Green Bay send Bears packing
American Football:James Jones took centre stage as the Green Bay Packers clinched the NFC North title with a 21-13 victory over big rivals the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
The Packers claimed their second straight divisional crown as Arron Rodgers connected with Jones for all three of the visitors’ touchdowns, giving the wide receiver the first TD treble of his career.
Rodgers finished 23 of 36 for 291 yards as Green Bay enjoyed their sixth straight win over the Bears, who are now in danger of missing out on the play-offs after defeats in five of their last six outings.
The Houston Texans also claimed divisional bragging rights as they ensured victory in the AFC South for the second year in a row with a 29-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Andre Johnson had 151 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Bryan Braman scored on a blocked punt and Shayne Graham slotted five field goals as the Texans improved to 12-2. Defeat leaves the Colts with a 9-5 record and still requiring another win to make the play-offs.
NFC South winners the Atlanta Falcons underlined their status as genuine Super Bowl contenders with a 34-0 thumping of reigning champions the New York Giants. Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes — two connecting with Julio Jones — as the 12-2 Falcons improved their hopes of securing home-field advantage for the playoffs with a one-sided display.
The Falcons’ defence completely stifled Eli Manning and the 8-6 Giants, who suffered their first regular-season shut-out in 16 years. Adrian Peterson racked up a season-best 212 yards rushing on 24 carries as the Minnesota Vikings cantered to a 36-22 win over the St Louis Rams. An 82-yard TD run was the highlight for Peterson, who now has 1,812 yards rushing on the season.
The Vikings running back is now just 294 yards short of the all-time single-season record set by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984, and has two games of the regular season remaining in which to pass that mark.
Peyton Manning took a back seat as the AFC West champions Denver Broncos eased to a ninth straight win with a 34-17 triumph over the Baltimore Ravens. Chris Harris’ 98-yard TD run was the highlight as Manning threw for just 204 yards and a score.
Manning’s modest returns were in stark contract to Drew Brees, who passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints routed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-0. Brees connected with David Thomas, Darren Sproles, Lance Moore and Joe Morgan, while Mark Ingram ran for an 11-yard touchdown as the 6-8 Saints condemned the Buccaneers to a fourth straight loss. The shut-out was the Saints’ first since 1995.
Rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns as the Washington Redskins defeated the Cleveland Browns 38-21. Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for two TDs as Washington moved into a tie for first in the NFC East with their fifth win on the spin. Cousins was again a more than able deputy for fellow rookie QB Robert Griffin III, who sat out with a sprained knee suffered last weekend.
The Miami Dolphins benefited from an improved showing by first-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill as they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-3. Tannehill went 22 for 28 for 220 yards and two scores with no interceptions while also running for 52 yards, while Reggie Bush ran for 104 yards as Miami improved to 6-8 at the expense of the 2-12 Jaguars.
National Football League:Buffalo Bills 17 Seattle Seahawks 50, Carolina Panthers 31 San Diego Chargers 7, Denver Broncos 34 Baltimore Ravens 17, Detroit Lions 10 Arizona Cardinals 38, Green Bay Packers 21 Chicago Bears 13, Indianapolis Colts 17 Houston Texans 29, Jacksonville Jaguars 3 Miami Dolphins 24, Kansas City Chiefs 0 Oakland Raiders 15, Minnesota Vikings 36 St Louis Rams 22, New York Giants 0 Atlanta Falcons 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Dallas Cowboys 27 (OT), Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 New Orleans Saints 41, Washington Redskins 38 Cleveland Browns 21, San Francisco 49ers 41 New England Patriots 34