Monday’s NFL: Eagles win, clinch No. 1 seed in NFC
Philadelphia – The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Philadelphia.
Jake Elliott kicked a 48-yard field goal with 22 seconds left, and the Eagles clinched the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs with a sloppy 19-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.
The Eagles (13-2) went to the Super Bowl and lost 24-21 to New England the last time they had home-field advantage following the 2004 season.
They’ll need the edge after a second straight poor performance. The defense struggled in a 34-29 win at the Giants last week. The offense was awful against the Raiders.
“We played great team ball,” cornerback Patrick Robinson said. “The offense didn’t play as well as they have been, the defense had to step up.”
Ronald Darby intercepted Derek Carr’s pass and ran it back 52 yards with 54 seconds left, but was ruled down by contact at the spot of the pick. Nick Foles then completed four straight passes for 21 yards. After an incomplete pass, Elliott nailed his kick right down the middle.
“We have to pick up for each other,” Darby said.
Derek Barnett returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown after picking up a lateral on Oakland’s final play from scrimmage.
Coming off a 12-4 season, the Raiders (6-9) were a popular pick to challenge the Patriots for the AFC title. But they were eliminated from the playoff chase on Sunday.
Still, playing for pride, Oakland nearly spoiled Philadelphia’s Christmas.
“Defensive battle, hard-fought game, certainly had our chances,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “We ran it well, struggled throwing it. Defense played extremely well.”
Making his second start since MVP candidate Carson Wentz tore his left ACL, Foles had a tough time on a windy night. He was 19 of 38 for 163 yards with one TD and one interception. He had four TD passes and no picks against New York.
“I didn’t play good enough,” Foles said. “I have to play cleaner, (need) pinpoint accuracy and good decisions on third downs.”
Carr was even worse. He was 15 of 29 for 140 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
“Anytime you give the ball to the other team, it hurts,” Carr said. “We got to help (the defense) out.”
Carr threw a 63-yard TD pass to Amari Cooper to tie it at 7 early in the second quarter. Cooper was wide open after cornerback Jalen Mills tried to jump the route.
Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 25-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead.
The teams traded turnovers on three straight possessions, starting with Robinson intercepting Carr and returning it to Oakland’s 44.
Eagles left guard Chance Warmack then caused Jay Ajayi to fumble when he tried to push the pile and hit his teammate. The Raiders recovered at their 30, but gave it back on the next play when Marshawn Lynch fumbled at the same spot.
Philadelphia couldn’t do much with excellent field position and settled for Elliott’s tying 35-yard field goal.
After Tavecchio missed a 48-yard field goal with 7:58 remaining, Foles threw a pass that bounced off Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz’s hands and was intercepted by Reggie Nelson at the Eagles 37.
But Philadelphia quickly got the ball back when Malcolm Jenkins stripped Jalen Richard and recovered it at the Eagles 16. The offense went three-and-out.
Oakland’s first drive ended with Carr throwing the ball away on fourth-and-2 from Philadelphia’s 42.
The Eagles scored on the ensuing possession when Foles tossed a 17-yard TD pass to Ajayi for a 7-0 lead. Corey Clement ran 2 yards on fourth-and-1 to extend the drive.
Pittsburgh 34, (at) Houston 6: Ben Roethlisberger threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and the Steelers clinched a first-round playoff bye.
Roethlisberger threw passes to six players as Pittsburgh (12-3) romped over the lowly Texans (4-11) despite missing NFL leading receiver Antonio Brown, who sat out with a calf injury.
The Steelers led 20-0 at halftime after taking advantage of two turnovers by the Texans. Le’Veon Bell added a 10-yard TD run late in the third quarter and rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster made it 34-6 with an 18-yard touchdown grab in the fourth.
Bell finished with 14 carries for 69 yards and Smith-Schuster had six receptions for 75 yards.
T.J. Yates was 7 of 16 for 83 yards and a touchdown for the Texans, who lost their fifth straight game and for the eighth time in nine games. Yates made his second straight start since Tom Savage sustained a concussion. Yates left the game briefly on Monday to be evaluated for a concussion, and his replacement, Taylor Heinicke, sustained a concussion on his only full possession.
Roethlisberger was replaced by backup Landry Jones with about six minutes remaining and the game well in hand.
The Steelers hurried and harassed Yates all day with Mike Hilton leading the way with three sacks and three quarterback hits, Cameron Heyward adding two and forcing a fumble.
The Texans couldn’t do much right on a day their home stadium was overtaken by vocal Steelers fans waving their Terrible Towels. One of the few highlights came on an acrobatic 3-yard touchdown reception by DeAndre Hopkins in the fourth quarter. Hopkins deflected the ball with his right hand, reeled it in with his left and got both feet down before falling out of bounds for his NFL-best 13th touchdown reception.
The Steelers took a 10-0 lead when Roethlisberger connected with Justin Hunter on a 5-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Alfred Blue had a 48-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to get the Texans to the Pittsburgh 18-yard line. The Texans got to the 1 on second down later in that drive, but couldn’t do anything on the next two plays before Yates was intercepted in the end zone.
Pittsburgh added a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Roosevelt Nix on the ensuing possession. Heyward sacked Yates three plays later and caused a fumble recovered by Bud Dupree to give the Steelers the ball right back.
Pittsburgh added a 36-yard field goal on the next drive to push the lead to 20-0.
Yates was sacked again on Houston’s next possession and injured on the play. He left the game to be evaluated for a concussion, forcing the Texans to play Heinicke.
Heinicke finished that possession and remained in the game for the first drive of the third quarter while Yates was being evaluated. But Heinicke took a hard hit on a sack on the last play of that drive and had to be evaluated for a concussion, too.
Jags lose WR Strong
The Jaguars have lost receiver Jaelen Strong for the season. The player said Monday he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at San Francisco. Strong announced the news in two Instagram posts.
Strong caught three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown in a 44-33 loss to the 49ers.