After going winless in two road games to start the season, the Seattle Seahawks returned home and were soon reminded of last year’s division championship as the NFC West title banner was unveiled before the game.
With a win this week over the Arizona Cardinals, it would provide the boost they needed to stay in the race for the West. A loss to their division rival, however, and the team would remain winless going into two difficult matchups against the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants in the coming weeks.
After a shutout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, there was a lot to be positive about after the first quarter of football–the team actually put points on the board. A missed field by the Cardinals allowed Seattle to take 3-0 lead into the second quarter, but Arizona responded with a field goal of their own and a touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald.
To merely call the play a touchdown catch wouldn’t be giving it enough credit. With Kevin Kolb under heavy pressure, he backpedaled and seemed to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone. Instead, the ball sailed toward Fitzgerald as two Seahawks defenders leaped for the interception. It looked like a sure takeaway and at the very least an incomplete pass, but incredibly (and not the good kind of incredible for Seattle) Fitzgerald came up with the catch and the Cardinals went into the locker room up 10-6 at the half.
Despite the Seahawks passing game continuing to struggle and the defense allowing Kolb to get a bit too comfortable in the pocket at times, the Seahawks were making good gains through the running game and while effectively shutting Arizona down on the ground.
Those observations continued to hold true in the second half, with the exception of the Seahawks defense stepping up their game. Although the Cardinals put together some sustained drives, the Seahawks not only kept them out of the end zone, they also kept them out of field goal range and got the second half shutout the Hawks needed.
Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice led the team on offense in the second half, as Rice was clearly the favorite target picking up 109 of the 171 passing yards from Jackson. Tarvaris scored the only touchdown of the game for the Seahawks on an 11-yard run early in the third quarter to put Seattle up 13-10.
On the final drive of the game, it looked like the Cardinals would have the opportunity to at least attempt a field goal and tie the game. After moving into Seahawks territory with under two minutes to go, it looked to fans like the game had been won when a fourth down pass sailed over the head of Fitzgerald. Instead, out came a flag from an official calling a pass interference penalty despite contact coming after the ball had gone over far over the head of the receiver.
The call got the 12th Man and the defense fired up. With time to throw early in the game, Kolb wasn’t getting that time any more. His first down attempt fell incomplete, and on second down he was sacked from behind by Raheem Brock causing a fumble that was recovered by Arizona. On third down he rushed a pass that went into the arms of Kam Chancellor that essentially sealed the win for the Seahawks.
The touchdown by Tarvaris and the interception by Chancellor were two of the top plays of the game, but Coach Pete Carroll was quick to point out another that might otherwise have been overlooked. Early in the fourth quarter, an errant snap sailed over the head of Jackson and picked up by Anthony McCoy for a huge loss. If not for the fumble recovery, the Cardinals would have at least had a chance at a game tying field goal.
Instead, Jon Ryan was able to punt the ball inside the Cardinals 20-yard line before the Cardinals drove back down the field only to miss a 49-yard field goal. It was Jay Feeley’s second miss of the game. Those misses, coupled with Jackson’s touchdown and some key defense stops, helped lead the team to the win despite allowing 252 yards through the air and nearly 100 yards on the ground.
The win puts the Seahawks one game behind the division-leading San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers won on the road in Cincinnati, 13-8, and the Rams were dominated by the Ravens, 37-7, in St. Louis. The Seahawks (1-2) will take on the Falcons (1-2) next week. Atlanta has struggled on the road so far this year, averaging 12.5 points in their two losses, hopefully the Seahawks defense will be able to continue that trend.