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Seahawks beat Cowboys 21-12 in playoff elimination game

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Russell Wilson didn’t have to do much to keep alive Seattle’s hopes for a sixth straight trip to the playoffs, despite the return of star Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott from a six-game suspension.

Justin Coleman put the Seahawks in front for good with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown , and Seattle beat the Cowboys 21-12 in a playoff elimination game Sunday.

Dak Prescott threw two interceptions and the Dallas offense didn’t score a touchdown despite the reunion with his backfield mate, the one he shared a remarkable rookie season with a year ago when Cowboys had an NFC-best 13 wins.

Now Dallas (8-7) is eliminated from the postseason with the end of its three-game winning streak, and the Seahawks (9-6) still have life after Wilson threw for two touchdowns despite a career-low 93 yards passing.

“In these situations where it truly is a must-win game, we don’t have to make anything up,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “We’re well-prepared for it. The process that we’ve gone through the whole season really helped us today.”

Coleman gave Seattle a 14-9 lead in the third quarter when he reached down to catch Prescott’s badly overthrown pass to Elliott and ran untouched 30 yards for a touchdown.

It was the fourth pick-six of the season for Prescott, who threw just four interceptions last season when he was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has 13 interceptions for the season.

The Seahawks were eliminated in the NFC West race by the Los Angeles Rams’ 27-23 win at Tennessee. But they can still make the postseason with some help despite gaining just 136 total yards – their fewest since getting 135 in a 14-9 win over the St. Louis Rams in 2013.

Seattle’s first two offensive touchdowns were set up by pass interference penalties in the end zone. The first was a 3-yarder to Jimmy Graham, the second a 6-yarder to Baldwin after running plays backed up the Seahawks both times.

The Cowboys, who lost their first three without Elliott before the winning streak, didn’t take it easy on last year’s NFL rushing leader after his six-week layoff, giving him 15 carries for 73 yards in the first half.

The longest carry was a 9-yarder as he averaged 4.7 per carry. Elliott, who was suspended on domestic violence allegations, finished with 97 yards on 24 carries.

But Dallas didn’t give Elliott the ball with a first down at the Seattle 3 when trailing by nine points midway through the fourth quarter. After a Prescott run, a holding penalty on a pass play and the third sack of Prescott, Dan Bailey missed a 34-yarder.

Bailey, who had two 51-yarders among his four kicks, missed again in the closing seconds.

“It’s hard to get over,” said Prescott, who was 21 of 34 for 182 yards. “I’m sure I’ll get over it at some point. But right now’s not the time. Didn’t play well enough for us to win. Simple as that.”

Dallas receiver Dez Bryant dropped the first pass of the game and was caught on camera on the sideline yelling at former Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, now a staff member. Soon after, he fumbled after making a catch , setting up Wilson’s scoring toss to Graham.

Wilson saved that scoring chance by recovering a fumble on a bad handoff on the previous play.

“I didn’t have time to sense anything,” Wilson said. “The year on the line right there, with the ball on the ground. Whoever takes it, so I just leaped to get that ball.”

Bryant had another ball go off his hands on a throw behind him, and the tipped ball was intercepted by K.J. Wright to wipe out one of several promising Dallas scoring chances.

“I’m a little numb because the way we started, the good feeling, the uptick we had with Zeke coming back,” owner Jerry Jones said. “All of that, I thought that would rule the day today.”

MIMICKING ZEKE

Coleman repeated an Elliott antic from last season, when the Dallas running back jumped into a jumbo Salvation Army red kettle after a touchdown on Thanksgiving. Coleman got the same penalty, too – a 15-yarder for unsportsmanlike conduct.

WAY BACK

The Seahawks had 2 yards passing at halftime thanks in part to DeMarcus Lawrence‘s 22-yard sack of Wilson in the first half. Lawrence overpowered Germain Ifedi, forced Wilson to backtrack after he tried scrambling to his right and tackled Wilson as he tried to run away from him at the Seattle 8.

GRAHAM MILESTONE

Graham’s second-quarter touchdown made him the first NFL tight end with at least 10 scoring catches in a season for two franchises. He did it three times with New Orleans and has 69 career TDs.

INJURIES

Cowboys: Five-time Pro Bowl LT Tyron Smith started despite a right knee injury that kept him out of practice most of the week. He came out after the first series, replaced by Byron Bell.

UP NEXT

Seahawks: Home against Arizona next Sunday.

Cowboys: At Philadelphia next Sunday.

More AP NFL: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Jaguars beat Seahawks 30-24, take outright lead in AFC South

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Blake Bortles threw two perfect passes for touchdowns, Jaydon Mickens set up another score with a 72-yard punt return and the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-24 on Sunday.

The Jaguars (9-4) intercepted three passes by Russell Wilson, including two on deep balls, and won for the sixth time in their last seven games. This victory, coupled with Tennessee’s loss at Arizona, moved Jacksonville atop the AFC South.

It’s the first time since 2010 that the Jaguars have had the outright division lead this late in a season.

