|LaDainian Tomlinson only ran for 56 yards, but it was enough to clinch his second straight NFL rushing title. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)|
Norv Turner got just what he wanted in his return to Oakland: a win against his former team, a rushing title for his star running back, and most importantly, the third seed in the AFC playoffs.
Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 56 yards to win his second straight rushing title, and the San Diego Chargers spoiled JaMarcus Russell's first career start with a 30-17 victory over the Raiders yesterday in Oakland.
By ending the season with six straight wins, the Chargers (11-5) beat out Pittsburgh for the No. 3 seed. San Diego will host Tennessee Sunday instead of playing Jacksonville, the last team to beat the Chargers.
After throwing short passes early, Russell (23 for 31, 224 yards) finally got to show off the strong arm that made him the No. 1 pick for Oakland (4-12). He moved nicely in the pocket before hitting Jerry Porter with a 32-yard scoring strike that cut San Diego's lead to 24-17 late in the third quarter.
Tomlinson didn't have nearly the success he usually does against the Raiders as Turner limited him to 16 carries to make sure he's fresh for the playoffs. But that was enough for him to finish the season with 1,474 yards rushing, 133 ahead of Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson.
Browns 20, 49ers 7
Cleveland finished an unforgettable regular season, then had to wait about seven hours for it to officially end.
Joshua Cribbs returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, Jamal Lewis rushed for 128 yards, and rookie quarterback Brady Quinn made his long-awaited NFL debut in the win over visiting San Francisco.
But the Browns (10-6), just 4-12 a year ago, were knocked out of the postseason last night when Tennessee (10-6) knocked off the Colts to claim the AFC's final playoff berth.
Quinn was 3 of 8 for 45 yards in his one series, with a sure TD pass dropped by Kellen Winslow in the end zone.
Chris Weinke started at quarterback for the 49ers (5-11), the fourth QB to start for the team this season.
Texans 42, Jaguars 28
Andre' Davis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to lead host Houston over Jacksonville, giving the Texans (8-8) a .500 finish for the first time in their six-year history.
Davis's first return, a 97-yarder, came 15 seconds before halftime and put Houston ahead, 21-14. Davis dashed 104 yards - the longest play in Texans history - on the opening kickoff of the second half to make it 28-14.
The Jaguars (11-5) started Quinn Gray, who threw four touchdown passes, in place of David Garrard. Six other starters, including running back Fred Taylor, were inactive. Jacksonville will open the playoffs Saturday night at Pittsburgh.
Packers 34, Lions 13
Green Bay (13-3) blew out visiting Detroit to tie a franchise record for most wins in a season.
Brett Favre extended his quarterback-record consecutive starts streak to 253 games, but even he didn't keep his helmet strapped on for very long. Favre led the Packers to touchdowns on their first three possessions before handing the ball to backup Craig Nall.
The Lions (7-9) delivered an uninspired performance in what might have been their last game with Mike Martz as offensive coordinator.
Broncos 22, Vikings 19
Jason Elam kicked a 30-yard field goal less than a minute into overtime, lifting hoist Denver past Minnesota (8-8), which needed a win and a Washington loss to Dallas to sneak into the playoffs, but neither the Redskins nor the Broncos (7-9) obliged.
With the playoffs out of his reach, Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson settled for the NFC rushing title. He gained 36 yards on 11 carries to finish with 1,341, eight more than Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook.
Bears 33, Saints 25
Devin Hester sprinted 64 yards for a touchdown on a punt return, his NFL-record sixth kick runback for a score this season to better his own mark set a year ago, and also caught a 55-yard touchdown pass as host Chicago (7-9) ended New Orleans's faint playoff hopes.
Drew Brees and Marques Colston hooked up for two first-half TD passes for the Saints (7-9), but Colston hurt his left wrist and spent the second half on the sideline.
Panthers 31, Buccaneers 23
DeAngelo Williams rushed for 121 yards and two second-half touchdowns, helping visiting Carolina beat the NFC South champion Buccaneers, with the retiring 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde taking the last snap in the same city where he began his NFL career in 1987.
Matt Moore threw for 174 yards and two TDs for Carolina (7-9). The Buccaneers (9-7) will host the Giants in a wild-card game Sunday.
Ravens 27, Steelers 21
Musa Smith ran for 83 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start, helping host Baltimore (5-11) end a nine-game losing streak.
The Steelers (10-6) had already clinched the AFC North and were locked into a home wild-card game. They could have earned the third seed by defeating Baltimore, coupled with a loss by San Diego, but instead rested many regulars, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Hines Ward, and safety Troy Polamalu.
Falcons 44, Seahawks 41
Chris Redman set a career high with four touchdown passes, including two to Alge Crumpler, and host Atlanta (4-12) rode three fourth-quarter touchdowns to a victory over Seattle.
Seattle (10-6), the NFC West champions who will host Washington in a wild-card game Saturday, allowed the woeful Falcons to best their previous scoring high this season by 17 points. The Falcons ended a six-game losing streak, giving interim coach Emmitt Thomas his first win in three tries.
Bengals 38, Dolphins 25
Host Miami staggered to the end of the worst season in franchise history, becoming the eighth team to finish 1-15.
Miami allowed 316 yards passing and three TDs by Carson Palmer in losing to Cincinnati, which finished 7-9, the team's first losing season since Marvin Lewis took over as coach in 2003.
Eagles 17, Bills 9
With Philadelphia (8-8) eliminated from a playoff spot, Brian Westbrook still gave Eagles fans a reason to celebrate with a pair of team records - receptions in a season (90) and total yards from scrimmage (2,104).
The Bills (7-9) failed in their bid for a .500 record and finished having missed the playoffs for an eighth straight season, the longest drought in franchise history.
Jets 13, Chiefs 10
Mike Nugent kicked a 43-yard field goal - after a 33-yarder was negated by a penalty - 5:13 into OT and host New York (4-12) handed Kansas City (4-12) its ninth straight loss.
Cardinals 48, Rams 19
Larry Fitzgerald caught 11 passes for 171 yards and two TDs, and host Arizona (8-8) completed its first non-losing season in nine years by routing St. Louis (3-13) in the Cardinals' highest-scoring game in 30 years.