ATLANTA — Devonta Freeman scored two touchdowns for the Atlanta Falcons before Jacksonville took a snap, and that was enough to beat the woeful Jaguars 24-12, Sunday, in a match-up between teams long since eliminated from the NFL playoff race.
Niagara Falls native Qadree Ollison added another TD for Atlanta, while Matt Ryan threw for 384 yards and Julio Jones had his biggest game of the year, hauling in 10 catches for 166 yards.
Before thousands of empty seats at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons (6-9) won their third straight game while holding the Jaguars (5-10) to 288 yards in Atlanta's final home game of a disappointing season.
The Falcons piled up 518 yards.
Jacksonville came out flat in its first game since the firing of top executive Tom Coughlin, who was let go on Wednesday after several questionable roster moves and a scathing critique from the players' union over his draconian disciplinary methods.
The Jaguars have lost six of their last seven games and 20 of 27 since a 3-1 start to the 2018 season, which came on the heels of a surprising run to the AFC championship game.
The Falcons took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards in six plays, capped by Freeman's 17-yard touchdown run.
On the ensuing kickoff, Michael Walker was stripped of the ball by Keith Smith and Atlanta's Brian Hill fell on it at the Jaguars 25. Four plays later, Ryan hooked up with Freeman out of the backfield on an 8-yard scoring pass.
Even with Ryan being picked off twice, Jacksonville couldn't muster much of an offensive threat behind Garnder Minshew, who was 13 of 31 for 181 yards.
Ollison tacked on a 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to stretch Atlanta's lead to 24-6.
JETS 16, STEELERS 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Le'Veon Bell helped deal his former team's playoff hopes a big blow, leading the New York Jets to a 16-10 victory over the banged-up Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
The Steelers (8-7) entered the game controlling their postseason destiny and would have clinched a berth with wins in their final two games, but now need some help. Pittsburgh now needs to win next week at Baltimore to stay in the mix.
The Steelers also have more injury concerns as running back James Conner, center Maurkice Pouncey and quarterback Mason Rudolph all left with injuries.
Bell ran for 72 yards, including 7 on a big third-down play in the fourth quarter, on 25 carries while facing the team with which he spent his first six NFL seasons. After sitting out all last season in a contract dispute, Bell signed with the Jets (6-9) in the offseason.
Devlin Hodges, who was benched earlier in the game after throwing two interceptions, came back in early in the fourth quarter when Rudolph went out with a left shoulder injury.
Hodges had a chance to lead the Steelers to a comeback win, but fell short. His deep pass for James Washington on third-and-7 from the Jets 44 was knocked away by Marcus Maye in the end zone. On fourth down, Hodges' pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster fell incomplete in front of a MetLife Stadium crowd that appeared to be at least half-filled by Steelers fans.
Smith-Schuster, who returned after missing four games with a knee injury, had two catches for 22 yards.
COLTS 38, PANTHERS 6
INDIANAPOLIS — Nyheim Hines pulled off a rare feat Sunday for the Indianapolis Colts.
He scored on two punt returns, set up another touchdown with a 40-yard return four plays into the game and provided the jolt of energy the Colts needed to pull away from Carolina 38-6.
The Colts (7-8) snapped a four-game losing streak in their home finale and can avoid their second losing season in three years with a win next week.
Carolina (5-10), meanwhile, lost its seventh straight on a day it hoped new starting quarterback Will Grier could help the franchise change directions.
Instead, Hines never gave the Panthers a chance with a record-breaking performance.
His 195 yards on three returns is the highest single-game mark in franchise history — and the most by any NFL player since Eddie Drummond had 199 against Jacksonville in 2004.
RAVENS 31, BROWNS 15
CLEVELAND — The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC goes through Baltimore, where its MVP candidate will be waiting.
Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes — two to tight end Mark Andrews late in the first half — and rushed for 103 yards as the Ravens won their 11th straight game, 31-15 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday to lock up the conference's top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Ravens (13-2) shook off a sluggish start and avenged their last loss, a 40-25 to the Browns on Sept. 29.
