Tue, Dec 25, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Patriots, Cowboys grab playoff berths

SEAHAWKS ALSO ADVANCE:Seattle captured an NFC wild-card playoff berth with a 38-31 victory over Kansas City after three touchdown passes from Russell Wilson

AFP, WASHINGTON

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, center, runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills in their NFL game at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Sunday.

Photo: David Butler II-USA TODAY

New England and Dallas on Sunday secured NFL playoff berths with home triumphs, while New Orleans claimed a post-season home-field edge and reigning champions Philadelphia stayed in the title chase.

The Cowboys joined the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears in the National Conference playoffs, while the Patriots and Houston Texans joined the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers in the American Conference playoffs, leaving four playoff spots up for grabs.

New England became the first team in NFL history to reach the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons as they beat the Buffalo Bills 24-12, but Tom Brady threw for only 126 yards and a touchdown, sparking injury fears for the 41-year-old quarterback, a five-time Super Bowl winner.

“I feel great. I feel 100 percent. I’m not injured,” Brady said. “We didn’t have our best passing day, but we won, so I think everybody is feeling pretty good.”

The Patriots captured their 10th consecutive AFC East division title and 16th in 18 seasons.

Touchdown runs by James White and Sony Michel gave the Patriots a 14-0 halftime lead and Brady tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman to thwart a Bills rally as New England (10-5) improved to 7-0 at home this season.

In Dallas, Texas, Dak Prescott threw for one touchdown and ran for another, while Jaylon Smith returned a fumble 69 yards for a touchdown to power the Cowboys over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-20 and clinch a third NFC East crown for Dallas in five seasons.

Prescott connected on 20 of 25 passes for 161 yards, while Ezekiel Elliott ran 18 times for 85 yards as the Cowboys improved to 9-6.

“We have a very tough defense that gives offenses hell every week. We’re a tough, gritty offense — I think the sky is the limit for us,” Elliott said.

Philadelphia’s Nick Foles threw for a club-record 471 yards and four touchdowns to lift the Eagles over visiting Houston 32-30 to sustain their hopes of becoming the first back-to-back Super Bowl winner since New England in 2004 and 2005.

Houston’s DeShaun Watson ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, the last of them a 35-yarder to Vyncint Smith with 2 minutes, 4 seconds remaining to put the Texans ahead.

The Eagles answered by marching 72 yards in 11 plays for Jake Elliott to kick a 35-yard field goal on the final play to give Philadelphia the victory.

Philadelphia (8-7) remained just behind Minnesota (8-6 with one draw) in the NFC wild-card playoff fight after the Vikings won 27-9 against the Detroit Lions.

Seattle (8-6) captured an NFC wild-card playoff berth with a 38-31 victory over Kansas City.

The Seahawks are perhaps the type of opponent no one would like to see in the post-season.

“You hear it. You hear the noise. You hear the 4-12 predictions, the 5-11 and that stuff motivates you,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. “We kept believing.”

Seattle clinched their spot thanks to three touchdown passes from Russell Wilson and a pair of touchdown runs by Chris Carson.

Wilson got the better of Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and helped lead Seattle back to the post-season after missing the playoffs a year ago.

Seattle have now made the playoffs in seven of the nine seasons with Pete Carroll in charge, and six of seven with Wilson at quarterback.

New Orleans kept the NFL’s best record at 13-2, but only after a 31-28 nailbiter over visiting Pittsburgh that was not sealed until Saints linebacker Denario Davis recovered a fumble in the final seconds to kill the final Steelers’ drive.

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