Seahawks soar into playoffs

Posted: Monday, December 27, 2004

SEATTLE Shaun Alexander and Darrell Jackson put their names into Seattle's record books, and for the first time in 20 years the Seahawks made the playoffs for a second straight season.

Alexander rushed 30 times for 154 yards with three touchdowns and Jackson caught six passes for 101 yards receiving, leading Seattle to a 24-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

With the victory, the Seahawks (8-7) secured no worse than a wild-card, and they'll win the NFC West and get a first-round playoff game at home if Philadelphia beats St. Louis on Monday night.

It's the first time Seattle has made the playoffs in consecutive years since 1983-84.

Seattle, though, has infamously collapsed late in several games this season, and the Cardinals (5-10) sure made things interesting again before being eliminated from playoff contention.

Josh McCown threw a pair of 29-yard TD strikes to Larry Fitzgerald in the fourth quarter, pulling the Cardinals to 24-21 with 2:30 to play. He also found Fitzgerald for a score with 11:32 remaining.

Neil Rackers was wide left on a 52-yard field goal attempt midway through the period for Arizona, or things could have turned out much differently.

McCown completed 21-of-33 for 248 yards with three TD passes and two interceptions for Arizona.

The Cardinals almost got one final chance. On third-and-6 from the 24, Trent Dilfer fled the pocket under pressure and scrambled for a 7-yard gain that took the clock to the 2-minute warning.

From there, all Dilfer needed to do was take a knee to run out the clock.

Alexander has a career-high 1,616 yards rushing this season, breaking Chris Warren's 1994 franchise record of 1,545. His 19 TDs also are a franchise mark, beating the 18 he set two years ago.

The Seahawks won without quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, limited to one day of practice after hurting his right elbow on a sack in last weekend's loss to the New York Jets. Dilfer completed 10-of-26 for 128 yards with one interception.

Steelers 20, Ravens 7

PITTSBURGH The Steelers wrapped up home-field advantage in the AFC as Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes before being pulled with a rib injury.

The Steelers (14-1) won't have a meaningful game until Jan. 15 or 16. But a team that has been playing without six injured regulars sustained two more injuries, as both Roethlisberger and cornerback Deshea Townsend (wrist) were pulled in the fourth quarter.

The loss all but eliminated the Ravens (8-7) from playoff contention.

Patriots 23, Jets 7

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Tom Brady and New England dominated division rival New York to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Jets (10-5) must win their finale at St. Louis next week to be assured of making the AFC playoffs as a wild card.

The Patriots (13-2), coming off an embarrassing 29-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, looked completely different.

Brady threw two touchdown passes and went 21-of-32 for 264 yards after tying a career high with four picks against Miami.

Texans 21, Jaguars 0

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Domanick Davis ran for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown and the Texans crippled Jacksonville's postseason chances.

Because Baltimore lost at Pittsburgh, the Jaguars (8-7) could have taken control of the final AFC wild-card spot with a victory against Houston (7-8). Instead, they will need to win next week at Oakland and get some help to return to the postseason for the first time since 1999.

Saints 26, Falcons 13

NEW ORLEANS Aaron Brooks scored on a fourth-down 1-yard run and Michael Lewis had a 96-yard kickoff return to keep the Saints (7-8) in playoff contention.

Atlanta (11-4) rested Michael Vick, with a sore shoulder after clinching a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Brooks, Vick's cousin, went 12-of-24 for 227 yards.

The Falcons also rested two other key offensive players: tight end Alge Crumpler and running back T.J. Duckett.

Bills 41, 49ers 7

SAN FRANCISCO Willis McGahee rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on an injured knee, Lee Evans caught two scoring passes and the Bills easily earned their sixth straight victory.

Drew Bledsoe went 21-of-32 for 172 yards and a touchdown for the Bills (9-6), whose longest winning streak since 1990 has them alive in their quest to become just the second team in NFL history to make the playoffs after starting 0-4. Buffalo also clinched its first winning record since 1999.

Bengals 23, Giants 22

CINCINNATI Keiwan Ratliff's 42-yard punt return set up Jon Kitna's 4-yard touchdown pass to Chad Johnson with 44 seconds left, rallying the Bengals.

It was the eighth straight loss for the Giants (5-10) and a jubilant ending to another disappointing home season for the Bengals (7-8).

Eli Manning's elusive first win in six starts was there for the taking after Steve Christie kicked his fifth field goal for a 22-17 lead with just over 5 minutes left. Kitna's fourth-down pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh kept the Bengals' final drive alive.

Manning went 19-of-37 for 201 yards, leading New York to scores on six consecutive possessions.

Cowboys 13, Redskins 10

IRVING, Texas Vinny Testaverde silenced the boos from fans who wanted him benched with a 39-yard touchdown to Patrick Crayton with 30 seconds left that gave the Dallas its fourth straight win over Washington and 14th in 15 games.

Dallas (6-9) fell behind 10-6 with 6:44 left on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Ramsey to Robert Royal.

Dallas took over at its 25 with 1:25 left and threw three straight incompletions, then hit Crayton for 15 yards on fourth-and-10.

The Redskins are 5-10.

Lions 19, Bears 13

DETROIT Detroit was fortunate to avoid a second straight heartbreaking loss after Chad Hutchinson appeared to throw a 43-yard, game-tying touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian with 1:26 left. But it was ruled incomplete and upheld by replay.

Dolphins 10, Browns 7

MIAMI Two bad teams produced the expected a bad game and the Miami Dolphins were a little less awful.

Olindo Mare kicked a 51-yard field goal with 7 seconds left, and Miami edged the Cleveland Browns 10-7 on Sunday night, prompting a big cheer from the 20,000 fans who remained until the finish.

Jim Bates won in the matchup of interim coaches against Terry Robiskie. Bates already knows he'll be replaced after the season by LSU coach Nick Saban, who accepted the Miami job Saturday.

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