Giants miss out on play-offs
A review of Sunday's action in the NFL.
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Defending Super Bowl champions the New York Giants failed to make the play-offs despite beating the Philadelphia Eagles 42-7 on Sunday.
The Giants (9-7) needed to beat the Eagles (4-12) and have other results go their way, but Chicago's win in Detroit ensured Tom Coughlin's side could not qualify for the post-season.
Jay Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and helped seal the game with a late 19-yard run for the Bears in their 26-24 win over the Lions, but their play-off hopes were later crushed.
Chicago (10-6) still needed Minnesota to lose to Green Bay to reach the post-season, but the Vikings edged the Packers 37-34 to earn a wild card.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 26 yards on the final drive, getting Minnesota (10-6) within straightforward field-goal range for rookie kicker Blair Walsh to send the Vikings into the play-offs for the first time since the 2009 season.
Peterson finished with 2,097 yards - eight short of Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105.
Green Bay and Minnesota will meet again next weekend at Lambeau Field in a wild-card game.
In Sunday's final match, Washington were crowned NFC East champions and claimed the last NFC berth courtesy of a 28-18 victory over Dallas in their winner-takes-all regular-season finale.
Defeat would have sent the Redskins out of the post-season, but quarterback Robert Griffin III ran for 63 yards and a touchdown while fellow rookie Alfred Morris found the end zone three times and finished with 200 yards to secure the win.
The result earned Washington (10-6) their first division title since 1999 and meant the Cowboys (8-8) missed the play-offs for the third year running.
Denver (13-3) clinched the top seed in the AFC play-offs thanks to a 38-3 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Peyton Manning threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns as the Broncos extended their winning streak to 11 games and edged Houston for the number one seed following the Texans' earlier loss.
Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Deji Karim scored a 101-yard kick-off return in the third quarter as the Indianapolis Colts overcame Houston 28-16.
In Chuck Pagano's first game back as coach since starting treatment for leukaemia in September, the Colts (11-5) headed into the play-offs as the number five seeds.
The Texans (12-4) have lost three of their last four games and saw JJ Watt fail to break Michael Strahan's single-season sacks record.
New England secured a play-off bye with a 28-0 victory over Miami, Tom Brady throwing two TD passes to give the Patriots (11-5) an extra week to prepare for their post-season opener and ensure the Dolphins (7-9) ended with a losing record for the fourth consecutive season.
The San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) will head into the post-season with some momentum after claiming a second straight NFC West crown with a 27-13 success over the Arizona Cardinals (5-11).
Michael Crabtree caught two TD passes to finish with a career-high 172 yards for the Niners, as the Cardinals (5-11) slumped to an 11th loss in 12 games.
San Francisco's win ended Seattle's hopes of winning the title and getting a home play-off game.
The Seahawks (11-5) will be the number five seed after a 20-13 win over the the St Louis Rams (7-8-1).
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson tied Manning's NFL record for most TD passes by a rookie when he moved onto 26 with a third-quarter score on Sunday.
The Atlanta Falcons could not follow through with their plan to gain momentum for the play-offs as they went down 22-17 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Falcons (13-3) had little to play for as they already have home-field advantage throughout the NFC play-offs.
Tennessee became the first team in NFL history with two players scoring twice on returns in a game as the Titans (6-10) beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-20.
Darius Reynaud scored on two punt returns and rookie linebacker Zach Brown returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
The Jaguars (2-14) wrapped up their worst season with their 12th loss in 13 games.
CJ Spiller scored on a 66-yard catch and run as the Buffalo Bills beat the New York Jets 28-9, with both sides ending the season with a 6-10 record.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) at least avoided their first losing season in almost a decade with a 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns (5-11), while the Cincinnati Bengals secured a 23-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in a game that did not matter much to either team.
The Ravens (10-6) had already clinched their second straight AFC North title, while the Bengals (10-6) were locked into the sixth seed as the final wild-card team.
A high-scoring encounter in New Orleans saw the Saints beaten 44-38 by the Carolina Panthers as both teams ended the season 7-9, while the San Diego Chargers (7-9) finished with a 24-21 win over the Oakland Raiders (4-12).