Cardinals end Seattle's 14-game streak
December 24, 2013, 12:14 am TWN
SEATTLE -- Arizona produced the win it needed to keep a pulse in its NFL playoff hopes and ended Seattle's 14-game home winning streak with a 17-10 victory on Sunday.
The penultimate round of games gave shape to the playoff picture, with Carolina sealing its first postseason appearance since 2008 by defeating New Orleans, Indianapolis beating Kansas City in a what could be a preview of an upcoming wild card game, and New England securing its fifth-straight AFC East title with a big victory at Baltimore.
Arizona (10-5) knew it had to win to keep alive its playoff hopes after Carolina beat New Orleans, and the Cardinals did so thanks to a stingy defense that flustered Seattle's Russell Wilson into one of his worst performances.
The defeat delayed any Seattle celebration of an NFC championship, but the Seahawks can still clinch it with a win over St. Louis next Sunday.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was intercepted four times — twice in the end zone — but after Seattle (12-3) took a 10-9 lead with 7:26 left, Palmer led the Cardinals 75 yards and found Michael Floyd for a juggling touchdown catch with 2:13 left.
Carolina's Cam Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a 17-13 win over New Orleans, clinching an overdue playoff berth.
The Panthers (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South and a first-round playoff bye with a win next Sunday at Atlanta.
They intercepted Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice and sacked him six times in avenging a 31-13 loss two weeks ago. Still, the Panthers needed some last-minute big plays from Newton. After being held to 116 yards passing for the game's first 59 minutes, Newton led the Panthers 65 yards in 32 seconds for the winning score.
New Orleans (10-5) is still are in position to clinch a playoff berth despite losing five of its past six road games.
Indianapolis' Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards and a touchdown to lead the Colts to a 23-7 win over Kansas City.
Donald Brown ran 51 yards for another score for the Colts (10-5), who have already wrapped up the AFC South and took advantage of four turnovers by the Chiefs (11-4) to win for the fifth time in their last six tries against Kansas City.
If Indianapolis ends up as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs — the Chiefs are assured the fifth seed — the teams will meet again in the playoffs.
Adam Vinatieri moved up to seventh on the list of most points in NFL history, passing fellow kicker Jason Elam (1,983).
New England (11-4) knew they had secured another AFC East title when Miami lost at Buffalo, and celebrated in style with a 41-7 win at Baltimore, inflicting the Ravens' heaviest loss since 1997.
Logan Ryan made two interceptions and LeGarrette Blount scored twice for the Patriots, who took a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter and never let up behind a defense that forced four turnovers and had four sacks.
The loss dropped Baltimore (8-7) into a tie with Miami and San Diego for the final AFC wild-card slot. Baltimore will get in with a win at Cincinnati next week.
It was even more lopsided in Philadelphia, where the Eagles routed Chicago 54-11 in another game with playoff implications.
The Bears (8-7) came in needing a win to clinch the NFC North and secure the No. 3 seed but the heavy defeat meant they must tie or beat Green Bay (7-7-1) next week to take the division crown.
Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes and LeSean McCoy ran for two scores for the Eagles (9-6) who have to tie or beat the Cowboys (8-7) in Dallas next Sunday to win the NFC East and complete a worst-to-first season under rookie coach Chip Kelly. Once Dallas beat Washington earlier, the Eagles knew they were only playing for a No. 3 seed if even they win the division.
Cincinnati clinched the AFC North with a 42-14 victory over Minnesota, with Vincent Rey returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown and Andy Dalton throwing four touchdown passes.