NFL roundup: Texans clinch AFC South; Patriots, Packers, Falcons, Redskins and Dolphins get critical wins

NFL roundup: Texans clinch AFC South; Patriots, Packers, Falcons, Redskins and Dolphins get critical wins
Texans players celebrate after Bengals kicker Randy Bullock, center left, missed a field goal as time expired Saturday night. (Eric Christian Smith / Associated Press)

Tom Savage threw for 176 yards in his first career start and the Cincinnati Bengals missed a field goal as time expired, giving the Houston Texans a 12-10 victory and their second straight AFC South title Saturday night.

The Bengals converted a fourth down play to keep a drive alive, but four plays later, former Texan Randy Bullock's 43-yard attempt sailed wide right to secure Houston's victory.


Savage helped the Texans (9-6) rally for a win over the Jaguars last week after taking over when Brock Osweiler was benched after throwing interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.

The Texans knew they were in the postseason with a win after the Titans fell to the Jaguars earlier Saturday. But it didn't look good for them early with Savage completing just two passes for 13 yards and them trailing 3-0 at halftime.

Savage was able to move the offense much better in the second half, but Houston still struggled in the red zone.

The Texans had a first down at the 6 early in the fourth quarter before the offense stalled and they settled for a 22-yard field goal that put them up 6-3. Quintin Demps got his career-high fifth interception when he picked off Andy Dalton's pass two plays later, but Houston couldn't move the ball and had to punt it away.

Cincinnati (6-8-1) regained the lead when Dalton found Brandon LaFell on a short pass and he took it 86-yards for a touchdown that made it 10-6 with about 11 minutes left.

Saints 31, Buccaneers 24

Mark Ingram rushed for two-touchdowns and a game-sealing first down in the final minutes, and New Orleans put a considerable damper on Tampa Bay's playoff aspirations with the home victory.

The Buccaneers (8-7) needed a win to keep pace with Green Bay (9-6) for the final NFC wild-card spot, but couldn't keep up with the Saints' explosive offense.

Drew Brees was 23 of 34 for 299 yards and a touchdown for New Orleans (7-8), which gained 417 total yards and did not have a turnover against a with 26 takeaways — including three interceptions of Brees in the clubs' previous meeting two weeks earlier.

This time, it was New Orleans' defense producing turnovers; Jairus Bryd intercepted Jameis Winston twice. The first takeaway set up Ingram's second TD, and the second stalled a promising Bucs drive into Saints territory.

The Buccaneers' loss locked up the NFC South for Atlanta (10-5) and ensured a wild card for the New York Giants. Now Tampa Bay must win the season finale and hope for losses by Washington and Green Bay next week. If that happens, a complicated tie-breaker based on strength of victories will decide the final playoff spot between the Bucs and Packers.

Winston was 23-of-35 passing for 277 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 27 TDs this season, tying a franchise single-season record. His touchdown passes went to tight end Cameron Brate and Mike Evans.

Cardinals 34, Seahawks 31

The Arizona Cardinals continue to give the Seattle Seahawks headaches at home. This time, it will likely end up costing Seattle a first-round bye in the playoffs. Chandler Catanzaro hit a 43-yard field goal on the final play as the Cardinals won in Seattle.


The Seahawks rallied from a 31-18 deficit, scoring two touchdowns inside the final three minutes to pull even 31-31. Jimmy Graham had a 37-yard touchdown catch and Paul Richardson's five-yard TD with 1:06 left tied it. Steven Hauschka missed the extra point that could have given Seattle the lead, but it didn't matter in the end.

Arizona went 50 yards in the final minute and Catanzaro's kick was good, delivering a huge blow to Seattle's chances at the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

Cardinals running back David Johnson is brought down by Seahawks defenders Ahtyba Rubin, left, and Bobby Wagner after a gain during the second half Saturday.
Cardinals running back David Johnson is brought down by Seahawks defenders Ahtyba Rubin, left, and Bobby Wagner after a gain during the second half Saturday. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

It was the Seahawks' first home loss this season; all NFL teams have now been beaten in a home game.

Patriots 41, Jets 3

Tom Brady passed for 214 yards and three touchdowns , and New England moved a step closer to securing home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with the victory at Foxborough, Mass.

A loss or tie by the Raiders against the Colts later Saturday would officially give New England the AFC's top seed.

Malcolm Butler added two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and LeGarrette Blount had a pair of one-yard touchdown runs.

New England (13-2) took advantage of New York miscues all day, scoring on three of its first four possessions.

