THE FIFTH DOWN; Rex. Rob. Matt.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – By the end of the day Sunday, the Giants will have faced a number of notable opponents on their quest for a Super Bowl: the New England Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers and three guys named Ryan.

On Dec. 24, the Giants beat the Jets and their portly, outspoken coach, Rex Ryan, to win the unofficial city championship. Last Sunday, they defeated the Dallas Cowboys and their portly, outspoken defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, to clinch a playoff berth. So perhaps it is only fitting that they open the postseason Sunday against Atlanta and the steely, sure-armed Matt Ryan.

”Why not?” Giants offensive lineman Kevin Boothe said. ”Let’s go for three.”

That the Giants finished the regular season with consecutive games against the Ryan coaching twins was an N.F.L. scheduling quirk. That they would face an unrelated quarterback with the same last name and an entirely different demeanor in the playoffs is a funny coincidence.

In any event, the Falcons’ Ryan could not be more different from the two coaches with whom he shares a last name.

”Well, Rob has a great head of hair on him,” Boothe said of the differences between the three. ”Other than that, one’s playing and the other two are coaching. One is offense and two are defense, too.”

The Ryan brothers both predicted, at varying points before or during the season, that their teams would end up in the playoffs. So much for that. The Jets descended into chaos as they made an ignominious early retreat home for the winter. And the Cowboys were on the wrong end of a 31-14 loss to the Giants that kept them out of the playoffs.

Matt Ryan, in contrast, has a plain-spoken manner and a cool demeanor that earned him the nickname Matty Ice, though he has a total of four interceptions in his two career playoff games, both of which the Falcons lost.

He surely hopes that he differs from the other Ryans in another crucial regard: by being able to beat the Giants.

N.F.L. PLAYOFFS: WILD-CARD ROUND: ATLANTA at GIANTS: 1 p.m. Sunday TV: FoxnThis is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.

PHOTOS: COACH RYAN: For all of Rex’s brash talk, it was Tom Coughlin who prevailed in the showdown.; COORDINATOR RYAN: Rex’s twin, Rob, did no better a week later. His Dallas defense derailed.; QUARTERBACK RYAN: Not related to Rob or Rex. He’s half their age, maybe half their weight.(PHOTOGRAPHS BY, FROM LEFT, MIKE EHRMANN/GETTY IMAGES; SHARON ELLMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS; CHRIS GRAYTHEN/GETTY IMAGES)

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Seahawks, Colts, Falcons and Steelers Win Titles

Yep, those were championship hats the were wearing.

Nope, they aren’t ashamed one bit.

The Seahawks became the first NFL division winner with a losing record — that dates to 1933, folks — when they beat St. Louis 16-6 on Sunday night. At 7-9, they are NFC West champions, while two 10-6 clubs (Tampa Bay and the ) are out of the postseason.

Apologize for their fortune? Forget it.

“It just shows that no matter what happens through an awkward year, if a team sticks together they can have a shot at the end to accomplish what they talked about in the beginning,” safety Lawyer Milloy said. “We know it wasn’t pretty getting here, but what we talked about was right there at the end and we took advantage of it. Nobody can take that away from us.”

Indianapolis tied an NFL record with its ninth straight playoff berth by beating Tennessee 23-20 on ‘s 43-yard field goal as time expired. The (10-6), host the wild-card (11-4), who routed Buffalo 38-7, next Saturday night.

Atlanta secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, winning the NFC South by defeating Carolina 31-10. The Falcons (13-3) get a bye next week, as do the NFC North champion Bears (11-5), who fell at 10-3, giving the Packers (10-6) a wild-card spot.

Green Bay visits Philadelphia (10-6), the NFC East champ, next Sunday after AFC West winner Kansas City (10-6) hosts Baltimore (12-4).

Along with Atlanta, teams with byes are New England, which finished a league-best 14-2; Pittsburgh (12-4); and Chicago.

Failing to make the playoffs in the NFC were the Giants and Buccaneers, the first time since 1991 that a 10-6 team didn’t get in from the NFC.

Seahawks 16, 6

At Seattle, both teams finished 7-9 in the mild, mild West, with Seattle getting the nod thanks to a 4-2 division record. St. Louis was 3-3.

Making his second career start, backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw a 4-yard TD pass on Seattle’s first possession, and Olindo Mare kicked three second-half field goals. A defense that yielded at least 34 points in three straight losses was stingy against Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and 1,000-yard rusher Steven Jackson.

Colts 23, 20

At Indianapolis, threw two touchdown passes before Vinatieri’s clutch kick. The Colts tied Dallas’ NFL record for consecutive playoff appearances as Manning set the single-season record for completions with 450.

Tennessee (6-10) lost eight of its last nine. Chris Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher a year ago, ran 20 times for 39 yards and finished with 1,364.

Falcons 31, 10

At Atlanta, the Falcons earned their first division title since 2004. Matt Ryan passed for 236 yards with TDs to Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White, and Eric Weems scored on a 55-yard punt return.

Carolina (2-14) had a weak finish to an awful season under coach John Fox as the league’s worst offense was held without a touchdown until the final minute. The Panthers announced Friday that this was Fox’s last game as coach.

