NFL round-up: Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Seattle secure play-off spots while Marshawn Lynch scores incredible 79-yard touchdown

The play-offs are beginning to take shape ahead of next weekend's final round of the regular season

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers both qualified for the NFL playoffs with wins on Sunday and next week, they will play for division titles at home.

Defending Super Bowl champion Seattle also qualified, routing Arizona 35-6, and moved into a tie with the Cardinals at 11-4 for the top spot in the NFC West. The Seahawks own the tiebreaker should they both finish with the same record.

The game saw running-back Marshawn Lynch scores one of the touchdowns of the year, as he ran for 79-yards to evade no fewer than six defenders by using a combination of agility, neat footwork and raw power to find the end-zone.

Dallas (11-4) clinched the NFC East with a 42-7 romp past Indianapolis, ending any chance for Philadelphia (9-6) to make the playoffs.

Pittsburgh (10-5) beat Kansas City 20-12 to secure at least a wild-card berth. They will win the AFC North if they defeat Cincinnati next weekend. The Bengals (9-4-1) host Denver on Monday.

 

"It was such a sense of urgency this week, knowing what was at stake. We answered the challenge," said Pittsburgh defensive end Cam Heyward.

Green Bay topped Tampa Bay 20-3 and heads to Lambeau Field for next Sunday's showdown with Detroit for the NFC North crown. Both are 11-4 after the Lions won 20-14 at Chicago.

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Ben Roethlisberger guided the Pittsburgh Steelers into the play-offs with a win over Kansas City Chiefs

"We've won six out of seven games, so I'd like to classify that as playing a lot of solid football," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

Seattle's lopsided victory gave it a good shot at the top seed in the NFC and was its fifth in a row, ninth in 10 games.

The Seahawks host St. Louis in next weekend's final round of the regular season, while the Cardinals visit San Francisco.

Atlanta (6-9) beat New Orleans 30-14 and Carolina (6-8-1) defeated Cleveland 17-13 to set up a winner-take-all game between them for the NFC South next Sunday at Atlanta.

"Now it all comes down to one game and that's all we can ask for is to be in that situation," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

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Cole Beasley runs for a touchdown for the Dallas Cowboys

New England earned an AFC first-round bye with its 17-16 victory at the New York Jets. It will get home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if it beats Buffalo next week at home.

The Patriots are the first team since the current format was adopted in 1990 to get five straight first-round byes.

"I'm glad it came out the way it did — makes for a better Christmas," Tom Brady said.

Still alive in the AFC are Baltimore (9-6), whose loss to Houston (8-7) also kept the Texans in contention; Kansas City (8-7); and San Diego (9-6), which won Saturday at San Francisco. The Chargers will be in the playoffs if they win at Kansas City next weekend.

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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (L) of the Green Bay Packers and corner-back Tramon Williams (C) of the Green Bay Packers tackle wide receiver Vincent Jackson (R)

Buffalo (8-7) lost 26-24 at Oakland to lose its chance of making the postseason, meaning the Bills will miss the playoffs for the 15th straight year.

The NFC is less muddled, except for which team will get the top seed. Dallas (11-4), which is at Washington next Sunday has a shot, along with Seattle, Arizona, Green Bay and Detroit.

"In so many ways, this is such a long journey and to get to a point to achieve your first goal of winning the division title, a lot goes into that," said Dallas coach Jason Garrett, in his fourth full season. "The way you play in securing that matters, and we played really, really well."

Results:

Arizona Cardinals 6 Seattle Seahawks 35,

Carolina Panthers 17 Cleveland Browns 13,

Chicago Bears 14 Detroit Lions 20,

Dallas Cowboys 42 Indianapolis Colts 7,

Houston Texans 25 Baltimore Ravens 13,

Miami Dolphins 37 Minnesota Vikings 35,

New Orleans Saints 14 Atlanta Falcons 30,

New York Jets 16 New England Patriots 17,

Oakland Raiders 26 Buffalo Bills 24,

Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Kansas City Chiefs 12,

St Louis Rams 27 New York Giants 37,

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3 Green Bay Packers 20,

AP

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