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Sunday's NFL Capsules

Sunday's NFL Capsules

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) RG3 and the Washington Redskins are NFC East champions.

Robert Griffin III ran for a touchdown, and fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards and three scores Sunday night as the Redskins won their first division title in 13 years by beating the Dallas Cowboys 28-18.

The Redskins are 10-6 and will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, having won seven straight since their bye week. Washington is the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 and make the postseason since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.

The Redskins would have been out of the postseason with a loss. Instead, the Cowboys will miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Dallas finished 8-8, stumbling in a do-or-die, end-of-regular-season game for the third time in five years.

COLTS 28, TEXANS 16

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Colts made Chuck Pagano a winner in his return to the sideline.

Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Deji Karim swung the game with a 101-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. It was Pagano's first game back as coach since starting treatment for leukemia Sept. 26.

Indianapolis (11-5) heads into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and on a roll. The Colts will open the postseason next Sunday on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.

Slumping Houston (12-4) is the third seed and will host Cincinnati. The Texans lost three of their last four games, and J.J. Watt failed to break Michael Strahan's single-season sacks record.

The game turned on two big plays: Karim's kickoff return, which wiped out a 16-14 Houston lead, and Luck's 70-yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton.

BENGALS 23, RAVENS 17

CINCINNATI (AP) - Carlos Dunlap returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens (10-6) had already clinched their second straight AFC North title, and they will open the playoffs at home against Indianapolis, which defeated Houston on Sunday.

The Bengals (10-6) are at Houston next Saturday.

The Ravens let quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice play only two series. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green sat out the second half.

BRONCOS 38, CHIEFS 3

DENVER (AP) - Peyton Manning threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns to lift Denver into the No. 1 seed for the AFC playoffs.

Manning finished the season with 4,659 yards, 41 short of his career high. He finished with 37 touchdown passes, and none will be more memorable than the last two - circus catches by Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas that turned the game into a blowout.

Denver (13-3) won its 11th straight and leaped past Houston for the top seed after the Texans lost to Indianapolis 28-16 earlier in the day.

The Chiefs gained only 119 yards all day and finished their season 2-14. They will get the top pick in April's draft.

VIKINGS 37, PACKERS 34

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Adrian Peterson came within 9 yards of Eric Dickerson's rushing record, finishing with 199 yards and powering Minnesota into the playoffs.

The result forced a rematch with the Packers next weekend in a wild-card game - this time at Lambeau Field.

Peterson rushed for 36 yards on the last drive, plenty for rookie Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time expired to put the Vikings (10-6) in the postseason. The Packers (11-5) fell to the NFC's No. 3 seed.

Aaron Rodgers completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers, connecting with Jordy Nelson from 2 yards to tie the game with 2:54 remaining. But Christian Ponder threw for three scores, including one to Peterson.

49ERS 27, CARDINALS 13

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Michael Crabtree caught touchdown passes of 49 and 7 yards as the 49ers won a second straight NFC West title.

Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-best 276 yards and two TDs as the Niners (11-4-1) earned a No. 2 seed thanks to Green Bay's loss to Minnesota.

Frank Gore ran for a 2-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for his franchise-best 51st touchdown rushing.

Brian Hoyer went 19 of 34 for 225 yards and a late TD toss in his first career NFL start as Arizona's fourth quarterback. The Cardinals (5-11) lost for the 11th time in their last 12 games in what might have been Ken Whisenhunt's final game as coach.

SEAHAWKS 20, RAMS 13

SEATTLE (AP) - Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning's record for most touchdown passes by a rookie with 26, and his 1-yard TD run with 1:39 left allowed Seattle to finish as the only unbeaten team at home.

Seattle (11-5) entered the day with hopes of still winning the NFC West and getting a home playoff game, but those dreams were dashed when San Francisco beat Arizona. Seattle will be the No. 5 seed and play at Washington next weekend.

The Rams (7-8-1) sacked Wilson six times, but couldn't come up with their first winning record since 2003.

PATRIOTS 28, DOLPHINS 0

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and New England earned a playoff bye.

Stevan Ridley ran for two touchdowns as the Patriots used a ball-control offense and a defense that racked up a season-high seven sacks.

Now, seeded second in the AFC, they have an extra week to savor the win and prepare for their postseason opener.

The Patriots (12-4) led 21-0 at halftime on Brady's 9-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker and Ridley's runs of 1 and 2 yards, capping drives lasting 14 and 13 plays. They ended the scoring on Brady's 23-yard scoring pass to Rob Gronkowski, who missed the previous five games after breaking his left forearm.

The Dolphins (7-9) finished with a losing record for the fourth straight season.

