Matt Moore and the Carolina Panthers turned the New York Giants' farewell to Giants Stadium into one of their ugliest moments in franchise history.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Matt Moore and the Carolina Panthers turned the New York Giants' farewell to Giants Stadium into one of their ugliest moments in franchise history.
Playing in front of Lawrence Taylor — possibly their greatest player — and knowing they still had a shot at a fifth straight playoff berth, the Giants (8-7) embarrassed themselves against the Panthers, a team with nothing at stake. Moore threw three touchdown passes, Jonathan Stewart rushed for a career-best 206 yards and the Panthers (7-8) shredded New York's defense with scores on six of their first seven possessions in a 41-9 victory before a disgusted final sellout crowd Sunday.
The Giants' postseason chances are microscopic. After stating the season 5-0, New York would have to beat Minnesota next week and hope Dallas lost its final two games, starting on Sunday night against Washington.
Can you say wishful thinking? Giants fans are skeptical: After booing their defense most of the day, many left the stadium well before the game ended.
Stewart ran for a 29-yard touchdown and set up another score by Brad Hoover with a long run. The Panthers forced four turnovers in their third win in four games for coach John Fox, whose future with the team remains cloudy.
Patriots 35, Jaguars 7
At Foxborough, Mass, Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, three to Randy Moss, and the young defense put together its third straight solid game, clinching the AFC East and further dimming the Jaguars' slim postseason chances.
For the Patriots (10-5), it was another encouraging outing in what had been an inconsistent season. They took the division after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002 despite an 11-5 record. And they did it in a one-sided manner, just like most of their games in the 2007 season when they lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants 17-14 on a last-minute touchdown.
Bengals 17, Chiefs 10
At Cincinnati, Carson Palmer's touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco completed a 98-yard drive in the closing minutes, sending Cincinnati to the AFC North championship at the end of a rough week.
The Bengals (10-5) moved into the playoffs for only the second time in the past 19 years after dealing with the death of receiver Chris Henry. The teary practices and locker-room grief seemed to show against the Chiefs (3-12), who stayed close in a mistake-filled game.
Packers 48, Seahawks 10
At Green Bay, Wis., the Packers are going back to the playoffs, forcing four interceptions by Matt Hasselbeck, then getting a big boost from the Carolina Panthers.
Sunday's victory, combined with the New York Giants' blowout loss to Carolina, put the Packers (10-5) back in the postseason after going 6-10 last season and getting off to a disappointing 4-4 start this year.
Eagles 30, Broncos 27
Philadelphia, David Akers kicked a 28-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining, lifting the Eagles.
Kyle Orton rallied the Broncos from a 27-10 deficit in the third quarter, but Donovan McNabb led the Eagles on a winning drive in the final minutes.
Rookie wide receiver Jeremy Maclin set up Akers' kick with an outstanding 27-yard catch along the sideline to the Broncos 13. The catch initially was ruled incomplete, but it was overturned after replays showed Maclin kept both feet in bounds while making a diving reception.
Steelers 23, Ravens 20
Pittsburgh, Jeff Reed's 38-yard field goal put Pittsburgh ahead with 5:25 remaining and the Steelers finally managed to hold a fourth-quarter lead to remain in playoff contention and further jumble the AFC postseason race.
The Steelers (8-7), their season seemingly ended by a late-season five-game losing streak, won their second in a row. They go into the final weekend with a chance to sneak into the playoffs if they win at Miami and get some help.
Buccaneers 20, Saints 17
At New Orleans, Carnell Williams had 129 yards rushing and Connor Barth kicked a 47-yard field goal in overtime, lifting the Buccaneers to a stunning victory that prevented New Orleans from securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
New Orleans was heavily favored, but instead dropped a second straight game at home after opening the season 13-0.
Texans 27, Dolphins 20
At Miami, Houston raced to an early 27-point lead Sunday, then held on to remain in the AFC playoff scramble.
The Texans (8-7) scored on their first five possessions and won despite being outscored 20-0 in the final 31 minutes. Houston kept alive its slim hopes of making the playoffs for the first time, while defending AFC East champion Miami (7-8) was all but eliminated.
Cardinals 31, Rams 10
At Glendale, Ariz., Kurt Warner threw for 196 of his 313 yards in the second quarter and the Cardinals beat the Rams for the seventh time in a row.
The Cardinals (10-5) reached 10 regular-season wins for the first time since 1976, 12 years before the franchise moved from St. Louis to Arizona.
49ers 20, Lions 6
At San Francisco, Frank Gore scored on a 1-yard run and topped the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth straight year. Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis and the Niners (7-8) forced six turnovers to close out the home season with a victory.
Falcons 31, Bills 3
At Atlanta, Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes, including a 42-yarder to Roddy White on Atlanta's first play from scrimmage. The victory left the Falcons (8-7) in position to post back-to-back winning records for the first time in franchise history. The Falcons, in their 44th season and eliminated from the playoff chase last week, close at Tampa Bay.
Browns 23, Raiders 9
At Cleveland, Jerome Harrison had 148 yards rushing and the Browns won their third straight, extending a surprising streak that Eric Mangini can use to strengthen his case to Mike Holmgren that he deserves to remain Cleveland's coach.
With consecutive wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Oakland, the Browns (4-11) have their first three-game winning streak since 2007 and only their third since 1999. Holmgren, expected to be introduced as Cleveland's team president this week, may have to factor Cleveland's late-season surge into whether he retains Mangini, once given little chance of staying after a 1-11 start.
The Browns have shown improvement. They've cut down on turnovers, penalties, showed imagination on offense and had backups emerge as playmakers — none more so than Harrison, who followed a 286-yard game last week by scoring the second time he touched the ball and setting a team record with 39 carries.
The Raiders (5-10) were reckless. They committed 13 penalties for 126 yards, had two players ejected and failed for the fifth time this season to win two straight games.