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NFL: Patriots, Raiders book postseason berths

Tom Brady engineered four scoring drives as the New England Patriots clinched their eighth straight AFC East title with a 16-3 win over the reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos on Sunday.

The Patriots played a solid game defensively as they kept the Broncos out of the end zone and forced two turnovers that led to scores.

“Our defence played so great all day,” the Pats’ superstar quarterback Brady said. “Offensively we made some plays just didn’t make enough to score more points than what we had but it was enough.”

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski finished three of those offensive drives with field goals, including a 21-yarder with 8:16 left in the fourth quarter. LeGarrette Blount capped the other with a one-yard touchdown run in a game that was largely a defensive struggle.

Brady finished 16 of 32 for 188 yards and it was enough for New England to maintain its hold on the AFC’s top playoff seed with two games left in the regular season.

It was a rare Colorado victory for Brady, who improved to 3-7 lifetime in Denver. New England also set an NFL record with its eighth straight title.

The Broncos dropped to 8-6 on the season and lost their hold on the sixth and final wild-card berth, dimming their playoff chances.

They need victories in their final two games, against AFC West rivals the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, to reach the post-season and maintain a chance to defend last season’s Super Bowl title.

The Oakland Raiders are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 after a 19-16 victory over the Chargers in San Diego.

Derek Carr completed 19 of 30 passes for 213 yards with a touchdown for the Raiders who improved to 11-3.

They took the lead on Sebastian Janikowski’s fourth field goal of the game from 44 yards out with 2:40 remaining.

Carr kept the drive alive by running for a first down on a third-and-eight on the San Diego 29 yard line as Oakland moved to one game ahead of Kansas City atop the AFC West.

– Packers, Titans kick to win -Elsewhere, Mason Crosby kicked a game-winning field goal that was set up by a 60-yard strike from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson as the Green Bay Packers beat the host Chicago Bears 30-27.

Crosby’s 32-yard field goal came as time expired, after Rodgers had connected on a long bomb on third-and-11 to Nelson while working with no timeouts.

It was the third field goal of the contest for Crosby while Rodgers finished with 252 passing yards on 19-of-31 passing for the Packers, who won their fourth straight NFL game and improved to 8-6.

Ty Montgomery rushed for 162 yards in Sunday’s contest in front of a crowd of 61,500 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

It was another heartbreaking defeat for the Bears, who are trying to find some consistency at quarterback this season after Jay Cutler went down with another injury.

Matt Barkley, who had four turnovers, became the third quarterback to start at least four games this season for Chicago behind Cutler and Brian Hoyer, who broke his arm in a game earlier this season against the same Packers.

The Tennessee Titans also used some kicking heroics to pull out a dramatic win against Kansas City.

Ryan Succop booted a 53-yard field goal as time expired and the Titans upset the Chiefs 19-17 in front of a crowd of 68,000 on a frigid and windy field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Elsewhere, Ben Roethlisberger passed for 286 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown to Eli Rogers with seven minutes remaining, as the Pittsburgh Steelers rallied to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-20.

Chris Boswell kicked a career-best six field goals for the Steelers who set up next week’s AFC North showdown with the Baltimore Ravens, who edged the Philadelphia Eagles 27-26.

The loss eliminated the Bengals from playoff contention. 

gph/bb

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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