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’

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

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.

PIC­TURE: USA TO­DAY Sports

Los An­ge­les Rams run­ning back Todd Gur­ley runs for a touch­down dur­ing the sec­ond-half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

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