Arizona#039;s miracle puts Packers in playoffs

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

NEW YORK - Green Bay got the last NFL playoff spot thanks to Arizona's wild comeback victory over Minnesota on Sunday, while Seattle and Baltimore took the other spots still open.

Josh McCown threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Poole on fourth-and-25 as time expired to rally the Cardinals to an 18-17 victory over the Vikings.

That kept Minnesota out of the playoffs at 9-7 after a 6-0 start and gave the NFC North title to Green Bay (10-6). The Packers beat Denver 31-3 and will host Seattle (10-6) next Sunday.

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Earlier, Seattle and Baltimore secured berths. Indianapolis won the AFC South, and Philadelphia (12-4) regained home-field advantage from St. Louis in the NFC when the Rams (12-4) lost in Detroit 30-20.

The Ravens (10-6) won the AFC North when Cincinnati (8-8) lost to Cleveland 22-14. Baltimore, which beat Pittsburgh 13-10 in overtime Sunday night, hosts Tennessee (12-4) Saturday.

Seattle made it as the fifth seed in the NFC, dropping Dallas to sixth in a complicated BCS-like ''strength of victory'' tiebreaker. The Cowboys lost in New Orleans 13-7. They play at Carolina on Saturday night.

The Seahawks, who beat San Francisco 24-17 on Saturday, pushed the Cowboys (10-6) to sixth seed.

Indianapolis, meanwhile, won the AFC South with a 20-17 win in Houston on Mike Vanderjagt's 43-yard field goal at the end of regulation. It also gave him a league record of 41 straight field goals without a miss. That left Tennessee as a wild-card team.

Indianapolis (12-4) hosts Denver next Sunday.

St. Louis' loss in Detroit dropped it to second in the NFC behind Philadelphia, which won in Washington 31-7 Saturday night. The Eagles get the home-field advantage because their NFC record is 9-3 compared to 8-4 for the Rams.

San Diego earned the first overall draft choice, followed by Oakland, Arizona and the New York Giants. All four finished 4-12.