NFL Week 18: Seahawks & Dolphins clinch playoff spots as Aaron Rodgers’ Packers miss out

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers took a good look around as he left Lambeau Field for what could be the last time

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers missed the NFL playoffs after losing 20-16 at home to the Detroit Lions in a dramatic finish to the regular season.

The Seattle Seahawks came in at Green Bay’s expense while the Philadelphia Eagles secured top spot in the NFC and the Dallas Cowboys limped into the playoffs.

The Buffalo Bills had an emotional win against the New England Patriots to help the Miami Dolphins clinch the final AFC playoff spot.

Seahawks poke Packers when Rodgers misses

Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks won in overtime to clinch an unlikely playoff berth

After an impressive rebound from 4-8 with four straight wins, the Packers were in control of their destiny, needing a win at home against the Detroit Lions – who found out just before kickoff that they were eliminated from the playoffs. claim.

The Seattle Seahawks had earned a dramatic overtime victory over the Los Angeles Rams, meaning only Green Bay could deny them in the 271st and very last game of the regular season.

And fittingly for this season, nothing went quite as expected. The Lions kept it close despite having nothing to play for, the Packers had a player ejected and Rodgers threw a late interception in what could very well be his final act in the NFL.

Rookie Kerby Joseph became the first player to catch Rodgers three times in a season. And whether the 39-year-old, named the NFL’s most valuable player four times, will be back next season is still unknown. Rodgers is under contract with Green Bay for next season, but has repeatedly cast doubt on his return.

The Seahawks now travel to the San Francisco 49ers next week in the playoffs after rookie quarterback Brock Purdy led the Niners to a 10th straight win and the second seed in the NFC.

The Eagles take the top spot while Dallas disappoints

Regret hurts
The NFC road to the Super Bowl will go through Philadelphia after Jalen Hurts helped the Eagles beat the Giants

The Philadelphia Eagles gave star quarterback Jalen Hurts a mild runout in his return from injury as they beat the New York Giants backups 22-16 to claim the top spot in the NFC East and the NFC’s top seed — meaning they get next week of when they receive a bye through the first round of playoffs.

Hurts had been a big miss when Philadelphia had lost its previous two games, and while he went through the motions a bit, they won, against a Giants team resting most of its starters with a guaranteed playoff berth.

The Eagles win means the quarterback gets an extra week to rest his injured shoulder and his team will play at home as long as they stay in the playoffs, while the Giants head to Minnesota to play the Vikings next week.

Tom Brady lost for the first time in 12 games against the Atlanta Falcons, but he played just over a quarter in a 30-17 loss that didn’t matter to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When they finished the season 8-9, it ended a streak of 21 consecutive seasons that Brady had finished with a winning record.

The Bucs are at home next week and will fan their chances if the opposing Dallas Cowboys play as poorly as they did in a 26-6 loss to a Washington Commanders team with nothing to play for, which gave its third-round rookie quarterback San Howell his NFL debut .

Dallas still had the top spot in the NFC East to play for if Philadelphia had lost, but couldn’t get anything going as quarterback Dak Prescott threw for just 128 yards and a touchdown while also throwing six as he struggled to hit his targets throughout the night.

“It stinks,” Prescott said. “Fourteen completions, yeah, not good enough. Period.”

Bills earn “spiritual” victory for Hamlin

Nyheim Hines
Nyheim Hines is mobbed by Bills teammates after scoring on the opening kickoff

The Buffalo Bills played for the first time since safety Damar Hamlin had a cardiac arrest during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

And after some emotional tributes for Hamlin in Buffalo before the game against the New England Patriots, the stadium then went wild when Nyheim Hines took the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown on the team’s very first play.

Hines took another kickoff 101 yards for another touchdown as Buffalo took the second seed in the AFC along victory 35-23 which also knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs, but for once Bill Belichick’s side wasn’t the main act.

Hamlin posted on social media from the hospital throughout the game and spoke to his team via video call in the locker room after the game — all of which contributed to a hugely emotional win for the Bills.

“I can’t remember a play that touched me like that in my life, that’s probably number one,” quarterback Josh Allen said of that opening.

“If you want the truth, it was spiritual. It really was. Bone-chilling. It was special.”

Allen also referenced the fact that Hines scored Buffalo’s first kickoff return touchdown in three years and three months — pointing to Hamlin’s number three shirt and suggesting it was no accident.

Dolphins sneak in as Bengals win again

Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow is confident the Bengals can make another Super Bowl

After the Patriots lost, the Miami Dolphins managed to sneak into the playoffs with a thrilling 11-6 victory over the New York Jets – but they will need to perform much better if they are to somehow stop the Bills in Buffalo next week.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers easily winning against the Cleveland Browns, Miami knew they needed a win as they tried to end their five-game losing streak that had seemingly ruined their chances – and they just came through when Jason Sanders booted a 50-yard field goal with 18 seconds left.

Head coach Mike McDaniel secures a playoff spot at the first time of asking, but he must find a way to spark his team’s offense that has been significantly hampered by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s absence with a concussion — and it looks highly unlikely he will be available next week .

The Baltimore Ravens also have a big question about the availability of their superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has not practiced since suffering a knee injury in early December in a 27-16 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals and must return. next week for a rematch in the playoffs.

The Ravens had to start their third-choice quarterback Anthony Brown, who was no match for Joe Burrow and last season’s Super Bowl runner-up, who finished the season with eight straight wins and looks like a team still capable of going all the way.

“The [Super Bowl] the window is my whole career,” a confident Burrow said after the game. “And everyone we have in the locker room, all the coaches we have, things are going to change year to year, but our window is always open.”

While there was drama in the playoff chase, there was also drama at the other end of the standings, as the Houston Texans claimed a dramatic late 32-31 win over the Indianapolis Colts, but one that ultimately cost them dearly. meant that the Chicago Bears finished with the worst record in the NFL and therefore received the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Super Wild Card Weekend Schedule

(All times GMT)

Saturday 14 January

  • Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers (9:30 p.m.)
  • Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (01:15 Sun)

Sunday 15 January

  • Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills (6 p.m.)
  • New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings (9:30 p.m.)
  • Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Monday 1:15 a.m.)

Monday 16 January

  • Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tues 01:15)

The top seeds Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles have a bye to the next round of the playoffs.

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