By beating the New England Patriots 22-18, the Cincinnati Bengals ensured they finished the regular season atop the National Association North on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
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This is the second straight year the Ohio club has been guaranteed to play at least one game at home in the playoffs. The Bengals (11-4) can still hope to conclude their campaign at the first level of the National and thus obtain a week off during the post-season.
Against the Patriots (7-8), Joe Burrow threw three touchdown passes and amassed 375 yards with his arm. The Bengals center did, however, throw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a major. Wide receiver Tee Higgins stood out with 128 yards and a touchdown.
The “Pats” offense meanwhile took a while to get going and didn’t score points until the fourth quarter. Mac Jones found Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers in the pay zone.
Head Coach Bill Belichick's team also got two chances to take the lead or at least tie the game in the final minutes of play. times the case this year.
Three in a row for the Chiefs
At Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs' defense outplayed the Seattle Seahawks for the majority of the game and Kansas City won 24-10.
The visitors weren't able to find the pay zone until the fourth quarter. Quarterback Geno Smith was limited to 215 yards, completing 62.5% of his passes. The Seahawks (7-8) suffered a third straight loss and will have to get back to winning ways quickly if they don't want their campaign to end on January 8.
For their part, the Chiefs (12-3) signed a third victory in a row. Without being spectacular as he can often be, the pivot Patrick Mahomes did the job. He found Jerick McKinnon and Kadarius Toney for majors, in addition to crossing the goal line with his legs.
Vikings run away with victory
At U.S. Bank Stadium, a 61-yard field goal from Greg Joseph on the last play of the game helped the Minnesota Vikings beat the New York Giants 27-24.
The winning roster was ahead for the majority of the game, but the Giants (8-6-1) showed resilience and tied the game with just two minutes left in the duel. Running back Saquon Barkley found the pay zone with a 27-yard run.
The Vikings (12-3), however, had enough time to regain the lead, although they eventually needed Joseph's powerful leg.
Tight end T.J. Hockenson was strong in the win, catching 13 passes for 109 yards and two majors. True to form, wide receiver Justin Jefferson ran for 133 yards and scored a touchdown.
The Cleveland Browns (6-9) saw their playoff chances dashed by losing the flag 17-10 to the New Orleans Saints (6-9) at FirstEnergy Stadium.
At Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina Panthers (6-9) caused a surprise and ended the beautiful streak of the Detroit Lions (7-8) by signing a 37-20 win.
The Buffalo Bills (12-3) got off to a flying start with 29 second-half points and defeated the Chicago Bears (3-12) at Soldier Field.