Cardinals 21

(5-10, 1-7 away)

Seahawks 24

(8-7, 4-3 home)

4:15 PM ET, December 26, 2004


1 2 3 4 T
ARI 7 0 0 1421
SEA 0 10 7 724

Alexander, Jackson come up big for Seahawks

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle Seahawks are back in the playoffs, led by a couple of record-setting performances by Shaun Alexander and Darrell Jackson.

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.

"We accomplished our first goal for the season, getting into the playoffs" Alexander said. "It's a good feeling to know we may get another one accomplished by the end of tomorrow night."

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

The Seahawks, though, have 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.

"This is just a game where we didn't hit on all cylinders for four quarters," Arizona coach Dennis Green said.

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

"If you bought a season ticket to the Seattle Seahawks, you got your money's worth," coach Mike Holmgren said. "It was a great win. The guys were very excited in the locker room, as they should be."

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.

Jackson, meanwhile, has 84 receptions, breaking the franchise record of 81 by Brian Blades in 1994. His 1,186 yards receiving this season also is a career-high, and he's reached the 5,000-yard mark in 76 games.

"I've been doing this every year," said Jackson, a fifth-year pro. "I think I've been very consistent. It's not like I've been having a big jump from 600 to 1,300 yards."

He did it two games faster than any other receiver in franchise history. Hall of Famer Steve Largent reached the mark in 78 games.

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

"I am disappointed that the whole thing kind of went the way it should go, and the difference is that Seattle played like a team that could win the NFC West Division today," Green said.

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

"That's just lack of athleticism," Dilfer said. "I was just trying to keep my eyes up so my head wouldn't fall."

"I was thinking, 'Run faster!" Alexander recalled. "I was wishing he had my legs there."

Holmgren added, "That was the longest 7-yard run I've ever seen."

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

The Seahawks sustained injuries to several key players, however.

Fullback Mack Strong left early with a bruised quadriceps, five-time Pro Bowl tackle Walter Jones left in the third with an ankle injury and rookie safety Michael Boulware was carted off at the 2-minute warning with a sprained foot.

"We'll know more tomorrow," Holmgren said.

The Seahawks also 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.

Alexander scored on runs of 1 and 17 yards to help the Seahawks to a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter, and he found an open seam behind center Robbie Tobeck on a 23-yard TD run that made it 24-7 only 10 seconds into the fourth period.

Game notes

Seattle WR Koren Robinson, returning after a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, didn't catch a pass. ... To honor late Cardinals standout Pat Tillman, a group of Army Rangers from Fort Lewis, Wash., raised the ceremonial "12th Man" flag before kickoff. ... Arizona T Leonard Davis and WR Nathan Poole both left in the second half with left knee injuries.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 4 plays, 52 yds, 1:24
Drive info: 4 plays, 52 yds, 1:24
seaTD3:13Shaun Alexander, 17 yd run
Drive info: 5 plays, 82 yds, 2:42
Drive info: 5 plays, 82 yds, 2:42
Drive info: 7 plays, 70 yds, 3:03
seaTD4:51Shaun Alexander, 1 yd run
Drive info: 6 plays, 20 yds, 2:41
Drive info: 7 plays, 70 yds, 3:03
seaTD14:57Shaun Alexander, 23 yd run
Drive info: 5 plays, 39 yds, 2:46
Drive info: 6 plays, 20 yds, 2:41
Drive info: 5 plays, 39 yds, 2:46
Drive info: 9 plays, 76 yds, 3:11
Drive info: 9 plays, 76 yds, 3:11
seaFG0:03Josh Brown 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 53 yds, 3:07