NFL Week 18: Titans defeat Texans for AFC’s top playoff seed; Jaguars upset Colts

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws against the Houston Texans.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill throws during a 28-25 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
(Justin Rex / Associated Press)

HOUSTON — Ryan Tannehill tied a career high with four touchdown passes to help the Tennessee Titans clinch the top seed in the AFC with a 28-25 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

The 12-5 Titans, who secured their second straight AFC South title last week, have the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the third time since leaving Houston in 1997 and first since 2008. They also have a first-round bye.

Tannehill threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the Titans up 21-0 at halftime.


But the Texans (4-13) came alive in the second half, scoring 18 unanswered points to get to within three before Julio Jones caught his first touchdown pass of the season on a three-yard grab that made it 28-18 with about seven minutes remaining.

Houston cut the lead to three again when Danny Amendola’s second touchdown reception of the game made it 28-25 with four minutes to go. Tennessee got a first down on third and three with about three minutes left and ran out the clock to secure the victory.

Ambry Thomas intercepted a deep Matthew Stafford pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. in overtime to give the 49ers a 27-24 comeback win against the Rams.

Jan. 9, 2022


Jacksonville Jaguars 26, Indianapolis Colts 11

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. avoids Indianapolis Colts cornerback Anthony Chesley.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., left, avoids Indianapolis Colts cornerback Anthony Chesley after making a catch in the first half.
(Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Indianapolis Colts badly botched a chance to secure an AFC wild-card spot by losing at Jacksonville — their seventh consecutive road loss to the Jaguars. And they were eliminated from postseason contention when Pittsburgh beat Baltimore.

NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor was held to 77 yards, Carson Wentz turned the ball over twice — leading to 10 points — and Indy (9-8) did little to stop the woeful Jaguars (3-14).


With a playoff berth on the line, Indianapolis was a no-show on an 80-degree day in Jacksonville. The 15-point outcome could have been a bigger blowout had the Jags scored touchdowns instead of settling for two chip-shot field goals from inside the five-yard line. Nonetheless, Jacksonville experienced breathing room in a game for the first time all season.

Despite the loss, the Colts could still have landed a playoff spot but needed Baltimore to beat Pittsburgh, Las Vegas to defeat the Chargers and New England to knock off Miami. It was an unlikely trio of events, and Indy’s fate was sealed by the Steelers’ 16-13 overtime win.


Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Baltimore Ravens 13

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws against the Baltimore Ravens.
(Terrance Williams / Associated Press)

BALTIMORE — Ben Roethlisberger delayed his retirement for a few hours and probably longer, guiding Pittsburgh over Baltimore in overtime and putting the Steelers on the verge of an improbable playoff berth.

Chris Boswell made a 36-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining to win the game for the Steelers, who will now make the postseason as long as Sunday night’s Chargers-Raiders game doesn’t end in a tie. Roethlisberger set up the winning kick when he completed a 10-yard pass over the middle to Ray-Ray McCloud on fourth and eight from the Baltimore 41.


The Steelers (9-7-1) and Ravens (8-9) would have both been eliminated if this game had ended in a tie.

After the winning field goal, Roethlisberger held up his right fist in celebration and went slowly to the middle of the field to commiserate with Ravens linebacker Justin Houston.

Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh had slim playoff hopes coming in. The Steelers needed to win and have Indianapolis lose to Jacksonville to have any chance of extending Roethlisberger’s career with a postseason appearance. The Ravens needed a win, a loss by the Colts — and losses by the Dolphins and Chargers later in the day.

The most unlikely part of those scenarios — Indianapolis losing to lowly Jacksonville — actually happened.


Detroit Lions 37, Green Bay Packers 30

Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams carries the ball against the Green Bay Packers.
(Rick Osentoski / Associated Press)


DETROIT — Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes in the first half and sat out the second half with nothing at stake as Detroit beat top-seeded Green Bay.

Backup Jordan Love threw two interceptions late in the game, sealing a defeat that didn’t affect Green Bay’s playoff positioning.

The NFC North champion Packers (13-4) rolled into the Motor City after already clinching the conference’s No. 1 seed and its only first-round bye.

Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP who might win the award for a fourth time, was 14 of 18 for 138 yards. He threw a one-yard pass to Allen Lazard to cap a 13-play, 74-yard drive that took 7:18 off the clock to open the game and a 29-yard pass to the fourth-year receiver late in the second quarter for another score.

The Lions (3-13-1) closed coach Dan Campbell’s first season with plenty of pride and some nothing-to-lose plays.


Cleveland Browns 21, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum throws against the Cincinnati Bengals.
(Nick Cammett / Associated Press)

CLEVELAND — Case Keenum got his second win, filling in for Baker Mayfield on Sunday as Cleveland ended their dismal season with a 21-16 win over playoff-bound Cincinnati, who left quarterback Joe Burrow at home and played their backups.

Keenum threw touchdown passes to Jarvis Landry and Demetric Felton as the Browns (8-9) completed a sweep of the surprising AFC North champions. D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 123 yards, and star running back Nick Chubb had only nine carries and finished the season with with 1,259 yards.

Keenum, who replaced Mayfield and beat Denver earlier this season, connected with Landry on a 26-yard scoring pass in the first quarter. He later dumped a pass to Felton, who weaved his way to the end zone to make it 21-10.

Meanwhile, the Bengals played their “B” team. Burrow stayed in Cincinnati to get treatment on a sore right knee so he’s ready to play next week when the Bengals (10-7), who went from last place to first in the division, host a postseason game.


Cincinnati started Brandon Allen, who threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Chris Evans with 2:26 left.


Minnesota Vikings 31, Chicago Bears 17

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a pass against the Chicago Bears.
(Bruce Kluckhohn / Associated Press)

MINNEAPOLIS — Kirk Cousins passed for 172 yards and three touchdowns in the second half to lead a Minnesota comeback to beat Chicago in a matchup of two eliminated teams with a head coach in danger of being fired.

Justin Jefferson had the tying score and K.J. Osborn caught the go-ahead touchdown for the Vikings (8-9), who gave coach Mike Zimmer plenty to cheer in this pad-the-stats game while outscoring the Bears 28-3 after halftime.

Bears coach Matt Nagy elected to go for it on fourth down six times, failing on all but one of them. Andy Dalton took three sacks and threw an interception, and Patrick Peterson picked him off late in the fourth quarter and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown return.


Darnell Mooney had 12 catches for 126 yards to pass the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the Bears (6-11), who are 30-35 in four seasons under Nagy without a win in the playoffs.

D.J. Wonnum and Anthony Barr each had two of Minnesota’s seven sacks of Dalton, who went 33 for 48 for 325 yards and a touchdown pass to Damien Williams that gave the Bears a 14-0 lead just before halftime.


Washington 22, New York Giants 7

Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke hands off to running back Antonio Gibson.
Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke hands off to running back Antonio Gibson during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants.
(Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Antonio Gibson ran for a career-high 146 yards, scored a touchdown and capped his first 1,000-yard rushing season by leading Washington over New York in what might have been Dave Gettleman’s final game as the Giants’ general manager.

Bobby McCain returned the first of his two interceptions 30 yards for a touchdown, and Joey Slye kicked three field goals as Washington (7-10) finished a season in which it went from division winners a year ago to an also-ran.


Third-stringer Jake Fromm threw a 22-yard fourth-quarter touchdown to Darius Slayton as the Giants (4-13) finished a miserable second season under Joe Judge with a six-game losing streak.

Washington never trailed as Slye kicked field goals of 23 and 43 yards in the first half for a 6-0 lead.