Tue, Jan 03, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Packers and Lions earn playoff berths

STILL IN CONTENTION:The Lions lost the division crown to Green Bay 31-24, but they earned a post-season spot thanks to the Redskins’ 19-10 loss to the Giants

AFP, WASHINGTON

Devin Taylor of the Detroit Lions, right, chases down Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in their NFL game in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes as the Green Bay Packers downed the Detroit Lions 31-24 on Sunday, claiming the National Football Conference North title with their sixth consecutive victory.

A tension-packed final day of the regular season saw the Packers and the Lions capture the last playoff berths, while the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs won to secure first-round playoff byes.

Rodgers threw for 300 yards and touchdown passes of seven yards to Aaron Ripkowski, three and nine yards to Davante Adams, and 10 yards to Geronimo Allen. With 40 season touchdown passes, Rodgers is the first Packer to lead the NFL in that area since Brett Favre in 2003 as Green Bay reached the playoffs for an eighth straight year.

“We never broke,” Rodgers said. “We could have fractured at some point, but we stuck together. Every game we came together with great focus. I’m really proud of these guys.”

The Lions failed to win their first division crown since 1993, but took a wild card post-season berth thanks to Washington’s earlier 19-10 loss to the New York Giants.

The Kansas City Chiefs took the American Football Conference West crown and the bye with a 37-27 victory in what might have been the final NFL game in San Diego.

In the National Conference, the Atlanta Falcons downed the New Orleans Saints 38-32 to join the Dallas Cowboys with a first-round bye. The Packers host the Giants on Sunday, while the Lions visit the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday in playoff openers.

In the American Conference, the Chiefs joined the New England Patriots with a first-round bye, while the Miami Dolphins visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and the Oakland Raiders visit the Houston Texans on Saturday.

In Washington, Robbie Gould’s 40-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 12 seconds remaining gave the Giants a 13-10 lead.

The Redskins’ final rugby-style desperation play saw New York’s Trevin Wade return a lateral on the bounce for a last-play Giants touchdown.

“Just like that your season’s over,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “No question it’s frustrating.”

The Redskins lost four of their final six games to miss out on back-to-back playoff trips for the first time since 1992.

Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes as the Chiefs claimed their first division crown since 2010.

“It was pretty sweet,” Smith said. “Pretty awesome. To win the division is special as well.”

Some San Diego fans carried protest signs against Chargers ownership, which could move the club to Los Angeles this month after area voters rejected spending public money for a new stadium.

New England’s Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Patriots over Miami 35-14 to seal home-field advantage.

Brady, seeking a fifth Super Bowl crown at 39, completed 25 of 33 passes as New England finished an NFL-best 14-2, needing only two home playoff wins to reach next month’s championship game in Houston.

The Dolphins, who have not won a playoff game since 2000, make their first playoff appearance since 2008 in Pittsburgh, where the host Steelers downed Cleveland 27-24 in overtime on Landry Jones’ third touchdown pass, a 26-yarder to Cobi Hamilton.

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