Faced with one last chance to make the playoffs, the Chicago Bears blew it.
Andre Johnson had two touchdowns and the Houston Texans got a 31-24 win over the Bears on Sunday to knock them out of the playoff picture.
The Bears (9-7) needed a win to keep any postseason hopes alive.
The Vikings beat the Giants to take the NFC North title; Chicago could have still made the wild-card spot, but needed a victory combined with losses or ties by Dallas and Tampa Bay.
“Our team failed today,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Overall our team didn’t play well enough ... this year to accomplish our goals. It’s kind of as simple as that.”
Long out of the playoff picture, the Texans were determined to win this one to finish with their second straight 8-8 record. They were desperate for a big finale after an embarrassing loss to Oakland last week.
“Our whole thing was to ruin their season,” Texans defensive end Mario Williams said.
DOLPHINS 24, JETS 17
At East Rutherford, New Jersey, Chad Pennington walked off the field where he spent his first eight NFL seasons, surrounded by cameras and jubilant teammates after leading the Dolphins to an improbable AFC East title.
VIKINGS 20, GIANTS 19
At Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ryan Longwell’s 50-yard field goal lifted the Vikings to the National Football Conference North title for their first postseason appearance in four years.
PANTHERS 33, SAINTS 31
At New Orleans, John Kasay’s 42-yard field goal with a second left locked up the NFC South title and the No. 2 seed in the conference for the Panthers.
FALCONS 31, RAMS 27
At Atlanta, Jerious Norwood ran for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 45-yard run with 3:41 left, as the Falcons held off the Rams to clinch the No. 5 seed in the NFC.
EAGLES 44, COWBOYS 6
At Philadelphia, the Eagles overcame daunting odds to capture an NFC wild-card spot with a dominating victory over Dallas.
In other games, it was:
• Ravens 27, Jaguars 7
• Raiders 31, Buccaneers 24
• Patriots 13, Bills 0
• Colts 23, Titans 0
• Bengals 16, Chiefs 6