Ravens Get Berth; Steelers Fall Short
The Baltimore Ravens handled their win-and-in agenda to clinch an AFC wild-card playoff berth Sunday, the New York Jets looked to follow suit on the night shift and the Houston Texans stayed up late to see if a long-shot scenario would fall their way.
All of which meant no playoffs for the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) and Denver Broncos (8-8).
Baltimore's 21-13 win at the Oakland Raiders settled one half of an AFC wild-card race that began Sunday with seven hopefuls, five with realistic chances. It eliminated the Steelers, who beat the Miami Dolphins 30-24 but also needed the Ravens (9-7), Jets and Broncos to lose to get in.
"I like where we're positioned," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "There's no pressure on us."
Denver's hopes ended with a 44-24 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated the Steelers in Week 11.
"We started the season 6-0. After that, somewhere along the way, we lost that winning edge," Broncos wide receiver Jabar Gaffney said. "We couldn't pull out games in the fourth quarter."
The Jets (8-7), needing a win to clinch the other wild card, hosted the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night.
The Texans (9-7) had a shot because of their 34-27 comeback win vs. the New England Patriots. Arian Foster scored twice in Houston's 21-point fourth quarter, which clinched the franchise's first winning season.
Besides seeing their three-game winning streak end, the playoff-bound Patriots (10-6) lost wide receiver Wes Welker to a first-quarter knee injury.