Saints alive!

New Orleans gets closer to playoffs

Posted: Monday, December 18, 2000

The New Orleans Saints were lucky -- they didn't have to deal with bad weather on a day when snow, rain and frosty conditions were the NFL's big winners.

Playing inside the Superdome, the Saints moved to the brink of clinching their first playoff spot since 1992 with a 23-7 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons.

Only a tie in Monday night's game between St. Louis and Tampa Bay -- there has not been a tie in the NFL since 1997 -- can prevent the Saints from reaching postseason play.

''I don't know of too many teams that go 3-13, then have won 10 games to this point this season,'' Saints coach Jim Haslett said. ''The way these guys have stuck together and really become a family, the way they feed off one another, that's the biggest thing I'm proud of.''

Terrell Owens had plenty to be proud of, too. While the San Francisco 49ers and their fans were honoring Jerry Rice on possibly his final home game, Owens caught an NFL-record 20 passes for 283 yards in a 17-0 win over Chicago.

Owens broke Tom Fears' mark of 18 catches set with the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 3, 1950, against Green Bay. Owens also topped Rice's franchise record of 16 receptions against the Los Angeles Rams in 1994.

The New York Giants clinched the NFC East, beating winning 17-13 at Dallas.

The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, meanwhile, missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight week.

Detroit guard Jeff Hartings recovered James Stewart's fumble in the end zone with 5:43 left, lifting the Lions over the Jets 10-7.

Hartings tried to celebrate the first TD of his five-year career, but got bogged down in the muck and mire at the Meadowlands.

''Offensive linemen don't get touchdowns, don't think about touchdowns,'' he said. ''We just think about getting touchdowns for the other guys and letting them dance.''

The Dolphins lost to Indianapolis 20-13.

In many places, brutal weather ruled.

At Cincinnati, the wind chill factor was 20 degrees below zero and the field was so blanketed by snow that the officials had the Bengals' grounds crew paint orange sidelines and goal lines.

At Cleveland, snow covered the field and players on both sidelines crowded around space heaters to ward off a wind chill factor of minus-10.

And in Buffalo, the driving snow that made it tough to play football also shut the airport, stranding the New England Patriots after their 13-10 overtime win.

Saints 23, Falcons 7

Aaron Brooks, making just his fourth NFL start, completed 24 of 35 passes for 285 yards for New Orleans.

The Saints (10-5) are hoping to earn the fifth playoff berth in their 34-year history.

49ers 17, Bears 0

After Jerry Rice's daughter sang the national anthem, the NFL's most prolific pass catcher made a 25-yard reception on San Francisco's first play.

With video tributes on the scoreboard all day, Rice finished with seven catches for 74 yards. The crowd saluted him throughout the game with chants of ''Jerry! Jerry!'' and he took a victory lap after it was over.

Giants 17, Cowboys 13

Kerry Collins threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer, and an interception by Emmanuel McDaniel set up an 8-yard TD run by Tiki Barber as New York won its first division since 1997.

The Giants (11-4) won for the fourth straight time since coach Jim Fassel guaranteed they were going to the playoffs. New York can clinch the NFC's top seed with a victory Saturday at home against Jacksonville.

The Cowboys fell to 5-10.

Colts 20, Dolphins 13

NFL rushing leader Edgerrin James ran for 112 yards and Peyton Manning threw for 206 yards as Indianapolis won at Miami in a matchup of playoff contenders.

The Colts (9-6) will make the postseason if they beat Minnesota and the New York Jets lose at Baltimore in the season finale.

For the second week in a row, the Dolphins (10-5) missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot. Miami can still make it if they win Sunday at New England.

Lions 10, Jets 7

James Stewart ran for a career-best 164 yards and Detroit kept alive its playoff hopes

The Lions (9-6) need to beat Chicago next week and get help to reach the postseason.

John Hall of the Jets missed a 35-yard field goal try with nine second left. New York (9-6) must win at Baltimore next week or get lots of help to make the playoffs.

Titans 24, Browns 0

Tennessee moved closer to clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as Eddie George ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns at Cleveland.

The defending AFC champion Titans (12-3) posted their first shutout in seven seasons, when the team was located in Houston. Jeff Fisher's 60th victory made him the winningest coach in franchise history, passing Bum Phillips' 59 with the Oilers.

Chiefs 20, Broncos 7

Tony Richardson ran for 156 yards, the most by a Kansas City back in a decade, and the Chiefs stopped Denver's six-game winning streak.

The loss at chilly Arrowhead Stadium cost the Broncos (10-5) a chance to tie Oakland for the AFC West lead. Kansas City (7-8) swept the season series for the second straight year.


New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk dives into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown run during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2000. The Patriots won 13-10. (AP Photo/Peter Barber)

AP Photo/Peter Barber

Richardson, playing on his 29th birthday, posted the biggest rushing day for the Chiefs since Barry Word ran for 200 yards in 1990.

Ravens 13, Cardinals 7

Jamie Sharper's interception set up Baltimore's only touchdown as the playoff-bound Ravens once again relied on defense to win.

The Ravens (11-4) were outgained 309-214 at Arizona, yet still won their sixth in a row.

The Cardinals (3-12) got inside Baltimore's 30 five times without scoring. The Ravens, trying to tie the NFL record of five shutouts in a season, gave up Jake Plummer's 26-yard TD pass to Frank Sanders in the middle of the third quarter.

Packers 33, Vikings 28

Brett Favre threw three touchdown passes and Ahman Green ran for a career-high 161 yards as Green Bay stopped Minnesota's 13-game home winning streak.

The Vikings (11-4) could have clinched home-field advantage with a victory.

Ryan Longwell kicked four field goals for the Packers (8-7), who must beat Tampa Bay next Sunday at Lambeau Field to have a chance at reaching the playoffs.

Bengals 17, Jaguars 14

Rookie Neil Rackers kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired, lifting Cincinnati over visiting Jacksonville.

Danny Farmer, a Los Angeles native playing for the first time in the snow, caught passes of 38, 22 and 19 yards as the Bengals (4-11) drove toward a tying touchdown with 3:22 left.

Patriots 13, Bills 10, OT

Adam Vinatieri redeemed himself by making a 24-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in overtime for New England.

Vinatieri had missed seven of his 11 previous field-goal tries at Buffalo, including a 27-yarder at the end of regulation.

The Bills had a chance to win with six minutes left in overtime, but Steve Christie's 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

Panthers 30, Chargers 22

Iheanyi Uwaezuoke scored on a 64-yard punt return and Doug Evans returned a blocked field goal 54 yards for another touchdown as Carolina beat San Diego.

The visiting Chargers (1-14) clinched the worst record in the league and top pick in the draft. The Panthers (7-8) overcame a 22-14 deficit late in the third quarter.

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