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Lions roar past Chargers into playoffs; San Diego falls game behind Denver, Oakland in AFC West

The Lions once won a division title when Ralph Wilson was a little boy growing up in Detroit in 1935. You don't have to go that far back for the last time the Lions won their division -- 1993 was the most recent -- and now you don't have to go back to the last century for the last time they made the playoffs.

The Lions were kings of Ford Field on Saturday, handing the Chargers a 38-10 rout which cost them a chance to tie for the AFC West lead with Denver and Oakland.

Matt Stafford was brilliant for the Lions, passing for three touchdowns in the first half. One went to Calvin Johnson (four catches, 102 yards).

As for the AFC West, a three-way tie among Denver, Oakland and San Diego at 8-8 still is possible but Denver would take the title based on a better record against common opponents.

The New York Giants victory over the Jets and the Philadelphia win at Dallas means that next Sunday's Giants-Cowboys game will decide the NFC East.

Baltimore will win the AFC North with a victory at Cincinnati next Sunday. A victory also would give the Ravens a first-round bye and a home playoff game.

Cincinnati (9-6) is the leader in the race for the final wild-card in the AFC. the Jets, Tennessee and possibly Denver or Oakland are in the picture.

Atlanta (9-5), which plays at New Orleans on Monday night, leads the race for the other NFC wild-card. San Francisco remained in position for the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye by edging the Seahawks, 19-17, in Seattle.

>Top Dog

Lions 38, Chargers 10

The scoop: With their fans chanting "PLAYOFFS" for the final minutes, Detroit closed out its win over San Diego. Following the game, coach Jim Schwartz and the players did a victory lap at Ford Field, high-fiving fans in the front row. The loss cost the Chargers a shot at making the postseason and perhaps will cost coach Norv Turner his job.

Why the Lions won: They scored on their first four possessions to take a 24-0 halftime lead, exciting the home crowd and demoralizing the Chargers.

Quote: "There's going to be a time that we don't celebrate getting to the playoffs, but it's not going to be tonight. It's been a long time coming." -- Schwartz before the Lions gave the game ball to owner William Clay Ford.


>Best in show

49ers 19, Seahawks 17

The scoop: David Akers kicked four field goals, including a 39-yarder with 2:57 left to give San Francisco the lead. Donte Whiter sealed the win by recovering Tarvaris Jackson's fumble with 1:07 left. Akers set an NFL record with his 42nd field goal of the season. Marshawn Lynch scored on a 4-yard run to give Seattle a 17-16 lead with 6:41 left. It was the first rushing TD allowed by San Francisco, and Lynch's 11th straight game with a score.

Why the 49ers won: They moved the ball for significant yardage in most of their possessions while Seattle managed just three first downs in the second half.


Ravens, 20, Browns 14

The scoop: Ray Rice ran for 87 yards and caught a TD pass for Baltimore, which completed its first unbeaten season at home (8-0). Josh Cribbs had a career-long 84-yard punt return for Cleveland, which was victimized by questionable play calling, bad clock management and untimely penalties in their fifth straight loss.

Why the Ravens won: They scored on their first three possessions for a 17-0 lead against a Cleveland team lacking in big-play ability.


Bengals 23, Cardinals 16

The scoop: Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes, and Cincinnati built a 23-0 lead then withstood yet another fourth-quarter comeback before another small crowd at Paul Brown Stadium (41,273). It gave the Bengals only their third winning record in the last 21 years.

Why the Bengals won: They moved the ball deep into Arizona territory on all five of their first-half possessions, resulting in two touchdowns, two made field goals and two missed field goals.


Raiders 16, Chiefs 13

The scoop: Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 36-yard field goal 2:13 into overtime, eliminating Kansas City from the playoff race. Carson Palmer's perfectly thrown 53-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey set up Janikowski's winning kick. Kyle Orton's only TD pass for Kansas City went to Dwayne Bowe, tying the game with 1:02 left.

Why the Raiders won: They blocked two Ryan Succop field goals, including a 49-yard try on the last play of regulation.


>Toy breeds

Eagles 20, Cowboys 7

The scoop: Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes to lead Philadelphia in a game that had all the intensity of a preseason dress rehearsal. It became somewhat meaningless midway through the first quarter. A victory by the Giants eliminated the Eagles and turned Dallas at New York next Sunday into the deciding game in the division. The Cowboys sat quarterback Tony Romo after one series and running back Felix Jones after two.

Why the Eagles won: Dallas folded when the outcome became unimportant.


Panthers 48, Buccaneers 16

The scoop: Cam Newton broke Peyton Manning's rookie record for yards passing in a season -- Manning had 3,739; Newton now has 3,892 -- as he threw for 171 yards and three touchdowns. Why the Panthers won: Big plays -- Brandon Lafell's 91-yard TD reception and Newton's 49-yard scoring run when he outraced smaller defensive backs to the end zone.


Titans 23, Jaguars 17

The scoop: Rob Bironas kicked three field goals, including a pair of 51-yarders, and Jared Cook had a 55-yard TD catch and finished with 169 yards receiving for Tennessee. Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's rushing leader, ran for 103 yards and a TD for the Jaguars. He now has 1,437 yards this season.

Why the Titans won: Jacksonville went three-and-out four times and four-and-out three times and turned the ball over once in 13 possessions.


Vikings 33, Redskins 26

The scoop: The Minnesota Vikings survived injuries to Adrian Peterson (left knee) and Christian Ponder (concussion) on successive plays to end a six-game losing streak. Toby Gerhart set up a touchdown with a 67-yard run, and Joe Webb threw for two TDs and ran for another. The Redskins lost their sixth straight home game.

Why the Vikings won: Even without Peterson for much of the game, Minnesota ran for 241 yards in 38 attempts.


>Dog of the day

Steelers 27, Rams 0

The scoop: Rashard Mendenhall ran for 116 yards and a touchdown and backup quarterback Charlie Batch played efficiently in place of an injured Ben Roethlisberger. St. Louis was shut out for the second time this month and lost its sixth straight.

Why the Steelers won: The Rams got no points out of five possessions in Steeler territory.

Compiled from Associated Press and news wire services