New England Patriots clinch No 1 seed in AFC with win over New York Jets
31 December 2017, 20:44
Dion Lewis ran for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass to help the New England Patriots clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 26-6 victory over the New York Jets.
The win clinched New England the top seed in the AFC and a seventh 13-win season for the Patriots (13-3), which is second in NFL history to San Francisco 49ers' nine seasons.
It was also Bill Belichick's 250th career regular-season win, moving him into a tie with Tom Landry for third all-time among head coaches, while Tom Brady's 13th win as a starter this season tied him with Brett Favre for the most by a starting quarterback at age 40 or older.
For the game, temperatures dipped to 13 degrees Fahrenheit at kick-off - the coldest regular-season home game in Patriots history - but it did not stop the home team from being aggressive at the outset.
Lewis, who finished with a season-high 26 carries for 93 yards, went in for a three-yard TD run on the opening possession, while in the second quarter Brady hit Brandin Cooks and Lewis each for five-yard scores to make it 21-3 at half-time.
The Jets offense was anaemic throughout, with Bryce Petty at quarterback for the full game - New York were 0 for 12 on third down and 0 for 1 on their lone trip into the redzone.
James Harrison, signed by New England last Tuesday after being cut by AFC rivals Pittsburgh Steelers, had two sacks on consecutive plays to end the game, finishing with five total tackles and a forced fumble.
Elsewhere, in the other early games in the NFL....
Browns 24-28 Steelers
Pittsburgh beat Cleveland 28-24 to make the Browns the second 0-16 team in NFL history, after the 2008 Detroit Lions.
The playoff-bound Steelers started Landry Jones at quarterback in place of Ben Roethlisberger and Jones completed 23-of-27 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown in guiding the Steelers to their 13th win of the season.
Bears 10-23 Vikings
Minnesota (13-3) had a few flaws in their offense and special teams during their 23-10 win over Chicago (5-11) but got the win that guarantees them the No 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Minnesota's last bye in the first round came in 2010.
Texans 13-22 Colts
Indianapolis (4-12) running back Frank Gore rushed for 100 yards on 24 carries to help lead the Colts to a 22-13 victory over Houston (4-12).
Following the game, and despite the win, the Colts fired head coach Chuck Pagano.
Packers 11-35 Lions
Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and also caught a two-point conversion as Detroit (9-7) closed out their season with a 35-11 romp over a depleted Green Bay (7-9).
It may prove to be head coach Jim Caldwell's final game with the Lions franchise. There has been heavy speculation that Caldwell will not be retained for a fifth season.
Cowboys 6-0 Eagles
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler early in the fourth quarter as Dallas (9-7) held on for a 6-0 victory over NFC No 1 seed Philadelphia (13-3).
Eagles coach Doug Pederson opted to keep starting QB Nick Foles against the Cowboys, but he didn't peform well, going 4 of 11 for 39 yards and one interception before being pulled from the action.
Redskins 10-18 Giants
The Giants (3-13) scored two touchdowns in just over two minutes as they topped NFC East rivals Washington (7-9) to earn only their third win of a hugely disappointing season.
New York quarterback Eli Manning made his 216th appearance, which ties Hall-of-Fame defensive end Michael Strahan's franchise record for the most games played in a Giants uniform.
(c) Sky News 2018: New England Patriots clinch No 1 seed in AFC with win over New York Jets