Seahawks Instant Reaction: 710 ESPN Seattle on win over Cards, 7-10 season
The Seahawks capped off their 2021 season with a 38-30 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, giving them a 7-10 record.
As we do after each Seahawks game, we have collected the instant reactions of the voices of 710 ESPN Seattle. See what they have to say below, and be sure to catch all of the coverage this week on the station starting Monday morning with The Mike Salk Show at 6 a.m. and The Pete Carroll Show with the Seahawks head coach at 9:30.
The Seahawks appear to be rounding into form. Too bad the season is over, because if it went another few games they might have been a team no one wanted to see in the playoffs.
They may have dug themselves a huge hole, but let the record show that they battled right to the very end and came away with their best win of the season.
It’s hard to give too much credit to a team that was predicted to make the playoffs and squandered that opportunity. But they have overcome much this year and this game was a perfect example.
Down 7-0 before you can blink? Overcome immediately with a dynamic drive. Brutal pick that led to a Cardinals touchdown to start the second half? Once again, overcome. Running back who has battled injuries throughout his career clearly gritting his way through some pain Week 17? Overcome to the tune of 190 yards and one backbreaking touchdown. No Hall of Fame middle linebacker? Two young players stepped up into his place and might have made them better. Playing a quarterback who looked like an early MVP candidate and who makes Houdini seem like a chump? Five sacks and some meaningful pressure late when it mattered.
The Seahawks don’t deserve too much credit based on how this season started and the missed opportunities along the way. But this is a team that never quit, showed it’s resolve, and finished on a high note.
It felt like all eyes would be on one player in the Seahawks’ season finale against Arizona, with all of us collectively wondering one thing: Is this Russell Wilson’s final game with Seattle?
If ownership or the front office were still mulling over the decision of investing more into Wilson’s desires – which would presumably mean building up the offensive line – the star quarterback didn’t make his strongest case out of the gate. In fact, both halves began with poor decisions from Wilson, the latter a little even more unforgiveable than the first, and both turnovers led to Arizona touchdowns.
But then came the brilliant part of Wilson’s play. There was a deep ball delivered with perfect touch for a 43-yard touchdown Tyler Lockett. Another 22-yard pass to Lockett converted a pivotal third down. A 31-yarder to Metcalf to convert another third down, and a possible fourth touchdown pass that was dropped in the end zone by Gerald Everett. Wilson earned his fourth score on the ground himself, running it in from the Cardinals’ 4-yard line and lowering his shoulder as he shoved his way into the end zone.
An energized Wilson yelled and clapped his hands to rile up his teammates on the sideline and high-fived his head coach. An equally ecstatic Pete Carroll jumped along with players in a pregame huddle. Watching those interactions, you wonder whether discord between the two men has been exaggerated, or whether they added ceremony to what might be their final time together.
One thing was clear, which is that if Sunday’s version of the Seahawks is the version this team can be through a full year, they’re better off doing everything they can to keep it intact. No more adding context for the opponent, like we all did after last week’s win over the Lions. The Seahawks played some of their most complimentary football of the year and did so against a good Cardinals team.
But repeating this performance is easier said than done. Several starters and key contributors are hitting free agency, including running back Rashaad Penny (who rushed for a career high 190 yards), left tackle Duane Brown, center Ethan Pocic, right tackle Brandon Shell, safety Quandre Diggs, cornerback D.J. Reed, and tight end Gerald Everett, among others. On the pregame show on 710 ESPN Seattle, general manager John Schneider said that those free agency discussions will begin next week. Once they do, it will kick off the Seahawks’ most important offseason yet.
Speaking of Diggs, one final thought here: The veteran safety has been Seattle’s best defensive player this season. I hope he gets the contract he deserves this offseason, in Seattle or otherwise. He’s more than earned it. And if you were wondering about his influence in that locker room, all you had to do was look around the field as he was being carted off to see the devastated looks from teammates. Investing in Diggs would mean having two top-paid safeties on the same roster (along with Jamal Adams), but assuming there’s no top-flight corners available to balance out the secondary, is having that tandem worth it?
The Seahawks’ season comes to an end with a solid win over a playoff team and division rival on the road.
