Griffin helps Redskins nab play-off spot
In Denver, Peyton Manning tossed three touchdown passes as the Broncos secured top seed in the AFC and a first round bye by extending their winning streak to 11 games with a 38-3 demolition of the Kansas City Chiefs.
The New England Patriots will also have next weekend off after shutting out the Miami Dolphins 28-0 to take the AFC’s number two seed while the Texans watched their road to the Super Bowl get a little bumpier.
The Texans began the day as the top placed team in the AFC but watched it all slip away with 28-16 loss to the inspired Colts, who had head coach Chuck Pagano back on the sidelines for the first time in three months after undergoing cancer treatment.
A day of drama began with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants battling to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Needing a win over the Philadelphia Eagles and plenty of help from other teams the Giants came out firing on all cylinders at a bitterly cold MetLife Stadium, charging to a 35-7 halftime lead then coasting to 42-7 victory.
A sputtering New York offense that scored a total of 14 points the previous two games, scored three times in the opening quarter, Eli Manning finding Rueben Randle with a pair of touchdown strikes and David Wilson for another.
Manning tossed two more in the second half, giving the Super Bowl most valuable player five touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his career.
It wasn’t nearly enough, though, with the Giants needing the Chicago Bears, Vikings and Cowboys all to lose to extend their season.
The suspense ended early as Chicago held on to tame the Lions 26-24 with the help of four field goals from Olindo Mare.
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who set a single season receiving record last week, came up just short in his bid to become the first to reach the 2,000-yard plateau, grabbing five passes for 72 yards to finish the season with 1,964 yards.
The NFC West division title was also decided on the final day, San Francisco49ers grabbing the crown ahead of the Seahawks with a 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
NFL WILDCARD PLAY-OFF SCHEDULE (All times Irish)
SATURDAY JANUARY 5TH
AFC wildcard game:Houston Texans (12-4) v Cincinnati Bengals (10-6), 9.30pm.
NFC wildcard game:Green Bay Packers (11-5) v Minnesota Vikings (10-6), 1am (Sunday)
SUNDAY JANUARY 6TH
AFC wildcard game:Baltimore Ravens (10-6) v Indianapolis Colts (11-5), 6pm
NFC wildcard game:Washington Redskins (10-6) v Seattle Seahawks (11-5), 9.30pm