The Redskins reached the postseason Sunday with a 27-6 victory over the archrival Dallas Cowboys, capping an emotional renaissance to a season that appeared lost less than a month ago. Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, seemingly on the ropes after a four-game losing streak, received warm embraces from players and assistants as the final seconds ticked away.
The Redskins (9-7) will travel to Seattle on Saturday, a rematch of a 2005 division playoff won 20-10 by the Seahawks.
Washington will be riding a four-game winning streak, the longest currently in the NFC. That is a remarkable turnaround for a team that stayed afloat with close, ugly victories before losing four straight, the last coming days after the shooting death of safety Sean Taylor.
The Redskins are 4-0 since Taylor's funeral, and all the victories were engineered by backup quarterback Todd Collins after Jason Campbell dislocated a kneecap.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Broncos 22, Vikings 19, OT
DENVER -- Jason Elam kicked a 30-yard field goal less than a minute into overtime.
The Vikings (8-8) needed a win and a Washington loss to top-seeded Dallas to sneak into the playoffs, but neither the Redskins nor the Broncos (7-9) obliged.
Minnesota scored 16 points in the final 5:18 to erase a 19-3 deficit.
With the playoffs out of his reach, Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson settled for the NFC rushing title. He gained 36 yards on 11 carries. Peterson finished with 1,341 yards and edged Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook by 8 yards.
Chargers 30, Raiders 17
OAKLAND, Calif. -- LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 56 yards to win his second straight rushing title, Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes, and the Chargers spoiled JaMarcus Russell's first career start.
By ending the season with six straight wins, the Chargers (11-5) beat out Pittsburgh for the No. 3 seed.
Tomlinson was limited to 15 carries against the Raiders (4-12). That was enough for L.T. to finish the season with 1,474 yards rushing, 133 ahead of Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson.
Ravens 27, Steelers 21
BALTIMORE -- The Steelers were not interested in gaining the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. Their primary objective against the Ravens was merely to keep several key starters healthy.
So Musa Smith ran for 83 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start, helping the Ravens (5-11) earn their first victory since Oct. 14 and end a nine-game losing streak.
The Steelers (10-6) had already clinched the AFC North.
Browns 20, 49ers 7
CLEVELAND -- Joshua Cribbs returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, Jamal Lewis rushed for 128 yards and rookie quarterback Brady Quinn made his long-awaited NFL debut. Hours later they saw their playoff hopes ended when the Tennessee Titans locked up the final wild card spot with a 16-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Derek Anderson threw a TD pass to Braylon Edwards and Phil Dawson kicked two field goals as the Browns finished 7-1 at home for the first time in club history. Cleveland's 10 wins are the most since its expansion rebirth. The Browns last posted double-digit wins in 1994 (11).
Bears 33, Saints 25
CHICAGO -- Devin Hester sprinted 64 yards for a TD with a punt return -- his NFL-record sixth kick runback for a score this season to break his own mark set a year ago -- and also caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton.
When the teams met 11 months ago for the NFC championship on the same field, the Bears earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a 39-14 victory. Now they and the Saints (7-9) are both going home before the playoffs even start.
Packers 34, Lions 13
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre extended his quarterback-record consecutive starts streak to 253 games, but didn't keep his helmet strapped on for very long. Favre led the Packers (13-3) to touchdowns on their first three possessions before handing the ball to backup Craig Nall.
The Lions delivered an uninspired performance in going from 6-2 to 7-9.
Falcons 44, Seahawks 41
ATLANTA -- Chris Redman set a career high with four touchdown passes, including two to Alge Crumpler, and the Falcons rode three fourth-quarter touchdowns to victory.
The Falcons (4-12) ended a six-game losing streak. Seattle (10-6) finished as the NFC West champion.
Texans 42, Jaguars 28
HOUSTON -- Andre' Davis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns against the Jaguars (11-5), who rested many starters with their playoff spot secure. The victory gives the Texans (8-8) a .500 finish for the first time in their six-year history, and their 42 points are a team record.
Panthers 31, Bucs 23
TAMPA, Fla. -- DeAngelo Williams rushed for 121 yards and two second-half touchdowns, lifting the Panthers (7-9) with the retiring 44-year-old Vinnie Testaverde taking the last snap in the same city where he began his NFL career in 1987. Testaverde was the first pick in the 1987 draft by the Bucs (9-7).
Bengals 38, Dolphins 25
MIAMI -- Miami allowed 316 yards passing by Carson Palmer, gave up a touchdown on a fumble return and staggered to the end of the worst season in franchise history. The Dolphins became the eighth team to finish 1-15.
Palmer threw for three scores to help the Bengals finish 7-9.
Eagles 17, Bills 9
PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles (8-8) finished at .500 on the strength of a three-game winning streak. Had Donovan McNabb performed at the start of the season as he did at the end, perhaps his future wouldn't be the topic of endless speculation.
Donovan McNabb was 29-of-41for 345 yards, one TD and one interception.
Brian Westbrook set Eagles records for catches in a season (90) and total yards from scrimmage (2,104).
The Bills (7-9) failed in their bid for a .500 record and missed the playoffs for an eighth straight year.
Jets 13, Chiefs 10, OT
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mike Nugent kicked a 43-yard field goal, after having a 33-yarder negated by a penalty, 5:13 into the extra period.
Nugent made the 33-yarder that appeared to win it, but the Jets (4-12) were called for holding.
The loss was the ninth straight for the Chiefs (4-12).