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Chiefs, Saints clinch playoff berths

KANSAS CITY: Darrel Williams #31 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes against Josey Jewell #47 of the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter of a game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 06, 2020. – AFP

LOS ANGELES: Patrick Mahomes threw for 318 yards and a touchdown and Harrison Butker kicked five field goals as the Kansas City Chiefs secured a playoff berth with a 22-16 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Receiver Travis Kelce caught eight passes for 136 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter as the Chiefs improved to 11-1 for the second time in franchise history. “We just keep building,” said Kelce. “We knew coming into the season that we have to rebuild a championship team. We had different pieces and we had to put them all together to make a sound team. I think you saw that tonight.”

The Chiefs won their 11th straight game against the Broncos, a streak that dates back five years. They will clinch the division championship if they win any of their four remaining games, including next Sunday’s meeting with the Miami Dolphins. They are a half-game behind the 11-0 Pittsburgh Steelers in the race for the AFC’s top playoff seed. The Chiefs will also be in the postseason for the sixth straight season, a team record. Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Broncos quarterback Drew Lock twice, including one pick with just 24 seconds left that helped seal the game.

Mayfield’s stellar half
Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for four first-half touchdowns as the Browns scored on all six first-half possessions to beat the Tennessee Titans 41-35. The Browns’ six scores led to 38 points, which established a franchise record for points in the first half. Mayfield completed 25 of 33 passes for 334 yards. The only other Browns’ quarterback to throw four touchdowns in the first half was Otto Graham in 1951.

“Great plays. Up front, the protection was great, and our guys were getting open and making those plays. It is a combination,” said Mayfield. The Browns had a chance to add to their points total, but Donovan Peoples-Jones couldn’t hold on to a potential scoring pass. That led to kicker Cody Parkey’s 27-yard field goal with just under 11 minutes to go in the first quarter. Cleveland improved to 9-3 on the season, while the Titans fell into a first place tie in the AFC South Division with Indianapolis, who beat Houston 26-20. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill finished 29 of 45 for 389 yards with three touchdowns. He also had an interception. League rushing leader Derrick Henry was held to 60 yards on 15 carries for Tennessee.

Rodgers ‘fun’ milestone
In Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, and the Packers held on to defeat the struggling Philadelphia Eagles 30-16. Rodgers turned 37 on Wednesday but is showing no signs of slowing down. He reached 400 touchdown passes in his 193rd regular-season game, making him the fastest in history to achieve the milestone.

Rodgers did it in 12 fewer games than Drew Brees, who was previously the fastest to 400. “Those are fun milestones for sure,” Rodgers said. “It does speak to the consistency over a long period of time that I’m very proud of.” He got plenty of help Sunday from Aaron Jones, who gained 130 yards on 15 carries. Jones’ best moment was a 77-yard touchdown run with 2:51 to play to seal the victory.

Davante Adams had a nine-yard touchdown catch for the only points of the third quarter. He finished with 10 catches for 121 yards for the Packers, who improved to 9-3 on the season. The Eagles have lost four straight, and the offense has been sputtering under quarterback Carson Wentz. Jaylen Hurts replaced Wentz on the Eagles’ second possession of the second half. The move seemed to give them a lift. Philadelphia scored only three points in the game’s first 52 minutes but then scored two quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make it interesting.

Also, Taysom Hill threw for two touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints became the first NFC team to clinch a playoff spot with a 21-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. New Orleans improved to 10-2 with a ninth consecutive win to and clinched their fourth playoffs appearance in a row. The victory gave the first-place Saints a three-game lead over Tampa Bay in the NFC South. Alvin Kamara also ran for a touchdown for New Orleans. Hill improved to 3-0 while replacing Drew Brees, who is eligible to come off of injured reserve next week. – AFP

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