Pittsburgh 41, Cleveland 9
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Rashard Mendenhall rushed for two touchdowns and Ben Roethlisberger tossed for two more, as the Pittsburgh Steelers abused the Cleveland Browns, 41-9, to capture the AFC North title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Pittsburgh and Baltimore both ended the regular season with 12-4 records, but the Steelers edged the Ravens for the No. 2 seed by one more division win. Roethlisberger, who has led Pittsburgh to four division titles in seven seasons, ended with 280 yards on 15-of-22 throws, while Mike Wallace caught three passes for 105 yards and a score. Colt McCoy ended his rookie campaign on a sour note with three interceptions for Cleveland (5-11), which limped to the finish line with four consecutive losses. McCoy completed 20-of-41 attempts for 209 yards with a TD.
Seattle 16, St. Louis 6
Seattle, WA (Sports Network) - The 7-9 Seattle Seahawks are in. Charlie Whitehurst threw for 192 yards and a touchdown, helping Seattle clinch the NFC West title with a 16-6 victory over division rival St. Louis. The Rams (7-9) led the Seahawks by a game entering Sunday's contest and could have spared the NFL a sub-.500 team in the playoffs. But because Seattle holds the better division mark, the Seahawks became the first team in league history with a losing record to reach the postseason. Seattle not only made the postseason after winning just three of its final 10 games, but it secured a home playoff game as the division winner and No. 4 seed. The Seahawks will host New Orleans, the NFC's fifth seed, on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (et).
Atlanta 31, Carolina 10
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Matt Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, as the Atlanta Falcons won the NFC South and clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 31-10 rout of the Carolina Panthers. Ryan completed 22-of-32 passes for 236 yards for the Falcons (13-3), who bounced back from a loss to the Saints last week to claim their first NFC South title since 2004. Michael Turner rushed for 67 yards and a score on 17 carries for Atlanta, which recorded its best record since the 1998 season (14-2). Jimmy Clausen connected on 19-of-33 passes for 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Panthers (2-14), who played their last game under head coach John Fox. Carolina announced on Friday that the contracts of Fox and his staff will not be renewed.
Houston 34, Jacksonville 17
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Arian Foster ran for two touchdowns and the Houston Texans spoiled the Jacksonville Jaguars' playoff aspirations with a 34-17 victory. Foster had 180 yards on 31 carries for the Texans (6-10), who snapped a four-game losing streak. Matt Schaub completed 18-of-22 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown in the win. Jacksonville (8-8) entered Sunday needing a win and an Indianapolis loss to clinch the AFC South, but that task became even more challenging without the services of quarterback David Garrard and star running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Dallas 14, Philadelphia 13
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Stephen McGee's four-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten with 55 seconds remaining lifted the Dallas Cowboys over the Philadelphia Eagles, 14-13, in a meaningless Week 17 matchup. McGee, making his first career start, completed 11-of-27 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown to finish off a disappointing season for the Cowboys (6-10), who ended the year 5-3 under interim head coach Jason Garrett after Wade Phillips was fired. Already locked in as the No. 3 seed in the conference, the NFC East-champion Eagles (10-6) rested most of their starters. They will host the sixth-seeded Packers in the opening round of the playoffs next Sunday.
San Diego 33, Denver 28
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Ryan Mathews ran for a career-best 120 yards on 26 carries with three touchdowns as San Diego prevailed over Denver, 33-28, at Invesco Field. Philip Rivers threw for 313 yards on 21-of-37 efficiency for the Chargers (9-7), who are coming off a disappointing 34-20 loss to Cincinnati last week which effectively eliminated them from the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Tim Tebow threw for 205 yards for two touchdowns and ran for a score, but he was also picked off twice as Denver (4-12) finished the season losing six of its final seven games.
San Francisco 38, Arizona 7
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Alex Smith passed for 276 yards and two touchdowns, Brian Westbrook scored twice on the ground and the San Francisco 49ers ended their underachieving season with a 38-7 rout of Arizona. Named starter by interim head coach Jim Tomsula, Smith completed 15 of his 29 passes without an interception and connected on long touchdown throws to Ted Ginn Jr. and Vernon Davis while leading the 49ers (6-10) to their second win in five games. The Cardinals (5-11) closed out their own disappointing season by using two quarterbacks. Rookie John Skelton started the game and passed for 92 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Richard Bartel took over at the end of the third quarter and threw for 92 yards with an interception that was returned 62 yards for a touchdown by Tarell Brown.
