Seahawks hold off Washington, clinch NFL playoff berth
The Seattle Seahawks punched their NFL playoff ticket on Sunday, rushing for 181 yards and thwarting a late Washington rally in a 20-15 victory.
Seattle is back in the postseason for the ninth time in 11 seasons under coach Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks appeared to be cruising toward victory when they took a 20-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and quarterback Russell Wilson all topped 50 yards rushing.
Hyde scored one of the Seahawks’ two touchdowns on a 50-yard run and Wilson connected with tight end Jacob Hollister on the other.
But a turnover and a spell of offensive doldrums opened the door to Washington backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who engineered two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
Sacks by Seattle defenders L.J. Collier and Carlos Dunlap helped the Seahawks escape.
Seattle improved to 10-4, notching a second straight victory as they look ahead to next week’s NFC West showdown with the Los Angeles Rams.
One day after the Buffalo Bills locked up their first AFC East division title in a quarter of a century, the New England Patriots — winners of the past 11 division titles — were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
The Pats lost 22-12 to the Miami Dolphins, falling to 6-8. They are assured of a record of no better than .500 since 2000.
“Disappointed,” coach Bill Belichick said of failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. “But we didn’t deserve to win today.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by former Pats quarterback Tom Brady, kept their bid for a first playoff berth since 2007 alive as they rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 31-27.
Brady and the Bucs offense, forced to punt on their first four drives, came alive in the second half, scoring touchdowns on their first three drives.
Receiver Antonio Brown’s first TD catch as a Buccaneer with 6:19 remaining made it 31-27 and Tampa Bay’s defense held firm down the stretch.
Brady, who won six Super Bowl titles in 20 seasons with the Patriots before landing in Tampa Bay, now has seven career comeback victories when trailing by 17 or more points.
It was another bitter defeat at the hands of Brady for the Falcons.
In the 2017 Super Bowl, Brady rallied the Patriots from a 28-3 deficit to a 34-28 overtime victory over Atlanta.
But Brady said the Bucs need to avoid digging themselves such big holes.
“We’re going to have to do it for 60 minutes, and that’s a big point of emphasis for us,” he said. “Everyone loves winning, but we also want to play better. We want to play our best.”
In Nashville, Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more as the Tennessee Titans overpowered the Detroit Lions 46-25.
The Titans remained tied atop the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts, who defeated the Houston Texans 27-20.
Elsewhere in the AFC, Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes and rushed for a score as the Baltimore Ravens kept their wild card bid alive with a 40-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.