NFL divisional playoff results: Green Bay Packers win thriller vs Dallas Cowboys to reach NFC title game
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was left with a few seconds and one shot at winning it and that was enough as Green Bay's 51-yard field goal at the gun gave them a 34-31 playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Rodgers, the NFL's hottest quarterback, put Green Bay in position to advance to the NFC Championship and kicker Mason Crosby did the rest to launch a Packers' celebration at AT&T Stadium.
The Packers moved on to face the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday, with a spot in the Super Bowl at stake.
The final tally came in improbable fashion after the Cowboys tied the game with 44 seconds left. On third down with 12 seconds remaining, Rodgers dialed up some familiar magic.
Scrambling to his left, he rifled a 35-yard completion to tight end Jared Cook, who dragged his toes in bounds at the 33-yard line with three seconds on the clock.
Mason followed with a game-winner just inside the left upright, after his first attempt right down the middle was waived off after the Cowboys called a timeout just before the snap.
Rodgers finished 28 of 43 for 356 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception.
Cook caught six passes for 104 yards and a score. Ty Montgomery also had six receptions and scored on two short runs.
The Cowboys' season ends after earning the No 1 seed in the NFC and an off week for the first round of the playoffs.
The Dallas stars came to play, especially their outstanding rookies, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott completed 24 of 38 for 302 yards, three scores and a pick. Elliott rushed 22 times for 125 yards.
Dez Bryant had nine catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys rallied from an 18-point second quarter deficit and were on the verge of overtime after Dan Bailey's 52-yard field goal in the final minute.
But Rodgers proved too much, continuing a run of incredible performances that began in late November and has carried Green Bay to eight straight wins.
Meanwhile, The Pittsburgh Steelers' Chris Boswell set an NFL record with six field goals, Le'Veon Bell broke his own franchise playoff record by running for 170 yards as the Steelers advanced to the AFC title game for the first time since the 2010 season with an 18-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Alex Smith threw for 172 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Spencer Ware ran for a 1-yard score with 2:43 remaining to get the Chiefs within two points. They converted a two-point conversion but it was called by due to a holding penalty on left tackle Eric Fisher. The ensuing pass fell incomplete and Pittsburgh ran out the clock.
Kansas City remains winless at home in the playoffs since the 1993 postseason.
Matt Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Atlanta Falcons past the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 in the divisional round Saturday.
The Falcons are headed to the NFC championship game for only the fourth time in their 51-year history, and they're on quite a roll with Matty Ice at the helm.
He finished up to chants of "MVP! MVP! MVP" from a raucous Georgia Dome crowd that gave the Seahawks a dose of what it's like for opposing teams at CenturyLink Field.
After the Seahawks zipped down the field for a touchdown on the opening possession, Atlanta's young defense largely shut down Russell Wilson & Co. the rest of the way.
Ryan and the high-scoring Falcons took it from there - getting a huge boost from a holding penalty that wiped out an 80-yard punt return by Devin Hester.
Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones on a 7-yard touchdown and Tevin Coleman for a 14-yard score before finishing off the Seahawks with a 3-yard toss to Mohamed Sanu in the corner of the end zone with just under 4 minutes remaining.
Atlanta moves on to face the Green Bay Packers, after their thriller victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in the NFC's other divisional-round game.
After a 26-24 loss at Seattle during the regular season, the Falcons showed off all their offensive weapons against the Legion of Boom.
Eight players caught passes from Ryan, including running back Devonta Freeman on a 53-yard play that included a dazzling fake on replacement free safety Steven Terrell right in the middle of the field.
The game turned dramatically on a holding penalty in the second quarter that negated Hester's return to the Atlanta 7.
Instead of having first-and-goal and a chance to extend a 10-7 lead, Seattle was backed up to its 7.
After Thomas Rawls was thrown for a 3-yard loss, Wilson dropped back to pass. One problem: rookie right guard Rees Odhiambo, taking over after Germain Ifedi was injured, stepped back onto Wilson's foot, sending the quarterback tumbling down in the end zone for a safety.
The Falcons did much better when backed up at their 1, closing out the first half by going 99 yards to make it 19-10. The drive was extended by Sanu's brilliant, one-handed catch for 22 yards with Jeremy Lane grabbing at his arm.
The New England Patriots are headed back to a familiar spot: the AFC championship game.
Dion Lewis had a 13-yard touchdown reception, a 98-yard kickoff return for a score, and a late 1-yard touchdown to help the Patriots hold off the Houston Texans 34-16 on Saturday night and advance to an NFL-record sixth straight conference title game.
New England will host the Pittsburgh Steelers for the right to play in the Super Bowl in Houston on February 5.
Bill Belichick's Patriots survived a gritty effort by the Texans' top-ranked defense, which intercepted Brady twice. Houston's special teams also forced a third turnover.