BUCCANEERS 22, FALCONS 17

ATLANTA (AP) - The Falcons couldn't follow through with their plan to gain momentum for the playoffs as Josh Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Doug Martin ran for 141 yards.

The Falcons (13-3) had little to play for as they already have home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs. Coach Mike Smith said he wanted to ``finish the regular season the right way,'' and he stayed with his starters through the game.

The danger to Smith's strategy was losing a top starter to an injury. Defensive end John Abraham, Atlanta's best pass rusher, left with an apparent left ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a head injury in the first quarter and did not return.

BEARS 26, LIONS 24

DETROIT (AP) - Jay Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and helped seal the game with a late scramble.

Chicago (10-6) needed a Minnesota loss to Green Bay to reach the postseason, but didn't get it.

The Lions (4-12) lost their last eight games and turned the ball over four times in the finale. Calvin Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the first player with 2,000 yards receiving in a season.

Cutler's 19-yard run on third down helped Chicago run out the clock late in the fourth quarter.

GIANTS 42, EAGLES 7

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - There will be no Super Bowl repeat for the Giants. Not even a playoff berth despite Eli Manning's career-high five touchdown passes.

The Giants (9-7) were eliminated from postseason contention minutes after routing the Eagles. Chicago's win over Detroit ended New York's long-shot playoff chances.

Eagles coach Andy Reid is out after 14 years in Philadelphia, three people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The official announcement could come Monday.

The loss means that it will be seven straight seasons that the Super Bowl champion has failed to win a playoff game the following year.

Philadelphia closed the season 4-12.

STEELERS 24, BROWNS 10

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Ben Roethlisberger threw three short touchdown passes, and Pittsburgh avoided its first losing season in nearly a decade.

Antonio Brown, Leonard Pope and Plaxico Burress scored for the Steelers (8-8). Pittsburgh's top-ranked defense forced four turnovers as the Steelers won for just the second time in the last six weeks, a slide that knocked them out of the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Cleveland's third-string quarterback, Thaddeus Lewis, passed for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his first NFL start. But the Browns (5-11) dropped their third straight in what was likely coach Pat Shurmur's final game.

BILLS 28, JETS 9

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - C.J. Spiller scored on a 66-yard catch and run in helping underachieving Buffalo, while Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had two more turnovers.

Safety Bryan Scott also returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown for the Bills (6-10), who snapped a three-game skid. Both AFC East rivals had already been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Bills finished last in the AFC East for a fifth straight season amid speculation about coach Chan Gailey's job security.

Sanchez may have started his final game for the Jets (6-10), who closed the season with three consecutive losses amid all sorts of turmoil.

TITANS 38, JAGUARS 20

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee became the first NFL team with two players scoring twice on returns in closing out the season with two wins in its final three games.

Darius Reynaud scored on two punt returns and rookie linebacker Zach Brown returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

The Titans finished 6-10 and await owner Bud Adams' decision on whether to keep coach Mike Munchak, who has two years left on his contract.

The Jaguars (2-14) wrapped up their worst season with their 12th loss in 13 games, and now owner Shad Khan has to decide on the futures of general manager Gene Smith and first-year coach Mike Mularkey.

PANTHERS 44, SAINTS 38

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Drew Brees made more NFL history, but so did the Saints' porous defense in a loss to Carolina.

DeAngelo Williams rushed for 210 yards, including touchdown runs of 54 and 12 yards, for Carolina (7-9), which closed the season with four straight wins. His 65-yard gain set up the first of three 1-yard scoring runs by Mike Tolbert.

Brees passed for 396 yards, giving him 5,177 this season. That makes him the first player to eclipse 5,000 yards three times. His four TD passes gave him 43 in 2012, and he's the first player with 40 TD passes in consecutive seasons.

The Saints (7-9) also gave up 530 yards, raising their season total to 7,042 to break the record of 6,793 allowed by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.

CHARGERS 24, RAIDERS 21

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Micheal Spurlock returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown on wet, gloomy day in what's expected to be Norv Turner's final game as Chargers coach.

Turner and general manager A.J. Smith are expected to be fired because the Chargers (7-9) missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The Raiders finished 4-12.

Spurlock became the first Chargers player to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. He returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown a week earlier in a victory against the New York Jets.

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Ravens' John Harbaugh wants it known Lamar Jackson can and will throw ball more

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens' John Harbaugh wants it known Lamar Jackson can and will throw ball more

BALTIMORE -- In a league that relies heavily on the forward pass, the Baltimore Ravens have gone old-school in their bid to reach the NFL playoffs.

With quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way , the Ravens rushed for 265 yards Sunday in a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson ran 27 times for 117 yards, Gus Edwards garnered 115 yards on the ground and both rookies rushed for seven first downs.

