ICYMI: Ravens, Saints stumble; 3 titles to decide
Flacco was 3 of 18 for 27 yards and two interceptions in the first half of a 25-13 loss at Houston on Sunday. The Ravens (9-6) were not eliminated from reaching the postseason, but they certainly didn't help their cause.
''It's really simple,'' Flacco said. ''We did a lot of things not very well.''
The Saints began the day still in contention for winning the mediocre NFC South but now are done. Brees - like Flacco, a past Super Bowl MVP - was picked off twice in a 30-14 loss to Atlanta that stretched New Orleans' home losing streak to five games.
The Bills and Eagles also are going to miss the playoffs. Both were beaten by bad teams: Buffalo lost 26-24 to Oakland on Sunday, while Philadelphia lost 27-24 to Washington on Saturday.
The Chiefs (8-7), like the Ravens, still are holding onto slim hopes of playing beyond next week, but they'll need the right results in Week 17. Once 7-3 and in good shape, Kansas City has been stumbling for more than a month now, losing four of five games, including 20-12 at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
In a curious coaching decision by Andy Reid, the Chiefs went for it on fourth down late in the first half rather than attempting a chip-shot field goal that would have made it a one-point game. Running back Jamaal Charles got stuffed.
The kind of pivotal decision - and outcome - that can alter a season.
In case you missed it, here are other top topics after the NFL's 16th regular-season Sunday:
DIVISION DECIDERS: Three divisions will be decided by head-to-head matchups next Sunday: Detroit at Green Bay (NFC North), Carolina at Atlanta (NFC South; the champ will make the playoffs despite a losing record), and Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (AFC North) at night.
SUPER SEAHAWKS: Don't look now, but the Seahawks - who were 3-3 in October - sure look like a team ready to make a real run at a second consecutive Super Bowl championship. They're 11-4 after dominating host Arizona 35-6 on Sunday night and have allowed an average of 6.6 points during a five-game winning streak. Marshawn Lynch sat out the first quarter, but by the fourth, he was shedding would-be tacklers and rumbling 79 yards for an exclamation-point TD. Richard Sherman added an interception. Russell Wilson threw two TD passes to Luke Willson, including one that went 80 yards; he produced a juking, 5-yard touchdown run; and also had a career-best 55-yard run. A victory over St. Louis next week would make Seattle the NFC's No. 1 seed.
ROMO'S DAY: After so many late-season slip-ups, Tony Romo came up big, throwing twice as many scoring passes (four) as incompletions (two) to help Dallas clinch the NFC East by walloping Indianapolis 42-7. Romo also eclipsed Troy Aikman's club mark for career passing yards.
PHILBIN STAYS: Cross Miami off the list of teams that will be hiring a new coach. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced after a 37-35 victory over Minnesota - decided by a last-minute safety off a blocked punt - that he'll keep Joe Philbin. ''I believe in this team,'' Ross said. ''I believe in the coach.'' Philbin is 23-24 with zero playoff trips in his first NFL head coaching job, 8-7 this season.
RAIOLA'S INTENT?: Lions center Dominic Raiola called it ''totally unintentional'' that his foot came down on Ego Ferguson's lower right leg while the Bears' defensive tackle was on the turf during Detroit's 20-14 victory. ''Come on, now,'' Raiola said. ''I'm not out here trying to step on people.'' Last month, Raiola was fined $10,000 by the NFL for unnecessary roughness for a striking New England's Zach Moore in the last minute of Detroit's loss to the Patriots. Raiola, a 14-year veteran, wasn't disciplined for a chop block during a kneel-down at the end of that game.
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