Buccaneers, Bills and Saints stay alive in NFL playoff race
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recorded a surprise win over the Seattle Seahawks thanks to a dominant defensive effort in the NFL.
Tampa defenders sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson six times and intercepted him twice in a 14-5 victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Tampa Bay (6-5) remained just a game back of the Atlanta Falcons (7-4) in the NFC South.
The Buccaneers are also just half a game back of Washington (6-4-1) for the final wild-card spot in the NFC.
The Falcons dealt a blow to Arizona's playoff chances with a 38-19 win over the Cardinals at the Georgia Dome.
The Seahawks (7-3-1) still have a comfortable lead in the NFC West with every other team in the division also losing. The Cardinals (4-6-1) lost in Atlanta while the Los Angeles Rams (4-7) were clobbered by the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers lost their 10th straight with a 31-24 defeat to the Miami Dolphins.
The defending NFC champions appear done after the Carolina Panthers fell to 4-7 with Sunday's 35-32 loss at the Oakland Raiders.
The Saints (5-6) also stayed alive in the NFC playoff hunt with their dominant 49-21 victory at the Superdome.
The Dolphins and Bills helped themselves in the AFC. Miami held off a final charge by the 49ers to move to 7-4 and into a tie with the Denver Broncos for the sixth spot in the AFC. Sunday's 30-27 overtime win over the Broncos pushed the Kansas City Chiefs to within a game of the Raiders (9-2) in the AFC West and securely into the top wild-card slot.
Buffalo kept their postseason dreams alive thanks to a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Justin Hunter to lift the Bills to a 28-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9). The San Diego Chargers (5-6) also stayed in the hunt thanks to their 21-13 win over the struggling Houston Texans (6-5), who still lead the AFC South.
Behind the Dolphins, the AFC is a jumbled mess as the Bills, Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans all have six wins. The Steelers (6-5) beat the Indianapolis Colts (5-6) on Thursday while the Titans (6-6) evened their record with a 27-21 win over the Chicago Bears (2-9) on Sunday. The Ravens stayed tied with the Steelers atop the AFC North with a 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1).
The New England Patriots overcame the New York Jets 22-17 and the Giants claimed a 27-13 win over the Cleveland Browns.
FITZ AN AGELESS WONDER
Larry Fitzgerald still has the best hands in the business, snaring a one-handed grab to set up Arizona's opening score in the loss to the Falcons.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had a big game in New York's win over Cleveland. He had three sacks with a fumble and a 43-yard return for a touchdown.
The Saints just toyed with the Rams, putting an exclamation point on the win with a 50-yard pass from wideout Willie Snead to running back Tim Hightower.
MACK STANDS OUT
Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack is making a pretty strong case for Defensive Player of the Year. He had six tackles and a game-clinching sack against the Panthers. He also became the first Raiders defensive lineman since 1996 to have a pick-six, with a six-yard interception return in the second quarter of Oakland's victory.
The Buccaneers were led by receiver Mike Evans, who finished with eight catches for 104 yards and both of the game's touchdowns.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw his first career touchdown pass with a 24-yard pass to Tavon Austin to cap the Rams' opening drive in New Orleans. Goff threw three touchdowns against the Saints, but the Rams defense got blasted.
BRADY TIED AT TOP
Tom Brady notched his 200th career victory Sunday with a comeback over the Jets at MetLife Stadium. He joins Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks with 200 career victories. Brady threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns in the win as he became just the fifth quarterback in NFL history with at least 60,000 passing yards.
Fitzgerald finished Sunday's loss to the Falcons with four catches for 53 yards. He now has 1,096 career receptions to pass Raiders Hall of Famer Tim Brown (1,094) for fifth all-time. Next on the list is Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer Cris Carter (1,101) and Colts Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (1,102). Fitzgerald will eventually join them in Canton.
WINNING IS A BREES
Brees on Snead's touchdown toss to Hightower: "There's an old adage, let the quarterbacks throw, let the throwers throw and the catchers catch."
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs on Justin Tucker's performance: "He's gonna love this, but we've got the best kicker in the league."
PLAYOFFS OR BUST
There is still a lot to be decided over the next five weeks as only the Dallas Cowboys (10-1), New England Patriots (9-2), Raiders and Seahawks appear to be postseason locks.
The winless Cleveland Browns, who fell to 0-12 with Sunday's loss to the Giants, and the 49ers (1-10) are the only teams already eliminated from playoff contention.