MINNEAPOLIS The Minnesota Vikings put their playoff hopes in better shape by going back to their best combination Daunte Culpepper deep to Randy Moss.
Culpepper and Moss connected on a pair of long touchdown passes for Minnesota, and a suddenly stingy defense shut down the powerful Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in a 34-7 victory.
The Vikings (8-5) played just as they did in September and October, before five losses in six games wiped out a 6-0 start and placed their NFC North lead over Green Bay in serious question.
The Seahawks (8-5) were stymied by a defense that fell to 29th in the league after a 48-17 loss at St. Louis last week.
The Seahawks are now 1-5 away from home, with a make-or-break game at St. Louis next week.
Moss had eight receptions for 133 yards, including scores of 47 and 45 yards.
Kelly Campbell caught a 43-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and rookie Mike Nattiel later returned an interception 80 yards for a score, keeping Minnesota one game ahead of the Packers in the race for the division title.
Certainly, the Vikings' nearly flawless offense played a big part. Their performance on the other side of the ball, however, was more impressive especially since Seattle won this meeting last year 48-23 behind an NFL-record five first-half touchdowns from Shaun Alexander. That was not the case Sunday, as Minnesota held Alexander to just 56 yards on 14 carries.
Eagles 36, Cowboys 10
PHILADELPHIA The Philadelphia Eagles became the first team in the playoffs when Donovan McNabb threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
The Eagles (10-3) got their eighth straight victory and can clinch their third straight division title with two more victories or one win and another loss by the Cowboys (8-5) . Philadelphia hasn't lost since a 23-21 defeat in Dallas on Oct. 12, while Dallas is 3-4 after a 5-1 start under new coach Bill Parcells.
Colts 29, Titans 27
NASHVILLE, Tenn. Edgerrin James ran for two touchdowns and Mike Vanderjagt kicked five field goals as the Colts swept the defending AFC South champion Titans, taking control of the division.
The Colts (10-3) improved to 6-1 on the road by scoring 19 straight points and forcing four fumbles, which they turned into nine points.
In this game featuring would-be MVP quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Steve McNair, Manning easily outplayed McNair, even using his legs to scramble for a couple of first downs. He ran for 20 yards and was 22-of-34 for 228 yards.
Ravens 31, Bengals 13
BALTIMORE Jamal Lewis ran for 180 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and the Ravens gained sole possession of first place in the AFC North. The Bengals (7-6) came in looking to enhance their turnaround season with a fifth straight win. Instead, they played a game that was all too typical of their recent past, committing five turnovers and yielding a season-high six sacks.
Redskins 20, Giants 7
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Bruce Smith set the career mark for sacks when he trapped Jesse Palmer in the fourth quarter. Smith tackled Palmer for a 7-yard loss with 8:33 to play. The 40-year-old defensive end put an inside power move on tackle Ian Allen, grabbed Palmer around the left ankle and pulled him down for his 199th sack.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Redskins (5-8) and handed the Giants (4-9) their fifth straight loss, eliminating New York from the playoff picture.
Buccaneers 14, Saints 7
NEW ORLEANS Tampa Bay scored two touchdowns in the final 1:25 of the first half, including one by Warren Sapp on a 1-yard reception.
Losers of four of their last five, the defending Super Bowl champions need to win all their games to just finish above .500. They were determined to start a run by beating the Saints (6-7), who had beaten them in their last three meetings.
Packers 34, Bears 21
GREEN BAY, Wis. Mike McKenzie, burned early for a 61-yard score, returned his second interception of the day 90 yards for a touchdown. The Packers (7-6) were clinging to a 19-14 lead when McKenzie stepped in front of receiver Dez White and picked off Kordell Stewart's pass at his 10-yard line and ran it all the way back.
Jaguars 27, Texans 0
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Tony Brackens had two sacks to help Jacksonville stifle Houston's undermanned offense. The Jaguars (4-9) handed the second-year Texans (5-8) their first shutout. Houston's hopes were hurt when starting quarterback David Carr (shoulder) and running back Domanick Davis (thigh) were scratched.
Chargers 14, Lions 7
DETROIT LaDainian Tomlinson's best game as a receiver was enough to beat the Lions. Tomlinson caught nine passes for 148 yards, a season-high for running backs, and had two touchdown receptions. Tomlinson's 73-yard and 16-yard scores in the first half gave San Diego (3-10) a 14-0 lead.
The Lions (4-9) had won three straight at home.
Steelers 27, Raiders 7
PITTSBURGH The Raiders' collapse a season after playing in the Super Bowl reached new depths as they fell to 3-10.
Jerome Bettis moved past Thurman Thomas into ninth place on the NFL career rushing list with 106 yards. It was the first 100-yard game by a Steelers runner this season and only Bettis' second in 2 1/2 seasons.
Patriots 12, Dolphins 0
FOXBORO, Mass. The New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins 12-0 Sunday to become the first team to clinch a division title this season.
Tedy Bruschi returned an interception 5 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, prompting many of the 45,738 fans who braved the snow at least 28 inches in the area since Friday night to clutch fistfuls of the powdery stuff and fling them into the wind, giving the stadium a festive and frosty air.
Broncos 45, Chiefs 27
DENVER Clinton Portis had 218 yards and a team-record five touchdowns, keeping the Broncos within reach of the playoffs.
Portis' effort helped Denver (8-5) tie Miami for the final AFC playoff spot and prevented Kansas City (11-2) from winning its first division title since 1997.
49ers 50, Cardinals 14
SAN FRANCISCO Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns on his 30th birthday, and Jeff Garcia threw four TD passes and ran for two more scores.
The sad-sack Cardinals (3-10), who beat San Francisco in overtime six weeks ago, lost their fifth straight.
Bills 17, Jets 6
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Playing with a broken bone in his right leg and torn rib cartilage, Travis Henry ran for a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown for Buffalo (6-7).
Falcons 20, Panthers 14
ATLANTA Michael Vick handled things in regulation. Kevin Mathis took care of overtime.
Vick rushed for 145 yards the third-highest total by a quarterback in NFL history before Mathis scored on a 32-year interception return in overtime to lead the Atlanta Falcons past the Carolina Panthers 20-14 Sunday night.
On the Saints' first posession in overtime, Jake Delhomme attempted a pass over the middle. Mathis stepped in front of the intended receiver, picked off the ball and headed for the winning score.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.