Titans clinch top seed as Steelers boost NFL playoff hopes

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Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill throws the ball during the first half against the Houston Texans in Houston (AFP/Tim Warner) (Tim Warner)

Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdown passes as the Tennessee Titans secured a top seed in the NFL playoffs on Sunday by holding on to beat the Houston Texans 28-25.

Tannehill tossed three of his four touchdowns in the first half as the Titans, who are back-to-back AFC South division champions, started quickly by jumping out to a 21-0 lead then outlasted the Texans.

The Titans finished the regular season atop the AFC at 12-5 to capture a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the post-season.

"We knew what we were playing for," Tannehill said. "We found a way to make plays down the stretch when we needed it and that's why I'm proud of our guys."

If the Titans had lost Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs would have claimed the number one spot in the AFC. The Green Bay Packers had already sealed the top seed in the NFC.

Tannehill finished with four touchdowns, the first time the Texas-born quarterback has had three or more touchdown passes in a game since he did it in October against the Indianapolis Colts.

Tennessee grabbed a 21-point lead but Houston went to work reeling off 18 consecutive points, closing the gap to just three points in the final quarter.

After Tannehill connected with receiver Julio Jones for a 3-yard touchdown, the Texans came right back on a Davis Mills 26-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola to make it 28-25 in the fourth.

The Titans used their final drive to seal the victory.

"Things weren't going the way we wanted it to in the second half. We needed a play and I'm just glad I was able to make it," said Tannehill of his touchdown pass to Jones.

Elsewhere, Ben Roethlisberger is hopeful that Sunday won't be his last dance after the Pittsburgh Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive by edging the Baltimore Ravens 16-13 in overtime.

The Steelers will make the playoffs as long as the San Diego Chargers-Las Vegas Raiders game on Sunday night doesn't end in a draw.

Kicker Chris Boswell booted a 36-yard field goal with just under two minutes left in overtime to lift the Steelers to victory.

Roethlisberger, who likely will retire at the end of this season, set up the winning kick when he completed a 10-yard pass over the middle to Ray-Ray McCloud for a clutch first down.

The Steelers and Ravens would have both been eliminated had the game ended deadlocked.

The Ravens were missing superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed a fourth straight game with an ankle injury.

In the second quarter, Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt tied Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2 sacks.


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