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These Birds Are Still in the Chase

Sunday, December 26, 2004; Page E06

[Arizona at Seattle,

4:15 p.m.]


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The last year Emmitt Smith rushed for 10 touchdowns in a season. He has nine this season.


Number of catches for Jerry Rice over the last three games. He has 30 total this season.

In most years, a late-season matchup between a 5-9 team and a 7-7 team would mean approximately nothing. But not this year, and not in the NFC West (the pro football equivalent of the Big East).

No, this game has a lot riding on it, despite the teams' records. The Cardinals can still win the division with two wins to end the season, despite the fact that they are assured of a losing record. The Seahawks can clinch the division with a win and a Rams loss on Monday night.

Arizona quarterback Josh McCown has shown Coach Dennis Green how foolish he was by benching him midway through the season. Last week, McCown passed for two touchdowns and ran for two others in the Cardinals' thrashing of the lifeless Rams. Today he goes up against a Seattle team that ranks second in the league in interceptions despite allowing 230 yards passing per game (23rd in the league).

"Josh is playing a lot better," Green said this week. "I think he feels he knows more about the offense and knows more about what it takes for the offense to work."

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