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How the West Was Won Week 12: Cardinals struggle, Seahawks survive

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) looks to pass as tackle Bobby Massie (70) blocks San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The NFC West is becoming a classic case of the haves and the have-nots.

The haves — the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks — each won again.

The have-nots — the St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers — did not.

Here’s a closer look at what went down in Week 12 in the NFC West.


St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) reacts after being sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) reacts after being sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Cincinnati Bengals 31, St. Louis Rams 7

The wheels have fallen off for the Rams.

Just a week after the Case Keenum concussion fiasco that included a league-wide conference call, Nick Foles was back at quarterback for St. Louis. It didn’t matter.

Foles threw three interceptions while his counterpart, Andy Dalton, threw three touchdown passes in leading the Bengals to an easy 24-point win.

Cincinnati, who stopped a two-game losing skid, led 10-0 when the Rams got on the board. Tavon Austin ran for a 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to pull St. Louis within three points. That was pretty much it in terms of highlights for the Rams the rest of the way. Bradley Marquez put an exclamation point on the Bengals’ win with a pick-6 against Foles in the fourth quarter.

The Rams, who were 4-3 at one point, have lost their last four games and have failed to score more than 18 points in any of them.

St. Louis Money Quote: “Anyone implies that it’s an effort issue, they can kiss my ass. There’s no effort problems on this team. That’s what happens when teams lose four in a row is people say it’s effort. Come to practice, watch this team play, and ask any other opponent or opposing coach. It’s not an effort issue right now. It’s execution. It’s 70 percent offense and 30 percent defense. I’ll leave [special] teams out of it. Our teams always play hard.” — St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher

Stat of the Game: Todd Gurley was held to 19 yards on nine carries. After four straight 100-yard games, Gurley has been held under the century mark in the last four games, averaging 54.8 yards per game and only 3.1 yards per carry.


Arizona Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson (14) is congratulated by John Brown (12) and Larry Fitzgerald after catching a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Cardinals won 19-13. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson (14) is congratulated by John Brown (12) and Larry Fitzgerald after catching a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Cardinals won 19-13. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Arizona Cardinals 19, San Francisco 49ers 13

After two straight prime time wins over Seattle and Cincinnati, Sunday’s game against the 49ers was supposed to be a breeze for the Cardinals.

The exact opposite was true.

The game was a 60-minute struggle for Arizona, who got an 8-yard touchdown run from Carson Palmer (you read that right) with 2:35 to go. Fittingly, Palmer then got up and struggled to properly spike the football.

San Francisco took over, needing a touchdown and an extra-point after Chandler Catanzaro missed the point-after following Palmer’s touchdown. On 4th-and-20 from the Cardinals’ 40, San Francisco’s Blaine Gabbert hit Anquan Boldin at the 22, two yards short of the first down marker.

Arizona Money Quote: “Extremely happy with the win. Like I always say, you can learn a lot more by almost losing than losing.”

San Francisco Money Quote: “I see positive in the offense, in terms of the reads and picking things up and improvement there. But it is a loss. We lost the football game.” — 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula.

Stat of the Game: The 49ers went 0-for-9 on third down in the ball game.


Seattle Seahawks 39, Pittsburgh Steelers 30

Pittsburgh had no answer for Doug Baldwin. The Seattle receiver’s second touchdown of the day, a 30-yarder from Russell Wilson, put the Seahawks up 32-27 with 3:23 remaining in the game.

His third score, an 80-yarder, put the Seahawks’ win on ice 2:24 later.

Baldwin finished with six catches for 145 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. It was only the second multi-touchdown game of Baldwin’s career, which began in 2011.

Blown fourth-quarter leads had been a recurring theme of the Seahawks’ struggles this season. In all five Seattle losses, they were ahead at some point of the fourth quarter. They briefly squandered the lead with 11:51 to go when Ben Roethlisberger hit Markus Wheaton on a 69-yard touchdown pass, but recaptured it for good 3:31 later when Wilson and Baldwin hooked up for the second time.

Seattle Money Quote: “We feel like we got a win over a very, very good football team and it’s why we take this one in high regard.” — Seattle coach Pete Carroll

Stat of the Game: Wilson had career-highs in passing yards (345) and touchdowns (5) in the game. It was the third time Wilson has had more than three touchdown tosses in a game and the first time since 2013, when he had four in a 45-17 win over Jacksonville on Sept. 22 of that season.


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Week 12 Award Winners

Offensive Player of the Week: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks – Wilson had by far his best game of the season, completing 21-of-30 for 345 yards and five touchdown passes. And the Seahawks needed every one of them in a hard-fought win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Honorable Mention: Seattle WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle WR Jermaine Kearse, Seattle RB Thomas Rawls, Arizona QB Carson Palmer

Defensive Player of the Week: Tyrann Mathieu, S, Arizona Cardinals – Yes, Seattle forced four turnovers, but they also yielded 538 yards of offense, so Mathieu wins this award for the third time this year. The Honey Badger was all over the field, registering 13 tackles and picking off Blaine Gabbert for his fourth interception of the season.

Honorable Mention: Seattle CB Richard Sherman, Arizona S Tony Jefferson, San Francisco LB NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco LB Michael Wilhoite, Arizona CB Patrick Peterson

Special Teams Player of the Week: Tyler Lockett, KR, Seattle Seahawks – Lockett continued his outstanding rookie season by averaging 29.6 yards per kickoff return vs. Pittsburgh. He had a 54-yarder that gave Seattle outstanding field position on the first drive of the third quarter.

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