3 Key Moments: Former Seahawks backup seals the deal for Cardinals
For the second time in three weeks, the Seahawks looked outmatched in all phases against a divisional opponent.
Rather than it being the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams, this time it was the last-place Arizona Cardinals who handled the Seahawks 27-13 in Seattle.
Not much went right for the Seahawks, both play-wise as well as with injuries.
Here are some key moments that in the Seahawks’ fourth loss of the season.
There are a few moments that come to mind that I don’t feel were quite as critical as the ones I list below, but they need some attention.
The first was when Seattle had the ball on the Arizona 33-yard line on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter. Rather than go for it, Seattle sent out Jason Myers for the field goal. As the game clock was winding down, Myers slowly walked towards the line of scrimmage and the Seahawks took a five-yard delay of game penalty. Seattle then opted to punt.
Running back Chris Carson was a workhorse early in the game, especially on the first drive, but left the game with a hip injury. Head coach Pete Carroll later said Carson is likely done for the season. The offense never found a rhythm after his injury.
C.J. Prosise also left the game with an injury and rookie Travis Homer had to carry the load the rest of the way as the only healthy running back.
The Seahawks also blitzed a few times on third down on defense and both Cardinals quarterbacks, Kyler Murray and Brett Hundley, got the ball out quick to beat the pressure and keep drives alive.
Star Arizona defensive end/linebacker Chandler Jones was in Russell Wilson’s face all night, compiling four sacks and bullying Seattle’s offensive line.
Kenyan Drake off to the races
Drake finished the game with 166 rushing yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns. He also added 18 yards receiving.
Drake was coming off his best game as a pro, a four-touchdown performance against the Cleveland Browns, and he picked up where he left off.
On his second carry of the game and right after Seattle scored a touchdown on its first offensive drive, Drake exploded for an 80-yard run down the right sideline to tie the game up.
— NFL (@NFL) December 22, 2019
Drake had a few more tough runs for Arizona throughout the game, and that first run seemed to set the tone for how the rest of the game would go. Seattle had a tough time getting off the field and stopping the run. Arizona finished with 253 rushing yards, led by Drake’s 166.
This is the second straight week Seattle has been torched by a running back, as Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey had 175 total yards and two scores last week.
Questionable third down call
The Seahawks were down 20-7 when they finally got a much-needed spark in the third quarter: Rasheem Green blocked a field goal and rookie safety Marquise Blair returned it to the Arizona 16-yard line.
After a 3-yard loss, Wilson found Homer for a 10-yard gain. On third down, Seattle needed 3 yards to keep the drive alive.
Rather than use Wilson, the team’s best player on offense, the Seahawks handed the ball off to the team’s original No. 4 running back, Homer, who was stuffed for another 3-yard loss. That play ended the third quarter and Seattle was forced to kick a field goal to start the fourth quarter.
After the game, Carroll said the Seahawks would have gone for it on fourth down if the yardage was closer, but the 3-yard loss led to them taking the points and making it a 20-10 game.
The decision to run the ball in that situation normally would be considered OK, but with Carson, Penny and Prosise all out and multiple second-string offensive lineman in, it would have been nice to see Wilson try to make a play. Even if there was nothing there and he throws the ball away, there’s a chance the team goes for it on fourth down.
Hundley takes over with his legs
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It looked like Seattle was going to catch a break when Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray left the game with a hamstring injury in the third quarter, but Brett Hundley, who backed up Wilson last season before joining the Cardinals in free agency, gave Seattle a big headache.
On his first offensive drive under center, Hundley and the offense went backwards. But it was in the fourth quarter when Hundley left his mark on this game.
Murray was making plays with his legs while he was in, such as a play in the second quarter when he scrambled around and dumped a pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who ran it in for a touchdown. Hundley is not nearly the mobile threat that Murray is, but on a key third down with Arizona needing just 2 yards, he was able to run for 14 to extend the drive.
It looked like Seattle had a chance to stop him in the backfield or at least short of the line to gain, but Hundley scooted through a tired and injured Seattle defense to move the chains.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 23, 2019
A few plays later, Hundley again used his legs, this time picking up 12 on second down. Drake promptly rushed for his second touchdown of the game, giving Arizona a 27-13 lead they would hold the rest of the way.
The run on third-and-2 was especially backbreaking as it was a one-score game at 20-13 – Seattle had just kicked a field goal to get within seven – and the Cardinals were at the Seattle 42-yard line, meaning a stop may have forced a punt or at least another play on fourth down. Instead, Hundley scurried for 14 and helped put the game out of reach.
Hundley completed just four of nine passes for 49 yards but, as mentioned, made an impact with his legs. He had six rushes for 35 yards, including the two first down runs on Drake’s scoring drive.
Brett Hundley wins the revenge game.