The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not expected to beat the Seattle Seahawks Sunday. Not only did the Bucs win, they turned in a dominant defensive effort.
Tampa defenders sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson six times and intercepted him twice in a 14-5 victory to keep playoff hopes alive. Offensively, the Buccaneers were led by receiver Mike Evans, who had his way with the Legion of Boom. He finished with eight catches for 104 yards and both of the game’s touchdowns.
Tampa Bay (6-5) remained just a game back of the Atlanta Falcons (7-4) in the NFC South. The Buccaneers are also just half a game back of Washington (6-4-1) for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. The Falcons dealt a blow to Arizona’s playoff chances with a 38-19 win over the Cardinals at the Georgia Dome.
The Seahawks (7-3-1) still have a comfortable lead in the NFC West with every other team in the division also losing. The Cardinals (4-6-1) lost in Atlanta while the Los Angeles Rams (4-7) were clobbered by the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers lost their 10th straight with a 31-24 defeat in Miami.
The defending NFC champions appear done after Carolina fell to 4-7 with Sunday’s 35-32 loss in Oakland.
The Saints (5-6) also stayed alive in the NFC playoff hunt with their dominant 49-21 victory at the Superdome. They sit 10th in the NFC, but can gain ground with two games remaining against the Buccaneers and the season finale at Atlanta. Four of New Orleans’ final five games are indoors, where Saints quarterback Drew Brees has thrived.
The Dolphins and Bills helped themselves in the AFC. Miami held off a final charge by the 49ers to move to 7-4 and into a tie with the Denver Broncos for the sixth spot in the AFC. Sunday’s 30-27 win over the Broncos pushed the Kansas City Chiefs to within a game of the Raiders (9-2) in the AFC West and securely into the top wild-card slot.
Buffalo kept its postseason dreams alive thanks to a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Justin Hunter to lift the Bills to a 28-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9). The San Diego Chargers (5-6) also stayed in the hunt thanks to their 21-13 win over the struggling Houston Texans (6-5), who still lead the AFC South.
Behind the Dolphins, the AFC is a jumbled mess as the Bills, Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans all have six wins. The Steelers (6-5) beat the Indianapolis Colts (5-6) on Thursday while the Titans (6-6) evened their record with a 27-21 win over the Chicago Bears (2-9) on Sunday. The Ravens stayed tied with the Steelers atop the AFC North with a 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1).
There is still a lot to be decided over the next five weeks as only the Dallas Cowboys (10-1), New England Patriots (9-2), Raiders and Seahawks appear to be postseason locks.
The winless Cleveland Browns, who fell to 0-12 with Sunday’s 27-13 loss to the New York Giants, and the 49ers (1-10) are the only teams already eliminated from playoff contention.
Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns fought for a 12-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Jacksonville’s 28-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills, but it was a costly score. Hurns grabbed his left hamstring after diving into the end zone and did not return to the game. The touchdown was his only catch…