There's a good chance Jackson will start for the injured Joe Flacco again Sunday when the Ravens (5-5) host the Oakland Raiders (2-8). If Jackson is the starter, it's unlikely he will again slither, slide and scramble with the ball 27 times.

"Yeah, you don't want your quarterback getting hit that much," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "It's not going to last that way. So, that's pretty self-evident."

That said, Harbaugh mocked those people concerned about Jackson's workload.

"Oh, he had 27 carries," Harbaugh said. "You know what he did? He won the game. He played his tail off. Celebrate that, and move on."

Whatever it takes to win.

"It's not what we're going to be shooting for by any stretch, but if it takes that many, Lamar will do it," Harbaugh said. "But, no, he took some hits. I think they knew the quarterback was going to run the ball. They were going after him a little bit, as you would expect. That's something that we have to look at going forward."

Selected 32nd overall in the 2018 draft, Jackson was thrust into the starting lineup because Flacco has a right hip injury that has been slow to heal and could keep him sidelined against the Raiders.

"He has a chance," Harbaugh said, without much conviction.

Jackson ran 655 times at Louisville and won the 2016 Heisman Trophy for his ability to carry the ball, not throw it. On Sunday, his carries accounted for more than a third of Baltimore's 73 offensive plays, and the Ravens finished with 54 rushing attempts compared to 19 passes.

Harbaugh bristled when someone asked him about Jackson's ability to throw the football, and where that fits into the game plan moving forward.

"Yeah, we're going to throw the ball more down the road," Harbaugh insisted. "All this veiled stuff, `Is he really a thrower?' I got news for you: He's a thrower. He's a quarterback. I don't appreciate the insinuation of the question. Lamar Jackson is a quarterback."

He's a quarterback with 256 yards rushing -- second on the team behind Alex Collins -- and 237 yards passing. Collins scored a touchdown against the Bengals, but his playing time was sheared by Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent who got 17 carries and played most of the second half.

Edwards, who scored his first NFL touchdown , got the call because of the way he's excelled in the days leading up to game day.

"He's been practicing great," Harbaugh said. "It has been a goal to get him more carries before this."

Baltimore's 265 yards rushing against Cincinnati was tied for the fifth most in franchise history, and it marked the first time in NFL history that a team had a rookie quarterback and rookie running back each top 100 yards rushing.

After he was done, Jackson made one final run -- after the referee to snag the game ball.

"However you move the ball is good. You do it based on your personnel," Harbaugh said. "You want it to be a mix, but in the end, the players deserve the credit for running the ball so well."

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Joe Flacco's status remains uncertain as Ravens head into Week 12

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Joe Flacco's status remains uncertain as Ravens head into Week 12

Lamar Jackson's first NFL start has taken over the headlines and airwaves since his historic performance Sunday for the Baltimore Ravens. But what about that guy Joe Flacco?

Sunday marked the first time Flacco wasn't the team's starting quarterback in 41 games as he nursed a hip injury sustained in their Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Ravens were hush all week on Flacco's status against the Cincinnati Bengals, but head coach John Harbaugh told reporters post-victory they knew the Super Bowl XLVII MVP would be unable to start. 

"Finally, it was when he had a doctor’s appointment earlier in the week in New York," Harbaugh said. "One of the final … We had an indication of it the week before – it was going to be tough. But the final word … I can’t remember what day it was. It was Monday or Tuesday.” 

In his 11 years with the Ravens, the only extended time Flacco has missed was six games back in 2015 after tearing his ACL. Prior to Week 11, Flacco was on the injury report only eight times and had missed only three practices during the regular season. 

Flacco sustained the injury on the team's opening drive against the Steelers three weeks ago, but played the full 60 minutes completing 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards. What we've learned about the injury over the last week and a half is that it doesn't appear the quarterback will need surgery, but beyond that, there is little information on a return date. 

"Yes, it will be tough for him this week coming up,” Harbaugh added postgame. 

The timing of this injury is obviously not ideal given that Flacco is playing on the last year of his contract and the quarterback they drafted to replace him had about as good of a start as you can draw up.

"I'm not getting into any of that, Harbaugh said Monday on if Flacco would would have a chance to reclaim his job.

With six games to play and currently in a five-way tie for the last AFC wild card spot, a lot, and we mean a lot, can happen.

And just 24 hours after saying it would be tough for Flacco to play this upcoming week, Harbaugh upgraded Flacco's status.

“He has a chance. It’s just a matter of how fast the healing takes place in there," Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference. "It’s not a surgical thing; it’s just a calming-down type of a thing with the hip, and I’m not a doctor. They have that commercial with the TV doctors. I’m not even a TV doctor, so we’ll see.”

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