One year after putting together the NFL’s worst record, the Indianapolis Colts are headed to the playoffs.
Joining them on Sunday were the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Colts (10-5) equaled the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season. Top overall draft pick Andrew Luck completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter for a 20-13 victory at Kansas City.
Cincinnati qualified for a second straight postseason berth for only the second time in franchise history, edging archrival Pittsburgh 13-10. The Bengals have never gone to the playoffs in successive years that did not involve a strike-shortened season.
Luck finished with 205 yards passing to break Cam Newton’s year-old rookie record of 4,051 yards in a season. He also extended his rookie record for fourth-quarter comebacks to seven by leading his team downfield in the closing minutes.
“Mission accomplished. That’s all I can say,” Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. “Without getting emotional again, knowing that (coach Chuck Pagano) is going to be back Monday, the work week shouldn’t be as stressful.”
For the Bengals (9-6), Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green with a 21-yard pass in the final moments, setting up Josh Brown’s 43-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining. The loss eliminated the Steelers from contention.
Minnesota’s 23-6 win at Houston prevented the Texans from earning home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. AFC South champion Houston (12-3) still can get that by winning at Indianapolis in the season finale.
Washington’s 27-20 win at Philadelphia, combined with New Orleans beating Dallas 34-31 in overtime means the Redskins will win the NFC East by beat the Cowboys next week.
Green Bay clinched at least the third seed in the NFC when it routed Tennessee 55-7. The NFC North champs (11-4) still could wind up second overall in the conference and get a bye.
On Saturday night, NFC South winner Atlanta won 31-18 at Detroit to clinch home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.