Ravens win playoff berth after Chargers defeated
The Baltimore Ravens captured one of the last two National Football League playoff spots on offer Sunday with a 20-10 victory over Cleveland after San Diego Chargers lost.
Joe Flacco threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally the host Ravens past the Browns while the Chargers, who would have taken the playoff spot instead with a victory, fell 19-7 at Kansas City.
The Ravens finished 10-6 to claim the last American Conference wildcard berth for their sixth playoff appearance in seven seasons. Kansas City, San Diego, Buffalo and Houston each finished one game back from Baltimore.
Flacco connected with Torrey Smith on a 16-yard touchdown pass and a two-yard scoring toss to Kamar Aiken as the Ravens netted the game`s final 17 points.
"Anything is possible in the playoffs," Flacco said. "We`ve just got to go in there and have some confidence."
At Kansas City, Cairo Santos kicked four field goals and Travis Kelce recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to power the Chiefs and doom San Diego`s hopes.
The Chiefs would have made the playoffs with a win and losses by Baltimore and Houston, a 23-17 winner over Jacksonville, and the scores entering the fourth quarter had them in position for such an unlikely feat.
Even without that, Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel, whose only prior NFL start was a win over San Diego in the final game of last season, said Kansas City will take something extra from the triumph.
"It means a lot," Daniel said. "We`re excited. We came out and battled our butts off. It`s good to go out with a notable win."
The last playoff berth available on the final day of the regular season will be decided later Sunday when Carolina visits Atlanta. Despite both teams having clinched losing seasons, the winner takes the NFC South crown and will host a first-round playoff game next weekend while the loser`s season will conclude.
A losing team with something to cheer was Tampa Bay, as the Buccaneers clinched the worst record in the league with a 23-20 home loss to New Orleans.
At 2-14, the Bucs will have the first pick in next year`s NFL Draft, where playing rights for incoming NFL talent are allocated in reverse order of on-field success to help struggling clubs rebuild quickly.
Playoff seedings will be determined as well by Sunday`s later games.
In the National Conference, the day began with Green Bay, Detroit, Dallas, Seattle and Arizona all having a chance at the top playoff seeding and a first-round bye.
In the American Conference, playoff berths already had been sealed by Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
New England lost 17-9 at home to Buffalo but the Patriots had already clinched the top playoff seed, a first-round bye and a home-field edge in the American Conference playoffs.
Buffalo ended a 13-year losing streak at New England to finish 9-7 but missed the playoffs for a 15th consecutive season, the longest active drought in the NFL.