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NFL: Cleveland Browns beat Pittsburgh Steelers to seal first play-off place since 2002

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The Cleveland Browns celebrate MJ Stewart’s interception
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The Cleveland Browns have secured a play-off spot for the first time since 2002 with a 24-22 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on the final day of the regular season.

Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry each ran for a touchdown and Baker Mayfield threw for another.

It ended the NFL’s longest active post-season drought.

The Green Bay Packers clinched the top seed in the NFC Conference while the Tennessee Titans won the AFC South.

The Baltimore Ravens, the Indianapolis Colts, the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears also qualified for the play-offs, which start on Saturday.

Washington took the final play-off spot with a 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East division despite a 7-9 record.

They are just the third NFL team to reach the play-offs with a losing record (excluding the strike-shortened 1982 season). The Carolina Panthers were the last to do so in 2014, following the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 – both went on to win their play-off openers.

The Bears lost 35-16 to Green Bay to finish 8-8 but still qualified for the wildcard round because of the Arizona Cardinals’ 18-7 defeat by the Rams.

The Browns, three years after an 0-16 campaign, withstood a disrupted week of preparation with their training facility closed for three of the past four days because of Covid-19 issues.

“We wanted this. I could see that determination,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It’s not over. We’ve got work left to do. I like how this team responds when their back is up against the wall.”

Lamar Jackson threw for 113 yards and three touchdowns and ran 11 times for 97 yards as Baltimore beat Cincinnati 38-3 to clinch one of the three wildcard spots in the AFC Conference.

He became the first quarterback in NFL history with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons while JK Dobbins ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the emphatic Ravens victory.

The Titans, who later won 41-38 at the Houston Texans, secured a play-off spot when the Miami Dolphins were beaten 56-26 at the Buffalo Bills.

NFL play-off schedule (Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers get first-round bye)

Wildcard round – Saturday, 9 January

Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills – 18:05 GMT

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks – 21:40 GMT

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Football Team – 01:15 GMT on Sunday

Sunday, 10 January

Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans – 18:05 GMT

Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints – 21:40 GMT

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 01:15 GMT on Monday

Divisional play-offs – 16 and 17 January

AFC and NFC Championship games – 24 January

Super Bowl 55 – 7 February

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