AP Sports Wrap from December 24, 2016
UNDATED (AP) — A few NFL teams received some stocking-stuffers on Christmas Eve. The Cleveland Browns finally got their first win of the season.
. The Atlanta Falcons wrapped up their first division title since 2012. The Houston Texans won their second straight AFC South crown. The New York Giants clinched a playoff berth without playing. The Green Bay Packers stayed in position to win a division crown, and the Miami Dolphins moved a step closer to claiming their first playoff berth in eight years.
— Cleveland guaranteed the 2008 Detroit Lions will spend at least one more year as the only NFL team to go 0-16. Isaiah Crowell rushed for two scores to lead the Browns to a 20-17 win over San Diego. It improved Cleveland's record to 1-14 and snapped a 17-game losing streak. San Diego kicker Josh Lambo missed a 45-yard field goal attempt as time expired to set off a celebration among the Browns players who stormed the field. Lambo also had a potential game-tying kick blocked by the Browns' Jamie Meder with 3:49 to go.
— Matt Ryan threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns to lift Atlanta past Carolina 33-16. Ryan torched the defending NFC champions in their two meetings this season, passing for 780 yards and six TDs. Tevin Coleman had 135 yards from scrimmage, including a 55-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run for the 10-5 Falcons, who clinched their NFC South title in four years.
— Alfred Blue scored a go-ahead, 24-yard touchdown with 8:41 left to send the Texans past the Cincinnati Bengals, 12-10. Blue's TD came two minutes after Brandon LaFell turned a short pass into an 86-yard score that put the Bengals ahead. Tom Savage threw for 176 yards and no interceptions in his first career start since replacing Brock Osweiler (AHS'-wy-lur). The Bengals had a chance to pull out the victory until former Texan Randy Bullock's 43-yard attempt sailed wide right as time expired.
— New Orleans damaged Tampa Bay's playoff hopes while allowing the Giants to clinch their first postseason berth since 2011. Marc Ingram ran for two touchdowns and a game-clinching first down that secured the Saints' 31-24 triumph over the 8-7 Buccaneers. Drew Brees (breez) was 23 of 34 for 299 yards and a touchdown for the 7-8 Saints, who gained 417 total yards. Jairus Byrd intercepted Jameis (JAY'-mihs) Winston twice to alter the outcome.
— Aaron Rodgers continued to put up MVP numbers, leading the Packers to a 38-25 win over Minnesota. The Green Bay quarterback threw for 347 yards and four scores. Jordy Nelson had 9 catches for 154 yards and two scores for the 9-6 Packers, whose fifth straight win sets up a winner-take-all showdown next week with Detroit for the NFC North title.
— Jay Ajayi (uh-JY') ran for 206 yards, including a 53-yarder that set up the game winning field goal in Miami's 34-31 overtime victory at Buffalo. Andrew Franks booted a 27-yard, game-winning field goal in the final minute after hitting a 55-yarder with six seconds left in regulation to tie it. Tyrod Taylor threw for a career high 329 yards and three touchdowns, including one to Charles Clay that put the Bills ahead with 1:20 left in regulation. The 10-5 Dolphins won for the ninth time in 10 games to take control of the second AFC wild-card berth.
Elsewhere around the NFL:
— Tom Brady threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns in New England's 41-3 rout of the New York Jets. LaGarrette Blount (bluhnt) had a pair of rushing touchdowns for the 13-2 Patriots, who got a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery from Malcolm Butler. The Patriots will secure home-field advantage with a win next weekend or either an Oakland loss or tie.
— The Raiders were 33-25 winners over Indianapolis, but they finished the game without Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr because of a right leg injury suffered in the fourth quarter. Carr limped off the field without putting any weight on his right leg, then headed to the tunnel on a cart. The injury came after he threw for three touchdowns in the second quarter to help Oakland improve to 12-3, its best record in 14 years. The three TDs came while the Raiders were scoring on five straight possessions to take a 26-point lead.
— Seattle rallied from a 31-18 deficit before Chandler Catanzaro hit a 43-yard field goal on the final play to lift the Cardinals past the Seahawks, 34-31. Arizona went 50 yards in the final minute to set up the game-winning kick, which may have cost the Seahawks a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. Seattle scored two touchdowns inside the final three minutes to pull even 31-31 before falling a half-game behind Atlanta for the second NFC bye.
— Kirk Cousins threw for a score and ran for two others to lead Washington to a 41-21 win over Chicago. DeSean Jackson added 114 yards receiving, and 8-6-1 Washington intercepted Matt Barkley five times. The win keeps the Redskins fading playoff hopes alive, but they will need a win over the Giants and a Packers loss to Detroit.
— Blake Bortles threw for 325 yards and a touchdown in leading Jacksonville to a 38-17 win over Tennessee. The Jaguars improve to 3-12 in Doug Marrone's (muh-ROHNZ') first game as interim coach following the firing of Gus Bradley last weekend. The game not only hurt the 8-7 Titans' playoff chances, but also sidelined quarterback Marcus Mariota (mar-ee-OH-tah) for the rest of the season with a broken right fibula. He's expected to need a minimum of six weeks to recover.
— The 49ers earned their first victory since Week 1 as Colin Kaepernick (KAP'-ur-nik) threw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining and scrambled for a go-ahead, 2-point conversion to complete San Francisco's comeback in a 22-21 win at Los Angeles. Kaepernick threw for 257 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his first victory since regaining the starting quarterback nod from Blaine Gabbert. He also had a touchdown run as the Niners completed a sweep of the 4-11 Rams.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-BOWL SCHEDULE
Hawaii wins bowl game at home
HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Bowl went to the local team.
Dru Brown threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns as Hawaii knocked off Middle Tennessee 52-35. The Rainbow Warriors turned three Middle Tennessee turnovers into 21 points after falling behind 14-0 just over 5 minutes into the game.
Hawaii amassed 500 yards of total offense and capped a 7-7 season on a three-game winning streak.
Middle Tennessee's Brent Stockstill threw for 432 yards, four TDs and two interceptions.
Avila rejoins Tigers
DETROIT (AP) — Alex Avila has received a $2 million, one-year contract from Detroit, where he'll be the back-up catcher to James McCann.
Avila's father, Al Avila, is Detroit's general manager. The younger Avila says the deal came together between his agent, Matt Laird, and assistant general manager John Westhoff.
Alex Avilla spent his first seven seasons with the Tigers hitting .242 with 66 homers and 282 RBIs. He hit .213 with seven homers and 11 RBIs in 57 games for the White Sox in 2016.
Ziegler, Marlins finalize deal
MIAMI (AP) — Brad Ziegler has passed his physical, finalizing a two-year, $16 million contract with Miami.
Marlins' president of baseball operations Michael Hill says incumbent closer A.J. Ramos will remain in that job, with Ziegler assuming a setup role.
The nine-year veteran has a career ERA of 2.44 and 85 saves.