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Colts pull starters, see win streak end

Jets wide receiver Brad Smith is tackled by Colts cornerback Jacob Lacey during the third quarter n Indianapolis Sunday.

AP PHOTO

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts kept saying a perfect season didn’t matter. Apparently it didn’t.

Coach Jim Caldwell pulled Peyton Manning and a handful of other starters for the previously unbeaten Colts in the third quarter, and the New York Jets took advantage by rallying for a 29-15 victory that ended the NFL’s longest regular-season winning streak at 23 games.

With Manning on the sideline, helmet on and standing next to his offensive coordinator, the Colts (14-1) lost for the first time since Oct. 27, 2008, at Tennessee, ending a franchise-record 13-game winning streak at home.

“It was the plan, the organizational philosophy that we were going with,” Manning said, “and, as players, we support that.”

Caldwell made the move to sit Manning & Co. after taking a 15-10 lead with 5:36 left in the third quarter.

Bengals 17, Chiefs 10

CINCINNATI — Five days after burying a teammate, the wrung-out Bengals had barely enough to win a title.

Carson Palmer’s touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco completed a 98-yard drive in the closing minutes Sunday, sending Cincinnati to a victory that secured the AFC North championship at the end of a rough week.

The Bengals (10-5) moved into the playoffs for only the second time in the past 19 years after dealing with the death of receiver Chris Henry. The teary practices and locker-room grief seemed to show against the Chiefs (3-12), who stayed close in a mistake-filled game.

Patriots 35, Jaguars 7

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady and his teammates reached the playoffs with a performance worthy of the once dominant Patriots.

Brady threw four touchdown passes, three to Randy Moss, and the young defense put together its third straight solid game as New England beat Jacksonville, further dimming the Jaguars’ slim postseason chances.

For the Patriots (10-5), it was another encouraging outing in what had been an inconsistent season. They clinched the AFC East title after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002 despite an 11-5 record.

Jacksonville dropped its third straight game and fourth in its last five after going 6-4 in its first 10.

Texans 27, Dolphins 20

MIAMI — Houston raced to an early 27-point lead, then held on to beat the Miami Dolphins.

The Texans (8-7) scored on their first five possessions and won despite being outscored 20-0 in the final 31 minutes. Houston kept alive its slim hopes of making the playoffs for the first time, while defending AFC East champion Miami (7-8) was all but eliminated.

Buccaneers 20, Saints 17 OT

NEW ORLEANS — Carnell Williams rushed for 129 yards and a score, and Connor Barth kicked a 47-yard field goal in overtime, lifting Tampa Bay to a stunning victory over the Saints.

New Orleans was heavily favored and could have guaranteed itself home games throughout the NFC playoffs with a win, but instead dropped a second straight game at home after opening the season 13-0.

Packers 48, Seahawks 10

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers are going back to the playoffs, forcing four interceptions by Matt Hasselbeck to beat the Seattle Seahawks — then getting a big boost from the Carolina Panthers.

Sunday’s victory, combined with the New York Giants’ blowout loss to Carolina, put the Packers (10-5) back in the postseason after going 6-10 last season and getting off to a disappointing 4-4 start this year. The Panthers beat the Giants 41-9.

It was Hasselbeck’s second straight four-interception game in what is shaping up as a miserable season for the Seahawks (5-10), who have scored a total of 24 points in three straight losses.

Falcons 31, Bills 3

ATLANTA — Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes, including a 42-yarder to Roddy White on Atlanta’s first play from scrimmage, and the Falcons were never challenged in their win over Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Owens became the sixth player in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions. He reached the milestone with an 8-yard pass from Brian Brohm in the second quarter.

It was a rare highlight for the Bills (5-10), who were held to 178 total yards.

Browns 23, Raiders 9

CLEVELAND — Jerome Harrison had 148 yards rushing and the Browns won their third straight, extending a surprising streak that coach Eric Mangini can use to strengthen his case to Mike Holmgren that he deserves to remain Cleveland’s coach.

With consecutive wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Oakland, the Browns (4-11) have their first three-game winning streak since 2007 and only their third since 1999. Holmgren is expected to be introduced as Cleveland’s team president this week.

49ers 20, Lions 6

SAN FRANCISCO — Frank Gore scored on a 1-yard run and topped the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth straight year, and the San Francisco 49ers moved within one win of avoiding a seventh straight losing season by beating the Detroit Lions.

Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis and the Niners (7-8) forced six turnovers to close out the home season with a victory.

Cardinals 31, Rams 10

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kurt Warner threw for 196 of his 313 yards in the second quarter and the Arizona Cardinals went on to beat the Rams for the seventh time in a row.

The Cardinals (10-5) reached 10 regular-season wins for the first time since 1976, 12 years before the franchise moved from St. Louis to Arizona.

Cowboys 17, Redskins 0

LANDOVER, Md. — Marion Barber rushed for 62 yards and had one touchdown as Dallas clinched a playoff spot with a win over Washington.

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