BALTIMORE (AFP) – Carolina and Baltimore captured the last two National Football League playoff spots with victories Sunday while Aaron Rodgers shook off a calf injury to spark a crucial Green Bay triumph.
Carolina routed host Atlanta 34-3 in a matchup of teams with losing records for the NFC South division crown while Baltimore downed Cleveland 20-10 and took the last American Conference wildcard playoff spot after San Diego lost 19-7 at Kansas City.
Rodgers returned from a second-quarter left calf injury late to run for one touchdown and throw for another in the seconds half to spark the host Packers over Detroit 30-20. Aggravating the injury was Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh stepping on Rodgers’ left leg twice late in the game.
With the victory, Green Bay claimed the NFC North crown over the Lions and earn a first-round playoff bye on the final day of the NFL regular season.
Defending Super Bowl champion Seattle defeated visiting St Louis 20-6 to finish 12-4 and claim the top seed in the National Conference playoffs, including a first-round bye and a home-field edge with Green Bay (12-4) taking the second seed.
Next weekend’s first round National Conference playoff games will find Detroit (11-5) at Dallas (12-4) and Arizona (11-5) at Carolina (7-8 with one drawn).
In the American Conference playoffs, New England (12-4) has the top seed with Denver (12-4) second after a 47-14 rout of Oakland on Sunday and both took first-round byes.