Monday December 17, 2012

CHICAGO -- The Green Bay Packers clinched their second straight NFC North title with a 21-13 victory over the archrival Chicago Bears on Sunday.

James Jones caught all three touchdown passes thrown by the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has now won six straight in the NFL’s oldest -- and fiercest -- rivalry.

The Packers (10-4) have won 12 straight against NFC North opponents, the longest streak in the NFL.

Brandon Marshall had a 15-yard TD catch for the Bears, who have lost five of six and are in danger of missing the playoffs after beginning the year 7-1. Clay Matthews continued his torture of Jay Cutler with two sacks, and Alshon Jeffery hurt the Bears (8-6) with three offensive pass interference calls late in the second half.

TEXANS 29, COLTS 17

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans are AFC South champions for the second straight year.

Andre Johnson had 151 yards receiving and a touchdown, Bryan Braman scored on a blocked punt and Shayne Graham kicked five field goals.

The Texans (12-2) grabbed their first AFC South title last season after the Colts nosedived without injured quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning is gone and Andrew Luck couldn’t do much against Houston’s defense.

The Colts (9-5) had won three straight and needed a win to clinch a playoff berth a year after going 2-14.

J.J. Watt had three sacks as Houston’s defense got back on track a week after a 42-14 loss to New England.

The Texans will have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs in they win out.

REDSKINS 38, BROWNS 21

CLEVELAND -- Rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for injured star Robert Griffin III, leading Washington to its fifth straight win.

Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented and multi-dimensional RG3, who sat out with a sprained knee.

Last week, Cousins came off the bench after Griffin got hurt. Cousins was behind center from the start of this one and delivered a performance that extended Washington’s longest winning streak since 2007 and moved the Redskins into a tie for first in the NFC East.

Rookie Trent Richardson had a pair of TD runs for the Browns (5-9).

VIKINGS 36, RAMS 22

ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Peterson ran for a season-best 212 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown that fueled the Minnesota’s big second quarter.

Peterson has 1,812 yards rushing, leaving him 294 shy of breaking the NFL’s single-season record of 2,105 by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984. Peterson, less than a year removed from a serious knee injury, has two games left -- at Houston and home against Green Bay -- to top Dickerson.

The Vikings (8-6) scored 10 of their 23 points in the second quarter off turnovers by Sam Bradford, including a 29-yard interception return by defensive end Everson Griffen.

The Rams fell to 6-7-1.

FALCONS 34, GIANTS 0

ATLANTA -- Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes and Atlanta handed the Giants their first regular-season shutout since 1996.

Julio Jones caught a couple of scoring throws from Ryan, who broke his own franchise records for completions and passing yards in a season. He finished 23 of 28 for 270 yards.

The Falcons (12-2), who have already clinched the NFC South, moved a step closer to locking up home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. One more win would lock it up.

Eli Manning threw two interceptions for New York (8-6), which came into the game with a one-game lead over Washington and Dallas in the NFC East.

BRONCOS 34, RAVENS 17

BALTIMORE -- Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a momentum-turning touchdown, and Denver won its ninth straight.

Peyton Manning threw for 204 yards and a score in his ninth consecutive win against Baltimore, the first with the Broncos (11-3).

Down 10-0 late in the first half, the Ravens had a first-and-goal at the Denver 4 when Harris stepped in front of Anquan Boldin, picked off a pass by Joe Flacco and sprinted down the right sideline en route to the longest regular-season interception return in Broncos history.

The Ravens (9-5) were playing their first game under offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who replaced the fired Cam Cameron.

SAINTS 41, BUCCANEERS 0

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns, and New Orleans posted its first shutout since 1995.

Brees connected on his scoring passes with tight end David Thomas, running back Darren Sproles and receivers Lance Moore and Joe Morgan. Mark Ingram added an 11-yard touchdown run.

Josh Freeman endured one of his worst outings of the season for Tampa Bay (6-8), throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble. Jabari Greer made two interceptions, Rafael Bush and Isa Abdul-Quddus the others. Cameron Jordan forced Freeman’s fumble on a sack and recovered it.

New Orleans (6-8) also bottled up standout rookie running back Doug Martin, holding him to 16 yards on nine carries.

DOLPHINS 24, JAGUARS 3

MIAMI -- Miami kept former teammate Chad Henne out of the end zone, made three fourth-down stops deep in its own territory and benefited from an odd penalty.

Henne, playing in Miami for the first time since he departed as a Dolphins bust last offseason, threw for 221 yards with no turnovers.

But the Dolphins turned back three scoring threats, and a go-ahead touchdown for the Jaguars came off the board because of an illegal-substitution penalty.

Ryan Tannehill went 22 for 28 for 220 yards and two scores with no interceptions to help Miami (6-8). The Jaguars (2-12) helped their chances of getting the No. 1 draft pick next April.