Raiders beat Chargers to reach play-offs


Austin Ekeler scored a rushing and receiving touchdown for the Chargers to tie with Jonathan Taylor for a league-high 20 touchdowns this season
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The Las Vegas Raiders pulled off a thrilling overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers to reach the NFL play-offs for the second time in 19 years.

Whoever won the final game of the NFL’s regular season would seal a play-off spot, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but a tie would see both teams qualify.

The Chargers fought back from 29-14 down to force overtime and the score was still level with two seconds left.

But Daniel Carlson kicked a field goal as time expired to clinch a 35-32 win.

Earlier on a dramatic final day, Pittsburgh beat the Baltimore Ravens 16-13 in overtime to keep their play-off hopes alive.

A tie in Vegas was the only outcome that would deny them, and there had only been one in 271 games this season.

Yet Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert made it a nervy night for Pittsburgh, completing 34 of 64 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler and Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow had two touchdowns apiece, and the two teams traded field goals in overtime before Carlson settled it from 47 yards.

How a dramatic final day unfolded

Three play-off places were still up for grabs heading into the final day and victory for the Indianapolis Colts would see them secure one of the wildcard spots in the AFC Conference.

Yet number one draft pick Trevor Lawrence enjoyed the best game of a difficult rookie season to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to a shock 26-11 win over the Colts.

That opened the door for Pittsburgh or Baltimore to sneak in, and the Steelers’ win gave veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hope of extending his 18-year career by at least another week, which was confirmed after the late drama in Vegas.

The San Francisco 49ers also won in overtime, beating the Los Angeles Rams 27-24 to secure the NFC’s final play-off spot.

Despite claiming their third win of the season, Jacksonville still finished with the NFL’s worst record (3-14) – and therefore the first draft pick – for the second year running as the Detroit Lions twice came from behind to beat the Green Bay Packers 37-30 and finish on 3-13-1.

The Packers had already secured the NFC’s top seed, but the Tennessee Titans won 28-25 at the Houston Texans to secure the top seed in the AFC, meaning both have a first-round bye for the play-offs and then home advantage.

The other 12 play-off teams play next weekend in the wildcard round, with the division winners hosting the wildcard teams.

Although the Rams lost, they still won the NFC West division as the Arizona Cardinals were beaten by the Seattle Seahawks, while the Buffalo Bills’ win over the New York Jets saw them retain the AFC East title ahead of the New England Patriots, who will now meet them in the wildcard round.

There are then two more rounds to decide the champion for each Conference, with the two teams meeting in Super Bowl 56 at the SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, on 13 February.

Wildcard weekend fixtures

Away teams first, all kick-off times GMT

Saturday, 15 January

Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals (21:35)

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills (01:15)

Sunday, 16 January

Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18:00)

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys (21:30)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs (01:15)

Monday, 17 January

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams (01:15)

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