NFL Scores Week 17: Best Performances by Playoff-Bound Teams
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While the Houston Texans are stumbling into the playoffs after falling from the No. 1 to No. 3 seed, a number of playoff-bound teams put on some great performances in the regular-season finale.
Starting in Indianapolis, the Colts put an end to the Texans' hold on the No. 1 seed in Chuck Pagano's return to the sidelines.
Although Indy was a lock for the No. 5 seed, and technically didn't have anything to play for, the Colts let everyone know they're not to be counted out come playoff time.
Andrew Luck shredded a Texans defense that came into the game tied for eighth in points allowed. The No. 1 pick threw for just 191 yards but made a number of pinpoint passes—none better than a 70-yard touchdown strike down the seam to fellow rookie T.Y. Hilton.
Indianapolis was actually outgained in this game, 352-265, but former Miami Dolphin Vontae Davis recorded two critical interceptions that stopped Houston dead in its tracks.
Taking down the division winner, 28-16, was a huge victory for the Chuckstrong nation.
Minnesota Vikings 37, Green Pay Packers 34
All eyes were on Adrian Peterson in this one, and the MVP candidate didn't disappoint.
Although All Day finished nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, he still put on a show in the Vikings' playoff-clinching win over their division-winning rivals.
As they've done all season, the Vikings asked Peterson and his bionic knee to carry the load.
And boy did he deliver.
Carrying the ball a season-high 34 times, Peterson slashed Green Bay's defense for 199 yards and his 12th rushing touchdown of the year. The game's best back, and arguably its best overall player, averaged just under six yards per carry, routinely breaking tackles in his quest for the record books.
Minnesota failed to play any defense—it surrendered four touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers—but it didn't matter.
Peterson put the team on his back and carried the Vikings straight into the playoffs.
That's an MVP, folks.
Denver Broncos 38, Kansas City Chiefs 3
In a magnificent display of efficiency, the biggest challenger to Peterson in the MVP race completed 23 of 29 passes for 304 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns. Once again, Manning routinely looked to his top two receivers, connecting with Demaryius Thomas seven times for 122 yards and a score and Eric Decker seven times for 76 yards and a pair of TDs.
As good as the Broncos were through the air, John Fox's club pounded the ball down the Chiefs' throat 43 times for 172 yards.
Lance Ball led the way with 66 yards and a score on 11 carries, and Jacob Hester averaged nearly eight yards per carry.
Denver completely dominated on defense—hopefully putting an end to the Brady Quinn era in K.C.
Von Miller picked up another sack to finish the year with 18.5 as the Broncos held the Chiefs to a laughable 119 total yards. That's how a No. 1 seed should play.
New England Patriots 28, Miami Dolphins 0
New England saved its best defensive effort for last, pitching its only shutout of the season against the pop-gun Miami offense.
Ryan Tannehill had no shot at beating the Patriots, as New England played tight coverage and racked up seven sacks in wrapping up the No. 2 seed.
Rookie undrafted free agent Justin Francis led the way with three sacks, and his role could continue to expand after underrated star Rob Ninkovich went down with a hip injury early in the game. Francis' playing time has increased in recent weeks, but can he replace the steady Ninkovich?
Offensively, the Pats got back to being efficient and balanced. Stevan Ridley picked up 74 yards to finish his breakout year with 1,263 rushing yards and a dozen touchdowns.
As for Tom Brady?
He was terrific.
The two-time MVP completed 22 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the season with 34 TDs and just eight interceptions.
In securing the No. 2 seed, New England can use the bye week to allow Rob Gronkowski and some other banged up players to heal.
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