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AFC playoff lineup all set

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AFC playoff lineup all set

All set in the AFC, except for the matchups.

As for the NFC playoff race, there's still plenty of intrigue.

Indianapolis finished off its remarkable one-year turnaround by beating Kansas City 20-13 Sunday to grab an AFC wild card. The Colts went 2-14 in 2011, drafted Andrew Luck first overall and now are 10-5.

``We were a confident locker room from Day 1,'' Luck said. ``I remember going in trying to gauge the feel of what it would be like, and guys were confident. There are guys on this team who have never missed a playoff, those guys know how to win, and I think they imparted that on the younger guys in the locker room, and I think it worked out.''

Cincinnati made the playoffs for the second straight year, the first time the Bengals managed that since 1982. They beat archrival Pittsburgh 13-10 on Josh Brown's 43-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining.

The Bengals have been around since 1968. This is the first time they'll make the postseason in two straight non-strike years.

``I know they just think that there's some complex; there's no complex, you've just got to come play and win,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ``This group in there has very little history of anything.''

Baltimore clinched the AFC North by routing the New York Giants 33-14. Houston owns the South even though it lost to Minnesota 23-6. Denver has the West and won its 10th in a row by romping over Cleveland 34-12. New England is the East champion and beat Jacksonville 23-16.

As for the NFC, Seattle's 42-13 victory over San Francisco muddled the West, but earned the Seahawks at least a wild card. The 49ers lead the division by a half-game and have clinched a postseason berth.

North winner Green Bay's 55-7 rout of Tennessee moved it up to the second seed behind South champion Atlanta. The Falcons have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs after defeating Detroit 31-18 on Saturday night.

The East lead belongs to Washington thanks to a 27-20 win at Philadelphia, while the Giants fell to the Ravens and Dallas was beaten 34-31 in overtime by New Orleans. The Redskins and Cowboys meet next Sunday, with the winner taking the division.

Washington also can get a wild card, as can New York, but the defending Super Bowl champion Giants need lots of help.

Chicago's 28-13 victory at Arizona kept it in the wild-card chase.

Also Sunday, it was St. Louis 28, Tampa Bay 13; Miami 24, Buffalo 10; San Diego 27, the New York Jets 17; and Carolina 17, Oakland 6.

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COLTS 20, CHIEFS 13

At Kansas City, Mo., Luck threw for 205 yards to break the single-season rookie record, and his touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter put Indianapolis in the playoffs.

Luck surpassed Cam Newton's year-old record of 4,051 yards passing by a rookie in the second quarter, and then came through in the closing minutes. He marched Indy to the Chiefs 7, then found Wayne in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal for the go-ahead score.

It was the seventh time Luck has rallied his team to victory in the fourth quarter.

Darius Butler returned an interception 32 yards for a TD in helping the Colts (10-5) join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season. The Chiefs are 2-13.

BENGALS 13, STEELERS 10

At Pittsburgh, Brown missed a 56-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter, but earned a second chance when Reggie Nelson picked off Ben Roethlisberger and returned it to the Pittsburgh 46 with 14 seconds remaining. Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green for 21 yards on the next play, setting up Brown's winner.

Dalton completed 24 of 41 for 278 yards and two interceptions for the Bengals (9-6), who snapped a five-game losing streak to Pittsburgh (7-8).

SEAHAWKS 42, 49ERS 13

At Seattle, Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes to move into second place for TD passes by a rookie. Marshawn Lynch scored twice in front of Seattle's rocking crowd.

Wilson threw TDs to Lynch, Anthony McCoy and two in the second half to Doug Baldwin to give him 25 for the season, one shy of Peyton Manning's record of 26. Lynch added 111 yards rushing and a 24-yard TD run on Seattle's opening drive that set the tone.

Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown and added an interception for the Seahawks (10-5).

Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers (10-4-1) struggled with the deafening noise echoing around CenturyLink Field, making for a miserable 49th birthday for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 20

At Philadelphia, the Redskins are on the brink of their first division title in 13 years.

Rookie Robert Griffin III threw two touchdown passes in his first game back from a knee injury and Kai Forbath set the NFL record for consecutive field goals to begin a career.

Nick Foles drove the Eagles to the Washington 5 before his intentional grounding penalty ended the game.

The Redskins (9-6) have won six in a row. They haven't reached the playoffs since 2007.

Trying to play spoiler, the Eagles (4-11) fell short in what could've been Andy Reid's last game coaching the team at home. Reid is unlikely to return to Philadelphia for his 15th season next year.

SAINTS 34, COWBOYS 31, OT

At Arlington, Texas, Garrett Hartley kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime. Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns and led a drive to the winning kick. The Saints lucked out before the winning kick when a fumble by Marques Colston rolled forward about 20 yards to the Dallas 2. Jimmy Graham recovered.

