|Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by Nathan Jones [GALLO/GETTY]
Defending Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers missed the chance to defend their title as they were dumped out of the NFL postseason reckoning despite beating the Miami Dolphins in Florida.
The Dolphins also saw their playoff hopes disappear with the defeat.
Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets wrapped up playoff berths on the final day of the regular season on Sunday.
The Ravens used a 21-13 win over the Oakland Raiders to grab one of two AFC wild card spots and end the slim post-season hopes of the Steelers, who had earlier beaten the Dolphins 30-24.
Thousands of Steelers fans in Florida on Sunday twirled their yellow scarves as Ben Roethlisberger guided Pittsburgh to victory - similar to February's celebration in Tampa but it was a very different win.
This one counted for nothing.
"This is our bed and we have to lay in it. But we made the best of a bad situation," coach Mike Tomlin said.
The Steelers' season was all but over after a dreadful run of five straight defeats, which started against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 15.
"We have a single goal each year and that is to be world champs," Tomlin said.
"We understand there are 32 teams vying every year and there can only be one.
"I have been in this league nine years, seven times I have been disappointed. If we are not that team – so be it."
The Jets clinched their postseason spot with a 37-0 victory over the playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals.
The victory set up a postseason rematch with the Bengals in Cincinnati on Saturday.
Baltimore will play at New England in the other AFC wildcard game on Sunday, January 10.
|The Steelers' Tomlin was regretful yet philosophical ablout defeat [GALLO/GETTY]
In the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys galloped to a 24-0 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles to win the East Division title and set up a playoff rematch between the two teams in Texas on Saturday.
The other NFC playoff game will have the Arizona Cardinals hosting the Green Bay Packers in another rematch on Sunday.
Green Bay crushed Arizona 33-7 on Sunday as the Cardinals, like a number of teams, rested most of their starters.
The Minnesota Vikings rolled to a 44-7 victory over the New York Giants to join the top-seeded New Orleans Saints with NFC first-round byes.
The Saints dropped a 23-10 decision to the Carolina Panthers that did not affect their playoff status.
Seven AFC teams went into the final day with a chance of grabbing the conference's two wildcard berths.
Defeats eliminated Denver, Jacksonville and Miami with Pittsburgh and Houston going out despite final-day wins.
Denver fell 44-24 to the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville lost 23-17 to Cleveland.
Houston's surprising Texans defeated the New England Patriots 34-27 but were eliminated by the Jets' win over the Bengals.
Indianapolis, the AFC's top seed, dropped a 30-7 decision to the Buffalo Bills in a game that did not affect the Colts' playoff status.
The Colts will have home field advantage throughout the AFC postseason.
The conference's number two seed San Diego rallied for a 23-20 win over Washington in what is likely to be Redskins coach Jim Zorn's final game with local media reporting they expect him to be fired on Monday.