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NFL Week 16 Recap: Derek Carr’s Injury May Kill the Raiders

Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders
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Derek Carr’s ill-timed injury might keep the Raiders from advancing in the playoffs. Here’s what else we learned in Week 16 of the 2016 NFL season:

The Texans Backed Into the AFC South Title

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans
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Randy Bullock missed a 43-yard field goal attempt as time expired, and the Houston Texans beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 12-10, on Christmas Eve. With the victory, Houston (9-6) clinched their second consecutive AFC South title.

Tom Savage threw for 176 yards in his first career start for the Texans, but neither team did much offensively. Each team’s only touchdown — scored on successive drives in the fourth quarter — seemed more like flukes than the result of strategy.

Andy Dalton threw for 268 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Cincinnati (6-8-1). Bengals’ stud receiver A.J. Green was inactive.

Houston was able to clinch the AFC South title because the Jacksonville Jaguars upset the Tennessee Titans, 38-17, earlier on Saturday. Blake Bortles threw for 325 yards and a touchdown, as Jacksonville (3-12) ended a nine-game losing streak.

Tennessee (8-7) lost quarterback Marcus Mariota to a broken fibula at the end of the third quarter. The Titans trailed 25-10 at the time, and could not rally behind backup Matt Cassel.

Mariota is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season, but his team assuredly is after Houston’s win on Saturday night.

The Falcons & Giants Made The Playoffs

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers
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Matt Ryan threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, and the Atlanta Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers, 33-16, on Saturday. After New Orleans’ 31-24 win over Tampa Bay later in the day, Atlanta (10-5) clinched their first NFC South title since 2012.

Cam Newton was 18 of 43 for 198 yards with two interceptions for defending NFC champs Carolina (6-9). The loss eliminated the Panthers from playoff contention.

Despite losing 24-19 to Philadelphia on Thursday night, the New York Giants qualified for the playoffs when New Orleans upset Tampa Bay 31-24 on Saturday evening. New York made the postseason for the first time since 2011, when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl (again). The Giants clinching leaves only the NFC North and one NFC Wild Card yet to be decided.

The Raiders Beat The Colts, But Lost Derek Carr

Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders
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Derek Carr threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns before leaving with a broken leg in the fourth quarter, and the Oakland Raiders beat the Indianapolis Colts, 33-25, on Saturday.

Oakland (12-3) can win the AFC West title and clinch a first-round playoff bye if Kansas City loses either of its final two games, but the Raiders will likely have to advance in the postseason with backup quarterback Matt McGloin — and without Carr.

An MVP candidate, Carr was injured on a sack by Trent Cole with the Raiders up 33-14 in the fourth quarter. He was helped off the field and then carted to the locker room. Head coach Jack Del Rio delivered the bad medical news after the game.

Andrew Luck threw for 288 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, for Indianapolis (7-8). The Colts trailed 33-7 before Luck managed a slight rally.

Carr’s injury seriously handicaps Oakland as an AFC playoff team. It’s hard to imagine the Raiders winning two games with the serviceable McGloin replacing the spectacular Carr.

The Dolphins Closed In On A Playoff Spot

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills
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Jay Ajayi ran for 206 yards and a touchdown, including a 57-yard run in overtime that set-up Andrew Franks’ game-winning 27-yard field goal, and the Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills, 34-31, on Saturday. As a result of the win, Miami (10-5) can clinch their first playoff berth since 2008 if Kansas City beats Denver on Christmas night.

The Dolphins won for the ninth time in 10 games, despite blowing three double-digit leads to Buffalo (7-8). Ajayi, who ran for 214 yards against the Bills on Oct. 23, joined Earl Campbell, O.J. Simpson and Tiki Barber as the only NFL players to have three games with at least 200 rushing yards in a season.

Miami quarterback Matt Moore was 16 of 30 for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

Tyrod Taylor was 23 of 39 for 329 yards and three touchdowns for Buffalo, which was eliminated from playoff contention. The Bills extended the NFL’s longest active postseason drought to 17 seasons.

Christmas Came Early for the Browns

San Diego Chargers v Cleveland Browns
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Josh Lambo missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt as time expired, and the Cleveland Browns beat the San Diego Chargers, 20-17, on Saturday. The victory was the first for Cleveland (1-14) in more than a year and kept the Browns from an 0-16 season.

The 2008 Detroit Lions are the only team to lose all 16 regular season games.

Philip Rivers threw for 322 yards and two scores for San Diego (5-10). The veteran quarterback helped get his team into position for a game-tying field goal, but Lambo’s rushed kick was off the mark.

Isaiah Crowell ran for two touchdowns for Cleveland, which lost quarterback Robert Griffin III to a concussion late in the game.

Other Scores

Thursday, Dec. 22
Philadelphia 24, N.Y. Giants 19

Saturday, Dec. 24
New Orleans 31, Tampa Bay 24
Arizona 34, Seattle 31
Green Bay 38, Minnesota 25
New England 41, N.Y. Jets 3
Washington 41, Chicago 21
San Francisco 22, Los Angeles 21

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