Printed on: December 24, 2012
Seahawks hammer 'Niners
SEATTLE (AP) -- Fueled by its deafening home crowd, the Seattle Seahawks locked up their spot in the postseason Sunday night.
They also reinforced the notion no one in the NFC wants to see them when the playoffs begin, even if they are a wild card.
Russell Wilson threw a career high four touchdown passes to move into second place for most TD passes by a rookie. Marshawn Lynch scored two first-quarter TDs, and the Seahawks blew out the San Francisco 49ers 42-13.
Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for another touchdown as the Seahawks (10-5) jumped to a 21-0 lead. That only added to an already hyped crowd on a typically cold and rainy December night, with noise echoing off the walls and overhanging roof of CenturyLink Field that might have been heard all the way across Puget Sound.
No one cared about the cold rain. Not with the performance they were seeing on the field. And not with a ticket to the postseason guaranteed thanks to Seattle's first 10-win season since 2007.
Most likely Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC. There remains a slight chance of winning the NFC West if the Seahawks beat St. Louis in the season finale and Arizona can upset the 49ers in San Francisco. hawks, 7-0 at home, delayed San Francisco (10-4-1) from celebrating a division title on Seattle's turf. They turned Jim Harbaugh's 49th birthday into a miserable, wet evening.
Whether home or road, the Seahawks are a scary postseason opponent with the way they are playing.
Seattle was the first team since 1950 to score at least 50 points in consecutive weeks thanks to its 58-0 win over Arizona and 50-17 victory against Buffalo. It seemed inconceivable the scoring binge could continue against San Francisco, the best scoring defense in the NFL.
But it did.
Around the NFL
BRONCOS 34, BROWNS 12: At Denver, in the span of about five minutes, Peyton Manning threw his third touchdown pass of the afternoon, Von Miller knocked the opposing quarterback out of the game and the Denver Broncos completely demoralized the tenacious but overmatched Cleveland Browns.
During that third-quarter flurry Sunday, the Broncos looked a lot like the best team in the AFC, and with one more Sunday like this one, they could go into the playoffs as just that.
Manning threw for 339 yards and three scores and Miller was in on two sacks, the second of which ended Brandon Weeden's day, leading Denver to a 34-12 win -- a victory that pulled the Broncos (12-3) into a tie with Houston for the best record in the conference.
The Broncos carry a 10-game winning streak, second longest in franchise history, into the final week at home against Kansas City (2-13). The Texans, who hold the tiebreaker against Denver, have lost two of three and they close the season at Indianapolis (10-5).
Manning finished 30 for 43 and has 4,355 yards this season, moving him past John Elway and Jake Plummer for second on the franchise's single-season passing list. He wasn't perfect -- he threw an interception late in the first half for Denver's first turnover inside the opponent's 10-yard line all season -- but when he was clicking, the Broncos couldn't be stopped, at least not by Cleveland (5-10).
REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 20: At Philadelphia, Robert Griffin III threw a pair of touchdown passes in his first game back from a knee injury, Kai Forbath set the NFL record for consecutive field goals to begin a career, and the Redskins held on to beat Philadelphia for their sixth straight win.
Nick Foles drove the Eagles to the Washington 5 before his intentional grounding penalty ended the game.
The Redskins (9-6) can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Dallas at home on Dec. 30. They haven't won it since 1999 and last reached the playoffs in 2007. A loss and they still have a chance at a wild-card playoff spot.
SAINTS 34, COWBOYS 31, OT: At Arlington, Texas, Garrett Hartley kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime, and New Orleans damaged Dallas' playoff hopes.
Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns and led a drive to the winning kick. The Saints lucked out before the winning kick when a fumble by Marques Colston rolled forward about 20 yards to the Dallas 2. Jimmy Graham recovered.
The playoff hopes for the Saints (7-8) ended with Minnesota's win against Houston.
The Cowboys (8-7) play the Redskins on Dec. 30 for the NFC East title, but only Washington has a chance for a wild-card spot if it loses.
COLTS 20, CHIEFS 13: At Kansas City, Mo., Andrew Luck threw for 205 yards to break the single-season rookie record, and his touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter put Indianapolis in the playoffs.
Luck surpassed Cam Newton's year-old record of 4,051 yards passing by a rookie in the second quarter, and then came through in the closing minutes. He marched Indy to the Chiefs 7, then found Wayne in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal for the go-ahead score.
It was the seventh time Luck has rallied his team to victory in the fourth quarter.
BENGALS 13, STEELERS 10: At Pittsburgh, Josh Brown kicked a 43-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining to put Cincinnati in the playoffs and eliminate Pittsburgh from postseason contention.
Brown missed a 56-yarder earlier in the quarter, but earned a second chance when Reggie Nelson picked off Ben Roethlisberger and returned it to the Pittsburgh 46 with 14 seconds remaining.
VIKINGS 23, TEXANS 6: At Houston, Adrian Peterson rushed for 86 yards, falling far short of the 2,000-yard mark yet helping Minnesota keep its playoff hopes alive.
Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass, Toby Gerhart added a score and Blair Walsh kicked three field goals.
Peterson had his lowest rushing total since getting 79 yards Oct. 14 in a loss at Washington. He has 1,898 this season and needs 208 yards to break the NFL single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.
RAVENS 33, GIANTS 14: At Baltimore, Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns as Baltimore won the AFC North.
The Ravens (10-5) led 24-7 at halftime and cruised to the finish behind a short-handed defense that harassed quarterback Eli Manning and limited New York (8-7) to 186 yards.
The defending Super Bowl champion Giants (8-7) can't win the NFC East but still have a chance to make the playoffs as a wild card.
BEARS 28, CARDINALS 13: At Glendale, Ariz., Chicago's defense scored two touchdowns to keep the Bears' playoff hopes alive.
Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score, the third pick he's brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another Bears score.
Chicago (9-6) snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
PACKERS 55, TITANS 7: At Green Bay, Wis., Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, Ryan Grant scored twice and Randall Cobb set a single-season franchise record for net yardage.
The victory ensured the Packers (11-4) will at least be the NFC's No. 3 seed. They still have a shot at the No. 2 -- and the first-round bye that goes with it after Seattle beat San Francisco on Sunday night.
PATRIOTS 23, JAGUARS 16: At Jacksonville, Fla., Tom Brady overcame a rough start by throwing two touchdown passes for playoff-bound New England.
Brady hooked up with Wes Welker for a 2-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots (11-4) ahead 23-13.
CHARGERS 27, JETS 17: At East Rutherford, N.J., San Diego sacked Greg McElroy 11 times, ruining the quarterback's first NFL start, and Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes for the Chargers.
Rivers had touchdown tosses of 37 yards to Danario Alexander and 34 yards to Antonio Gates.
PANTHERS 17, RAIDERS 6: At Charlotte, N.C., Cam Newton threw for 171 yards and a touchdown and ran for 60 yards and another score as Carolina won for the fourth time in its past five games.
Newton accounted for 231 of the 271 yards.
RAMS 28, BUCCANEERS 13: At Tampa, Fla., Sam Bradford tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth TD of the season.
Bradford connected with Lance Kendricks on an 80-yard scoring play on the first play of the third quarter. The Rams (7-7-1) intercepted Josh Freeman four times.
DOLPHINS 24, BILLS 10: At Miami, Reggie Bush caught two touchdown passes and scored on a short run for Miami.
The Bills (5-10) came into the game assured of missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year.