SPORTSBRIEFING STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
Dolphins inch closer to playoffs
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Jay Ajayi ran for 206 yards and broke loose for a 53-yarder in overtime to set up Andrew Franks’ 27-yard field goal with 47 seconds left to lead the Miami Dolphins to a 34-31 win over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
In winning for the ninth time in 10 games, the Dolphins (10-5) inched closer to their first playoff berth since 2008.
Miami can secure the AFC’s final wild-card berth as early as Sunday if Denver loses to Kansas City.
Denver needs to win its final two games to make the postseason and Baltimore is eliminated from the wild-card race and can only make the playoffs as the AFC North champion.
The Bills (7-8) were eliminated from contention and extended the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 17 seasons.
Buffalo’s drought is tied for the fifth longest in NFL history, and longest since the New Orleans Saints went 20 years before qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 1987.
Ajayi is the fourth player in NFL history to have at least three games with at least 200 rushing yards in a season. Earl Campbell, OJ Simpson, Tiki Barber are the others.
Franks forced overtime by hitting a career-best 55-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining.
The Bills overcame a 14-point deficit three times before taking their first lead of the game with 1:20 left. That’s when Tyrod Taylor converted a fourth-and-7 by completing a pass to Charles Clay in the end zone.
The Bills squandered a scoring chance on the first possession of overtime when Dan Carpenter missed wide right from 45 yards with 10:03 remaining. Carpenter also missed wide right on a 46-yard attempt in the first quarter.
Packers set up NFC North title clash
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns, Jordy Nelson shredded Minnesota’s secondary for 154 yards and two scores, and the resurgent Green Bay Packers beat the Vikings 38-25 on Saturday.
The Packers’ fifth straight win set up a winner-take-all showdown next week with Detroit for the NFC North title, while extinguishing the Vikings’ faint postseason hopes.
Green Bay (9-6) built a 28-13 lead at halftime, with Rodgers accounting for all four scores in the half. He finished 28 of 38, and shrugged off his right calf injury after scrambling for a 6-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and making a rare Lambeau Leap .
Rodgers and Nelson connected for scores from 21 and 2 yards in the first half. The veteran receiver found seams in Minnesota’s defense, despite the return of safety Harrison Smith from an ankle injury.
Playing again without running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings (7-8) had success through the air after Sam Bradford threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns, including a 71-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in the second quarter.
Thielen had a career-high 202 yards and two scores.
But the Vikings made too many other mistakes to catch up to the Packers.
Maybe they were sluggish after the team plane got stuck in the grass on the way to the gate at a Wisconsin airport on Friday night after making a safe landing, forcing a delay of more than five hours.
Whatever the reason, the Vikings will miss the playoffs after a 5-0 start.
Mariota hurt in Titans loss
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Blake Bortles’ best game of the season helped the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 38-17 on Saturday and end a nine-game losing streak.
It was a debacle for the Titans, who had won three in a row . Tennessee needed a victory to set up an AFC South title game next week against Houston. Now, coach Mike Mularkey’s team needs the Texans to lose at home to Cincinnati later Saturday to stay in the division race.
It might not even matter because Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota appears to be done for the season.
Mariota left late in the third quarter with an air cast on his right ankle. Rookie Sheldon Day sacked Mariota as he scrambled on a first-down throw, grabbing him around the ankles. Mariota stayed on the ground and signaled to the sideline.
He pounded the ground several times as trainers rushed to his side.
They positioned the air cast and lifted Mariota onto a cart. Teammates and even some Jaguars patted Mariota on the shoulders before he excited.
Matt Cassel replaced him and later threw a TD pass to Delanie Walker. But Jacksonville answered.
Bortles connected with Allen Robinson twice for 37 yards on the next possession and then caught a 20-yard pass from Marqise Lee. Lee got the ball on an end-around and found Bortles wide open down the left sideline.
Bortles completed 26 of 38 passes and won for the first time when throwing for more than 300 yards. Robinson finished with nine catches for a season-high 147 yards.
Mariota completed 8 of 20 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown before the injury. He had a 3-yard scoring pass to Rishard Matthews in the second quarter, but he spent much of the day hurried and throwing high and low.
An even bigger issue for Tennessee was a grounded running game. The Titans entered Saturday averaging 144.7 yards a game on the ground, but DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry were mostly ineffective against Jacksonville. Murray carried 14 times for 42 yards, and Henry added 13 yards on four attempts.
Bortles and Lee became the first quarterback-receiver combination to throw TD passes to each other in same game since Week 4 of 1985, when Jim McMahon and Walter Payton accomplished the feat for the Chicago Bears.
The Jaguars had their own issues at running back, with T.J. Yeldon (ankle) and Chris Ivory (hamstring) leaving the game.
Titans: host Houston in their regular-season finale.
Jaguars: visit Indianapolis to wrap up the worst season in franchise history.
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Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.