(AP)—The NFL playoff picture is clear. It will be defending Super Bowl champs Seattle Seahawks vs. the Green Bay Packers for the NFC title and the New England Patriots vs. the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC title. The winners go to the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady’s third touchdown pass gave New England its first lead with about five minutes remaining and the Patriots reached their fourth straight AFC championship game with a 35-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.
Justin Tucker had given the Ravens a 31-28 lead on a 25-yard field goal with 10:17 left. Then Brady directed a masterful 74-yard drive. He completed eight of nine passes for 72 yards—and ran for a first down—and put the Patriots ahead with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.
The top-seeded Patriots (13-4) will face theIndianapolis Colts in the conference title game next Sunday. past five seasons.
COLTS 24, BRONCOS 13
DENVER—Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes and Indianapolis upset Peyton Manning and Denver in the AFC playoffs.
The Colts (13-5) advanced to the AFC championship next weekend in New England. The Broncos (12-5) were left to deal with the hangover of yet another playoff debacle—and maybe questions about Manning’s future and that of coach John Fox, as well.
SEAHAWKS 31, PANTHERS 17
Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes, Kam Chancellor returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown, and Seattle beat Carolina in an NFC divisional playoff game.
Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter, found Jermaine Kearse on a 63-yard score in the second quarter and capped the night with a 25-yard TD pass to Luke Willson early in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks (13-4) never trailed and became the first defending Super Bowl champion to win a playoff game the following season since New England in January 2006.
Cam Newton threw a pair of touchdowns to Kelvin Benjamin, but Carolina (8-9-1) couldn’t overcome three turnovers.
No need for ice and wind and record low temperatures. Even in relatively balmy conditions for Green Bay, and with a somewhat stationary All-Pro quarterback, the Packers survived against the Dallas Cowboys.
Green Bay rallied from an 8-point deficit as Aaron Rodgers threw for two second-half touchdowns to beat Dallas 26-21 Sunday. The Packers (13-4), helped immensely by a video reversal with 4:06 remaining, went undefeated at Lambeau Field this season. They head to Seattle next weekend for the NFC title game.
Dez Bryant’s leaping, bobbling catch at the Packers 1 on fourth-and-2 was reversed by referee Gene Steratore after Green Bay challenged. Instead of first-and-goal for Dallas (13-5), the ball went over to the Packers.
Green Bay closed it out before a Lambeau-record 79,704 on Randall Cobb’s diving 12-yard reception on third-and-11. That gave Cobb eight catches for 116 yards and set off a raucous celebration at the iconic venue.
The Cowboys’ first postseason trip to Green Bay since the 1967 Ice Bowl for the NFL championship resulted in their first road defeat of the season after eight victories.
Dallas got 123 yards rushing from league leader DeMarco Murray and a courageous effort from Tony Romo, who hurt his left leg in the third quarter.
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