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NFL Week 17 Early Games Recap

NFL

The NFL regular season concludes today with several playoff spots still open entering week 17. Here are the recaps of the early action.

Jets 17-Bills 22: The Bills spoiled the New York Jets’ playoff hopes and Buffalo coach Rex Ryan got his revenge against his former team. Ryan’s high-priced and much-criticized defense closed the game by intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick on each of New York’s final three possessions to secure a 22-17 win. The Jets (10-6) were then knocked out of playoff contention when the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) beat Cleveland 28-12 shortly after the final whistle sounded in Buffalo.

Patriots 10-Dolphins 20: With the Pats anxious to protect Brady’s health, he threw a season-low 21 passes, and even so he was lucky to make it through the game in one piece. He was sacked twice and endured at least half a dozen knockdowns, including three on one series in a 20-10 loss to Miami. The loss also prevented the Patriots from clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Saints 20-Falcons 17: Jamarca Sanford’s interception at the Atlanta 25 with less than two minutes remaining set up Kai Forbath’s 30-yard field goal as time expired, giving the New Orleans Saints a 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. It was the Saints’ sixth sweep of the season series with the Falcons in 10 years under coach Sean Payton. Payton is 15-5 against Atlanta.

Ravens 16-Bengals 24: AJ McCarron overcame a rough start and kept the Bengals in contention for a playoff bye. McCarron threw a pair of touchdown passes Sunday, rallying Cincinnati to a sloppy 24-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that left their playoff seeding and matchup up to the later games. The Bengals (12-4) matched the best record in franchise history as they also won 12 games during the 1981 and 1988 seasons when they reached the Super Bowl.

Steelers 28-Browns 12: As usual, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers found a way. They’re still chasing another Super Bowl title. Roethlisberger threw three touchdown passes, Pittsburgh’s defense dominated and the Steelers slipped into the AFC playoffs with a 28-12 win over the Cleveland Browns, who are expected to seal coach Mike Pettine’s fate any day now.

Jaguars 6-Texans 30: J.J. Watt was back to his old self on Sunday, leading a dominant defense that helped the Houston Texans to their first AFC South title since 2012. Watt and Whitney Mercilus combined for 6 1/2 sacks and Jonathan Grimes scored twice to help the Texans to a 30-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brian Hoyer threw for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his return after missing the past two games after his second concussion in less than a month.

Titans 24-Colts 30: The Indianapolis Colts used their tag-team quarterbacks to perfection Sunday. Josh Freeman ran the regular offense, while Ryan Lindley the two-minute drill. Together, they played well enough to win. They just couldn’t get the Colts into the playoffs by themselves. Recently signed Freeman and Lindley each threw one first-half touchdown pass, and a third-quarter defensive score gave Indy all the scoring it needed to beat Tennessee 30-24. But the Colts needed a lot more than a win to save their season and perhaps Chuck Pagano’s job. They needed a Houston loss and seven other games to go exactly right. When Houston beat Jacksonville 30-6, the Colts’ fate was sealed and the last ditch effort wasn’t enough.

Redskins 34-Cowboys 23: Kirk Cousins is fine-tuned and ready for the playoffs for the Washington Redskins. Meanwhile, the offseason can’t come fast enough for the Dallas Cowboys. Cousins threw for three touchdowns before leaving late in the first half of a playoff tuneup, and the Redskins finished the regular season with a 34-23 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday.

Eagles 35-Giants 30: What might have been Tom Coughlin’s final game with the New York Giants was yet another tough loss in a season of excruciating losses. Former Giant Walter Thurmond scored on an 83-yard interception return in the third quarter and the Philadelphia Eagles added to Coughlin’s season-long frustrations with a 35-30 victory on Sunday. It was the third straight loss for the Giants (6-10) and finished a third straight losing season and a fourth straight year out of the playoffs.

Lions 24-Bears 30: The Detroit Lions closed a losing season with a victory on Sunday as Matthew Stafford threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns and Calvin Johnson had 137 yards receiving in a 24-20 win over the Chicago Bears. Detroit (7-9) avoided a last-place finish in the NFC North with its sixth win in eight games. Whether the Lions bring back coach Jim Caldwell for a third season remains to be seen after a 1-7 start and several shakeups both on the field and the front office.

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