By the time John Kasay's kick went wide, this much was settled this weekend: The San Diego Chargers were in the playoffs, the Buffalo Bills were out and Jimmy Johnson was still on television.

With so many teams in the NFL hoping to improve their postseason chances Sunday, the Chargers were the only ones that clinched a spot.The New England Patriots could've clinched if Seattle had beaten the Los Angeles Raiders at night, but Kasay missed a 43-yard field goal try with nine seconds left and the Seahawks lost 17-16.

The Miami Dolphins would've won the AFC East with a win at Indianapolis, but the Colts made a goal-line stand in the closing minutes and held on for a 10-6 win.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, already assured a playoff berth, wrapped up the AFC Central and home field advantage through the playoffs with a 17-7 victory over Cleveland. San Diego earned its second AFC West title in three years with a 21-6 victory over the New York Jets.

In the NFC, San Francisco is the West champion and Dallas has won the East. But the Central lead is shared by Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago, and all three - along with Green Bay - might yet wind up in the playoffs.

"There are no regular-season games for the Bears anymore. They are all playoff games. If we didn't get it, our season would go down the drain," defensive end Alonzo Spellman said after a 27-13 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

The Bills, meanwhile, were eliminated, as were Philadelphia, Atlanta and the Jets. For Buffalo, a 41-17 loss to New England meant it will not have a chance to reach the Super Bowl for the fifth straight year - and win for the first time.

"From my standpoint, other than the Super Bowl losses, I can't remember a game where I've been more disappointed, or feel worse about, than this one," Bills coach Marv Levy said.

"It's a feeling of sadness that we are not the team we have been. Reality tells you that. . . . But I am not going to take that sense of sadness to the rocking chair on the porch and say, `Boy, those were the good old days.' . . . I don't want to give in to that, and I won't."

Jimmy Johnson apparently isn't ready to return to the good old days of coaching, either.

As expected, Johnson announced he had signed a three-year contract to stay on Fox television.

"I really love what I'm doing now," said Johnson, who said a couple of NFL teams offered him control of football operations.

As it all stands, Miami (9-6) is tied with New England (9-6) atop the AFC East. Miami, already in the playoffs, wins the division if both teams finish with the same record. The Patriots get into the playoffs with a victory at Chicago on Saturday.

In the AFC Central, the Steelers (12-3) are the winners, with the Browns (10-5) in as a wildcard.

In the West, the Chargers (10-5) are the champs, with Kansas City (8-7) and the Los Angeles Raiders (9-6) still in the wild-card running.

In the NFC, Dallas (11-3) is in with the New York Giants (8-7) and Arizona (8-7), a 28-7 winner over Cincinnati, possible for the playoffs.

Raiders 17, Seahawks 16

Los Angeles escaped at the Kingdome when Kasay missed after earlier making three field goals, including a 50-yarder.

Seattle (6-9) was ahead 13-10 with a first down on the Raiders' 10 in the fourth quarter when a remote-control car appeared on the Kingdome field. The game was delayed for a couple of minutes and the Seahawks stalled with a penalty, a run for no gain and two incomplete passes.

After Kasay made a 33-yarder, the Raiders took the lead 22 seconds later on Jeff Hostetler's 77-yard pass to Tim Brown.

Chargers 21, Jets 6

Stan Humphries threw three touchdown passes and San Diego surged after linebacker Junior Seau sidelined New York quarterback Boomer Esiason with a concussion in the second quarter.

The Chargers (10-5) lost their previous two games, missing a chance to wrap up the AFC West both times. The host Jets were eliminated from the playoffs with their fourth straight loss.

Bears 28, Rams 13

Raymont Harris and Lewis Tillman scored on short touchdown runs for Chicago (9-6) at Soldier Field. Steve Walsh had a 3-yard TD pass to Keith Jennings as the Bears sent Los Angeles (4-11) to their sixth straight loss.

The Bears' win snapped a six-game December-January losing streak and was only the third post-Thanksgiving victory in three seasons. The Bears, who lost their first two December games this season, haven't had a winning final month since 1986.

By beating the Rams the Bears improved pulled into a tie with Minnesota and Detroit atop the wild NFC Central Division. A victory over New England on Saturday would guarantee Chicago a wild-card spot.

Cardinals 28, Bengals 7

In coach Buddy Ryan's first season, Arizona assured its first non-losing season since 1984. The Cardinals (8-7) must beat Atlanta on Saturday and then have Dallas beat the Giants and the 49ers beat Minnesota to make the playoffs for the first time since the strike season of 1982.

The visiting Bengals (2-13) lost their fifth in a row.

Chiefs 31, Oilers 9

Joe Montana, out for two weeks with an injured left foot, came back in time to revive the Chiefs' playoff hopes. His two touchdown passes helped host Kansas City end a three-game losing streak.

Montana wound up hitting 16-of-26 for 235 yards, bringing his career yardage total to 40,337.

A win next week over the Raiders would give Kansas City a wild-card playoff spot. Houston (1-14) lost its 11th in a row.

Buccaneers 17, Redskins 14

Washington, in coach Norv Turner's first year, wound up its first winless season at home. Tampa Bay won its fourth straight, its longest winning streak since starting 5-0 in 1978.

The Redskins (2-13) set a team record for most losses in a season. They lost their seventh in a row, their longest losing streak since 1964-65.

Errict Rhett had TD runs of 1 and 3 yards. There were 9,097 no-shows at RFK Stadium.


Additional Information