The Cowboys (8-7) lost despite rallying for two touchdowns in the final 3:35 of regulation. Tony Romo, who threw for 416 yards and four scores, hit Miles Austin for the tying touchdown with 15 seconds left in regulation.

The playoff hopes for the Saints (7-8) ended with Minnesota's win against Houston.

RAVENS 33, GIANTS 14

At Baltimore, Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns as Baltimore won the AFC North.

The Ravens (10-5) led 24-7 at halftime and cruised to the finish behind a short-handed defense that harassed quarterback Eli Manning and limited New York (8-7) to 186 yards.

Baltimore amassed a season-high 533 yards, 289 in the first half. The victory ended a three-game skid for the Ravens.

VIKINGS 23, TEXANS 6

At Houston, Adrian Peterson rushed for 86 yards, falling far short of the 2,000-yard mark.

Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass, Toby Gerhart added a score and Blair Walsh kicked three field goals for Minnesota (9-6).

The loss kept the Texans (12-3) from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They failed to score a TD for the first time in six years.

Peterson had his lowest rushing total since getting 79 yards on Oct. 14 in a loss at Washington. He has 1,898 this season and needs 208 yards to break the NFL single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.

BRONCOS 34, BROWNS 12

At Denver, Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes for the 72nd time of his career. Manning finished with 339 yards on 30-for-43 passing.

Von Miller was in on two sacks for the Broncos (12-3), the second of which knocked Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden out of the game with a right shoulder injury.

If Denver defeats Kansas City at home next week and Houston loses at Indianapolis, the Broncos would be the AFC's top seed.

PACKERS 55, TITANS 7

At Green Bay, Wis., Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, Ryan Grant scored twice and Randall Cobb set a single-season franchise record for net yardage.

The victory ensured the Packers (11-4) will at least be the NFC's No. 3 seed, but currently are No. 2. It was the first time the Packers have scored more than 50 points since 2005.

Jake Locker was sacked seven times and picked off twice, and Tennessee (5-10) scored with 1:39 left to avoid the shutout.

BEARS 28, CARDINALS 13

At Glendale, Ariz., Chicago's defense scored two touchdowns.

Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score, the third pick he's brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another Bears score.

Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 68 yards and a TD, breaking the franchise record for yards receiving in a season.

Chicago (9-6) snapped a three-game slide and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.

PATRIOTS 23, JAGUARS 16

At Jacksonville, Fla., Tom Brady overcame a rough start by throwing two touchdown passes. Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter, the second helping the Jaguars (2-13) build a 10-0 lead.

But the Jaguars faded in the third quarter for the fourth consecutive week, lost for the 11th time in the last 12 games and set a franchise record for defeats in a season.

Brady hooked up with Wes Welker for a 2-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots (11-4) ahead 23-13.

FALCONS 31, LIONS 18

At Detroit on Saturday night, Matt Ryan matched a career high with four touchdown passes, two to Roddy White.

The Falcons (13-2) pulled away with Ryan's fourth TD pass to Michael Palmer in the fourth quarter.

Detroit (4-11) dropped its seventh straight game.

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's NFL single-season yards receiving mark of 1,848. He also became the first player with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games and the first with 10 receptions in four games in a row.

RAMS 28, BUCCANEERS 13

At Tampa, Sam Bradford tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth TD of the season.

Bradford connected with Lance Kendricks on an 80-yard scoring play and the Rams (7-7-1) intercepted Josh Freeman four times, turning three of the turnovers into TDs. Jenkins' pick and 41-yard return came in the second quarter.

Steven Jackson rushed for 81 yards and one TD, moving within 10 yards of reaching 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season for the Rams. Tampa Bay fell to 6-9 after its fifth straight loss.

DOLPHINS 24, BILLS 10

At Miami, Reggie Bush caught two touchdown passes and scored on a short run.

Six minutes after they won, the Dolphins (7-8) were eliminated from playoff contention when Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh.

The Bills (5-10) came into the game assured of missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year.

Bush's first TD catches of the season covered 17 and 12 yards.

CHARGERS 27, JETS 17

At East Rutherford, N.J., San Diego sacked Greg McElroy 11 times, ruining the quarterback's first NFL start, and Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes.

McElroy, the third-stringer starting for the benched Mark Sanchez, moved the offense for the Jets (6-9) early but faced pressure all game.

With a chance to get New York back into it with less than 5 minutes remaining, McElroy was sacked by Shaun Phillips and lost the ball. Phillips recovered and San Diego (6-9) sealed the win.

Rivers had touchdown tosses of 37 yards to Danario Alexander and 34 yards to Antonio Gates.

PANTHERS 17, RAIDERS 6

At Charlotte, N.C., Cam Newton threw for 171 yards and a touchdown and ran for 60 yards and another score as Carolina won for the fourth time in its last five games.

The Panthers (6-9) held the Raiders (4-11) to 189 total yards and 12 first downs in a game featuring several shoving matches, plenty of heated exchanges and six unnecessary roughness penalties - including one that sidelined Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer for the day.

