Seahawks hammer Cardinals 35-6, move into tie for NFC West lead

Dec 21, 2014, 8:57 PM | Updated: 9:44 pm
Marshawn Lynch punctuated Seattle’s 35-6 win over Arizona with another epic touchdown run. (A...
Marshawn Lynch punctuated Seattle's 35-6 win over Arizona with another epic touchdown run. (AP)
(AP)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The earth didn’t shake this time, but the standings did shift.

Because when Marshawn Lynch ran 79 yards for what might be the second-most memorable touchdown run of his career, it punctuated Seattle’s return not to prominence but to dominance.

The Seahawks beat Arizona 35-6 on Sunday night, scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter as they ran away with the game. This Seahawks team that was 3-3 just two months ago is now one win away from earning the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the second consecutive season.

They’ve won five straight games, all by double digits, and they outscored Arizona 54-9 in their two meetings. Seattle has as many victories over Arizona this season as the rest of the league combined.

It’s not about how you start, coach Pete Carroll likes to say, but how you finish. That was true for Seattle, which showed a tendency to shoot itself in the foot the first three quarters before pulling away.

It was true for Lynch, too, as he didn’t play in the first quarter because what the team described as an upset stomach but finished with 113 yards rushing and a touchdown that evoked memories of his 67-yard touchdown run against the Saints that is known simply as the “Beastquake”. Lynch broke fewer tackles on this run, ran 12 yards farther and plunged into the end zone with a similar celebration, turning to look at the field while grabbing his bathing-suit area.

That was only one of the big plays that helped Seattle gain 596 yards in the game, a franchise record. Russell Wilson had a 55-yard run in the first quarter, the longest of his career, and he scored on a 5-yard run in the four quarter. Wilson also threw for 339 yards, his most in any regular-season game.

Seattle had its two longest runs of the season as well as its longest reception as Luke Willson had an 80-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Willson caught three passes for 139 yards, including two touchdowns. It was the most receiving yards for any Seahawk in four years. Doug Baldwin also surpassed 100 yards receiving, and oh yeah, the defense only held an opponent without a touchdown for the third time in the past five games.

It was almost enough to overshadow the fact that for the first three quarters, the Seahawks did everything they could to help Arizona. The Seahawks missed three field-goal attempts, they were penalized 10 times in the first half alone and Lynch didn’t play in the first quarter.

Technically, it was a comeback for Seattle.

After all, the Seahawks did fall behind 3-0 midway through the second quarter. Less than a minute later, Seattle was looking at Arizona in its rear-view mirror. Or at least Willson was as he ran away with an 80-yard touchdown catch to put Seattle ahead.

Lynch scored on a 6-yard touchdown run just over 6 minutes later and the Seahawks were on their way to completing a comeback not just in this game, but for this season. From 3-3, having lost back-to-back games for the first time in two years to 11-4 and one win away from earning the top seed in the NFC playoffs. From a team struggling to find its identity to one that played with unflinching resolve through the toughest part of the season.

At 11-4, Seattle will win the NFC West by beating St. Louis in the regular-season finale or if the Cardinals lose to San Francisco. If the Seahawks win the regular-season finale to finish 12-4, they are guaranteed the top seed in the NFC playoffs so long as Green Bay and Detroit don’t tie in their finale.

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Seahawks hammer Cardinals 35-6, move into tie for NFC West lead