Originally created 12/18/06

Bears get help to clinch home-field



CHICAGO - The Chicago Bears earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs the hard way.

Chicago blew a 24-3 second-half lead Sunday and then recovered with big plays from backups Rashied Davis and Adrian Peterson in overtime to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-31.

Robbie Gould, who missed earlier in overtime from 37 yards, connected on a 25-yard field goal with 3:37 left to give the Bears the victory.

Coupled with Washington's upset win at New Orleans, the Bears (12-2) got the home-field advantage in all of their games during the NFC playoffs. The NFC North champions had already earned a first-round bye.

RAVENS 27, BROWNS 17

In Baltimore, Kyle Boller finished what Steve McNair started.

With McNair watching from the sideline with an injured right hand, Boller carried the Ravens into the playoffs, throwing two touchdown passes.

Because of his fine play in the Ravens' first 13 games, McNair put Baltimore in position to clinch a postseason berth by defeating the Browns. The veteran quarterback could not complete the task, however, after having his right hand cut open during the second series of the game.

TITANS 24, JAGUARS 17

In Nashville, Tenn., Vince Young and the Tennessee offense couldn't move the ball against the Jaguars. So the Titans' defense beat up David Garrard and returned turnovers 83, 92 and 61 yards for scores as Tennessee won its fifth in a row.

Tennessee (7-7) kept its faint playoff hopes alive. With Jacksonville (8-6) losing, Indianapolis clinched the AFC South title.

BILLS 21, DOLPHINS 0

In Orchard Park, N.Y., J.P. Losman kept Buffalo's slim playoff hopes alive, throwing three touchdown passes.

The Bills (7-7) have won five of their past seven. The Dolphins (6-8), coming off a 21-0 win over New England, were eliminated from postseason contention.

JETS 26, VIKINGS 13

In Minneapolis, Chad Pennington and the Jets kept their hands in the playoff chase for at least one more week. The Vikings are just about out of the running.

Pennington bounced back from a bad game with 339 yards passing and one touchdown, leading the Jets (8-6) to their third consecutive road victory.

The Vikings (6-8) had a chance to thrust themselves into the wide-open NFC wild-card race but couldn't take advantage.

REDSKINS 16, SAINTS 10

In New Orleans, the Saints made the playoffs by default, losing to Washington while their only remaining pursuer in the NFC South, Carolina, was eliminated from the division race by a loss to Pittsburgh.

The Redskins played more like a team looking to quiet harsh criticism than a unit already out of contention for the postseason, racking up 161 yards rushing.

PACKERS 17, LIONS 9

In Green Bay, Wis., Brett Favre broke Dan Marino's career completions record, but the Packers had to overcome three interceptions by the three-time MVP for a victory over Detroit.

It was only the second home victory all season for the Packers (6-8).

Favre connected with Carlyle Holiday for his 4,968th completion.

PATRIOTS 40, TEXANS 7

In Foxborough, Mass., the Patriots dominated the Texans just one week after their worst loss of the season raised doubts how far they could go in the playoffs.

After a six-week stretch in which the Patriots were just 3-3 with 19 turnovers, they committed no turnovers while forcing David Carr into four interceptions.

New England (10-4) leads the AFC East and can clinch the title with a win next Sunday at Jacksonville.

BRONCOS 37, CARDINALS 20

In Glendale, Ariz., Jay Cutler got his first NFL victory as a starter, throwing two touchdown passes as Denver (8-6) defeated Arizona to snap a four-game losing streak and keep its playoff hopes alive.

In his third start, Cutler completed 21 of 31 passes for 261 yards and was intercepted once.

Arizona's win streak ended at two.

RAMS 20, RAIDERS 0

In Oakland, St. Louis took advantage of five Raider turnovers, including two that set up touchdown runs by Steven Jackson.

St. Louis (6-8) got just its second win in nine games.