41, Browns 9

At Cleveland, threw two touchdown passes, including a 56-yarder to on his first pass. Wallace had three catches for 105 yards.

Browns coach ‘s record has been 5-11 in each of his two seasons. On Monday, he’s scheduled to meet with team president .

Packers 10, Bears 3

At Green Bay, Wis., Aaron Rodgers’ 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Donald Lee gave the Packers the lead, and their defense held on to clinch a wild card.

The Packers trailed 3-0 at halftime and were tied going into the fourth quarter with the Bears, who didn’t have anything to play for in terms of playoff seeding, but still played to win with their starters.

38, 7

At Foxborough, Mass., threw two touchdown passes to cap a record-setting season as New England won its eighth straight.

The game meant nothing in the standings. Still, Brady played into the third quarter and finished with 36 touchdowns passing and four interceptions. He extended his NFL records to 335 straight passes without an interception and 28 consecutive regular-season wins as a starter at home.

The Dolphins (7-9) lost for the fourth time in five games, jeopardizing the job of coach Tony Sparano.

13, 7

At Baltimore, Ed Reed had two interceptions and recovered two fumbles, part of an opportunistic defense that carried Baltimore.

Ray Rice scored on a 7-yard run and Billy Cundiff kicked two field goals for the Ravens, who forced five turnovers to offset the 395 yards in offense amassed by the Bengals (4-12).

Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis’ contract ran out with the loss.

Jets 38, 7

At East Rutherford, N.J., threw two touchdown passes in relief of , Joe McKnight ran for a career-high 158 yards and the Jets’ defense dominated.

Having already clinched a postseason spot, New York sat a handful of starters, including LaDainian Tomlinson and Darrelle Revis, but still earned the fourth 11-win season in franchise history — and first since the 1998 team went to the AFC championship game.

Buffalo finished 4-12, out of the playoffs for the 11th successive season.

Buccaneers 23, 13

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Turner, Falcons Run Past Woeful Panthers 31-10

CHARLOTTE, N.C.. The Atlanta Falcons still aren’t very flashy. They certainly didn’t wow anybody playing the NFL’s worst team Sunday.

All they do, seemingly, is win.

Michael Turner ran for 112 yards and three touchdowns, Matt Ryan threw for another and the Atlanta Falcons maintained their grasp on the best record in the NFC with a 31-10 victory over the .

The Falcons (11-2) built a 17-0 halftime lead, survived a brief hiccup to start the third quarter, and cruised to their seventh straight win. and Kroy Biermann each had two sacks, Mike Peterson picked off Jimmy Clausen and the Falcons became the latest team to shut down the league’s worst offense.

Jonathan Stewart rushed for a season-best 133 yards, but lost a fumble on Carolina’s first play from scrimmage to set up Atlanta’s first TD. Things didn’t get much better for the Panthers (1-12), who dropped their seventh straight stayed on track to get the top pick in the draft.

Atlanta inched closer to a playoff berth with the victory. With losing to Detroit, Atlanta would get in with a loss by the Eagles on Sunday night or the Giants on Monday thanks to Turner’s continued resurgence.

Turner, who sprained his ankle here last year to derail his season as Atlanta missed the playoffs, had TD runs of 1, 3 and 4 yards in his fifth straight 100-yard game against Carolina. He carried 28 times, getting increased work with backup Jason Snelling (hamstring) sidelined.

Ryan wasn’t particularly sharp, but completed 20 of 34 passes for 227 yards and an interception. Roddy White caught eight passes for 79 yards and Atlanta overcome an odd atmosphere amid Carolina’s horrible season.

With bundled-up owner Jerry Richardson watching stone-faced from his open-air box in the end zone, he saw thousands of empty blue seats and a team in disarray after his offseason cost-cutting.

The few fans that were on hand — the stadium was somewhere between a third and half full at the start — at least were making light of the situation. The loudest cheer early was when referee Clete Blakeman announced, “That is the end of the first quarter.”

At that point, the Panthers were being outgained 133-6. They didn’t get a first down — which also produced jeers — until early in the second quarter.

By the time the next mock fist pumps and yells for Carolina’ second first down, Abraham and Biermann each had two sacks and it was 17-0 nearing halftime.

Three plays after Stewart’s opening fumble, Ryan tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez. Ryan’s 46-yard pass to Harry Douglas, who burned rookie Robert McClain, set up Turner 1-yard TD run on the second series.

Against the NFL’s lowest-scoring team, that was more than enough despite Carolina’s brief spurt.

After gaining 33 yards in the first half, the Panthers got a 48-yard burst by Stewart and Mike Goodson’s 13-yard TD run on an 81-yard drive to start the third quarter to get within 17-7.

Stewart rumbled for 42 yards for the next possession, but a frazzled Clausen was sacked by Chauncey Davis on fourth down near midfield to end the drive.

The Falcons quickly pounced, with Ryan completing three passes to White before Turner’s twisting 3-yard TD run made it 24-7.

It left Carolina closer to finishing with the league’s worst record, getting the No. 1 draft pick and perhaps a chance to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Clausen was 14 of 24 for 107 yards, extending his streak to 193 passes since his lone TD of the season. Peterson picked him off midway through the fourth quarter off a deflected pass to set up Turner’s final TD. Clausen was also sacked five times.

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