New England clinches top seed in AFC
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Dion Lewis ran for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass, helping the New England Patriots clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as the top seed in the AFC 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. 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 (13-3) 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 the 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. It was only the third time in his career that he was blanked for a game that he played in. It was also the first game in his career he was not the target of a pass for an entire game.
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.
Colts 22, Texans 13
INDIANAPOLIS — Chuck Pagano wanted one more win as Indianapolis Colts coach. Now Pagano must wait to see if it will be his final victory with the team.
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 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.
A dull season finale did nothing to bolster the argument to keep Pagano or Texans coach Bill O’Brien, who also has been under fire.
Both coaches tried, and failed, on surprise onside kicks and neither team could consistently move the ball.
Lions 35, Packers 11
DETROIT — Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and Detroit beat turnover-prone and short-handed Green Bay 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,
Green Bay, without several banged-up players, gave away its chances to close with a win by turning it over three times in the first half to help the Lions lead 20-3 at halftime.
Giants 18, Redskins 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — 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 with a decision over Washington.
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, as 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, scored on a 12-yard run for Washington (7-9), which has missed the playoffs the past two years.
Vikings 23, Bears 10
MINNEAPOLIS — 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 with a victory over Chicago.
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 when Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph closed in on a sack in the end zone and he side-armed a throw between the two pass rushers.