ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas ended a four-year playoff drought Sunday in a dominating 42-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, with Tony Romo throwing four touchdown passes and breaking Troy Aikman’s franchise record for yards passing.
The Cowboys (11-4) emphatically ended a three-game home losing streak, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions.
Dallas had an opening for its first NFC East title and postseason berth since 2009, and first under coach Jason Garrett, because of Philadelphia’s 27-24 loss at Washington on Saturday. The Eagles were eliminated with the Cowboys’ win.
The Colts (10-5) didn’t have much to play for with the AFC South title secured, and looked like it while barely avoiding their first shutout loss in 21 years.
The Cowboys had already ended their three-year rut of 8-8 finishes that included losses in finales that kept them out of the playoffs. But they had to keep winning to make sure they got in.
NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray played with a broken left hand, but the Cowboys didn’t need much from him. He finished with 58 yards, with a 1-yard score.
Seahawks 35, Cardinals 6: In Glendale, Arizona, Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Seattle set a franchise record with 596 yards of offense and the streaking Seahawks closed in on another NFC West title with a 35-6 romp over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night.
Seattle (11-4) moved into a tie with Arizona (11-4) for first in the NFC West and the Seahawks hold the tiebreaker by virtue of two wins over the Cardinals.
Wilson had the longest run of his career (55 yards) and matched the longest pass of his career (80) in the Seahawks’ fifth straight victory.
Marshawn Lynch sat out the first quarter with what the team called an “upset stomach,” then came in to score on a 6-yard run in the second quarter and a spectacular, multiple tackle-breaking 79-yard scoring run in Seattle’s 21-point fourth quarter.
Steelers 20, Chiefs 12: In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger passed for 220 yards and a touchdown, Le’Veon Bell added a score and the Steelers locked up a postseason berth.
Pittsburgh (10-5) faces Cincinnati next week for the AFC North title. Either way, the Steelers will be playing January football for the first time since Tim Tebow and Denver stunned the defending AFC champions in the wild-card round three years ago.
Antonio Brown caught seven passes and a touchdown for Pittsburgh, which has won seven of nine.
Kansas City’s Alex Smith passed for a season-high 311 yards but was sacked six times. The Chiefs (8-7) have lost four of five and need to beat San Diego next Sunday and receive plenty of help to make it back to the playoffs for a second straight year under coach Andy Reid.
Patriots 17, Jets 16: In East Rutherford, New Jersey, Jonas Gray scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter after the Patriots intercepted Geno Smith, and New England clinched a first-round playoff bye.
Tom Brady threw a 3-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski for the Patriots (12-3), who could earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if Denver loses at Cincinnati on Monday night.
With the Jets (3-12) leading 13-10 late in the third quarter, Smith’s pass for Jace Amaro hung in the air for an easy interception by Jamie Collins — and led to Gray’s score minutes later.
Nick Folk’s 52-yard field goal attempt could have given New York a lead with just over five minutes left, but it appeared to be partially blocked and fell short. Brady and the Patriots then ran out the clock.
Lions 20, Bears 14: In Chicago, Joique Bell scored the go-ahead touchdown on a sweet run in the fourth quarter, and Ndamukong Suh had two sacks.
Calvin Johnson added six catches for 103 yards for Detroit (11-4), which came away with a narrow victory over a struggling team after locking up its second trip to the postseason in 15 years. The Bears (5-10) benched quarterback Jay Cutler this week in favor of the undistinguished Clausen.
The Lions secured a playoff spot with Philadelphia’s loss to Washington on Saturday. They were hoping to lock up their first division championship since 1993. But because the Packers beat Tampa Bay, the NFC North race will come down to next week’s game at Green Bay.
Matthew Stafford overcame two interceptions and completed 22 of 39 passes for 243 yards. He hit the 4,000-yard mark for the fourth straight year.
Texans 25, Ravens 13: In Houston, running back Arian Foster threw a touchdown pass, Randy Bullock made a franchise-record six field goals and Houston’s defense dominated to keep slim playoff hopes alive.
The Ravens (9-6) now need some help next week to get into the postseason after Joe Flacco threw a season-high three interceptions and the offense struggled all day.
Houston (8-7) remains in the hunt with the victory, but needs several teams to lose next week.
With three quarterbacks hurt, the Texans started Case Keenum, who got his first win in nine NFL starts.
Foster ran for 96 yards. But his highlight came when he took a pitch from Keenum and, with a defender in his face, threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz to make it 16-0 in the second quarter.
Raiders 26, Bills 24: In Oakland, California, Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes and Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals to help the Raiders knock the Bills from playoff contention.
The Bills (8-7) needed to win their final two games and get some help to end the NFL’s longest active playoff drought at 14 seasons. But they failed at the easiest part, beating the lowly Raiders (3-12), and will miss the playoffs for a 15th straight season.
Oakland has the second-longest active postseason drought at 12 years but has done a good job of playing spoiler in recent weeks, beating Kansas City, San Francisco and Buffalo the past five weeks.
Dolphins 37, Vikings 35: In Miami Gardens, Florida, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, buoyed by a thrilling comeback win, said Joe Philbin will return as coach next season.
Ross made his announcement in the locker room shortly after the Dolphins won on a safety.
Rookie Terrence Fede blocked a punt for a safety with 41 seconds left, and Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdown passes. The Dolphins overcame a 14-0 deficit to take the lead, but trailed again after giving up 15 points in an 11-second span in the fourth quarter.
Philbin’s job had been considered in jeopardy because the Dolphins will miss the playoffs for the sixth year in a row. But they’re 8-7 and have a shot at a winning season if not the playoffs.
Minnesota fell to 6-9.
Rams 37, Giants 27: In St. Louis, former LSU standout Odell Beckham Jr. caught two touchdown passes and rolled up 148 yards receiving against a defense that hadn’t allowed a TD in three straight games.
Beckham set a franchise rookie record with his 10th and 11th TD catches, shattered another rookie mark for receptions and topped 1,000 yards while shrugging off a pair of late hits in the second quarter. The second led to a brawl and three ejections, none of them to starters.
The Giants (6-9) had a season-best 514 yards in total offense and have won three in a row heading into their finale at home against the Eagles. They had lost seven straight before the current streak started.
Kenny Britt made nine catches for 103 yards, and Tre Mason had 13 carries for 76 yards and a score for the Rams (6-9).