Patriots, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers clinch berths
The Patriots clinched a playoff berth for the 11th consecutive season with a win over Cincinnati on Sunday.
Tom Brady had a pedestrian passing performance with 15 completions in 29 throws for 128 yards. But his two touchdown passes gives him 538 for his career, putting him one shy of Peyton Manning’s all-time career record.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is in the playoffs for the 18th time, tying Tom Landry for second all-time, one behind Don Shula. His 11th straight postseason berth broke a tie with Tony Dungy for the league record.
New England joined Kansas City and Baltimore in the AFC playoff field so far.
In the NFC, San Francisco, Seattle and Green Bay all clinched playoff spots Sunday. Despite losing to Atlanta, the 49ers clinched when the Rams lost to Dallas. The Seahawks and Packers clinched berths with their wins combined with the Rams’ loss. They’ll join the Saints, who had already clinched the NFC South, in the NFC playoff field.
Saints QB Brees chasing history in prime time
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees has a knack for making history in prime time inside the Superdome.
There was the Sunday night in 2012 when Brees’ 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson gave him touchdown passes in 48 straight games, eclipsing a mark set by Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas half a century earlier. That streak finally ended at 54 games — a mark which still stands. Six years later, on a Monday night, Brees broke Peyton Manning’s previous career record of 71,940 yards passing in even more spectacular fashion: a 62-yard touchdown pass to then-rookie Tre’Quan Smith.
Brees entered this weekend three TDs shy of breaking Manning’s career touchdowns passing record of 539 as the Saints prepared to host the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.
New England’s Tom Brady, with two touchdowns Sunday at Cincinnati, increased his career total to 538, one ahead of Brees.
Chiefs TE Kelce makes history
Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce has become the first tight end in NFL history to post four consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.
Kelce reached the milestone with an 11-yard catch on third-and-5 late in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at snowy Arrowhead Stadium. The previous mark was held by Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen who had thee consecutive 1,000-yard seasons between 2014 and 2016.
Vikings RB Cook, Bucs WR Godwin injured
Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury on the Vikings’ first possession of the second half against the Chargers, and Tampa Bay receiver Chris Godwin injured his hamstring in the third quarter against the Lions. Neither player returned.
Cook entered Sunday’s game second in the NFL with 1,611 scrimmage yards along with 13 rushing TDs, which were tied for the league lead. Cook had 43 scrimmage yards Sunday.
Godwin had five catches for 121 yards before he got hurt, eclipsing 1,300 yards for the season.
— Associated Press