NFL Wire News

Seahawks-Cardinals: What we learned


GLENDALE, Ariz. — Beast Mode is back, this time with a flourish.

Running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle’s record-setting 35-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, enabling the Seahawks to take a giant step toward their second consecutive NFC West title.

Lynch ran over one Cardinals defender and through several more on a decisive 79-yard touchdown run around the right side for a 28-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. He punctuated the run with a backward flip into the end zone, complete with a crotch grab.

“He’s really just showing the world that he is a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, continue to say bad, man,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said.

“I haven’t seen that since Dominique Dawes,” Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said of the landing, referencing a former U.S. gymnastics star. “That’s the best run I’ve ever seen. He ran like he was running for his freedom or something.”

The Seahawks (11-4) swept the season series against the Cardinals (11-4) and would win the division with a victory over the St. Louis Rams next Sunday or an Arizona road loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Both Seattle and Arizona have clinched playoff berths.

Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 20 of 31 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on six carries to help the Seahawks post a franchise-record 596 yards of total offense.

“Well, that’s about as much fun as you can have playing NFL football in the regular season,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “I’ve never seen a better run than Marshawn’s. It reminded me of O.J. Simpson against Ohio State, I think. Cutting back and finishing and all that stuff. Then Russell was just ridiculous tonight. He was so good in so many ways.”

Seattle also got big receiving games from tight end Luke Wilson (three catches, 139 yards, two touchdowns) and wide receiver Doug Baldwin (seven receptions, 113 yards).

The Seahawks own a five-game winning streak during which their opponents produced a total of 33 points and 978 yards.

Seattle would get the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs if it beats the Rams on Sunday, which would guarantee home-field advantage. The Seahawks are trying to become the first repeat Super Bowl winner since the New England Patriots in 2003-04.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are limping toward the postseason. They finished with 216 total yards while permitting their highest yardage total in a game since 1958.

“Obviously, not the outcome we were looking for,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. “We put our defense out there too long too many times.”

Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley completed 18 of 44 passes for 216 yards and an interception in his first start since Dec. 13, 2012. He replaced Drew Stanton, who sprained his right knee in a 12-6 victory at St. Louis on Dec. 11.

“They’re the No. 1-ranked defense in the National Football League,” Lindley said. “They’re the cream of the crop. At the same time, you have to go out, and you have to execute. The buck starts and stops here.”

The Cardinals, who gained only 15 yards in the first quarter, got all of their scoring on two field goals from placekicker Chandler Catanzaro.

Arizona has only offensive touchdowns in its past 23 quarters since a 14-3 victory over the Detroit Lions, the Cardinals’ first game after No. 1 quarterback Carson Palmer sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Seahawks placekicker Steven Hauschka missed all three of his field-goal attempts after missing only three of his previous 32 tries this season.

The Cardinals led 3-0 before Wilson’s 80-yard pass to Willson midway through the second quarter.

Lynch scored on a 6-yard run on the next series for a 14-3 lead, and after Catanzaro’s second field goal, the Seahawks scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns — a 20-yard pass to Willson, Lynch’s long run and a 5-yard run by Wilson.

The Super Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, and the scoreboard has a count-down display to the day.

“Same thought process as last year when we played in New York,” said safety Earl Thomas, whose Seahawks shut out the Giants on Dec. 15 before winning the Super Bowl there.

What the Seahawks said:

“Any time you win, it’s a good night, but the fashion that we won against a very good football team … We have so much respect for the Arizona Cardinals and the way they play. They played us so physical, across the board, and we were able to make plays.” — Quarterback Russell Wilson.

“Thank you for asking.” — Running back Marshawn Lynch, giving that answer or slight variations to the eight questions that were directed toward him after his 113-yard, two-touchdown game.

“I think to a degree, because it simplifies what they are able to do. If you have a great defense and an intelligent defense like we (are), you recognize formations. You recognize what they are trying to do, even if they switch formations. You recognize when (wide receiver Larry) Fitzgerald is at the point and the ‘bunch’ is to the boundary, they are going to run a big wheel to the field. So we know the plays.” — Cornerback Richard Sherman, on the effect of going against an inexperienced quarterback such as the Cardinals’ Ryan Lindley.

