Jets complete spiral with turbulent loss
Titans and Raiders also miss out in AFC picture
The New York Jets will sit out the playoffs, and that’s guaranteed.
The Jets failed to fulfill coach Rex Ryan’s pledge to win a Super Bowl title, with yesterday’s 19-17 loss at Miami eliminating them from the chase for an AFC wild-card berth.
Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, the last coming with the Jets threatening to take a late lead. New York gave up six third-down conversions during the Dolphins’ 21-play, 94-yard drive for their only touchdown. The march took 12 minutes and 29 seconds.
The Jets (8-8) came into the game needing a win along with losses by Tennessee, Cincinnati, and one of the AFC West contenders. Instead, they finished the season with three consecutive defeats.
Ryan said he didn’t regret his guarantee.
“I’m always going to chase the Super Bowl,’’ Ryan said. “I know I get criticized for it beyond belief, but if you don’t, then you’re probably a loser, OK? I’m not a loser.’’
Soap opera fodder for the offseason came out of the Jets’ final drive, when receiver and captain Santonio Holmes was benched. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson said teammates were unhappy with Holmes’s effort, demeanor, and body language. Holmes was held without a catch for the first time in his 88-game career.
Each interception by Sanchez led to a Miami field goal. Sanchez’s final misfire came at the Miami 10 with three minutes left and the Jets trailing, 16-10. Reserve linebacker Marvin Mitchell stepped in front of intended receiver Shonn Greene and rumbled 55 yards.
The Jets scored with 1:15 to go on Sanchez’s 10-yard pass to Patrick Turner, but Brandon Marshall recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal it for Miami (6-10).
Titans 23, Texans 22
Needing a win and help to stay alive in the AFC wild-card chase, Tennessee took care of its part, but didn’t get the other results needed to make the playoffs. The Titans’ Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes, and Houston botched a 2-point conversion in the final seconds.
Tennessee (9-7) finished with its first winning record since 2008.
Replacing injured quarterback T.J. Yates, Jake Delhomme drove Houston (10-6) for a touchdown with 14 seconds left. With the Texans entrenched as the No. 3 seed in the AFC and nothing to lose but more players to injury, coach Gary Kubiak called for a 2-point conversion to win the game in regulation. But tight end Joel Dreessen was flagged for illegal motion, and then backup center Thomas Austin flipped the snap over Delhomme’s head.
Kubiak said Yates suffered a bruised left shoulder but could’ve returned if necessary.
Chargers 38, Raiders 26
Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes and Richard Goodman returned a kickoff 105 yards for another score as visiting San Diego spoiled host Oakland’s postseason plans. The Raiders (8-8) entered the day alive for the AFC West title or a wild-card spot, but got neither.
Oakland, San Diego, and Denver all finished with the same record, but the Broncos won the division based on record versus common opponents.
The Chargers got a 43-yard TD pass from Rivers to Malcom Floyd with 6:49 left to make it a two-score game, and Antoine Cason intercepted the Raiders’ Carson Palmer with 4:36 to go at the San Diego 20 to seal the victory.
Packers 45, Lions 41
Filling in for a resting Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn set Packers records with 480 yards passing and six touchdowns, the final one to Jermichael Finley with 1:10 left to give host Green Bay (15-1) a wild victory over Detroit (10-6), which showed it is ready for its first postseason game since 1999.
Matthew Stafford threw for 520 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions for Detroit. According to STATS LLC, it was the first time in NFL history opposing quarterbacks each threw for 400-plus yards and five-plus touchdowns in a game. The teams’ combined 971 net yards passing set an NFL record.
49ers 34, Rams 27
San Francisco got off to a big lead and then held off a furious rally by host St. Louis to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. With 13 wins, the 49ers finished with their best record since 1997.
San Francisco seemingly had cemented the win in the final minute of the third quarter when Pro Bowl kicker David Akers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on a fake field goal for a 27-10 lead. But the Rams (2-14) scored two touchdowns in a 13-second span to make it interesting.
Saints 45, Panthers 17
Host New Orleans (13-3) held nothing back in its playoff warm-up as Drew Brees passed for 389 yards and five scores in the Saints’ eighth consecutive win. Brees finished the season with an NFL-record 5,476 yards and 46 TD passes. Carolina (6-10), which had won four of five, gave up 360 total yards in the first half and 617 overall, a Saints record.
Steelers 13, Browns 9
Isaac Redman replaced an injured Rashard Mendenhall and ran for a touchdown as Pittsburgh (12-4) limped into the playoffs with an ugly victory over host Cleveland (4-12). Mendenhall hurt his right knee in the first quarter and didn’t return. His status for the postseason is unknown. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 221 yards on a severely sprained ankle.
Falcons 45, Buccaneers 24
Host Atlanta (10-6) put up a team-record 42 points in the first half and cruised past lifeless Tampa Bay (4-12) to clinch the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. Julio Jones caught two TD passes in a span of 26 seconds and Michael Turner ran for 172 yards and two scores.
Jaguars 19, Colts 13
Indianapolis (2-14) locked up the top pick in April’s NFL draft with a loss in Jacksonville, while the Jaguars (5-11) got a win for outgoing owner Wayne Weaver. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 169 yards to win the NFL rushing title and set a franchise season record with 1,606.
Eagles 34, Redskins 10
Michael Vick threw three touchdown passes and Philadelphia (8-8) cruised to its fourth consecutive win, a small consolation in a season that started with big aspirations. Visiting Washington finished 5-11, Mike Shanahan’s worst full season in 18 years as a coach.
Bears 17, Vikings 13
Charles Tillman’s 22-yard interception return gave visiting Chicago the lead for good as the Bears (8-8) stopped a five-game losing streak. Minnesota (3-13) matched the worst record in franchise history.
Cardinals 23, Seahawks 20
Jay Feely’s 28-yard field goal gave host Arizona (8-8) its fourth overtime victory of the year. Seattle (7-9) rallied to tie the game after trailing, 20-10, early in the fourth quarter.