But Baltimore looks nothing like the team it was three months ago as the marvelous, multi-dimensional Jackson has taken the league by storm with his arm and legs. Jackson finished with 238 yards passing and went over 100 yards for the fifth time this season.
The Ravens did suffer an injury that could hurt the playoff hopes as running back Mark Ingram went down without being touched in the fourth quarter. Ingram immediately grabbed his lower left leg and collapsed when he tried to stand.
Ingram, who went over 1,000 yards rushing in the second quarter and caught a 12-yard TD pass from Jackson in the third, was able to walk to the sideline to be evaluated before limping to the locker room.
The Browns (6-9) were officially eliminated from the postseason, and now first-year coach Freddie Kitchens may be down to his last game.
EAGLES 17, COWBOYS 9
PHILADELPHIA — Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones broke up Dak Prescott's fourth-down pass to wide receiver Michael Gallup in the end zone with 1:15 left in the game, and Philadelphia denied Dallas a division crown in a 17-9 win on Sunday.
The Cowboys (7-8) would have clinched their second straight NFC East title with a win in Philadelphia. And, they would have eliminated the Eagles (8-7). The Eagles are still in the hunt, and need to win their final game next week against the Giants to clinch the East. The Cowboys can still win the East with a win next week against Washington and an Eagles loss to the Giants.
The difference between a division title and missing the playoffs could determine the fate of Dallas coach Jason Garrett.
Playing with a sore right shoulder, Prescott attacked the Eagles cornerbacks on the final drive and had Dallas in position to possibly tie the game until Jones made the clutch stop.
Carson Wentz was 31 for 40 for 319 yards and a touchdown, and Miles Saunders ran for a score to keep the Eagles' playoff hopes alive.
Prescott finished 25 for 44 for 265 yards. Two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott, who had averaged 114.8 yards rushing in five games against the Eagles, was held to 47 yards.
Wentz gave the Eagles needed breathing room when he hit former college quarterback Greg Ward for 24 yards and Miles Sanders scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the third quarter for a 17-3 lead.
This was the game Wentz needed to win. He tried to rally the Eagles with a pep talk in the tunnel before they hit the field for perhaps the biggest game of the 26-year-old QB's career.
SAINTS 38, TITANS 28
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Drew Brees threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns and Alvin Kamara ran for two TDs as the New Orleans Saints kept their chase of the NFC's No. 1 seed alive by rallying from a 14-point deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 38-28 Sunday.
The Saints (12-3) had to win after San Francisco beat the Rams 34-31 on Saturday night. They scored 24 straight points to keep alive their chance at one of the NFC's top two seeds and a first-round playoff bye going into their regular-season finale at Carolina.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas also set the NFL record for most catches in a season. The Saints receiver needed 10 to tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison's mark of 143 catches in 2002. Thomas finished with 12 catches for 136 yards, his last reception a 2-yard TD with 2:10 left for a 38-28 lead.
The Titans (8-7) still have a shot at the AFC's final playoff berth after Houston won the AFC South title beating Tampa Bay on Saturday. The Jets beating Pittsburgh 16-10 means the Titans must beat the Texans in Houston in the finale to earn their second playoff berth in three seasons.
Alvin Kamara scored his first touchdown since Week 3, ending the longest scoring drought of his career at nine games with a 40-yard run. He added a 1-yard TD run.
DOLPHINS 38, BENGALS 35 (OT)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — A laugher became a thriller for the Miami Dolphins, and they needed overtime to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.
Miami gave up 16 points in the final 29 seconds of regulation but regrouped, and Jason Sanders kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired for a 38-35 win Sunday.
Andy Dalton threw for 396 yards and four touchdown passes, including three in the final 5:01 of regulation as Cincinnati rallied from a 35-12 deficit.
