Kirk Cousins threw a late interception as the Washington Redskins blew their chance at a play-off place with a 19-10 home loss to the New York Giants.
Facing a team with nothing to play for, the Redskins were their own worst enemy in a listless performance. Cousins was twice picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the second half, with the second coming with less than 90 seconds left and the Redskins trailing 13-10.
After New York punted, Washington got the ball back one final time with six seconds left, but as they tried for a miracle play Jordan Reed’s attempted lateral pass was picked off by Trevin Wade who ran it in for another touchdown.
The Redskins would have made the play-offs with a win provided the late game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions did not end in a tie, but they instead face an off-season of questions and recriminations.
Meanwhile New York will advance as the first wild card in the NFC.
The Kansas City Chiefs were crowned AFC West champions as they beat the San Diego Chargers 37-27 while the Oakland Raiders lost 24-6 to the Denver Broncos.
In what could be the final NFL game played in San Diego if the Chargers complete a possible move to Los Angeles, Alex Smith threw for two touchdowns and scored another on the ground to lead the Chiefs to victory.
At the same time, everything was going wrong for the Raiders in Denver. Starting quarterback Matt McGloin was lost to a shoulder injury as they slumped to a heavy defeat against a team who may be the defending Super Bowl champions but are also a team out of the play-off picture.
Although Oakland are still play-off bound, they advance as the number five seed and appear to be down to their rookie third-string quarterback as McGloin joins Derek Carr on the sidelines.
After the game, it was reported that Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who suffered a complex migraine on October 9, had told his players he was stepping down, although a formal announcement will come on Monday.
Another coach on his way out — San Francisco’s Chip Kelly — saw his team lose as the 2-14 49ers blew an 11-point lead to go down 25-23 to the Seattle Seahawks, who wrapped up the third seed in the NFC as West division champions.
All four of Matt Ryan’s touchdown throws came in the first half as the Atlanta Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints 38-32 to secure a first-round bye in the post-season.
Ryan had 235 of his 331 yards before the interval as the Falcons took a 35-13 lead into the locker rooms, then watched nervously as the Saints scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to threaten a comeback.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ incredibly slim chance of snatching a play-off place ended despite a 17-16 success against the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs needed to win while hoping six other results went in their favour — including a tie between the Giants and the Redskins.
But before the game even kicked off, the Bucs’ hopes were over when the much-changed Dallas Cowboys lost 27-13 to the Philadelphia Eagles as tight end Zach Ertz notched two touchdowns and 139 receiving yards.
Back-up quarterback Landry Jones showcased his abilities by throwing three touchdowns for 277 yards as he guided AFC North winners the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 27-24 overtime win against the Cleveland Browns, who wrapped up a miserable 1-15 season.
Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns and 276 yards as the New England Patriots won 35-14 against the Miami Dolphins to clinch home advantage throughout the playoffs.
LeGarrette Blount ran another in for the Pats in a high-octane match highlighted by Julian Edelman’s 77-yard touchdown.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead rushed in two touchdowns for 119 yards as they eased past the Baltimore Ravens in a 27-10 success at the Paul Brown Stadium.
The Jacksonville Jaguars narrowly fell to their 13th defeat of the regular season at the hands of AFC South rivals the Indianapolis Colts thanks to a touchdown from tight end Jack Doyle with just nine seconds left on the clock to steal a 24-20 win.
Sam Bradford threw three touchdown passes to help the Minnesota Vikings to a comfortable 38-10 victory over the Chicago Bears, the Tennessee Titans edged past the Houston Texans in a 24-17 success and a Ryan Fitzpatrick-inspired New York Jets got the better of the Buffalo Bills with a 30-10 home win.
Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes as the Arizona Cardinals took out a season’s worth of frustrations on the Los Angeles Rams in a 44-6 win.