The Jets (4-11), who have lost six of seven, had four turnovers.

Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell tries to make a one-handed catch against Jets defensive back Doug Middleton during the second quarter Saturday.
Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell tries to make a one-handed catch against Jets defensive back Doug Middleton during the second quarter Saturday. (Billie Weiss / Getty Images)

It all helped make for a short day of work for Brady, who sat out the entire fourth quarter.

Packers 38, Vikings 25

Aaron Rodgers threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns, Jordy Nelson shredded Minnesota's secondary for 154 yards and two scores as Green Bay set up a winner-take-all showdown next week with Detroit for the NFC North title, while extinguishing the visiting Vikings' faint postseason hopes.

Green Bay (9-6) built a 28-13 lead at halftime, with Rodgers accounting for all four scores in the half. He finished 28 of 38, and shrugged off his right calf injury after scrambling for a six-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and making a rare Lambeau Leap .

Rodgers and Nelson connected for scores from 21 and two yards in the first half. The veteran receiver found seams in Minnesota's defense, despite the return of safety Harrison Smith from an ankle injury.

Playing again without running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings (7-8) had success through the air after Sam Bradford threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns, including a 71-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in the second quarter.

Thielen had a career-high 202 yards and two scores.

Falcons 33, Panthers 16

Matt Ryan threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, Tevin Coleman had 135 yards from scrimmage, including a pivotal 55-yard fourth-quarter TD run, and Atlanta moved a step closer to wrapping up a postseason berth with the win at Charlotte, N.C.

The Falcons (10-5) can clinch their first NFC South title since 2012 if Tampa Bay loses or ties New Orleans on Saturday. Atlanta can also clinch a playoff berth with a Detroit loss or tie against Dallas on Monday night.

A few straggling Falcons fans chanted "MVP!" at Ryan in the game's closing minutes while most Panthers fans had already headed for the exits.

The Panthers (6-9) were officially eliminated from playoff contention after making the Super Bowl last season.

Redskins 41, Bears 21

Kirk Cousins threw for a touchdown and ran for two more to keep Washington's fading playoff hopes a boost with the victory in Chicago.

DeSean Jackson added 114 yards receiving, and Washington (8-6-1) intercepted Matt Barkley five times. It added up to an easy win for the Redskins after they relinquished control of the second wild card with a loss to Carolina on Monday night.

Eighth in the NFC behind Green Bay and Tampa Bay coming in, Washington scored 14 points in the first quarter after struggling early in recent games and never really was threatened by the struggling Bears (3-12).

Cousins, shaky against Carolina, was 18 of 29 for 270 yards. He threw a 17-yard touchdown to Chris Thompson in the first quarter and scored on a 9-yard run in the second. He also pushed in from the 1 late in the third to make it 31-14.


Jackson had a 57-yard reception, but left after he got hit in the jaw while blocking in the third quarter. Pierre Garcon caught four passes for 94 yards.

Dolphins 34, Bills 31 (OT)

Jay Ajayi ran for 206 yards and broke loose for a 53-yarder in overtime to set up Andrew Franks' 27-yard field goal with 47 seconds left to lead Miami to the win at Orchard Park, N.Y.

In winning for the ninth time in 10 games, the Dolphins (10-5) inched closer to their first playoff berth since 2008. Miami can secure the AFC's final wild-card berth as early as Sunday if Denver loses to Kansas City.

Denver needs to win its final two games to make the postseason and Baltimore is eliminated from the wild-card race and can only make the playoffs as the AFC North champion.

The Bills (7-8) were eliminated from contention and extended the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 17 seasons.

Jaguars 38, Titans 17

Blake Bortles' best game of the season helped Jacksonville end a nine-game losing streak while hurting visiting Tennessee's playoff hopes.

Bortles threw for 325 yards and a touchdown, and was on the receiving end of a 20-yard trick play that sealed the win with 5:25 remaining. Rookie Jalen Ramsey returned an interception 30 yards on the ensuring play to set off a raucous — and long-awaited — celebration in Jacksonville.

Bortles and the Jaguars (3-12) played inspired football from the opening kick and won for the first time this season at EverBank Field. Their last victory at home came Dec. 13, 2015, against Indianapolis.

Maybe they rallied around interim coach Doug Marrone. Maybe they played for ultra-popular ex-coach Gus Bradley, who was fired six days earlier . Maybe they just wanted to avenge an embarrassing loss to the Titans (8-7) on national television in late October.