NFL: Chargers, Saints clinch final postseason spots

2013-12-29T18:27:00Z 2013-12-29T22:28:06Z NFL: Chargers, Saints clinch final postseason spotsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
December 29, 2013 6:27 pm  • 

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers must feel they’re living charmed lives these days.

How else to explain that everything they needed to have happen — and more — fell into place to allow them to sneak into the playoffs for the first time in four years?

“It feels like this season is meant to be special,” Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle said after another epic, heart-stopping win against the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24 in overtime on Sunday, gave the Chargers the AFC’s final postseason spot.

Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime to give San Diego its only lead of the day. The Chargers, who trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, then held the Chiefs on downs to win it after they got into San Diego territory.

“We didn’t play our best game, but teams that are playoff teams find a way to win when you don’t play your best and that’s what we did today,” quarterback Philip Rivers said after the Chargers (9-7) won their fourth straight and for the fifth time in six games.

They’ll play a wild-card game Sunday at AFC North champion Cincinnati, the last team to beat them, 17-10 at San Diego on Dec. 1.

Surprisingly, the Chargers trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter against a Chiefs team that already had clinched the AFC’s No. 5 seed and rested 20 of 22 starters.

Saints 42, Buccaneers 17: In New Orleans, Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and the Saints clinched a wild-card spot with a win over Tampa Bay.

The Saints, who will be the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, finished 8-0 in the Superdome this year, but won’t get to host another game in the postseason.

Bengals 34, Ravens 17: In Cincinnati, Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Bengals clinched the No. 3 spot in the AFC playoffs.

The Ravens (8-8) lost their last two games, denying them a chance to make the playoffs for a sixth straight season.

Jets 20, Dolphins 7: In Miami Gardens, Fla., the Dolphins were eliminated from the scramble for the AFC’s final wild-card berth by the Jets, who thrived in the role of spoilers against their archrivals.

Steelers 20, Browns 7: In Pittsburgh, Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown, but the Steelers (8-8) missed out on the playoffs when San Diego won later in the day.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions as the Steelers won their third straight to avoid the franchise’s first losing season since 2003.

Panthers 21, Falcons 20: In Atlanta, Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks and the Panthers clinched the NFC South. The Panthers (12-4) earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

Seahawks 27, Rams 9: In Seattle, Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seahawks clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Seattle (13-3) matched the franchise record for wins in a season and finally wrapped up the No. 1 seed after failing in two previous attempts.

Broncos 34, Raiders 14: In Oakland, Calif., Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs for Denver.

Patriots 34, Bills 20: In Foxborough, Mass., LeGarrette Blount ran for a career-high 189 yards and two touchdowns and had two long kickoff returns as the Patriots clinched a first-round bye in the AFC.

Colts 30, Jaguars 10: In Indianapolis, Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead with 19ƒ and kicker Adam Vinatieri joined the 2,000-point club. The AFC South champs will be the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and host Kansas City next weekend.

Titans 16, Texans 10: In Nashville, Tenn., Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans.

Giants 20, Redskins 6: In East Rutherford, N.J., New York’s Jerrel Jernigan caught a 24-yard TD pass and ran 49 yards for another score.

Vikings 14, Lions 13: In Minneapolis, rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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