Pats 34 – Bills 20 – New England piled up 267 total rushing yards and ran right over the Bills to earn the number two seed in the AFC. The Pats 6′ 250-lb running back LeGarrette Blount demolished Buffalo’s defense and special teams with a franchise record 334 all-purpose yards.
A 36-yard TD from Blount and a trifecta of FGs gave the Pats a comfortable 16-3 edge at halftime. The teams traded TDs in the second half as the Bills continued their dogged pursuit of the lead. Tom Brady connected on a five-yard TD to Shane Vereen and then found Julian Edelman for the two-point conversion to swell the Patriots advantage to 24-10 at the start of the fourth quarter. Buffalo actually clawed back to within a TD but another timely scoring run of 35 yards from Blount effectively put the game out of reach.
Giants 20 – Redskins 6 – Disappointing seasons for two teams favored to possibly win their division mercifully ended when the Giants gave Washington a drubbing in a virtually empty Met Life Stadium. New York trudged to a 10-6 first half lead before Jerrel Jernigan raced for a 49-yard score to end the third. The Redskins failed to score in the second half as they sleepwalked to their thirteenth loss of the year.
49ers 23 – Cardinals 20 – Two spectacular catches in the final minute set San Fran up to kick a game-winning 40-yard field goal and keep the eleven-win Cardinals from the playoffs. It was all Frisco early as they bullied their way to a 17-0 lead but by the end of the fourth had surrendered seventeen straight of their own. A flurry of three FGs in the game’s final two minutes bounced the lead back and forth until the Niners finally captured the win.
Eagles 24 – Cowboys 22 – A divisional title and playoff spot were on the line when Philly secured a late interception to earn their first berth since 2010. The Eagles raced to a ten-zip lead early into the second quarter and forced Dallas to play catch-up for the rest of the day. Nick Foles threw a pair of TDs as the birds took a 17-10 edge into the break.
Dallas managed to whittle down Philly’s lead to just 17-16 heading into the final stanza. This fourth quarter was going to be the most important quarter of the year for both teams.
Philadelphia earned some breathing room after Bryce Brown ran for the score from six yards out, but Dallas rallied yet again when on fourth and nine Dez Bryant spun out of a tackle to take the ball 32-yards for the potential game-tying score. Dallas failed to convert the two-point conversion, but got the ball back in the final minutes with a game-winning field goal in their sights until Kyle Orton was picked off by Brandon Boykin to send the Cowboys home til next year.
Packers 33 – Bears 28 – The other playoff preview game of the day saw Green Bay rally for a miraculous TD with under a minute remaining to claim their divisional crown and knock Chicago from the playoffs. The Bears got on the board first but surrendered thirteen straight points before intermission. Matt Forte ran for a pair of two short TDs to give Chicago a narrow one-point lead heading into the final frame.
The Bears widened the lead to 28-20 after Brandon Marshall made an acrobatic five-yard TD in the corner of the end zone, but Green Bay fought back behind a hellacious six-yard TD run from Eddie Lacy. A missed two-point conversion set the stage for the game’s epic final minutes.
On fourth and eight with just :46 seconds to play, Aaron Rogers deftly avoided a sack and launched a 48-yard bomb to a wide open Randall Cobb for the stunning win.