Cardinals beat Eagles 40-17 to clinch NFC West
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals will enjoy their new hats and T-shirts for a night. Then they'll focus on bigger goals.
David Johnson ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns, Carson Palmer threw a TD pass and the Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Eagles 40-17 on Sunday night to clinch their first NFC West title since 2009.
"(It) really isn't our goal," said coach Bruce Arians, who wore an "NFC West Champions" hat afterward. "There's not a whole lot of whooping and hollering in the locker room because that's not the final one. It's just the beginning."
The Cardinals (12-2) can earn a first-round bye with a victory over Green Bay next week. They still have a chance to secure the No. 1 seed if they win out and Carolina (14-0) loses its last two games.
"We want to win the Super Bowl. That's no secret," said Deone Bucannon, who returned Sam Bradford's interception 39 yards for a touchdown. "This is just one step. We're thankful for it but it's just the first step toward the ultimate goal."
The Eagles (6-8) would win the NFC East title if they beat Washington (7-7) at home on Saturday and the Giants (6-8) on the road on Jan. 3.
But they're not even close to Arizona's level.
The Cardinals outclassed Philadelphia in every way on their way to their eighth straight victory.
"If we don't take care of business on Saturday, there's no need to talk about the second game," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said.
Johnson, a rookie filling in for injured backs Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington, had a pair of 1-yard TD runs and a 47-yarder.
"I'm just trying to learn, get better and help the team win," Johnson said.
Palmer gave Cardinals fans a brief scare when he came out for one play after injuring his right index finger on a throw. But he returned to toss a 16-yard TD pass to John Brown and finished 20 of 32 for 274 yards.
"It's very gratifying to come into this environment against a team that's hot," Palmer said. "It's a blast to be part of this group. We're coached hard and we play hard."
Here's some things we learned from Arizona's rout over Philadelphia:
INJURY WOES: Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Bradford's pass late in the fourth quarter and limped off the field. There was no immediate word on his injury, but teammates were concerned.
"This is a bittersweet win," Palmer said. "There's nothing we can do but pray. I feel like I've been praying for him for the past 45 minutes. We'll see what happens."
DEMARCO DISAPPEARS: DeMarco Murray had two carries for 3 yards. Ryan Mathews was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Cardinals 8 in the first half. Murray is 14 for 14 on third and fourth downs of 2 yards or less, but he didn't get a carry until the third quarter.
SO-SO SAM: Bradford threw for 361 yards and two TDs, including a 78-yard score to Jordan Matthews. But he also had two interceptions and lost a fumble.
"Everybody is frustrated," Bradford said. "Good news is we have to have a short memory. The next two games are important."
ROOKIE NO MORE: Johnson was impressive in the best game of his young career. He finished with 229 combined yards, including 42 receiving.
"That touchdown was a grown-man run," Palmer said. "He's so physical. He's not a guy you want to tackle 18 times a game."
RECORD SETTERS: The Cardinals set season franchise records with 12 wins and 445 points.