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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018

Eagles rip Raiders for top seed, Steelers claim bye

The Philadelphia side will have a home-field edge throughout the National Conference playoffs as a result of the Christmas home triumph.

Philadelphia Eagles' Fletcher Cox reacts after a Oakland Raiders fumble.
Philadelphia Eagles' Fletcher Cox reacts after a Oakland Raiders fumble.
Image: Michael Perez

ROOKIE JAKE ELLIOT kicked a decisive 48-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining Monday as the NFL-best Philadelphia Eagles beat Oakland 19-10 to clinch a top playoff seed.

The Eagles, who added a defensive touchdown on a final-play fumble recovery to boost their winning margin, improved to 13-2 and will have a home-field edge throughout the National Conference playoffs as a result of the Christmas home triumph.

In the other holiday matchup, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes and the Steelers clinched a first-round NFL playoff bye with a 34-6 drubbing of the Houston Texans.

The Steelers matched New England atop the American Conference at 12-3 but Pittsburgh can only take the top-seed spot by beating Cleveland (0-15) next Sunday and have the Patriots lose to the New York Jets (5-10).

At Philadelphia, Nick Foles flipped a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jay Ajayi to put Philadelphia ahead but the Raiders equalised at 7-7 at half-time on Derek Carr’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.

Italian kicker Giorgio Tavecchio booted a 25-yard field goal for Oakland but Elliott made a 35-yard field goal to pull Philadelphia level 10-10.

Tavecchio missed a 48-yard field goal attempt with 7:58 remaining and Carr threw an interception to Philadelphia’s Ronald Darby with 49 seconds remaining to set up Elliott’s crucial kick.

At Houston, Roethlisberger was looking forward to Pittsburgh’s first opening-round playoff bye since 2010, one that will allow injured receiver Antonio Brown to heal before their post-season run starts.

It’ll be nice for AB and some other guys who are banged up,” Roethlisberger said. “To get feelng healthy is a great feeling.”

Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell kicked a 34-yard field goal 4:16 into the first quarter to open the scoring at Houston.

Roethlisberger flipped a five-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter only 3:45 later to give the Steelers a 10-0 edge.

Roosevelt Nix scored on a one-yard run to cap an 11-play, 80-yard march that put Pittsburgh ahead 17-0 and Boswell added a 36-yard field goal to lift the Steelers ahead 20-0 at halftime.

Le’Veon Bell added a 10-yard touchdown run to stretch Pittsburgh’s lead but Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins answered with an acrobatic three-yard touchdown grab, tipping the ball with his right hand before catching it with his left.

A two-point conversion pass attempt missed, leaving the Steelers ahead 27-6.

Roethlisberger responded with a 17-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster to complete his 136th regular-season victory as “Big Ben” matched a club record in his 200th Steelers appearance.

© AFP 2017

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