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Seahawks send notice to NFC in rout of Saints

Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, and the host Seattle Seahawks became the first team to clinch a spot in the NFC playoffs with a 34-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

More important than just clinching a spot in the postseason, the Seahawks (11-1) moved two games ahead on the rest of the NFC in the race for home-field advantage and hold the tiebreakers over the Saints (9-3) and Carolina Panthers (9-3), the two closest pursuers.

Wilson was outstanding, throwing touchdown passes of 2 yards to Zach Miller and 4 yards to Doug Baldwin in the first half as the Seahawks built a 27-7 lead. He added a pinball 8-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Coleman in the third quarter and finished 22-for-30 with a quarterback rating of 139.6. He has 22 regular-season wins in his first two seasons, tied for the most ever by a second-year QB.

Michael Bennett had a 22-yard fumble return for a score in the first quarter.

Drew Brees (23-for-38, 147 yards) was stymied the entire night and lost for the first time on Monday night after nine straight wins.

Officials goofed in D.C.

The NFL said officials should have stopped play and eliminated confusion about the down and distance during the Washington Redskins’ final drive at the end of the New York Giants’ 24-17 win Sunday at Washington.

With the Giants leading by seven points just after the two-minute warning, a catch by the Redskins’ Pierre Garcon on second-and-5 was spotted short of a first down at the Redskins 45. Referee Jeff Triplette signaled third down. But the head linesman, with the Redskins in a hurry-up offense, incorrectly motioned for the crew to advance the chains, which caused the down boxes to read first down.

After the Redskins’ incomplete pass on the next play — which many Redskins believed was on first down — the chains were moved back and the down boxes correctly reset to fourth down.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III said the confusion affected play-calling. He completed a 6-yard pass to Garcon on fourth-and-1, but safety Will Hill stripped the ball.

Geno still Jets’ starter

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed he is sticking with rookie Geno Smith as his starting quarterback. Smith was benched for Matt Simms at halftime of the Jets’ 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins. He has one touchdown pass and 11 interceptions in his last seven games.

In other news . . .

Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith apologized for using the word ‘‘spying” while discussing the New England Patriots’ offensive changes to key on the defense in a 34-31 loss for the Texans. Smith said Sunday, ‘‘Either teams are spying on us or scouting us. I don’t know what it is.’’

On Monday, he said, ‘‘I’m sorry I said the word ‘spying’ because of a prior engagement of them being caught spying before.’’

† Denver Broncos coach John Fox has returned to work four weeks after open-heart surgery.

† St. Louis Rams center Scott Wells is likely done for the season after he broke his left ankle at San Francisco.

AP



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