NFL roundup: Packers, Texans clinch division titles
Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (88) is pursued by Bears safety Chris Conte in the second half Sunday. (Associated Press)
CHICAGO – The Green Bay Packers clinched their second straight NFC North title with a 21-13 victory over the archrival Chicago Bears Sunday.
James Jones caught all three touchdown passes thrown by the Packers’ 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.
Brandon Marshall had a 15-yard TD catch for the Bears, who have lost five of six and are in danger of missing the playoffs after beginning the year 7-1. Clay Matthews continued his torture of Jay Cutler with two sacks, and Alshon Jeffery hurt the Bears (8-6) with three offensive pass interference calls late in the second half.
Houston 29, Indianapolis 17: The Houston Texans are AFC 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.
The Texans (12-2) grabbed their first AFC South title last season after the Colts nosedived without injured quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning is gone and Andrew Luck couldn’t do much against Houston’s defense.
Washington 38, Cleveland 21: Rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for injured star Robert Griffin III, leading Washington to its 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.
Rookie Trent Richardson had a pair of TD runs for the Browns (5-9).
Minnesota 36, St. Louis 22: Adrian Peterson ran for a season-best 212 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown that fueled the Minnesota’s big second quarter.
Peterson has 1,812 yards rushing, leaving him 294 shy of breaking the NFL’s single-season record of 2,105 by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984. Peterson, less than a year removed from a serious knee injury, has two games left – at Houston and home against Green Bay – to top Dickerson.
Atlanta 34, N.Y. Giants 0: Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes and Atlanta handed 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 (12-2), who have already clinched the NFC South, moved a step closer to locking up home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. One more win would lock it up.
Denver 34, Baltimore 17: Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a momentum-turning touchdown, and Denver won its ninth straight.
Peyton Manning threw for 204 yards and a score in his ninth consecutive win against Baltimore, the first with the Broncos (11-3).
Down 10-0 late in the first half, the Ravens had a first-and-goal at the Denver 4 when Harris stepped in front of Anquan Boldin, picked off a pass by Joe Flacco and sprinted down the right sideline en route to the longest regular-season interception return in Broncos history.
The Ravens (9-5) were playing their first game under offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who replaced the fired Cam Cameron.
Seattle 50, Buffalo 17: Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in leading the Seahawks to their second straight rout.
Wilson scored on runs of 14, 25 and 4 yards and then hit Zach Miller for a 4-yard touchdown in helping the Seahawks score 31 points on their first five possessions. The defense forced three consecutive turnovers to start the second half, including Earl Thomas scoring on 57-yard interception return.
A week after a 58-0 win at home against Arizona, the Seahawks (9-5) inched closer to clinching a playoff berth and became the NFL’s third team to score 50 points on consecutive weekends.
Arizona 31, Detroit 10: Greg Toler returned an interception 102 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown as Arizona ended a nine-game losing streak.
The Cardinals (5-9) intercepted Matthew Stafford three times, returning two for touchdowns and setting up a TD with the other. The Lions (4-10) lost their sixth straight. Rashad Johnson brought back a pick 53 yards for a touchdown to cap Arizona’s 21-point second quarter. Patrick Peterson’s interception set up another score.
Carolina 31, San Diego 7: Mike Tolbert scored twice against his former team and DeAngelo Williams turned a tipped pass from Cam Newton into a 45-yard touchdown reception.
The Chargers (5-9) clinched their first losing season since 2003, when they were an NFL-worse 4-12. Coach Norv Turner is expected to be fired at season’s end, most likely along with general manager A.J. Smith.
New Orleans 41, Tampa Bay 0: Drew Brees passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns, and New Orleans posted its first shutout since 1995.
Brees connected on his scoring passes with tight end David Thomas, running back Darren Sproles and receivers Lance Moore and Joe Morgan. Mark Ingram added an 11-yard touchdown run.
Josh Freeman endured one of his worst outings of the season for Tampa Bay (6-8), throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble.
Miami 24, Jacksonville 3: Miami kept former teammate Chad Henne out of the end zone, made three fourth-down stops deep in its own territory and benefited from an odd penalty.
Henne, playing in Miami for the first time since he departed as a Dolphins bust last offseason, threw for 221 yards with no turnovers. But the Dolphins turned back three scoring threats, and a go-ahead touchdown for the Jaguars came off the board because of an illegal-substitution penalty.