49ers stun Rams in OT to reach playoffs, Raiders edge Chargers
Los Angeles (AFP) – The San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to the NFL post-season for the second time in eight years on Sunday, rallying from a 17-point deficit for a thrilling 27-24 overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The 49ers, who started the season 3-5, were down 17-0 in the first half against the Rams before they orchestrated one of the biggest comebacks of the NFL regular season, which wrapped up Sunday.
"We are dangerous, real dangerous. It is about to get scary, let's go," said Niners running back Deebo Samuel, who ran for a touchdown and also finished off a trick play by throwing for one.
The Rams clinched the NFC West title despite the defeat, but they dropped to the No. 4 seed in the NFC.
Gritty quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played through a painful thumb injury for the 49ers, completing 23-of-32 passes for 316 yards with a touchdown.
"It was tested," Garoppolo said of the thumb. "We got the win and that is all that matters."
Garoppolo drove the 49ers down the field in overtime, setting the stage for Robbie Gould's game-winning field goal from 24 yards.
San Francisco cornerback Ambry Thomas helped seal the win late in the fourth with his first career interception.
Carlson comes through
The Las Vegas Raiders also needed overtime to punch their playoff ticket, eliminating the Los Angeles Chargers with a 35-32 victory.
They reached the post-season for the first time since 2016 -- and ensured that the Pittsburgh Steelers advanced.
The Raiders led 29-14 after Daniel Carlson's 52-yard field goal with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Chargers roared back. Quarterback Justin Herbert connected with Joshua Palmer on a 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to pull within 29-20.
Herbert then engineered a 19-play, 83-yard drive that included three fourth-down conversions and finished with Herbert's touchdown pass to Mike Williams.
Carlson booted his fourth field goal of the game to put the Raiders up 32-29 in overtime.
But the Chargers responded with a 41-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins.
From there a rare NFL tie result was possible -- which would have seen both teams advance to the playoffs and the Steelers be shut out.
The Raiders went for the win and Carlson came through.
"We knew no matter what, we didn't want to tie, we wanted to win the football game," said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who completed 20 of 36 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
"Obviously if you tie you're in and all, you think all those things, but my mindset all day was to make sure we were the only team moving on after this."
Titans grab top seed
The Steelers had kept their hopes alive with a 16-13 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens.
The victory, coupled with the Jacksonville Jaguars' 26-11 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, meant the Steelers would advance as long as the Chargers and Raiders didn't tie.
Kicker Chris Boswell booted a 36-yard field goal with just under two minutes left in overtime to seal the Steelers win.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who likely will retire at the end of this season, set up the winning kick when he completed a 10-yard pass over the middle to Ray-Ray McCloud for a clutch first down.
In the second quarter, Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt made a sack to tie Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2 sacks.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, secured the first pick in the NFL entry draft despite knocking the Colts out of playoff contention because Detroit upset Green Bay.
Elsewhere, Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdown passes as the Tennessee Titans secured a top seed in the playoffs by holding on to beat the Houston Texans 28-25.
Tannehill tossed three of his four touchdowns in the first half as the Titans, who are back-to-back AFC South division champions, started quickly by jumping out to a 21-0 lead, then outlasted the Texans.
The Titans finished the regular season atop the AFC at 12-5 to capture a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
In Phoenix, Rashaad Penny rushed for 190 yards and a touchdown as the Seattle Seahawks played the role of spoiler by beating Arizona 38-30 and denying the Cardinals a shot at the NFC West title.
The Buffalo Bills, who had already secured a playoff spot in week 17, clinched the AFC East with a 27-10 win over the New York Jets.
© 2022 AFP