Seahawks shut out Giants, Dolphins deny Patriots
By Larry Fine
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The Seattle Seahawks hit the mark for what they hope is their Super Bowl rehearsal by blanking the New York Giants 23-0 on Sunday at the winter-weather site of Super Bowl 48.
The Seahawks, who have already reached the playoffs with an NFC-best mark of 12-2, coolly closed in on securing a first-round bye as West Division winners on a Week 15 schedule in which nearly every game held playoff implications.
Seattle's top-rated defense stole the show, intercepting two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Eli Manning five times in shutting down the hosting Giants (5-9). The Seahawks hope to return to the Meadowlands for a Super Bowl appearance on February 2.
New England (10-4) appeared poised to notch a fourth straight come-from-behind win and clinch the AFC East title before quarterback Tom Brady's fourth-down pass was intercepted by safety Michael Thomas in the end zone with two seconds left to preserve a 24-20 win for the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins (8-6), desperately needing a win to stay in the thick of the AFC wildcard race, recovered from a 20-17 deficit when quarterback Ryan Tannehill hit Marcus Thigpen with a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:21 left in the game.
Miami snapped a string of seven consecutive losses against the Patriots, who lost ground in their quest to snare the top seeding in the AFC.
The San Francisco 49ers set themselves up for a possible playoff clinching later on Sunday by walloping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14.
San Francisco (10-4) dominated possession, outgaining Tampa Bay 187 yards to 39 on the ground while quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 19 of 29 passes including two TD connections. Continued...