What the Cardinals said:

“Frustrated is the biggest thing. I expect more from myself. For me to get this opportunity and go out there and not play the way I wanted to, you’re frustrated by that. But at the end of the day, there is another opportunity next week.” — Quarterback Ryan Lindley, after his first start since Dec. 23, 2012.

“I’m trying to put this to bed as soon as possible. I just want to erase it from memory. We’re a playoff team. We’re going to be in the tournament, but we have to get this taste out of our mouths.” — Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

“When you are playing for a (division) championship and you have a chance to clinch it, it’s obviously more disappointing when you don’t, especially when you don’t play we well as you needed to play.” — Coach Bruce Arians.

What we learned about the Seahawks:

1. Seattle is taking “peaking at the right time” to Space Needle levels. The Seahawks have come to look like the team that dominated the Denver Broncos in the 2013 Super Bowl the last five weeks, limiting opponents to 33 points and 978 yards while running off a five-game winning streak. They moved into the No. 1 spot in the NFL in total defense.

2. In or out of the pocket, Russell Wilson is a dangerous man. Wilson became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 in an earlier victory over the New York Giants this season, and he almost made it a double Sunday. He passed for 339 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 88 yards and another score.

–TE Luke Willson had three catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns, his first career 100-yard game and his first career two-touchdown game. He got behind S Rashad Johnson on an 80-yard score for a 7-3 lead midway through the second quarter, using the stadium video board as an aid. “I was looking up at the screen and I was like, ‘Whoa, there’s someone catching me right now,'” said Willson, who stepped away from an attempted shoe-top tackle. “I always take a lot of pride when I’m in the open field not getting caught.”

–RB Marshawn Lynch had his fifth 100-yard game of the seasons despite missing the first quarter because of an upset stomach, producing 113 yards and two touchdowns on only 10 carries. Lynch has 1,246 yards rushing this season, and he has 55 touchdowns since 2011, the most in the NFL.

–WR Doug Baldwin had seven receptions for 113 yards, tying his season high in catches in his second 100-yard game of the season. He had seven catches for 123 yards in a 28-26 loss to St. Louis on Nov. 19. The Seahawks finish the regular season against the Rams in Seattle next Sunday.

–WR Jermaine Kearse sustained a hamstring injury in the first quarter and did not return, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he did not believe the injury was serious. “He didn’t pop it,” Carroll said. “He felt banged up, and we shut it down right then. That’s all I know.”

What we learned about the Cardinals:

1. The next man up after the next man up, third-team quarterback Ryan Lindley, is no match for an elite defense. He completed 18 of 44 passes for 216 yards and an interception against Seattle. Lindley was in a no-win situation while making his first start since Dec. 23, 2012, following an ankle injury to Drew Stanton in a 12-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 11. Lindley, cut in training camp, was re-signed after starter Carson Palmer sustained a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 9.

2. After an early-season stretch of good showings based on the success of its blitz, the Cardinals’ defense took a step backward. The Seahawks gained a franchise-record 596 yards in total offense, the second-highest total against the Cardinals in their history. Both Arizona’s run defense and pass defense were skewered.

–CB Patrick Peterson got his hands on an errant Russell Wilson pass intended for Paul Richardson early in the third quarter when the score was still 14-3, but he could not hold the potential interception with an open field in front of him. “I saw the receiver on my back end so I tried to spin out on him,” Peterson said. “I caught the ball, but I didn’t squeeze it. That’s how the ball got away from me. I believe that could have changed the game.”

–RB Stepfan Taylor led the Cardinals with 19 rushing yards on 11 attempts. His long gain was 4 yards; the team’s long gain was 6, by second-team RB Marion Grice. “Eleven guys need to be on the same page and go out there and execute and make plays,” Taylor said. “We didn’t do that.” Taylor started the past three games since No. 1 RB Andre Ellington sustained a season-ending hip injury.

–LB Alex Okafor recorded the Cardinals’ only sack on Seattle QB Russell Wilson, and he also batted down one pass and had two tackles for loss, one of the few bright spots on a defense that gave up 596 yards total offense. “We studied them hard,” Okafor said. “We knew what was coming, and when the plays came, we didn’t make them.”

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business