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Matt Judon looks like rookie who will help Ravens pass rush most

Matt Judon looks like rookie who will help Ravens pass rush most

OWINGS MILLS – The rookie who makes the most impact on the Ravens’ pass rush immediately could be fifth-round pick Matt Judon.

Second-round pick Kamalei Correa has faded into the background since early in camp, and third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi (broken ankle) suffered a season-ending injury. Meanwhile, Judon keeps making plays. He had his third sack of the preseason against the Lions, and when the Ravens host the Bills to open the regular season, Judon should see snaps as a situational pass rusher.

Judon wanted to impress Ravens coach John Harbaugh playing against the Lions’ starters Saturday night. Mission accomplished.

“I thought he stepped up,” Harbaugh said. “I thought he answered the call. He had a big sack for us and played fast. The speed of the game for him coming from the Division II level (Grand Valley State) is going to be a transition. It is way faster (in the NFL). This is way faster than the Southeastern Conference, let alone where he is used to playing. But he is really catching up with the speed very quickly.”

The Ravens believe they have at least four effective edge rushers in Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, and Judon to attack quarterbacks starting Week 1. Suggs and Dumervil, two veterans coming off injuries, are unlikely to have midseason stamina during the first few games. That makes Smith and Judon even more important as younger pass rushers who will need to be effective immediately.

Suggs likes what he sees from Judon. So do all the Ravens.

“He gets on the passer,” Suggs said. “When you can rush the passer by community, it makes you a pretty much deadly team, and we like that.”

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Harbaugh defends Kaepernick's right to protest anthem

Harbaugh defends Kaepernick's right to protest anthem

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that regardless of whether he agreed with Colin Kaepernick’s actions, he defended Kaepernick’s right not to stand for the national anthem, as the protest by the 49ers quarterback continued to draw significant attention.

“We are talking about a free country,” Harbaugh said following Monday’s practice. “I’m grateful for the right to express my displeasure, and that is what Colin chose to do. It is certainly his right to do it.”

Harbaugh’s brother, Jim Harbaugh, coached Kaepernick with the 49ers for four seasons.

“I know Colin through Jim,” Harbaugh said. “He comes from a great family. He has been brought up the right way with good people who care about him and love him. He reflects that in how successful he has been. I know Jim really likes him a lot, so I respect him. I respect his choice for whatever it is.”

RELATED: RAVENS HAVE TOUGH CALL BETWEEN URSCHEL AND LEWIS

Harbaugh said if a Ravens’ player decided to take a controversial stand, he hoped the player would take great thought before doing so.

“As far as our players go, it becomes about respect,” Harbaugh said. “I think you respect the opinions of everybody in the room and respect their right to express their opinion. Voltaire (French philosopher) so eloquently stated, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend until death your right to say it.’

“That is the principle our country is founded on. I don’t think you can deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anyone else’s opinion. You stand on your opinion, and when you state your opinion, it takes a little bit of courage, and there are going to be people that disagree with it. I tell our guys, ‘If you are going to say something publicly, think about it. Make sure you really believe that, because when you speak out there, it is out there, and it belongs to you now.’

“The other part of it is that we are a team. Anything that we do should never…You respect our team, our organization and the other players, and you respect the mission that were are on and what we are trying to accomplish. None of us ever want to do anything that is going to detract or disrespect the efforts of all the other players on the football team. I think that is the balance that all of us have to strike when we speak out about something like that.”

MORE RAVENS: PERRIMAN MAY FINALLY DEBUT THURSDAY

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Ravens must decide between John Urschel and Alex Lewis at left guard

Ravens must decide between John Urschel and Alex Lewis at left guard

OWINGS MILLS – The competition between John Urschel and Alex Lewis to be the Ravens’ starting left guard Week 1 remains close.

Lewis has played well the past two preseason games, while Urschel has been sidelined with an undisclosed “contusion” injury. Urschel’s return to practice could be imminent, because he was on the field post-practice Monday with offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

However, Harbaugh had praise for Lewis following Monday’s practice. The fourth-round draft pick from Nebraska has been a physical presence, and has looked comfortable playing with the starters.

“Really impressed,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, when asked to assess Lewis’ performance Saturday night against the Lions. “He made some mistakes. He was late, passed off a couple of twists and games. But he’s a quick learner.”

Does Urschel’s missed practice time make the decision on which player to start more complicated?

“That’s a great question,” Harbaugh said. “We’re probably considering that right now, but we haven’t had that discussion yet. That’s something we have to address here very quickly.”

Even if Urschel starts the season, Lewis is showing that at worst, he can be a reliable backup. The coaching staff believes Lewis will be an NFL starter one day. It remains to be seen if that day will be Week 1 against the Bills.

MORE RAVENS: Perriman may finally debut Thursday