Colts on verge of playoffs after beating Browns

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2014 6:03 PM

(Reuters) - The Indianapolis Colts scored with seconds to play to avoid an upset as they beat the Cleveland Browns 25-24 to move a step closer to locking up top spot in the AFC South on Sunday.

Quarterback Andrew Luck found T.Y. Hilton for a one-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left to play for the victory as Indianapolis improved to 9-4.

Their top divisional rival, the Houston Texans, also won, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-13 to remain two games behind.

“We struggled early,” said Luck whose team fell behind by 14 points early in the third quarter.

The game-winner was Hilton's second touchdown of the game as he earlier caught a 42-yard pass from Luck, who had 294 yards passing but was intercepted twice.

The competitive AFC North got even tighter when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 42-21 on the road.

The Bengals (8-4-1) still lead the division, but the Steelers (8-5) and Baltimore Ravens (8-5) are just a half-game behind.

The Steelers scored 25 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including a 94-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who caught the ball at the 50-yard line and ran it home.

The Ravens stayed in the playoff picture with a 28-13 road win over the Miami Dolphins, who scored only three points after the first quarter.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco completed 25-of-33 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

In the weak NFC South, the Carolina Panthers handed the New Orleans Saints a fourth consecutive home loss, a 41-10 drubbing as Carolina (4-8-1) ended a six-game losing streak.

A wild first quarter melee resulted in Carolina tight end Brandon Williams being ejected for throwing punches.

The altercation started after New Orleans objected to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton’s celebration of a touchdown that put his team 16-0 up.

Elsewhere, the Detroit Lions continued their solid season with a 34-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Lions (9-4) are a half-game behind the Green Bay in the NFC North. The Packers play the Atlanta Falcons on Monday.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)