(Reuters) - The St. Louis Rams limited Peyton Manning to a single touchdown in a shock 22-7 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday while the Arizona Cardinals began life without quarterback Carson Palmer with an impressive 14-6 win over the Detroit Lions.
The Cardinals’ dreams of becoming the first team from the city hosting the Super Bowl to play in the NFL championship appeared to take a hit when Palmer went down with a season-ending knee injury last week but backup Drew Stanton and a punishing defense kept the team on course, improving their record to a league best 9-1 with a sixth straight win.
Stanton tossed two touchdowns to Michael Floyd while the Cardinals defense kept the Lions vaunted attack out to end zone, holding Detroit to a pair of Matt Prater field goals.
At icy Lambeau Field the red hot Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers scorched the Philadelphia Eagles 53-20.
Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and defensive lineman Julius Peppers returned an interception for another score as the Packers rung up more than 50 points for the second straight game, rocketing into a share of top spot in the NFC North with the Lions with records of 7-3.
Manning, who earlier this season set the all-time career record for touchdown passes, completed 34 of 54 pass attempts for 389 yards inside the raucous Edward Jones Dome but could manage only one touchdown strike to Emmanuel Sanders against a hard-hitting St. Louis defense and was intercepted twice.
”I give them a lot of credit,“ Manning told reporters. ”I thought we didn’t execute very well and just think I didn’t play very well, so usually you can kind of wrap it up into that.
”I have to play better and got to score more points than seven.”
Rams quarterback Shaun Hill completed 20 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown while Greg Zuerlein handled the rest of the scoring, booting five field goals including 55 and 53 yarders in the fourth quarter.
The loss left the Broncos at 7-3 and were joined at the top of the AFC West by the Kansas City Chiefs who rode the home crowd to a 24-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Jamaal Charles rushed for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns to spark the Chiefs to their fifth straight win.
The Super Bowl champion Seahawks slipped to 6-4 in the NFC West and look headed for another showdown with archrivals the San Francisco 49ers who escaped New York with a 16-10 win over the Giants to get to 6-4. Both the 49ers and Seahawks trail the Cardinals who sit three wins clear at the top of the division.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a miserable afternoon firing five interceptions, including two picked off by Niners linebacker Chris Borland, as New York’s losing skid reached five games.
Colin Kaepernick tossed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and Phil Dawson kicked three field goals for the 49ers.
In a division where no team has a winning record, the Atlanta Falcons jumped to a share of first place in the NFC South with a 19-17 win over Panthers while co-leaders the New Orleans Saints fell 27-10 at home to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Matt Ryan threw a touchdown pass to Roddy White and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals to power the Falcons, who improved to 4-6 alongside the Saints.
Andy Dalton tossed three touchdowns as the Bengals clawed their way back to the AFC North lead with a record of 6-3-1.
Ryan Mallett, making his first career start, threw two touchdown passes including one to defensive lineman J.J. Watt as the Houston Texans kept their post-season hopes alive with a crucial 23-7 away win over the Cleveland Browns.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Gene Cherry