After the gallant comeback, the Bengals (1-14) settled for clinching next year's No. 1 draft pick. They're assured of at least tying for the worst record in club history; they went 2-14 in 2002.
The Dolphins (4-11) again hurt their chances of landing a franchise quarterback in next year’s draft, but rookie coach Brian Flores has repeatedly said he's all-out to win now. Rebuilding Miami has four victories in the past eight games with a ragtag roster.
Miami's Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 419 yards and four scores, including one to rookie defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Each team punted twice to start the extra period before Fitzpatrick led a 10-play, 51-yard march for the winning score.
BRONCOS 27, LIONS 17
DENVER — Drew Lock and Phillip Lindsay stood out even more than those hard-to-miss, all-orange uniforms worn by the Denver Broncos.
Lock threw a sh ovel pass to DaeSean Hamilton to put Denver ahead, Lindsay sealed the game with a late TD scamper and the Broncos extended the Detroit Lions' skid to eight straight with a 27-17 win Sunday.
Trading the snow for much balmier conditions, Lock efficiently led the offense. He finished 25 of 33 for 192 yards in improving to 3-1 as the Broncos starter. His only loss was last weekend in Kansas City when the field was covered in snow.
No need to worry about that this time.
It was a mild 67 degrees at kickoff, the second-warmest December home game on record. The Broncos (6-9) improved to 9-2 all-time in December home games when the temperature is 60 or above.
The Lions (3-11-1) got a punt return for a score from Jamal Agnew and sporadic play from rookie David Blough, who was under constant pressure and sacked four times. Detroit hasn't won in two months.
RAIDERS 24, CHARGERS 17
CARSON, Calif. — Derek Carr threw for 291 yards and a touchdown as the Oakland Raiders kept their playoff hopes alive with a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
The Raiders (7-8) had slim postseason chances coming into the day, but losses by Pittsburgh and Tennessee have given them renewed hope. They need a win over Denver next week and some help for only their second postseason trip since 2003.
Carr completed 26 of 30 passes and also ran for a score. The 86.7% completion rate is his second highest in a game and is the fifth time in his six-year career he has completed more than 80% in a game.
It was the Chargers' final game in Carson before they move into the new stadium at Hollywood Park next season with the Rams.
Oakland needs to beat Denver next Sunday, needs losses by the Titans at Houston and Steelers at Baltimore along with Indianapolis beating Jacksonville.
That would create a four-way tie. Oakland would win the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh based on strength of victory and Indianapolis by virtue of its win in Week 4. The Colts would eliminate Tennessee by having a better division record.
CARDINALS 27, SEAHAWKS 13
SEATTLE — Kenyan Drake rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns, Larry Fitzgerald added a 21-yard TD reception, and the Arizona Cardinals stymied Russell Wilson and the injury-depleted Seattle Seahawks in a 27-13 win on Sunday.
The Seahawks (11-4) saw their hopes for the No. 1 seed in the NFC potentially vanish with another late-season loss to the Cardinals. Seattle can still claim the NFC West with a win next week over San Francisco, but will need major help to earn total home-field advantage after entering the week as the top seed in the NFC.
Drake had an 80-yard TD run in the first quarter and provided the capper with a 3-yard TD with 4:18 remaining to take a 27-13 lead. Drake’s 166 yards were a season high against Seattle.
The question now is Seattle’s health going into next week. Seattle faced the Cardinals without four key starters: left tackle Duane Brown, safety Quandre Diggs, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Seahawks depth was thinned further when starting running back Chris Carson went down with a hip injury early in the second quarter and backup C.J. Prosise suffered an arm injury only a few minutes later.
Arizona (5-9-1) lost No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray to a hamstring injury midway through the third quarter. Murray was tended to on the sideline after leading a drive that finished with Zane Gonzalez's 46-yard field goal that gave Arizona a 20-7 lead early in the third quarter. Murray scrambled on the final play of the drive for 4 yards and never returned.