NFL roundup: Dolphins pip Pats and Steelers to playoff spot as Bills honor Hamlin
- Dolphins beat Jets to seal final AFC playoff place
- Chicago Bears clinch No 1 overall pick in 2023 draft
- Eagles seal No 1 seeding in NFC playoffs
Jason Sanders kicked a go-ahead 50-yard field goal with 18 seconds left, helping the Miami Dolphins to their first playoff berth since 2016 after squeaking by the New York Jets 11-6 on Sunday.
The Dolphins (9-8) snapped a five-game losing streak and then had to wait a few minutes for Buffalo to defeat New England to make their postseason appearance official.
Miami will play at Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. The AFC East rivals split the season series with each winning at home.
Sanders’ kick came after the Dolphins were helped by a 15-yard horse-collar tackle penalty on Quincy Williams.
The Jets (7-10) ended the season with six straight losses, finishing a disappointing collapse for Robert Saleh’s squad. New York failed to score a touchdown in their final three games.
New England Patriots 23-35 Buffalo Bills
Nyheim Hines ignited an emotionally charged atmosphere celebrating injured Bills safety Damar Hamlin by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns, and Buffalo clinched the AFC’s second playoff seed The loss, coupled with Miami’s victory, eliminated the Patriots from the playoffs for the second time in three years, and just the fourth time in 23 seasons during Bill Belichick’s coaching tenure. With the game in hand, Bills players held up three fingers in honor of Hamlin’s number with the crowd chanting “Hamlin! Hamlin!” in honor of the safety who is recovering in a Cincinnati hospital after going into cardiac arrest on Monday.
Cleveland Browns 14-28 Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris ran for 84 yards and a touchdown and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns but were eliminated from the playoffs when Miami edged the Jets. The Steelers will have to settle for a 16th straight non-losing season under coach Mike Tomlin, fueled by a 7-2 finish. Pittsburgh’s ugly 2-6 start included an injury to star linebacker TJ Watt and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett’s ascension to the starting job. The Browns finished 7-10, including 3-3 with quarterback Deshaun Watson. This is the 17th time since Cleveland rejoined the NFL in 1999 that the Browns have lost at least 10 games.
New York Giants 16-22 Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts returned from a sprained right shoulder and threw for 229 yards under a conservative game plan in his first game in three weeks and the Philadelphia Eagles finally clinched the No 1 seed in the NFC, earning home field rights throughout the playoffs. Hurts was 20-of-35 passing and threw one interception. The Giants play next week at Minnesota.
Baltimore Ravens 16–27 Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow threw for a touchdown and Joe Mixon ran for another as the Cincinnati Bengals took advantage of four Baltimore turnovers to beat the Ravens and set up a rematch in the first round of the playoffs next week. The AFC North champion Bengals beat a Ravens team that rested some key players. Cincinnati avoided a coin flip to determine the site of their playoff game against Baltimore. But the Bengals’ chances at the No 2 seed in the AFC ended when Buffalo beat New England. Third-string quarterback Anthony Brown started for the Ravens. He threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Minnesota Vikings 29-13 Chicago Bears
Kirk Cousins threw for 225 yards and a touchdown in the first half and watched the rest of the way as the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings tuned up for the playoffs. The Bears, who held out star Justin Fields, set a franchise record with their 14th loss and extended one by dropping their 10th game in a row. With Houston winning at Indianapolis, Chicago get the No 1 pick in the draft for the first time since 1947.
Arizona Cardinals 13–38 San Francisco 49ers
Brock Purdy threw three touchdown passes for his sixth straight game with multiple TDs and the San Francisco 49ers clinched the No 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Purdy overcame two sacks from JJ Watt in the final game of Watt’s stellar career. The Cardinals ended the season with seven straight losses to tie a franchise record for losses in a season.
Houston Texans 32–31 Indianapolis Colts
Davis Mills threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Akins on fourth down with 50 seconds left then connected with Akins on the two-point conversion to give Houston a 32-31 victory at Indianapolis – costing the Texans the first pick in April’s draft.
Houston (3-13-1) won twice in the final three weeks to finish second to the Chicago Bears in draft positioning. Indy (4-12-1) lost their seventh straight under interim coach Jeff Saturday, assuring themselves of a top-five draft selection.
Houston’s move to No 2 in the draft may not make a huge difference as the Bears are not in the market for a quarterback, a position the Texans are likely to pursue.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-30 Atlanta Falcons
Rookie Desmond Ridder’s first two career touchdown passes powered the Atlanta Falcons to victory over the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Tom Brady added to his imposing list of records. Brady broke his own NFL record for most completions in a season before leaving the game late in the first half. Brady and Tampa Bay’s other healthy regulars started even though the Buccaneers clinched the NFC South title last week, and were locked in as the NFC’s No 4 seed in the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers 10-7 New Orleans Saints
Eddy Pineiro kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired, and the Carolina Panthers closed out their season with an opportunistic victory. The Saints outgained Carolina 304 yards to 203, but the game remained tight until the end because of New Orleans’ inability to score on multiple drives inside the Panthers 40-yard line.