Titans wrap up AFC South title
Monday, December 23, 2002
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Tennessee Titans clinched the AFC South by beating Jacksonville 28-10 Sunday, becoming the first AFC team to earn a playoff berth.
The Titans (10-5) were helped when the New York Giants moved ahead of New Orleans for the final NFC wild-card spot by beating Indianapolis 44-27, while the Saints lost in Cincinnati 20-13. The Colts' loss handed Tennessee the division crown.
Oakland also won its division, the AFC West, when it beat Denver 28-16.
Otherwise, the playoff picture remained muddled in the next-to-last week of the season, particularly in the AFC. Miami's 20-17 loss in Minnesota on Saturday left 14 of the 16 AFC teams technically alive for the playoffs entering Sunday's games.
Jacksonville (6-9) was eliminated by its loss to the Titans, and Buffalo (7-8) was knocked out by losing in Green Bay on Sunday, leaving 12 teams alive -- some of them barely.
In the NFC, Philadelphia (12-3), which beat Dallas 27-3 Saturday to stay ahead for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, Green Bay (12-3), Tampa Bay (11-3) and San Francisco (10-5) all have clinched berths. The 49ers beat Arizona 17-14 Saturday.
Atlanta (9-5-1), the Giants (9-6) and New Orleans (9-6) are competing for the two wild-card spots, in that order.
Eddie George ran for two scores and Peter Sirmon returned an interception for a touchdown for Tennessee.
The Jaguars (6-9) were guaranteed their third straight losing season, and coach Tom Coughlin was booed frequently before a paltry crowd of 51,033 in the last home game of the season.
Giants 44, Colts 27
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kerry Collins threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns, three to Amani Toomer, as the Giants (9-6) won their third straight. If the Giants beat Philadelphia next Saturday, they get a wild-card spot.
Peyton Manning was 30-of-46 for 365 yards for Indianapolis (9-6), which almost certainly must win next week against Jacksonville to secure a wild-card spot. Manning became the first passer in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
The Giants led 10-3 at the half, then scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half.
Raiders 28, Broncos 16
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Rich Gannon set the NFL single-season record for completions and passed for 201 yards as the Raiders (10-5) beat the Broncos (8-7) and surged into the playoffs, clinching their third straight division title.
Gannon broke Warren Moon's 11-year-old record for completions in the second quarter on a 5-yard pass to Charlie Garner. His 405th completion surpassed the mark set in 1991 by Moon, who was at the game as a radio commentator. Gannon has 411 completions this season.
Falcons 36, Lions 15
ATLANTA -- Quentin McCord, signed off the practice squad earlier this season, caught seven passes for 182 yards and scored the first touchdown of his career as Atlanta (9-5-1) beat Detroit (3-12) and moved to the front of the three-team battle for two NFC wild-card spots.
Michael Vick had a career-high 338 yards passing, even though he didn't look sharp much of the game. The Falcons can make the postseason for the first time since 1998 with a victory at Cleveland next Sunday.
Packers 10, Bills 0
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Vonnie Holliday sacked Drew Bledsoe five times, forcing fumbles on three, as Green Bay (12-3) eliminated Buffalo (7-8) from the playoffs.
Holliday's first forced fumble led to Green Bay's only touchdown and his last ended Buffalo's hopes with 1:13 left.
The Packers are the only NFL team to win all their home games this season, but they'll need losses by Philadelphia and Tampa Bay to get anything more than a first-round playoff game at Lambeau Field, where they've never lost in the postseason.
Chiefs 24, Chargers 22
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Michael Husted, who became Kansas City's placekicker this week when Morten Andersen went on injured reserve, kicked a 38-yard field goal with 1:08 left as the Chiefs (8-7) beat the Chargers (8-7).
Playing without star running back Priest Holmes, the Chiefs clinched their first non-losing season in three years.
Bengals 20, Saints 13
CINCINNATI -- Nick Luchey's 3-yard touchdown run with 1:46 to play lifted Cincinnati (2-13) past New Orleans (9-6) and damaging the Saints' playoff hopes.
Jets 30, Patriots 17
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes as the Jets (8-7) beat the Patriots (8-7) to avoid playoff elimination and improved to 7-4 since he became the starter.
Browns 14, Ravens 13
BALTIMORE -- Tim Couch capped a 92-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Mark Campbell with 29 seconds left, and Phil Dawson's conversion gave Cleveland (8-7) the victory over Baltimore (7-8).
Redskins 26, Texans 10
LANDOVER, Md. -- Patrick Ramsey threw two touchdown passes as the Redskins (6-9) broke a three-game losing streak by beating the Texans (4-11).
Panthers 24, Bears 14
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina, 0-8 at home during last year's 1-15 season, improved to .500 at Ericsson Stadium by turning a rash of Chicago fumbles into a victory. The Panthers are 6-9 and the Bears 4-11.
-- From wire reports