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NFL roundup: Aaron Rodgers returns to rally Packers past Bears and into playoffs
Question of the Day
CHICAGO — Aaron Rodgers fired a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 33-28 to capture the NFC North championship.
Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide open Cobb on fourth-and-8 at the 48 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.
Green Bay will host San Francisco in the playoffs next weekend.
The Bears had one final drive, but Jay Cutler’s deep pass to Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Sam Shields on the final play.
That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to help the Denver Broncos clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a win over the Oakland Raiders.
Manning needed just one half to add the yards record to the touchdown mark he set last week and assure that the Broncos (13-3) won’t have to leave home again until the Super Bowl if they make it that far. He threw touchdown passes to Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter and added two to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. He broke Drew Brees‘ record of 5,476 yards set in 2011 with a 5-yard pass to Thomas with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 31-0.
That ended Manning’s day having completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards. He finished the season with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes.
The Raiders (4-12) ended their 11th straight non-winning season with six straight losses and big questions about the future of second-year coach Dennis Allen.
SAINTS 42, BUCCANEERS 17
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans clinched a wild-card spot with a victory over Tampa Bay.
Three of Brees‘ scoring strikes were longer than 40 yards — 76 to Kenny Stills, 44 to Lance Moore and 41 to Robert Meachem. Brees passed for 381 yards, eclipsing 5,000 yards in a season for an unprecedented fourth time. He finished the season with 5,162 yards to go with 39 touchdowns.
Brees‘ other TD was a 10-yard pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, and the Saints (11-5) finished 8-0 in the Superdome.
Mike Glennon passed for 219 yards and two TDs for Tampa Bay (4-12). With doubts swirling about the future of second-year Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, the Bucs closed the season with losses in their last three games, and four of their last five.
By Orrin G. Hatch
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