Detroit 20, Minnesota 13
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Shaun Hill threw for 258 yards and a score as the Detroit Lions earned a 20-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings in what may have been the last game of Brett Favre's career. Favre went out with a whimper instead of a bang, sitting out his second game in a row with a concussion. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer has indicated that this season will be his last, although he's already come back from a pair of brief retirements. Hill went 28-for-39 with an interception while Nate Burleson finished the game with six catches for 83 yards and a score for the Lions (6-10), who ended the season with their first four-game winning streak since 1999. Joe Webb made his second straight start in place of Favre and went 19-for-31 with 133 yards and an interception for the Vikings (6-10), who dropped three of their final four games of the season. The two teams finished tied for the bottom spot in the NFC North.
Oakland 31, Kansas City 10
Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Michael Bush and rookie Jacoby Ford both ran for a touchdown to help the Oakland Raiders close out the regular season with a 31-10 victory over the AFC West-champion Kansas City Chiefs. With the win, Oakland (8-8) completed a six-game sweep of the AFC West. However, in doing so, the Raiders became the first club since the NFL-AFL merger to go unbeaten in its division and not make the playoffs. Oakland dropped all six non-division conference games. Bush had 137 yards on 25 carries, while Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell completed 15-of-25 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown. Matt Cassel had 115 yards on 11-of-33 efficiency with two fourth- quarter interceptions for the Chiefs (10-6), who will enter the postseason as the No. 3 seed if Indianapolis loses at home to Tennessee. Kansas City would fall to the fourth seed with a Colts win.
New England 38, Miami 7
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Tom Brady engineered three touchdown drives in limited action and Julian Edelman returned a punt 94 yards for a score in the final minute of the first half, as the New England Patriots concluded the regular season with a 38-7 rout of the Miami Dolphins. Brady played into the second quarter before taking a seat after directing two scoring marches, then came back out to start the third quarter and led the Patriots to another touchdown. He completed 10-of-16 passes for 199 yards with a pair of scores to complete a potential MVP campaign with 36 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. BenJarvus Green-Ellis added a touchdown run for the Patriots (14-2), who had previously clinched the AFC East title and the top seed in the playoffs. They will head into the postseason with an eight- game winning streak. The Dolphins (7-9) ended the season with a three-game losing streak to finish with a losing record for the fourth time in five years. It was just Miami's second road loss of the season to go along with a disastrous 1-7 home mark that could put head coach Tony Sparano's job in jeopardy.
Tampa Bay 23, New Orleans 13
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Josh Freeman threw for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Tampa Bay kept its faint playoff hopes alive with a 23-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Freeman was highly efficient, completing 21-of-26 passes for the Buccaneers (10-6), who notched their first victory over a team over .500 to win 10 games for the first time since 2005. Tampa Bay still needs some help to make the playoffs, however, as the Giants and Packers would both need to lose their respective games later Sunday. Drew Brees played into the fourth quarter for the Saints and finished with 196 yards passing with one touchdown and an interception on 22-of-38 throws. New Orleans (11-5) had something to gain only if the Falcons had lost to the Panthers, so Brees was lifted in the fourth when Atlanta took a substantial lead over Carolina. New Orleans is the fifth seed in the NFC and will travel to play the winner of the Rams/Seahawks game next weekend in the playoffs.
NY Jets 38, Buffalo 7
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Joe McKnight hit the century mark for the first time in his career with 158 yards on 32 carries as the New York Jets posted a 38-7 victory over Buffalo in the final regular-season contest for both teams. Mark Brunell played three quarters, going 6-of-12 for 110 yards, two TDs and an interception for the Jets (11-5), who reached the postseason for the second straight campaign. Brian Brohm was 10-of-23 for 106 yards and was intercepted three times for the Bills (4-12), who extended their franchise-worst record to 11 straight seasons without a playoff berth.