Colts, Bengals make playoffs with wins
One year after putting together the NFL’s worst record, the
Indianapolis Colts are headed to the playoffs.
Joining them on Sunday were the Cincinnati Bengals, finishing
out the field in the AFC.
The Colts (10-5) equaled the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only
teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous
season. Top overall draft pick Andrew Luck completed a 7-yard
touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter for a
20-13 victory at Kansas City.
Cincinnati qualified for a second straight postseason berth for
only the second time in franchise history, edging archrival
Pittsburgh 13-10. The Bengals have never gone to the playoffs in
successive years that did not involve a strike-shortened
Luck finished with 205 yards passing to break Cam Newton’s
year-old rookie record of 4,051 yards in a season. He also extended
his rookie record for fourth-quarter comebacks to seven by leading
his team downfield in the closing minutes.
”Mission accomplished. That’s all I can say,” Colts interim
coach Bruce Arians said. ”Without getting emotional again, knowing
that (coach Chuck Pagano) is going to be back Monday, the work week
shouldn’t be as stressful.”
Pagano has been sidelined since a loss to Jacksonville in Week
For the Bengals (9-6), Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green with a 21-yard
pass in the final moments, setting up Josh Brown’s 43-yard field
goal with 4 seconds remaining. The loss eliminated the Steelers
”A lot of people talked about we hadn’t been in in back-to-back
seasons in 30 years,” Green said. ”I don’t worry about that
stuff. I’ve been here two years and we made the playoffs all two
years. That’s all we can control.”
Minnesota’s 23-6 win at Houston prevented the Texans from
earning home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. AFC South
champion Houston (12-3) still can get that by winning at
Indianapolis in the season finale.
New England has won the AFC East, Denver the West. Baltimore
clinched the North by beating the New York Giants 33-14, sending
the defending Super Bowl champions to the brink of elimination.
Washington’s 27-20 win at Philadelphia, combined with New
Orleans beating Dallas 34-31 in overtime means the Redskins (9-6)
will win the NFC East by beating the Cowboys next week.
But Dallas (8-7) takes the division by winning that game at
Washington, which the league has flexed to prime time.
”They know what it means,” coach Mike Shanahan said. ”They’ve
been working toward this opportunity to win the division. Any time
you win the division, everybody knows you have a home game in the
playoffs. We talked about that from Day 1. They knew what we had to
do to get there. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
Green Bay clinched at least the third seed in the NFC when it
routed Tennessee 55-7. The NFC North champs (11-4) still could wind
up second overall in the conference and get a bye and moved into
the No. 2 slot when Seattle romped over San Francisco 42-13.
”We have momentum going for us, particularly what we’ve done
over the last nine weeks, 10 weeks,” coach Mike McCarthy said of
Green Bay’s nine wins in the last 10 games. ”So we wanted to take
the next step as a football team and I felt we were able to
accomplish that today.”
The 49ers (10-4-1) will win the NFC West by beating Arizona next
weekend. Seattle (10-5) earned at least a wild-card spot and
finishes at home against St. Louis.
On Saturday night, NFC South winner Atlanta won 31-18 at Detroit
to clinch home-field advantage throughout the conference
Minnesota (9-6), Chicago (9-6), the New York Giants (8-7) and
Washington could wind up with the final NFC wild card. Dallas can’t
get a wild card.
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