Chiefs grab NFL playoff bye as Steelers, Seattle win divisions

·4-min read

Patrick Mahomes rallied the Kansas City Chiefs over Atlanta 17-14 on Sunday to give the reigning Super Bowl champions a first-round bye and home-field edge in the NFL playoffs.

Mahomes completed 24-of-44 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, his second scoring toss a 25-yarder to Demarcus Robinson with 1:55 remaining to lift the Chiefs ahead to stay.

"It's that championship swagger of knowing how to win the game even when you're not playing well," Mahomes said.

There was also plenty of heartache in the season's penultimate weekend as losses jeopardized the playoff hopes of Indianapolis, Washington, the Los Angeles Rams and a Cleveland squad missing key players due to Covid-19.

Host Pittsburgh rallied late to edge Indianapolis 28-24 and secure the AFC North division crown while the host New York Jets (2-13) beat Cleveland 23-16, ensuring league-worst Jacksonville (1-14) has the 2021 NFL Draft top pick.

Seattle defeated the Rams 20-9 to secure the NFC West title while host Washington lost 20-13 to Carolina, failing to claim the NFC East crown.

Half the NFL's 14 playoff spots will be settled next Sunday.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid says his team must improve to repeat as champions.

"We just weren't as sharp as we need to be," Reid said.

Mahomes said he needs to play better.

"The defense played their tail off to keep us in the game and give us a chance," he said. "The offense found a way to score a touchdown when we needed to."

A 39-yard field goal attempt by South Korean kicker Koo Young-hoe was wide right for Atlanta in the dying seconds to seal Chiefs' bye as AFC top seed.

"When you look at the history of the bye week, usually it's a good thing for a team trying to make a championship run," Mahomes said.

Super Bowl 54 Most Valuable Player Mahomes also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce, whose seven catches for 98 yards gave him an NFL one-season tight end record of 1,416 reception yards this year.

Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger completed 34-of-49 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns as the Steelers snapped a three-game losing skid.

Indianapolis led 24-7 before "Big Ben" hit scoring throws of 39 yards to Diontae Johnson, 5 yards to Eric Ebron and 25 yards to JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The Colts fell level with Cleveland, Baltimore, Tennessee and Miami at 10-5 in a fight for the last three AFC playoff spots, but would need help in the final week to advance.

At cold and snowy Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes and the Packers (12-3) beat Tennessee 40-14 to stay atop the fight for the NFC top seed while keeping the Titans from clinching the AFC South title and a playoff berth.

Cleveland, out of the playoffs since 2002, had four receivers and two linebackers out due to Covid-19 tests and contact tracing and fell behind 20-3. A fightback died when the Browns lost the ball on downs in the final seconds.

- Ravens, Cowboys win -

Lamar Jackson threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns and ran 13 times for 80 yards to spark the Baltimore Ravens over the visiting New York Giants 27-13.

The Giants (5-10) stayed in playoff contention when Washington (6-9) lost to Carolina, missing a chance to clinch the NFC East title.

Dallas (6-9) ripped Philadelphia 37-17 to end the Eagles' playoff hopes. If Washington loses at Philadelphia next week, the Cowboys-Giants winner captures the NFC East, the NFL's weakest division, and will host a playoff game.

Seattle (11-4) kept the Rams (9-6) from securing an NFC playoff berth and stayed level with New Orleans chasing Green Bay for the NFC bye.

Russell Wilson ran four yards for a touchdown and flipped a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister to give the host Seahawks a division title.

The Rams (9-6) could miss the playoffs with a loss next week to Arizona (8-7) and a Chicago victory over Green Bay. The Bears (8-7) overpowered Jacksonville 41-17.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert broke Baker Mayfield's NFL one-season rookie touchdown pass record with his 28th of the campaign in a 19-16 victory over Denver.

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