NFL: Super Bowl champ Ravens fail to make playoffs
Baltimore’s season limps to disappointing end as Ravens beaten 34-17
Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts outruns the tackle of Jason Babin of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 29th in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have missed the NFL playoffs, ending a run of five consecutive appearances in the postseason.
Baltimore’s season limped to a disappointing end when the Ravens were beaten 34-17 at the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
The Ravens became the latest in a line of Super Bowl champions who failed to earn a playoff spot the following season.
The New York Giants did not make the playoffs last season in their Super Bowl defense, while the Pittsburgh Steelers came up short the season after going all the way in Super Bowls for the 2005 and 2008 seasons.
The New England Patriots were the last team to win consecutive Super Bowls, winning for the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
The Ravens never really got on track this season. After winning two of their first three games, they lost five of their next seven with all five defeats by a touchdown or less.
They recovered with four consecutive victories to get into playoff contention, before closing out their season with two straight losses to finish the campaign 8-8.
Although 6-2 at home, they were only 2-6 in road games.
The Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South title and a first-round playoff bye by beating the Atlanta Falcons 21-20 in their regular season finale on Sunday.
The Panthers, winners of 11 of their last 12 games, trailed most of the game against the disappointing Falcons (4-12) but overtook Atlanta when Cam Newton hit Greg Olsen with a seven-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for a 21-17 lead.
Carolina won the division crown for the first time in five years and have advanced to the playoffs for the first time since that success in 2008.
The Panthers improved to 12-4 for the season.
In other early games, quarterback Andrew Luck and kicker Adam Vinatieri registered record-book entries as AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-10. Luck completed 26 of 37 passes for 282 yards in becoming the first player in NFL history to top 8,000 yards for his first two seasons.
Vinatieri kicked three field goals and three extra points to move into fifth place on the NFL career scoring list with 2,006 points, passing George Blanda and Matt Stover.
NFL (early results): Carolina Panthers 21, Atlanta Falcons 20; Baltimore Ravens 17, Cincinnati Bengals 34; Texans 10, Tennessee Titans 16; Jaguars 10, Indianapolis Colts 30; New York Jets 20, Miami Dolphins 7; Detroit Lions 13, Minnesota Vikings 14; Cleveland Browns 7, Pittsburgh Steelers 20; Washington Redskins 6, New York Giants 20.