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O’Neil: Seahawks survive in Arizona, avoid loss they couldn’t afford

Russell Wilson set the Seahawks up for the game-winning field goal. (AP)

A game of inches?

Nope. The Seahawks’ 20-17 victory in Arizona came down to a matter of feet.

Recap: Seahawks win | Earl fractures leg | Photo gallery

Arizona’s kicker Phil Dawson missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt with 2 minutes left in the game, while Sebastian Janikowski’s foot kept Seattle from suffering a defeat that would have left the Seahawks stinging for a long, long time.

The Seahawks didn’t convert a single third down in this game. Not one. Not even the third-and-1 play in the fourth quarter when Seattle decided to throw the ball despite the fact it was averaging 5 yards per carry at that point.

The Cardinals scored on their ensuing possession, Arizona’s rookie quarterback Josh Rosen looking very much like a franchise quarterback. And as bad as things looked for Seattle when the Cardinals scored a game-tying touchdown with 9 minutes left, it got worse when safety Earl Thomas fell to his back after the play.

He suffered a lower leg injury (confirmed after the game by Pete Carroll to be a fracture) and was taken off the field on a motorized cart, extendeing his middle finger toward what appeared to be the direction of the Seahawks bench.

As bad as that was, it almost got worse. The Cardinals were in position to take the lead with 2 minutes left, but the Cardinals kicker pushed his effort to the right.

Seattle had the ball at its own 35 with 1:52 left. The Seahawks ran the ball three times, Russell Wilson completed two passes and then spiked the ball with 4 seconds left on the clock. That brought out Janikowski to win a game that really should have never been that close.

Seattle rushed for 171 yards. Mike Davis – who stepped in to start for Chris Carson – had 101 of those yards and scored twice. Wilson was 19-for-26 passing and the Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over.

The Seahawks couldn’t slam the door shut, either. But it’s OK, Seattle. You can exhale. The Seahawks survived.

Danny O’Neil on Earl Thomas’ injury | Stacy Rost’s Seahawks-Cardinals takeaways