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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 30 May, 2020

No Wentz? No problem: NFL play-off picture takes shape as Eagles deal well with QB nightmare

Philly secured a first-round bye with a victory over the New York Giants as Nick Foles made his first start of the season.

Image: Seth Wenig

NICK FOLES THREW four touchdown passes and the Philadelphia Eagles held off the New York Giants 34-29 to clinch a first-round bye on Sunday as the NFL playoff picture became clearer.

The Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars both secured playoff berths.

Minnesota clinched the NFC North division title with a 34-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, while the Jaguars secured their first playoff spot since 2007 with a dominant 45-7 triumph over the Houston Texans.

The Eagles, who lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz to a season-ending knee injury last week when they clinched the NFC East division, rallied from a 14-point deficit behind Foles, spoiling a three-touchdown effort from Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

The Giants had a chance to win the game on fourth-and-goal from the Eagles’ 11-yard line in the final minute, but Manning’s pass was too high for tight end Evan Engram.

In addition to a polished performance from Foles, the Eagles benefitted from two crucial Giants mistakes — an interception of a Manning pass and a blocked punt — that led to two Philadelphia touchdowns.

Texans Jaguars Football Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole, right, celebrates a 73-yard pass play to set up a touchdown against the Houston Texans with teammate wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Source: Stephen B. Morton

It was never in doubt in Jacksonville, where Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles passed for three touchdowns in the first half on the way to a 31-0 lead at the interval.

In Minneapolis, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns and the Minnesota defense dominated Andy Dalton and the Bengals.

The Bengals looked listless throughout a game played on the heels of a report that head coach Marvin Lewis is already planning to step down at the end of the season.

The Vikings had extra cause to celebrate when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered the game for the fourth quarter — his first appearance in more than a year after an arduous recovery from a horrific knee injury prior to the 2016 season.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer celebrates after his team clinched the NFC North, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 34-7. Source: Jerry Holt

The Baltimore Ravens kept their playoff hopes alive with a 27-10 victory over the winless Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens can clinch a wild card berth with victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati in their last two games.

The Browns, meanwhile must win at either Chicago or Pittsburgh to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in a season.

In Buffalo, LeSean McCoy became the 30th player in NFL history to surpass 10,000 career rushing yards as the Bills beat the Miami Dolphins 24-16 to bolster their hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

McCoy complied 96 total yards, 50 rushing and 46 receiving, and two touchdowns for the Bills, who dealt a blow to the Dolphins’ playoff hopes a week after Miami’s upset of the New England Patriots.

The NFC South remained tight at the top as the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers both won.

Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes in the Saints’ 31-19 victory over the New York Jets.

The Panthers spoiled Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ return from injury with a 31-24 victory over the Packers.

© AFP 2017

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