NFL round-up: Baltimore falter as Buffalo end long playoff drought
Tennessee also book post-season spot after win over Jacksonville
Cincinnati Bengals tightend Tyler Kroft catches a touchdown in the first quarter against Kamalei Correa of the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Photograph: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
The Buffalo Bills are heading to the AFC playoffs for the first time since 1999 after Baltimore dramatically blew the chance to seal their post-season place against Cincinnati.
The Ravens rallied from a 17-10 deficit to lead 27-24 with a minute to spare in the fourth quarter, but Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton found Tyler Boyd on fourth-and-12 for a late touchdown to stun the home crowd and end Buffalo’s long wait for a playoff spot.
Buffalo held off a late Miami rally to win 22-16, with quarterback Tyrod Taylor running in a touchdown and defensive tackle Kyle Williams going over from a yard out in a stormy second half. The Dolphins cut the gap by 10 points in the fourth quarter but Buffalo hung on, and fans including Jack Nicklaus waited for news from Baltimore.
Tennessee also ended a drought of their own, defeating AFC South rivals Jacksonville 15-10 in a nervous contest to secure the fifth seed. The Jaguars had already sealed their playoff place and will host Buffalo in the wildcard round, while the Titans take on AFC West winners Kansas City.
In the NFC, Atlanta took a step towards redemption for their painful Super Bowl defeat in 2017 by clinching the final playoff spot. Matt Bryant kicked five second-half field goals as they held off Carolina 22-10. Ultimately, Seattle’s narrow defeat to Arizona meant the Falcons were in regardless, while defeat for the Panthers meant that New Orleans sealed the NFC South despite a late loss to Tampa Bay.
In the early games on New Year’s Eve, Dion Lewis’s two touchdowns secured a 26-6 win and homefield advantage in the AFC for defending Super Bowl champions New England. Minnesota sealed a 13-3 record, and the No 2 seed in the NFC, with a defence-led victory over the Bears.
Pittsburgh rested several starters including Ben Roethlisberger but still edged out Cleveland by 28-24. The Browns were already assured of the No 1 draft pick, but have become only the second team in NFL history to go 0-16. Jimmy Garoppolo continued to impress as the 49ers beat the LA Rams, who will face Atlanta in the NFC wild-card round.
AFC wildcard round
(6) Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3) (5) Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs (4)
AFC Divisional round
Lowest seeded winner @ New England Patriots (1) Highest seeded winner @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
NFC wildcard round
(6) Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams (3) (5) Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (4)
NFC Divisional round
Lowest seeded winner @ Philadelphia Eagles (1) Highest seeded winner @ Minnesota Vikings (2)
– Guardian report