The surging Cardinals continued their run into wild-card contention in the NFC, defeating Indianapolis 40-11 on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.
The victory was the Cardinals’ fourth straight and moved them to 7-4 on the season. At present, they are a half-game up on idle San Francisco (6-4) for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. If the 49ers defeat Washington on Monday night, San Francisco will retake the No. 6 seed on account of having beaten Arizona earlier in the season.
The Cardinals and 49ers play in the season finale for both clubs in Glendale on Dec. 29.
The Cardinals started fast and never looked back against Indianapolis (7-4). Arizona scored on its first drive, with quarterback Carson Palmer connecting with Larry Fitzgerald on a four-yard TD first-quarter TD pass.
The Cardinals broke the game open with a 20-point second quarter to take a 27-3 halftime lead. The big plays were another Palmer-to-Fitzgerald TD, this one 27 yards; and a 22-yard interception return by linebacker Karlos Dansby.
Fitzgerald, who racked up 52 yards on five catches, became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 yards receiving. And Palmer was on-point once again for Arizona, completing 26-of-37 passes for 314 yards and a pair of scores.
By contrast, the Colts’ offense sputtered. Quarterback Andrew Luck was held to 163 yards passing on 20-of-39 attempts. Colts tailbacks Donald Brown and Trent Richardson combined for 17 yards on nine carries. Overall, Arizona outgained Indianapolis 410-239.
With the loss and Tennessee’s final-minute win at Oakland, the Colts’ lead in the AFC South is down to two games. The Colts can take a huge step toward the division title with a win vs. Tennessee next week. However, a loss would allow the Titans to draw within one game.
-- Mike Wilkening, ProFootballTalk
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