Rams grab NFC West division crown, Pats roll and Packers fade
‘That’s the first step. We’re happy, but we have to keep rolling’
The Los Angeles Rams became the first team to move into the NFL playoffs on Sunday as the Green Bay Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy in the wake of a shock loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Week 13 brought another milestone day for superstar New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who matched Peyton Manning’s all-time record for passing touchdowns with his 579th in a 24-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
It was just one memorable mark on the day for five-time Super Bowl champion Brady, who also, finally, surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for his career in his 265th NFL game. The Rams, coming off a big week, got off to a slow start in Detroit.
Quarterback Jared Goff made just 17 of 33 passes for 207 yards and an eight-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods late in the first half that broke a 3-3 tie.
It was running back Todd Gurley who put the Rams over the top, running for 132 yards and two touchdowns and also catching three passes for 33 yards.
Rams defender Aaron Donald helped clinch the win when he forced a fumble from Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Samson Ebukan recovered the ball at the Detroit 24-yard-line and Gurley raced 13 yards for a touchdown three plays later to put the Rams up 23-13.
The victory pushed the Rams to 11-1, moving them a step closer to home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. They are one game ahead of New Orleans for the top seed in the conference after the Saints lost to the Dallas Cowboys in an upset on Thursday. It’s the first time since 1979 that the Rams have won back-to-back division titles. “That’s the first step,” Donald said. “We’re happy, but we have to keep rolling.”
The Kansas City Chiefs continued their playoff push with a 40-33 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdown passes, joining Manning and Brady as the only quarterbacks to reach the 40 touchdown mark through 12 games in a season. The Chiefs didn’t seem to miss star running back Kareem Hunt, who was released on Friday after celebrity news site TMZ released video of a February incident that showed him shoving and kicking a woman. Spencer Ware started
in place of Hunt and scored on a fourthand-goal play from the one yard line in the third quarter. “The mindset of this team is whenever you get your opportunity, you make the most of it,” Mahomes said.
“I think every single game, someone else steps up. We kept our mind on that and just playing football, a game we love.”
Despite their 10th victory of the season, the Chiefs were unable to punch their playoff ticket thanks to victories for the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans.
The Dolphins kept their AFC postseason hopes alive with a 21-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills and the AFC Southleading Texans beat the Cleveland Browns 29-13 for their ninth straight victory.
The Los Angeles Chargers rallied from a 27-3 deficit to beat the Steelers 33-30 in Pittsburgh. Michael Badgley kicked the game-winning 29-yard field goal with no time remaining. He actually made good on his third try after the Steelers were twice whistled for off-side – as he missed a 39yard attempt and had a 34-yard effort blocked. The Carolina Panthers’ playoff hopes took a hit with a 24-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw four interceptions and veteran tight end Greg Olsen said after the game he would miss the rest of the season after reinjuring his right foot.The situation got bleaker in Green Bay, too, as the 3-9 Cardinals stunned the Packers, 20-17, at Lambeau Field.
Zane Gonzalez kicked a 44-yard field goal with 1:41 remaining that stood as the game-winner when Green Bay’s Mason Crosby missed a 49-yarder as time expired. Hours later, the Packers announced that McCarthy, who guided the team to the Super Bowl crown in the 2010 season, had been fired in his 13th season with the club.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley runs for a touchdown during the second-half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.