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NFL playoff picture comes into view

Gridiron Grizzlies beat Redskins keep bear-hug on division title

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2001

LANDOVER, Md. -- Linebacker Brian Urlacher caught a 27-yard touchdown pass, his first career NFL reception, from holder Brad Maynard with 9:55 left Sunday, giving the Chicago Bears a 20-15 victory over the Washington Redskins.

The victory kept the Bears (11-3) in first place in the NFC Central. Coupled with Tampa Bay's 48-21 victory over New Orleans, the Redskins (6-8) were eliminated from playoff contention with their third straight loss at home.

Trailing 20-13, the Redskins had a chance to tie on their final drive. Starting at their 36 with 3:15 remaining, they moved to Chicago's 3.

But Stephen Davis was stuffed for no gain on the next play, and two incomplete passes ended the threat with 1:25 remaining.

Maynard ran out of the end zone for a safety with 20 seconds left for the game's final points.

Steelers 47, Lions 14

PITTSBURGH -- Kordell Stewart threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as Pittsburgh improved to 12-2 for the first time since 1978 with its seventh straight victory.

The Steelers can wrap up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by winning next Sunday at Cincinnati. Detroit fell to 1-13.

Mike McMahon, Detroit's rookie quarterback, lost two fumbles and threw an interception in the first 18 minutes. The mistakes led to two touchdowns and a 27-7 Steelers lead.

Stewart, who had only two 200-yard passing games the previous two seasons, went over 200 for the eighth time this season with 226 yards. He had touchdowns of 4 yards to Matt Cushing, 5 yards to Hines Ward and 19 to Plaxico Burress and scrambled for a 2-yard touchdown.

Bucs 48, Saints 21

TAMPA, Fla. -- Brad Johnson threw three touchdown passes and Martin Gramatica kicked four field goals before being injured on an extra point as Tampa Bay rebounded from a 24-point road loss to Chicago.

The Bucs (8-6) took a big step toward making the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons and took a one-game lead over New Orleans (7-7) in the race for an NFC wild-card spot.

Mike Alstott rushed for 101 yards and one touchdown, while Ronde Barber returned one of his three interceptions 36 yards for a TD.

Giants 27, Seahawks 24

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kerry Collins threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard with 20 seconds left as defending NFC champion New York won for the second straight week with a last-minute touchdown.

Rams 38, Panthers 32

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kurt Warner became the first player in St. Louis history to throw for 4,000 yards twice, Marshall Faulk passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the fifth straight season and Torry Holt went over 1,000 yards receiving.

The victory improved the Rams (12-2) to 8-0 on the road, a stat that bodes well in history. Four of the five teams since 1970 who had perfect road records went on to win the Super Bowl.

The Panthers (1-13) are on their own collision course with history, on track to become the first NFL team to lose 15 straight. Carolina has not won since opening day.

Jaguars 33, Vikings 3

MINNEAPOLIS -- Stacey Mack rushed for two touchdowns and 111 yards in Jacksonville's rout of Minnesota.

The Vikings lost another quarterback to injury, went without a touchdown for the second time in the last three home games and dropped to 5-9.

Ravens 16, Bengals 0

BALTIMORE -- Ray Lewis had two of Baltimore's three interceptions off Jon Kitna, and the Ravens overcame a 127-yard rushing performance by Corey Dillon to defeat Cincinnati.

Terry Allen scored the game's lone touchdown, and Matt Stover kicked three field goals as Baltimore (9-5) enhanced its wild-card hopes with its first shutout of the season.

Falcons 33, Bills 30

ATLANTA -- Jay Feely made all four of his field-goal attempts, including a 52-yarder on the final play, and Chris Chandler passed for a career-high 431 yards to keep Atlanta in the playoff race.

Before Sunday, Feely was 11-for-18 at the Georgia Dome and 12-for-12 on the road. The game-winner was his second-longest kick of the season; he had a 55-yarder at Arizona.

Chandler threw two touchdown passes and drove the Falcons (7-7) 23 yards to set up Feely's kick that snapped a three-game losing streak. It was the first time an Atlanta quarterback threw for more than 400 yards since Steve Bartkowski had 416 on Nov. 15, 1981, against Pittsburgh.

Chiefs 20, Chargers 17

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tony Richardson's 1-yard touchdown run with 48 seconds left for Kansas City handed San Diego its eighth straight loss.

Chargers strong safety Rodney Harrison was called for roughing the passer in the Chiefs' last-minute drive, wiping out Leonardo Carson's interception and giving Kansas City a first-and-goal from the 4.

Then Harrison was whistled for defensive holding against Tony Gonzalez, then Richardson followed with his TD run for the Chiefs (5-9).

Packers 30, Browns 7

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre threw three touchdown passes as Green Bay ended a two-year postseason drought by beating Cleveland (6-8) at cold, snowy Lambeau Field.

Favre, who completed 18 of 28 passes for 139 yards and no interceptions, extended his NFL record with his sixth 30-touchdown season.

Green Bay (10-4) remained a game behind Chicago in the NFC Central. If the Packers gain a game on the Bears in the last two weeks, they own the tiebreaker and would get a home playoff game with the division title.

The Packers have never lost a playoff game at home, and Favre is 29-0 at home when the temperature is 34 or below. On Sunday, it was 24 degrees at kickoff.

Cardinals 17, Cowboys 10

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Dallas and Emmitt Smith dominated Arizona everywhere but the scoreboard as the Cowboys clinched at least a tie for last in the NFC East.

Dallas had a 21-11 advantage in first downs and led 343-209 in total yards, but Smith's 80th career 100-yard rushing game couldn't overcome Dallas' mistakes against Arizona (6-8).

Smith, who said this week he wants more carries, got his wish with 128 yards in 26 attempts for the Cowboys (4-10). Smith, the No. 2 NFL career rusher behind Walter Payton, is 16 yards short of 16,000, and he needs 182 in the last two games to reach 1,000 for the 11th straight year.

Jets 29, Colts 28

INDIANAPOLIS -- For the second straight week, New York won by a single point as Vinny Testaverde found Anthony Becht for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter.

This time, it was a 6-yard pass with 58 seconds left, giving New York the victory at Indianapolis.

The Jets stopped the Colts on downs on the next series to preserve the victory.



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