The San Francisco 49ers won the NFC West and the No. 1 seed in that conference after tight end Jacob Hollister of the Seattle Seahawks was stopped by rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw on fourth-and-goal just inches short of the goal line.
San Francisco claimed its first division crown since 2012 and wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by silencing a Seattle crowd that showed up looking for a division title and to celebrate the return of Marshawn Lynch.
Elsewhere, the New England Patriots suffered a shocking loss at home to the woeful Miami Dolphins on Sunday, dropping the defending Super Bowl champions to the No. 3 seed in the AFC, and allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to leapfrog them into the No. 2 slot in the AFC which guarantees a first-round bye and a home game in the second round.
In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers nailed down the No. 2 seed in the conference but only because they kicked a last-second field goal in Detroit.
In other games that determined who got into the playoffs and their seedings:
- The Philadelphia Eagles captured the NFC East crown with a victory over the New York Giants and will be the No. 4 seed. They will host Seattle in a first-round game.
- The Tennessee Titans grabbed the final spot – the No. 6 seed - in the AFC. They will visit New England in the first round next weekend.
SAN FRANCISCO 26, SEATTLE 21
It took a replay review for San Francisco to finally have its title.
Seattle took possession at its 27 with 2:27 left down by five. Russell Wilson drove the Seahawks to the San Francisco 12 and on fourth-and-10, Wilson hit John Ursua for 11 yards to the 1. Wilson spiked the ball, but Seattle (11-5) was called for delay of game on second down with confusion about whether Lynch should enter the game. Backed up to the 6, Wilson was incomplete on two straight passes.
On fourth-and-goal Hollister caught the underneath pass but was knocked down by Greenlaw. Replay confirmed Hollister hit the ground before the ball reached the goal line and San Francisco (13-3) had won.
KANSAS CITY 31, L.A. CHARGERS 21
Mecole Hardman returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown, Damien Williams took a handoff 84 yards for another score, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21.
The Chiefs (12-4) long ago clinched their fourth straight AFC West title, but they needed a win and an unlikely Dolphins victory over the Patriots to get a week off. And just as Williams punched into the end zone in the closing minutes for his second touchdown of the game, the Dolphins were scoring the go-ahead TD with 24 seconds left for their 27-24 upset in Foxborough, Mass.
GREEN BAY 23, DETROIT 20
Mason Crosby kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give the Green Bay Packers a 23-20 victory over the host Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Packers earned the No. 2 seed and will host a divisional-round game on Sunday, Jan. 12.
The Lions (3-12-1) lost their ninth straight game despite holding a 17-3 halftime lead.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers overcame a miserable first half to finish 27-of-55 passing for 323 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Aaron Jones rushed for 100 yards and Davante Adams caught seven passes for 93 yards.
MIAMI 27, NEW ENGLAND 24
Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Gesicki with just 24 seconds left in the game as the Miami Dolphins upset the host New England Patriots 27-24.
The Patriots (12-4), who started the season 8-0, could have clinched a first-round playoff bye with the win. Instead, their loss combined with Kansas City’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers dropped the Pats to the No. 3 seed -- and means New England must play in the wild-card round while the Chiefs get the bye.
The Patriots will host the No. 6 seed Tennessee Titans in the first round next weekend.
This will mark the first time since 2009 the Patriots did not get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Miami (5-11), which started this season 0-7, won at New England for the first time since 2008. The Dolphins entered this game as 16-point underdogs.
NEW ORLEANS 42, CAROLINA 10
The New Orleans Saints took care of business against the reeling Carolina Panthers and finished off a 13-3 regular season but still did not get a week of rest in the playoffs.
Drew Brees threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns, Alvin Kamara ran for two scores and the Saints handed the Panthers their eighth straight loss, 42-10 on Sunday.
But the runaway NFC South champions’ chances at home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs ended when Green Bay beat Detroit on a last-second field goal. Green Bay ended up No. 2 in the conference after the San Francisco victory
The Saints are therefore the No. 3 seed and will host the Minnesota Vikings in the wild-card round next weekend.
PHILADELPHIA 34, N.Y. GIANTS 17
Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the playoffs thanks to a group of players off the practice squad.
Boston Scott ran for three touchdowns in the second half and the injury-ravaged Eagles beat the New York Giants 34-17 to win the NFC East title.
Philadelphia hosts Seattle (11-5) in a wild-card game next Sunday.
DALLAS 47, WASHINGTON 16
Dak Prescott completed 23 of 33 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Michael Gallup, and the Dallas Cowboys rolled to a 47-16 win over the visiting Washington Redskins.
However, Dallas (8-8) missed the postseason for the seventh time in the past 10 years. The Cowboys needed to win, and for the Philadelphia Eagles to lose, to win the NFC East..
Ezekiel Elliott tallied two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, as the Cowboys posted their highest point total of the season. Elliott finished with 122 rushing yards, while Gallup had five catches for 98 yards.
TENNESSEE 35, HOUSTON 14
Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans ran their way into the playoffs, beating a Houston Texans team that rested several starters and setting up an intriguing first-round matchup with New England.
Henry rushed for a season-high 211 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ 35-14 victory, which gave them the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs. New England finished as the No. 3 seed.
