a row with 4,000 -plus yards.

Washington’s 386 offensive gardens are third most by a Denver opponent this season, behind alone Philadelphia and New England. The Broncos came in giving up an average of 276.8 yards a game.

Washington( 7-8) came 78 seconds from not standing a touchdown for a second consecutive game for the first time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Washington had allowed a combined 68 spots in its most recent two games before fixing down against Arizona and Denver.

After a week of misgiving, Brock Osweiler started at QB over Paxton Lynch for the Broncos( 5-10) and was 22 of 38 for 193 gardens with a fumble and an interception. CJ Anderson scored a late touchdown and was the game’s preceding rusher with 16 yards on 88 carries.

Vikings 16, Packers 0( Saturday)

While winning at Lambeau Field signifies a lot to the Minnesota Vikings, the NFC North endorses have bigger goals in mind.

A first-round playoff bye-bye is shaft within reach, and could be secured as soon as Sunday.

The Vikings took care of business on their concluded with a 16 -0 win Saturday nighttime over the injury-depleted Green Bay Packers, the team’s first shutout in 24 years. Having already clinched the fraction deed, Minnesota( 12 -3) can wrap up a first-round bye-bye if the Carolina Panthers misplace or tie on Sunday against Tampa Bay.

” I’m hoping we can get one more acquire, is currently working on some things we need to work on … and then used to go and play our rear end off in the playoffs ,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.

Stefon Diggs caught a four-yard pass from quarterback Case Keenum just inside the back text of the end zone during the first quarter for the only touchdown. After the game, Keenum stopped before thoughts up the passage at Lambeau, clapping his hands above his head while Vikings love chanted” Skol! Skol !”

They appeared right at home in Titletown.

” Defense played absolutely incredible today, and we did enough. It doesn’t matter how, it matters how many ,” Keenum said.

The Packers( 7-8) managed to hold a 239 -2 36 edge in total yards. They were still shut out twice in a season for the first time since 2006.

” I never experienced more defeated, more embarrassed by a conduct. Yeah, we had openings, and we didn’t connect where reference is did ,” receiver Randall Cobb said.

In its security, the team fielded a lineup that often was like one coach Mike McCarthy might send out for video games sometime in the preseason. The Packers had already been eliminated from playoff contention.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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