The loss didn’t sit well with the Seahawks (8-5), who had two players ejected in the final minute. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch during a melee that included defensive tackle Michael Bennett and Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette.

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More pushing and shoving occurred after the next play, and defensive end Quinton Jefferson was tossed. Jefferson tried to climb into the stands after getting hit with what looked like a plastic bottle. Seattle coach Pete Carroll also got flagged for coming onto the field. Carroll walked into Seattle’s huddle, possibly to calm his players down.

The ending did little to ruin Jacksonville’s celebration, which had a lot to do with Bortles and the league’s top-ranked defense.

Coming off one of the best games of his career, a 30-10 victory against Indianapolis, Bortles was equally efficient and effective against the Seahawks.

Two of his better throws ended up in the end zone. He floated an 18-yarder early in the third quarter to rookie Dede Westbrook, the first for the 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist. Bortles’ second one was even better, a deep pass that hit Keelen Cole in stride and went for 75 yards.

Cole’s second touchdown in as many weeks came on the ensuing play after Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin for a 26-yard score that tied it at 10.

Jacksonville’s third-quarter surge wasn’t done. Mickens zigzagged through the middle of Seattle’s coverage team and ended up getting stopped at the 1-yard line. Leonard Fournette handled it from there, scoring for the ninth time this season.

That was enough – just barely – for Jacksonville’s defense.

Trailing 27-10, Wilson avoided a sack and hit Paul Richardson for a 61-yard score. Down 30-17, Wilson connected with Tyler Lockett for a 74-yarder.

Wilson had a final chance to rally his team, but he failed to convert a fourth-and-9 pass from the Seattle 43.

Fournette iced the victory by gaining 13 yards on a third-and-11 play with less than 2 minutes remaining.

RARE MISTAKES

Wilson’s early mistakes left Seattle in a huge hole. It was the first time this season and the fourth time in 105 career games that Wilson threw three interceptions. It was his first game with three or more picks since throwing five against Green Bay in December 2016.

INJURIES

Seahawks: All-everything LB Bobby Wagner left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. … LB K.J. Wright (concussion) left the field late in the third quarter and was ruled out. … RB Mike Davis (ribs) was knocked out briefly but returned.

Jaguars: RB Corey Grant injured his right shoulder while fumbling a kickoff. … TE Marcedes Lewis jammed a finger on his left hand. … WR Larry Pinkard left in the second quarter while being evaluated for a concussion and was ruled out at halftime. Jaguars played without speedy LB Telvin Smith (concussion).

UP NEXT

Seahawks: Host the Los Angeles Rams in game that could help determine the NFC West champion.

Jaguars: Wrap up a three-game homestand against Houston.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Sunday Night Football odds have Patriots favorites over the Seahawks

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There is an expectation that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be untouchable in a post-bye week game, but their record against the spread in recent instances might suggest otherwise.

The Patriots are 7.5-point betting favorites against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks with a 49-point total in the Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. New England, due to road games and their bye week, is playing at Gillette Stadium for the first time in four weeks.

The OddsShark NFL Database points out the Patriots are 19-0 straight-up in their last 19 home games after consecutive road games. Interestingly enough, since 2009 New England is 5-2 SU and 2-4-1 against the spread in games following a bye week.

The Patriots are 7-1 SU and ATS, with the lone loss occurring when No. 3 QB Jacoby Brissett was starting during Brady’s Deflategate suspension. Brady, whose team is 9-1 SU and 7-2-1 ATS over their last 10 November home games, should have all hands on deck in the passing phase as slot WR Julian Edelman (foot) and TE Martellus Bennett (ankle) wait for minor ailments to heal.

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman will take away some routes from Brady, but that could leave openings for TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Chris Hogan. The Patriots might have some success going after Seahawks CB Jeremy Lane, who had a short week to get over a rough outing against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9.

The Seahawks defense, with DE Cliff Avril and DE Michael Bennett leading the front line, are tougher against the run than against the pass. New England mainly uses RB LeGarrette Blount to try to tire out opposing defenders and slow up the pass rush.

The Seahawks, at 5-2-1 SU and 3-4-1 ATS, are in good position to regain the NFC West title, but this is their biggest test of the season. Wilson, with a great deal of help from WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham, has kept Seattle’s offense functional even though they are third-last in the NFL in rushing.

Being one-dimensional against the Patriots, whose only loss came against the Buffalo Bills (who lead the NFL in yards per rush), is hardly a winning strategy.

New England, with a solid secondary led by FS Devin McCourty and CB Malcolm Butler, emphasizes preventing the deep pass. Wilson, who’s facing a tepid pass rush which has only 13 sacks, should be able to make his progressions and complete underneath routes.

Seattle, which has not been this big of an underdog on the NFL betting lines since 2012, barely ran the ball against Buffalo even though they led throughout the game. They will need some output from RB Christine Michael, since three-and-out possessions against the Patriots are a killer.

The total has gone under in six of the Seahawks’ last eight road games. The total has gone over in five of the Patriots’ last seven home games.