The Texans beat the Titans two weeks ago to take control of the AFC South and locked up the division last week, allowing Houston to sit quarterback Deshaun Watson and other key players. Houston will be the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 seed Buffalo in the first round
BALTIMORE 28, PITTSBURGH 10
The Baltimore Ravens relied on a strong defensive performance to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-10 and finish the regular season riding a 12-game winning streak.
Baltimore already clinched the top seed in the AFC playoffs, so coach John Harbaugh placed seven starters on the inactive list — including quarterback Lamar Jackson, injured running back Mark Ingram (calf), guard Marshal Yanda and safety Earl Thomas.
Pittsburgh entered the game needing help to fulfil its quest to become only the seventh team since 1970 to reach the playoffs after an 0-3 start.
The easiest route for Pittsburgh to qualify was a victory over Baltimore combined with a Tennessee loss to Houston. The Titans, however, won 35-14 to earn the final AFC wild-card slot.
DENVER, 16, OAKLAND 15
Shelby Harris knocked down Derek Carr’s 2-point pass to Hunter Renfrow with 7 seconds left and the Denver Broncos put at end to the Raiders’ dim playoff hopes — and to Oakland’s run as an NFL city with a 16-15 win.
The Raiders (7-9) nearly made the Broncos (7-9) pay dearly for Garett Bolles’ latest penalty, a personal foul that pushed Brandon McManus way back for a 57-yard field-goal attempt, which sailed wide left, giving Oakland the ball at its 45-yard line with 1:41 remaining.
Carr hit Renfrow for the touchdown on second-and-goal from the 3 -- the first time the Raiders reached the end zone in five red-zone trips -- and Jon Gruden went for 2 instead of the tie.
The Raiders had an outside shot of making the playoffs for just the second time since 2002, but they needed several things to go right, starting with a win. That didn’t happen.
In other games with no playoff implications:
NEW YORK JETS 16, BUFFALO 6
Sam Darnold threw for 199 yards and the game’s only touchdown, leading the New York Jets to a 13-6 victory over the Buffalo Bills on a rainy afternoon in Orchard Park, N.Y.
The Jets finish their season 7-9. The Bills (10-6), who had the No. 5 seed locked up coming into the game, will play in next week’s AFC wild-card round against the No. 4 seed Houston Texans.
Buffalo backup quarterback Matt Barkley finished 18-for-35 for 232 yards and two interceptions in place of Josh Allen, who started the game but played just two possessions. The Bills rested a slew of their starters.
CHICAGO 21, MINNESOTA 19
Eddy Pineiro’s fourth field goal of the game for Chicago came from 22 yards with 10 seconds left, giving the Bears a 21-19 victory over Minnesota with the Vikings resting their regulars for the playoffs.
Pineiro, the latest attempt by the Bears (8-8) to solve their persistent kicking trouble, finished the season with 11 straight made field goals. Mitch Trubisky highlighted another unremarkable performance by hitting Riley Ridley for 34 yards on fourth-and-9 with 2:36 left from midfield to set up the winning kick.
The Vikings, who had already qualified for the playoffs, will play a wild-card round game next Sunday at New Orleans.
ATLANTA 28, TAMPA BAY 22
Deion Jones intercepted Jameis Winston on the first play of overtime and returned the ball 28 yards for a touchdown to give the Atlanta Falcons a 28-22 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Winston became the first Tampa Bay quarterback to pass for 5,000 yards in a season, but another non-playoff year ended on a sour note. The Falcons (7-9) tied the game with a field goal on the last play of regulation and won for the sixth time in eight games when Jones became the seventh opposing player to score on a pick-6 off Winston this season.
Matt Ryan completed 30 of 51 passes for 313 yards and one touchdown for the Falcons, who saved coach Dan Quinn’s job by rebounding from a 1-7 start to go 6-2 over the second half of the season. Atlanta will finish second in the NFC South despite posting a losing record for the second year in a row.
CINCINNATI 33, CLEVELAND 23
Joe Mixon rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns and Andy Dalton passed for 190 yards and a score to lift the host Cincinnati Bengals to a 33-23 victory against the Cleveland Browns in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Cincinnati (2-14), which has secured the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, finished in fourth place in the AFC North for the second straight season but avoided the first one-victory season in franchise history. The Bengals also finished 2-14 in 2002.
L.A. RAMS 31, ARIZONA 24
Jared Goff passed for 319 yards and three touchdowns as the Los Angeles Rams bid farewell to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a second time in their history with a 31-24 victory over the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
In a battle of teams already eliminated from playoff consideration, Tyler Higbee and Robert Woods caught fourth-quarter touchdown passes for the Rams (9-7), while Cooper Kupp also had TD reception. Malcolm Brown had a rushing touchdown for Los Angeles.
Kyler Murray passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinals saw their two-game winning streak come to an end. Murray participated in the final game of his rookie season despite a right hamstring injury that limited his mobility. He was replaced briefly in the fourth quarter by Brett Hundley.
Murray, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 draft, finished his debut season with 3,722 yards passing, 20 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. He did not have any rushing yards Sunday after entering with 544 on the season.
JACKSONVILLE 38, INDIANAPOLIS 20
Gardner Minshew threw three touchdown passes, two in the second half, as the Jacksonville Jaguars closed a disappointing season with a strong final game, defeating the visiting Indianapolis Colts 38-20 on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville (6-10) won for only the second time in its last eight games, avenging an earlier 20-point loss to AFC South rival Indianapolis by scoring the game’s final 25 points.
Both teams had been eliminated from playoff contention before the game began.