EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The Seattle Seahawks, one of the favorites to win this season’s Super Bowl, chalked up their 10th win of the National Football League season on Sunday.
There are still six weeks to go in the regular season but the Seahawks are already living up to their billing as one of the teams to beat as their main foes falter.
On Sunday, the host Seahawks thrashed the Minnesota Vikings 41-20, turning a close game into a rout with two fourth quarter interceptions, including one returned 29 yards for a touchdown.
With a 10-1 record, they are all but assured of making the playoffs and winning the tough NFC West Division after their chief rivals, the San Francisco 49ers slipped to 6-4.
For the second week in a row, the 49ers, last year’s Super Bowl runners-up, lost a heartbreaker. Last week, they fell by a point to the Carolina Panthers, this week they lost 23-20 to the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints, who have lofty ambitions of their own after improving to 8-2, sealed the win with a 31-yard, last-gasp field goal from Garrett Hartley as time expired.
The New York Giants, Super Bowl champions two seasons ago, continued their mid-season revival with a 27-13 win over the visiting Green Bay Packers for their fourth straight win.
The Packers (5-5) have lost three straight since their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with a broken collarbone and the Giants capitalized, with Jason Pierre-Paul clinching the win with a last quarter interception return for a touchdown off Scott Tolzien, who was starting his first NFL game.
The Giants seemed a forlorn chance of making the playoffs after losing their first six games but are suddenly starting to believe after improving to 4-6.
“We’re just excited to have a bit of momentum going,” said head coach Tom Coughlin.
Momentum is starting to go against the Baltimore Ravens, the defending Super Bowl champions, who fell to 4-6. On Sunday they were beaten 23-20 in overtime by the Chicago Bears (6-4) in a game that was delayed for almost two hours because of foul weather in the Windy City.
“We’ll come back home for a few weeks and get ourselves back in this thing,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
Ben Roethlisberger, whose future with the Pittsburgh Steelers has been the source of speculation all week, produced one of his best games of the season.
Just hours after his agents shot down rumors he could be traded, the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback turned in a vintage performance to rally his struggling team to a 37-27 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns, including a one-yard game-winner to fullback Will Johnson after the visiting Lions (6-4) went scoreless in the second half after piling on 27 points in the second quarter.
“Boy, that was a satisfying win,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin chirped.
The Cincinnati Bengals went even better, scoring a franchise-record 31 points in the second quarter to beat the host Cleveland Browns 41-20.
The Bengals overturned a 13-0 deficit to improve to 7-4 and maintain control of the AFC North division, while the rival Browns slipped to 4-6.
The Philadelphia Eagles moved to the top of the NFC East with a 24-16 win over the visiting Washington Redskins.
The Eagles (6-5) inched ahead of the Dallas Cowboys (5-5), who are on a bye week, with rookie quarterback Nick Foles throwing for 298 yards and running for a touchdown.
Washington, last season’s division champions, fell to 3-7.
“Nobody on the team will give up, I can guarantee you that,” Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss said. “But this one if is a tough one to swallow.”
Oakland’s undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin threw three touchdown passes in his first career start as the Raiders (4-6) beat the struggling Houston Texans (2-8) 28-23.
The Buffalo Bills (4-7) snapped a three-game skid a 37-14 thrashing of the AFC East rival New York Jets (5-5) while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) recorded their second straight win with a 41-28 rout over the Atlanta Falcons (2-8).
The Arizona Cardinals (6-4) stayed in the playoff hunt with a 27-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) while the Miami Dolphins (5-5) beat the San Diego Chargers (4-6) 20-16.
Editing by Frank Pingue