The Pittsburgh Steelers did their part to keep their playoff hopes alive but were left waiting for help on other fronts.
The Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 20-7 on Sunday at Heinz Field to finish the regular season with an 8-8 record.
That was enough for the Steelers to stay alive and got needed help with losses by the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins. The Steelers entered the late afternoon games needing the San Diego Chargers to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs in order to secure the sixth and final seed in the AFC.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 217 yards, completing 21 of 37 passes for one touchdown with two interceptions. Roethlisberger, who improved to 17-1 in his career against the Browns, had been picked off just twice in the previous six games combined.
Bengals 34, Ravens 17
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton overcame a career-high four interceptions by throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another as host Cincinnati dominated defensively to help knock the defending Super Bowl champs out of playoff contention.
Dalton was 21-for-36 for 281 yards for the Bengals, who can gain the second seed in the AFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs if New England falls at home to Buffalo later Sunday. A.J. Green and Marvin Jones both had 61 receiving yards and a touchdown as Cincinnati finished 8-0 at home.
Joe Flacco was 30-of-50 for 192 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions -- one of which was returned by Dre Kirkpatrick for the clinching score.
Jets 20, Dolphins 7
Geno Smith rushed for a touchdown and fellow rookie Dee Milliner recorded two of the three interceptions by Ryan Tannehill as visiting New York eliminated Miami from postseason consideration.
Rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson collected his second rushing touchdown of the season as the Jets may have saved coach Rex Ryan's job by winning three of their final four games.
Mike Wallace reeled in a 5-yard touchdown for his fourth score in six weeks as the Dolphins failed to secure their first playoff appearance since 2008. A woeful offence was to blame as Miami mustered a total of seven points in a pair of losses to end the season.
Panthers 21, Falcons 20
The Carolina Panthers pummeled Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan for nine sacks and captured their first division title since 2008 with a win over the Falcons.
With the win, the Panthers clinched the NFC South title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. They can earn the No. 1 seed if the St. Louis Rams upset the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers knock off the Arizona Cardinals in late afternoon games.
Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, including a 7-yard bullet to tight end Greg Olsen that put the Panthers ahead 21-17 with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter. The Panthers defence would make the lead hold up, helping Carolina end a six-game losing streak in the Georgia Dome.
Colts 30, Jaguars 10
Quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton hooked up 11 times for 155 yards and Donald Brown and Trent Richardson each had touchdown runs as the Indianapolis Colts rolled over the Jacksonville Jaguars and into the playoffs on a high note.
Luck went 26-of-37 for 282 yards and a touchdown before going to the bench with a 27-3 lead and letting Matt Hasselbeck finish off the blowout for the Colts, who have won their last three games by a combined score of 78-20.
Hilton set career highs for receptions and yards and Griff Whalen caught a TD pass for Indianapolis, which finished with a perfect record against the AFC South for the first time since the division was created in 2002 and will be the AFC's No. 4 seed when they host Kansas City next week.
Giants 20, Redskins 6
Jerrel Jernigan piled up 147 yards from scrimmage and had a touchdown receiving and rushing as the New York Giants closed out the season by topping visiting Washington.
Eli Manning (152 yards) went down late in the second quarter with an ankle injury but not before throwing his career-high 27th interception for the Giants, who finished the season with seven wins in their final 10 games after dropping the first six. Curtis Painter took over in the second half and went 2-for-8 for 11 yards and an interception.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 19-of-49 passes for 169 yards and two interceptions as the Redskins suffered their eighth straight loss. Alfred Morris ran for 62 yards and lost a fumble in the rainy conditions.
Titans 16, Texans 10
With their 14th straight loss, the Houston Texans are now on the clock.
Running back Chris Johnson scored the go-ahead touchdown and placekicker Rob Bironas added three field goals Sunday as the Tennessee Titans notched a 16-10 win in both teams' regular-season finale in Nashville.
Houston lost every game after rallying for season-opening wins over San Diego and Tennessee, giving it the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Coach Gary Kubiak was fired after loss number 11 on Dec. 5 at Jacksonville and the Texans intend to hire a replacement as early as Tuesday, according to various reports.
The Titans won their last two games, which could be enough to keep coach Mike Munchak employed for a fourth season.
Vikings 14, Lions 13
Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson ended his first NFL season by running for one touchdown and catching another as the Minnesota Vikings ended their time in the Metrodome with a 14-13 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Patterson had a 50-yard run in the first quarter to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead, and he added an 8-yard reception from quarterback Matt Cassel with 9:19 left in the game at the Dome's Mall of America Field. The catch came two plays after Marcus Sherels' 50-yard punt return gave the Vikings a first-and-goal from the 8 and it ended a run of 13 straight second-half points by the Lions.
The game carried no playoff ramifications, with both teams missing key players -- including Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and Vikings back Adrian Peterson -- and, seemingly, much emotion.