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49ers clinch playoff berth, 41-34 over Patriots

/ 02:25 PM December 17, 2012

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown, right, breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch (84) in the second quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts Sunday. AP

FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — The San Francisco 49ers earned a playoff berth by withstanding a stunning comeback by New England from a 28-point deficit to beat the Patriots 41-34 on Sunday night in the rain.

Michael Crabtree took a short pass from Colin Kaepernick and sped around cornerback Kyle Arrington for a 38-yard touchdown with 6:25 to go, then David Akers made a 28-yard field goal to clinch it.

San Francisco has sealed at least a wild-card spot and plays at Seattle next week with a chance to win the National Football Conference West. A loss would bring the division race down to the final weekend.


The Green Bay Packers clinched their second straight NFC North title with a 21-13 win over archrival the Chicago Bears.

James Jones caught all three touchdown passes thrown by Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has now won six straight in the NFL’s oldest — and fiercest — rivalry.

The Packers (10-4) have won 12 straight against NFC North opponents, the longest streak in the NFL.

The Houston Texans beat the Indiana Colts 29-17 to become the American Football Conference South champions for the second straight year.

Andre Johnson had 151 yards receiving and a touchdown, Bryan Braman scored on a blocked punt and Shayne Graham kicked five field goals.

Washington rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for injured star Robert Griffin III as the Redskins beat the Cleveland Browns 38-21 for their fifth straight win.

Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented and multi-dimensional RG3, who sat out with a sprained knee.

Adrian Peterson ran for a season-best 212 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown as the Minnesota Vikings downed the St. Louis Rams 36-22.


Peterson has 1,812 yards rushing, leaving him 294 short of breaking the NFL’s single-season record of 2,105 by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984.

At Atlanta, Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes as the Falcons trounced the Giants 34-0 to hand the Giants their first regular-season shutout since 1996.

Julio Jones caught a couple of scoring throws from Ryan, who broke his own franchise records for completions and passing yards in a season. He finished 23 of 28 for 270 yards. The Falcons have already clinched the NFC South.

Denver won its ninth straight game 34-17 over the Baltimore Ravens after Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a momentum-turning touchdown.

Peyton Manning threw for 204 yards and a score in his ninth consecutive win against Baltimore, the first with the Broncos.

Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns and threw for another to lead the Seahawks to a comprehensive 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr intercepted a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to set up Dan Bailey’s 21-yard field goal in overtime and give the Cowboys a 27-24 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Arizona Cardinals ended a nine-game losing streak as Greg Toler returned an interception 102 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown in a 31-10 win over the Detroit Lions.

Carolina won consecutive games for the first time since last December as the Panthers beat the San Diego Chargers 31-7, and in New Orleans Drew Brees passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns as the Saints posted their first shutout since 1995 with a 41-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sebastian Janikowski kicked five field goals the Oakland Raiders’ 15-0 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Miami Dolphins beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-3.

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