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Sunday, December 21, 2008
Rapid Reaction: Patriots 47, Cardinals 7


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots aren't going away.

In fact, they're looming more than they have all season.

The Patriots went into Sunday the only team among the AFC East-leading threesome not in control of their own destiny, but they remain very much a factor after walloping the Arizona Cardinals 47-7 in the snow globe that was Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots are 10-5 and play the Buffalo Bills in next week's season finale. While the Patriots could win 11 games and not make the playoffs, the Cardinals are 8-7 and have ensured their spot by clinching the harmless NFC West.

The Patriots could become the first 11-win club to miss the postseason since the NFL adopted its current format in 1990 if the Baltimore Ravens beat the Jacksonville Jaguars as expected next week to finish 11-5 and both the Jets and Dolphins win today.

The Ravens hold the tiebreaker and would take the second wild-card berth. The Indianapolis Colts earned the first wild-card entry.

LaMont Jordan scored touchdowns on New England's first two series, and Matt Cassel outplayed the MVP candidate and the Heisman-winning glamour boy he used to back up at Southern California.

Cassel's phenomenal season continued. He completed 20 of 36 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.