Rams grab NFC West division crown with win over Lions

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The Los Angeles Rams led the way into the NFL playoffs Sunday, clinching their second straight NFC West division title with a 30-16 victory over the Detroit Lions.

The Rams, coming off a bye week, got off to a slow start. Quarterback Jared Goff made just 17 of 33 passes for 207 yards and an eight-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods late in the first half that broke a 3-3 tie.

It was running back Todd Gurley who put the Rams over the top, running for 132 yards and two touchdowns and also catching three passes for 33 yards.

Rams defender Aaron Donald helped clinch the win when he forced a fumble from Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Samson Ebukan recovered the ball at the Detroit 24-yard-line and Gurley raced 13 yards for a touchdown three plays later to put the Rams up 23-13.

The victory pushed the Rams to 11-1, moving them a step closer to home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. They are one game ahead of New Orleans for the top seed in the conference after the Saints' upset loss to Dallas on Thursday.

Los Angeles needs the advantage. Their only defeat this season came against the Saints, who will claim the top seed if the teams finished tied in the standings.

Elsewhere, the playoff picture remained cloudy, as wins for Miami and Houston scuppered the Kansas City Chiefs' chances of punching their playoff ticket this week.

The Dolphins kept their AFC post-season hopes alive with a 21-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills and the Texans beat the Cleveland Browns 29-13.

The Dolphins are seventh in the playoff race, one game behind the Baltimore Ravens for a post-season berth after the Ravens' 26-16 victory over the lackluster Atlanta Falcons.

In other early games, the lowly New York Giants held on to beat the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears 30-27 in overtime.

Chicago scored 20 points in the final 1:13 of regulation to force overtime.

But Aldrick Rosas booted a 44-yard field goal to put the Giants ahead in the extra period and New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins deflected a fourth-down pass from Bears quarterback Chase Daniels with less than three minutes remaining to extinguish Chicago's hopes.

In Tampa, the Buccaneers intercepted Carolina quarterback Cam Newton four times in a 24-17 victory over the Panthers.

The Green Bay Packers' mid-season struggles continued with a 20-17 upset loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field.

Zane Gonzalez kicked a 44-yard field goal with 1:41 remaining that stood as the game-winner when Green Bay's Mason Crosby missed a 49-yarder as time expired.