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INTERCONFERENCE



Published: Mon, January 3, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



INTERCONFERENCE

Rams 32, Jets 29, OT

ST. LOUIS -- The Rams won a finale that, in the end, they needed much more than the New York Jets. Marc Bulger threw for 450 yards and three touchdowns and Austintown native Jeff Wilkins hit a 31-yard field goal with 3:03 left in overtime as the Rams clinched their fourth playoff berth in five seasons under coach Mike Martz. The Rams (8-8) won their last two games to qualify as the NFC wild card.

Titans 24, Lions 19

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans promised they wouldn't quit until the season ended. They certainly didn't. Billy Volek threw for 175 yards and a touchdown before being knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter, and the Titans held on to snap its five-game losing skid. The Titans (5-11) were without 14 players from their opening day roster because of injuries, but they had more than enough to handle Detroit (6-10).

NFC

Packers 31, Bears 14

CHICAGO -- Brett Favre's short work day was a productive one. Favre and the Green Bay Packers warmed up for the playoffs with a convincing win over the Chicago Bears. Green Bay (10-6), the third seed in the NFC, will host a playoff game next weekend at Lambeau Field. Favre played the first quarter and one series in the second, going 9-of-13 for 196 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers beat the Bears (5-11) for the 21st time in the last 26 meetings -- including 11 straight on the road.

Redskins 21, Vikings 18

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Minnesota Vikings collapsed again, only to fall into the playoffs thanks to a safety net provided by the New Orleans Saints. Thwarted by an undermanned but swarming defense and their own mistakes, the Vikings wilted for the second year in a row with a chance to clinch a postseason berth in the season finale. They lost to the Washington Redskins, then retreated to the locker room to learn that they had backed in to the playoffs. The Vikings finished 8-8, losing seven of their last 10 games after a 5-1 start. Last year, they fell from 6-0 to 9-7 and were eliminated by a touchdown pass on the last play of the season in an 18-17 loss to Arizona.

Saints 21, Panthers 18

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Masters of the late-season flop, the New Orleans Saints finally won a game that mattered. Then they had to wait to see just how much it mattered. Needing to beat the Carolina Panthers to stay in playoff contention, the Saints did their part. But they needed outside help to get in, and failed to get it. Halfway across the country, the St. Louis Rams beat the New York Jets 32-29 in overtime, ending the season for the Saints. Aaron Brooks passed for 216 yards and threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Joe Horn, and the Saints (8-8) forced three turnovers and used relentless pressure on Jake Delhomme, sacking him six times.

Cardinals 12, Buccaneers 7

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Neil Rackers' leg and Arizona's defense made the Cardinals a winner in their season finale. Rackers kicked four field goals and the Cardinals stifled rookie Chris Simms and the rest of the Tampa Bay offense in a matchup of two sputtering teams out of playoff contention.

Seahawks 28, Falcons 26

SEATTLE -- Matt Hasselbeck wore a smile on his face and a message on his cap and T-shirt: Seattle Seahawks, NFC West champions. He threw two touchdown passes and got another TD on a sneak, leading the Seahawks to a victory that won the division and earned a first-round playoff game at home.

Giants 28, Cowboys 24

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tiki Barber became the New York Giants' all-time leading rusher and capped his achievement with a winning flair. Barber capped a record-setting Sunday night by scoring on a 3-yard run with 11 seconds to play. Eli Manning also threw three touchdown passes as the Giants (6-10) snapped an eight-game losing streak and gave new coach Tom Coughlin something to savor heading into the offseason. The late heroics provided Manning his first career victory and spoiled a great effort by Cowboys quarterback Vinny Testaverde in what might have been the final game of his 18-year career.

AFC

Ravens 30, Dolphins 23

BALTIMORE -- The Ravens did their part to get into the playoffs. It wasn't enough. After beating the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens had to wait until the late afternoon games ended to learn their postseason fate. To secure the final AFC wild-card spot, Baltimore (9-7) needed to defeat Miami and have Buffalo lose to Pittsburgh, Denver lose to Indianapolis and Jacksonville either tie or lose to Oakland.

Broncos 33, Colts 14

DENVER -- The Broncos took care of the Indianapolis "B" team and earned the right to face Peyton Manning and the real Colts next week in the playoffs. Jake Plummer threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns Sunday to lift the Broncos over the watered-down Colts and qualify for the AFC's final wild-card spot. The result eliminated Jacksonville and Baltimore from the playoff race and meant the Broncos (10-6) start the postseason next Sunday in a familiar place -- at Indianapolis (12-4), where they lost 41-10 in last year's first round.

Chargers 24, Chiefs 17

SAN DIEGO -- Nice job, Doug Flutie and Philip Rivers. Now give Drew Brees his job back. Flutie and Rivers each threw a touchdown pass and the San Diego Chargers warmed up for their first playoff game in nine seasons. Having clinched the AFC West title two weeks earlier and the AFC's No. 4 seed a week ago, the Chargers rested Pro Bowlers Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, as well as defensive tackle Jamal Williams.

Jaguars 13, Raiders 6

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Byron Leftwich threw for 149 yards and Greg Jones scored on a 1-yard run for the game's only touchdown that broke a third-quarter tie. But the Denver Broncos' 33-14 victory over the Colts was complete just a few minutes before this one ended, sending Jacksonville packing instead of to the playoffs.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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