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Chiefs seize NFL playoff bye as Steelers take division crown

Losses jeopardized the playoff hopes of Indianapolis and Cleveland.

Patrick Mahomes is interviewed after the Chiefs' victory.
Patrick Mahomes is interviewed after the Chiefs' victory.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

PATRICK MAHOMES RALLIED the Kansas City Chiefs over Atlanta 17-14 on Sunday to give the reigning Super Bowl champions a first-round bye and home-field edge in the NFL playoffs.

There was also plenty of heartache in the season’s penultimate weekend as losses jeopardized the playoff hopes of Indianapolis and a Cleveland squad missing key players due to Covid-19.

Host Pittsburgh rallied late to edge Indianapolis 28-24 and secure the AFC North division crown while the host New York Jets won only their second game by downing Cleveland 23-16, a win ensuring NFL-worst Jacksonville, 1-14, has the 2021 NFL Draft top pick.

Mahomes completed 24-of-44 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, his second scoring toss a 25-yarder to Demarcus Robinson with 1:55 remaining to lift the Chiefs ahead to stay.

The Falcons set up a tying 39-yard field goal attempt by South Korean kicker Koo Young-hoe but the kick was wide right and the Chiefs sealed the AFC top seed.

Mahomes also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce, whose seven catches for 98 yards gave him an NFL one-season tight end reception record of 1,416 yards from 105 catches in 2020.

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger completed 34-of-49 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns as the Steelers snapped a three-game losing skid to beat the Colts.

Indianapolis led 24-7 before “Big Ben” hit scoring throws of 39 yards to Diontae Johnson, 5 yards to Eric Ebron and 25 yards to JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steelers defense stopped a late Indy drive.

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The Colts fell level with Cleveland, Baltimore and Miami at 10-5 in a fight for the last three AFC playoff spots, but would need help in the final week to advance.

Tennessee (10-4) can clinch the AFC South division title with a later win at Green Bay (11-3).

Cleveland, out of the playoffs since 2002, had four receivers and two linebackers out due to Covid-19 tests and contact tracing and fell behind 20-3 to the lowly Jets (2-13). A fightback died when the Browns lost the ball on downs in Jets territory in the last seconds.

Lamar Jackson threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns and ran 13 times for 80 yards to spark Baltimore over the visiting New York Giants 27-13.

New York’s loss opened the door for Washington (6-8) to clinch the NFC East division title and a playoff spot with a later home win over Carolina.

Chicago (8-7) moved ahead of Arizona (8-7) for the last NFC playoff spot by overwhelming host Jacksonville 41-17.

The Los Angeles Rams (9-5) also hoped to clinch an NFC playoff spot with a victory at Seattle (10-4).

About the author:

AFP

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