The Baltimore Ravens earned a wildcard berth into the NFL play-offs as the San Diego Chargers lost on Sunday.
Quarterback Joe Flacco lifted the Ravens to a 20-10 win over the Cleveland Browns at M T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
The Ravens (10-6) required a win and the Chargers (7-9) to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs on the final day of the regular season in order to clinch the final wildcard in the American Football Conference (AFC).
And it all went to the script for the Ravens on Sunday, scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, while the Chiefs accounted for the Chargers 19-7.
Flacco was 22 for 36 for 312 yards and two touchdowns as the Ravens made it to the play-offs for the sixth time in seven years.
The Ravens, though, were forced to do it the hard way in front of their home fans, trailing the short-handed Browns - missing Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Josh Gordon and Justin Gilbert - 10-7 at the end of the third quarter.
But the scene was set for Flacco in the final term, throwing a 16-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith for the lead with less than eight minutes remaining after a field goal had reduced the deficit to four points.
Flacco was at it again with 3:44 left on the clock, finding Kamar Aiken with a two-yard touchdown pass as the Ravens joined the Cincinnati Bengals as the other wildcard.
The Bengals lost 27-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the AFC South to become the third seed.
The Denver Broncos earned the first-round bye in the AFC courtesy of a 47-14 rout of the lowly Oakland Raiders.
Peyton Manning was relatively quiet but the Broncos (12-4) - the AFC's second seed - still made light work of the Raiders, who crashed to an 11th straight defeat.
C.J. Anderson ran for three touchdowns, while Connor Barth kicked four field goals in a dominant display at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
AFC top seeds the New England Patriots closed the regular season with a 17-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
The Indianapolis Colts - seeded fourth - trumped the Tennessee Titans 27-10.
Reigning champions the Seattle Seahawks wrapped up the number one seed in the National Football Conference (NFC) by rolling the St Louis Rams 20-6.
The Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys all finished with 12 wins and four losses but the tiebreakers went to Seattle, who have won six on the bounce.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers, who earned the first-round bye as second seeds in NFC, saw off the Detroit Lions 30-20.
The loss was irrelevant for the Lions (11-5), who were already assured of a wildcard berth.
The Cowboys crushed the Washington Redskins 44-17 on the back of landmark games for DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant.
Murray broke Dallas' single-season rushing record with 1,845 yards, surpassing Emmitt Smith (1,773).
Bryant, meanwhile, registered his 16th touchdown reception of the season to better Terrell Owens' team record of 15.
The Carolina Panthers (7-8-1) won the NFC South after disposing of the Atlanta Falcons 34-3.
Carolina are the first team to make the play-offs despite finishing under .500 since the Seahawks in 2010.
Michigan-bound coach Jim Harbaugh bowed out a winner following the San Francisco 49ers' 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
In other results, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed the top overall pick in the draft after squandering a 13-point lead to lose 23-20 to the New Orleans Saints.