The offense put up 89 points combined in the final two games. Rashaad Penny is a man possessed! He racked up 190 yards and a TD on 23 carries. The Cardinals were 14th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game coming into this game. And while that’s not elite, they’re a decidedly better rushing defense than the Texans, Bears or Lions, all teams that Penny crushed.
Russell Wilson is also looking much more like the Russell Wilson we’ve known over the previous nine seasons. He kept plays alive, made some beautiful touch passes and used his legs to find the end zone in addition to three TD passes. Outside of a terrible throw that resulted in an interception, Wilson had a great day.
The other thing that stood out was the intensity and passion you saw this team playing with on both sides of the ball. If anybody was under the illusion that Pete Carroll had lost this locker room, this performance told a different story.
The dark cloud hanging over this game is the injury to Quandre Diggs. While they didn’t show the replay, the sight of players immediately calling for the trainers, the air cast put on, the cart coming out and the tears from Diggs leads you to believe it was a very serious injury. Diggs is a free agent who was set to cash in this offseason. He has been the best and most consistent player on this Hawks defense all season. Here’s hoping he recovers from whatever his injury is and that he gets the contract he has earned.
Now, let the offseason questions and speculation begin. And for the record, I don’t think Russell, Pete or John are going anywhere.
First off, I want to say I hope everything is OK with Quandre Diggs, who’s set to hit free agency and after another dynamite season. He should command a lot of attention on the free agent market, and hopefully this doesn’t impact that too much.
As far as the game goes, it was pretty dang fun.
The Seahawks didn’t have anything to play for like playoff seeding or something like that, but they still were throwing haymakers at the playoff-bound Cardinals.
When looking at star performances, four really stand out.
First, the body of work Tyler Lockett has put together in his last three games in Arizona is absurd. The Seahawks played in Arizona twice last year and Lockett had 27 catches for 290 yards and five scores. Today, he caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. All in all, 32 catches for 388 yards and seven scores in three games in Arizona since the start of 2020. Ridiculous.
Next up, Rashaad Penny. What a tear this kid is on! After a 190-yard day against the Cards, Penny has now rushed 92 times for 671 yards (7.3 yards per carry) and six scores over his final five games. How could you not bring him back next year if you’re Seattle?
On the other side, the linebackers. Cody Barton filling in for the injured Bobby Wagner tallied 12 tackles while Jordyn Brooks had an absurd 20 and two tackles for loss, giving him the most tackles in a single season in team history. The day wasn’t perfect for that duo as they had some miscues and missed tackles, but they were aggressive, fast, explosive and were all over the field. That was really fun to watch.
And last up, the pass rush. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is a tough dude to bring down and the Seahawks’ pass rush has been a weakness this year, but Seattle had five sacks, including two by Carlos Dunlap and 1.5 by Poona Ford. That was a great way to close out the year for that group.
Is this the end for this era of Seahawks football? That remains to be seen. But regardless, the Seahawks closed a disappointing season on a massive high note. Now, the fun really begins.
The Seahawks should feel good about the way they ended their season with the 51-29 blowout of the Lions and 38-30 victory over the Cardinals, which were the two highest-scoring performances of their 17-game campaign. But that should underline two things that need to be taken into account before anything happens this offseason.
First, they still have the top-level talent to be a major player in the NFL. Well, at least they do so long as they retain most of it. If Rashaad Penny can stay healthy, Seattle’s run game is exactly what Pete Carroll wants. If Russell Wilson can find Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and the occasional tight end, their pass game is exactly what Wilson wants. And on defense, their promising young core featuring players like Darrell Taylor, Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton should only get better.
But second, Seattle can’t afford to spend long periods of a season in disarray like they did in both 2020 and 2021. It’s great to end the season playing your best football, but it ultimately doesn’t matter if you lose 10 games on your way to getting there. Seattle took too long to find its pass rush. The run game wasn’t good enough for most of the season to open up the passing game. And when the defense as a whole got going, the offense wasn’t sure what its identity was.
The last two games should show the Seahawks that with the systems it eventually put in place, plus the right re-signings and depth additions, they should be back where they want to be next season. This was just the first losing season Pete Carroll, John Schneider and Russell Wilson have ever endured together. That’s no reason to blow things up just yet, and the events of Sunday in Arizona should be proof they’re not as far off as their 2021 record may indicate.