By Danny O’Neil
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Seattle scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, outgained Arizona 277 yards to 130 in the first three quarters and was gracious enough to keep the Cardinals in the game with a couple of turnovers that set up Cardinals field goals.
That only served to make the Seahawks’ 34-22 victory feel a little closer as Seattle put together its most complete offensive game of the season during a shortened week in a stadium that had been notoriously hard on the them.
Russell Wilson completed passes to nine different receivers, including scoring passes to Sidney Rice, Zach Miller and Kellen Davis while Marshawn Lynch rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ first two red-zone possessions came only because of Seattle turnovers and only one of Arizona’s four scoring drives spanned more than 30 yards.
A double-digit defeat actually constituted progress for the Cardinals. Seattle did not allow a point the last time the teams played. In fact, Arizona went scoreless for five quarters, a stretch that ended with Jay Feely’s 49-yard field goal with 4:02 left in the first half ended. Twenty-two seconds later, the Cardinals added a touchdown after Wilson fumbled away the ball on a second-down sack inside the Seattle 10.
That was as close as the Cardinals got, though, the Seahawks kicking with 5 seconds left in the first half.
The significance: Seattle won its fifth consecutive game in the division and improved to 6-1 for the first time in franchise history. It was also only the second time Seattle won in its last eight games at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Play of the game: Inches separated Wilson from a third-quarter sack, but an incredible combination of ingenuity and ability allowed him to release a pass as linebacker Darryl Washington was pulling him down. Wilson was milliseconds from being sacked, but instead completed a 6-yard pass to convert third-and-3. It was nothing short of astounding.
Turning point: When cornerback Brandon Browner cut in front of Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd to intercept a third-quarter pass, he cut off any chance of an Arizona comeback. Carson Palmer threw the pass with Bruce Irvin in his chest, Browner turning what should have been a 50-yard touchdown return into a 49-yard run back when he was tripped and touched down at the Arizona 1. Two players later, Lynch scored Seattle’s fourth touchdown of the game.
The good: Seattle scored a touchdown on its opening drive for the first time this season. The Seahawks drove 83 yards on five plays, four of which gained more than 10 yards. Free safety Earl Thomas made a diving interception in the first quarter, picking off a ball that was intended for Larry Fitzgerald and deflected by Browner. It was Thomas’ fourth interception this season. Steven Hauschka kicked a 51-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in the first half, his longest this season. Seattle sacked Palmer seven times, most in any game for the Seahawks since Week 3 vs. Green Bay last season when they had eight sacks.
The bad: Lynch fumbled for the third time in four games, the only difference being that he recovered this fumble inside the red zone in the second quarter. Wilson lost a fumble inside his own 10 with just under 4 minutes left in the first half. He held the ball too long in the pocket, giving time for Matt Shaughnessy to not only sack him, but strip the ball, which was recovered by Arizona’s Calais Campbell.
The ugly: On fourth and an inch, the Seahawks went for it with Lynch on the bench and Wilson alone on the backfield. Not only that, but rookie tight end Luke Willson was asked to seal off Campbell, who predictably stuffed Wilson for a 1-yard loss. Seattle is 4-for-8 when going for it on fourth down this season. Golden Tate’s 54-yard punt return for a touchdown – which included a fancy leap over the goal line – was nullified by a penalty on Mike Morgan for an illegal block.
Go figure: Eighty-three yards. That’s how much Seattle gained on its opening possession, trumping its total on the opening possessions from the first six games combined. In the first six games, Seattle had managed 70 yards on its opening possession, three first downs and a total of six points. In Arizona, it was 83 yards, four first downs and seven points.
Seattle: S Jeron Johnson (hamstring) left the game in the first half. FB Derrick Coleman (hamstring) left with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. WR Golden Tate (foot) left the game in the third quarter. LG James Carpenter left the game with a leg injury in the second half, but returned in the fourth quarter.
Seattle: FB Spencer Ware, DE Benson Mayowa, QB B.J. Daniels, DT Jordan Hill, RT Breno Giacomini, LB Bobby Wagner, T Caylin Hauptmann. Arizona: WR Brittan Golden, QB Ryan Lindley, RB Ryan Williams, LB Dontay Moch, LB Kenny Demens, G Earl Watford, TE D.C. Jefferson.