Packers, Chargers join playoff party in thrillers

Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:51pm EST
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks wrapped up top seedings while Green Bay and San Diego won thrilling nail-bitters to join the playoffs party in a mad scramble on the hectic final day of the NFL regular season.

AFC West champions Denver blasted the Oakland Raiders 34-14 in a record-setting show and NFC West winning Seattle strolled to a 27-9 win over the St. Louis Rams as both finished at 13-3 to ensure homefield advantage in their respective conferences.

Edge of your seat dramatics were reserved for do-or-die games on a season-ending Sunday that had 10 teams vying for the last four playoff berths with all four NFC division crowns still up for grabs.

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who had missed the previous seven games with a broken collarbone, heaved a 48-yard touchdown bomb to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds left to lift the visiting Packers to an enthralling 33-28 division-title showdown victory over the Chicago Bears.

The victory gave the Packers (8-7-1) the NFC North title by the narrowest of margins over quarterback Jay Cutler and the hard-fighting Bears, who dropped to 8-8.

On the game-winning play, Rodgers dodged the pass-rushing Julius Peppers and scrambled to his left on a fourth-and eight from the 48-yard line before finding Cobb deep down the middle beyond Chicago's secondary.

It was a most appropriate Green Bay connection, as Cobb was also returning to the gridiron after missing 10 games with a broken leg.

The Chargers found themselves in a playoffs play-in game after last year's Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins were defeated in earlier games.   Continued...

Dec 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) is tackled by Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) during the second half at Soldier Field. Green Bay won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports