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Washington loses ground in playoff race

LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins threw an interception and fumbled near his goal line as Washington coughed up its easiest path to the playoffs and helped the Bucs with a 26-15 loss to the defending NFC champion Panthers on Monday night.

Washington could have clinched a playoff berth by winning its final three games but fell behind the Packers and Bucs and needs help. Carolina kept its minuscule wild-card hopes alive.

With Washington's loss, the Packers now hold the second NFC wild-card spot. The Bucs are just behind Green Bay by virtue of a tiebreaker, but if they win out they can clinch a playoff berth with as little as a Lions loss at the Cowboys next week.

After being picked off by Kurt Coleman in the first half to set up a Carolina field goal, Cousins was sacked by Wes Horton and fumbled on the first snap after halftime as the Panthers took over at the 1. They scored two plays later to take a 20-9 lead.

Cousins finished 32-of-47 for 316 yards, with far too many missed throws in a game with such high stakes.

Reigning league MVP Cam Newton showed no ill effects from a shoulder injury suffered last week, throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers took advantage of blunders by Washington, which lost its sixth straight Monday night home game.

It was Washington's most lopsided loss since being routed 38-16 by Pittsburgh in the season opener, also on a Monday night.

JAGS EYE COUGHLIN: Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said that former Giants coach Tom Coughlin "would be somebody we'd be interested in talking to" about the team's coaching vacancy. The Jaguars fired Gus Bradley after the franchise's ninth straight loss Sunday. Coughlin, 70, was Jacksonville's first head coach, leading the Jaguars to a 68-60 record from 1995-2002.

BEARS: Receiver Eddie Royal will miss the final two games because of a toe injury.

BROWNS: Coach Hue Jackson said he is sticking with Robert Griffin III as starting quarterback. … A torn finger ligament could keep wide receiver Terrelle Pryor out of the final two games of the season.

GIANTS: Third-down back Shane Vereen reinjured his triceps in his second game back after tearing the muscle in the third week of the season and having surgery, coach Ben McAdoo said. It's unclear if Vereen would need surgery again.

JETS: A CT scan on quarterback Bryce Petty's chest came back negative, and he's expected to play Saturday, coach Todd Bowles said. Petty was injured on the first play of the fourth quarter Saturday night against the Dolphins.

PACKERS: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been nursing a calf injury, came out of Sunday's game in good shape, coach Mike McCarthy said. Rodgers was sacked four times and appeared to move gingerly on occasion.

TEXANS: Tom Savage will start at quarterback Saturday. Coach Bill O'Brien announced the decision a day after Savage took over in the second quarter when Brock Osweiler was benched.

TITANS: Defensive lineman Karl Klug has a torn left Achilles tendon and will have season-ending surgery.

Washington loses ground in playoff race 12/19/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 12:14am]
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