The reeling Arizona Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 20-16 in the season opener in Glendale, AZ., but after starting the year 4-0, the Cardinals have dropped their past eight.
GAME: Arizona Cardinals (4-8, 3rd, NFC West) at Seattle Seahawks (7-5, 2nd, NFC West). TYPE: Regular season. WEEK: 14. WHEN: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., PT, CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 28th (Cardinals lead 15-12). STREAKS: Seahawks W 1; Cardinals L 8. HEAD COACHES: Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona; Pete Carroll, Seattle. LINE: Seahawks by 10. TV: FOX. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.
It’s hard to imagine an NFL team performing much worse offensively than the Arizona Cardinals did Sunday in a 7-6 loss to the New York Jets. With quarterback Ryan Lindley making his second career start, the Cardinals tied a franchise record with just five first downs and went 0-for-15 on third-down conversions. Lindley completed 10 of 31 passes for 72 yards and an interception and the Cardinals gained just 22 yards in the second half.
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt opted to stick with Lindley for the entire nightmare rather than yank him in favor of John Skelton, but won’t go that route when the Cardinals meet the Seahawks Sunday. Skelton, who started the season opener for Arizona against Seattle Sept. 9, gets the call in the rematch of division opponents.
“There’s a number of reasons that we’re making this decision,” Whisenhunt said this week. “I’m not going to get into each one of these reasons, but that’s the direction we’re going.”
The Cardinalsrabn off three more wins, then dropped eight in a row and now face the prospect of playing against a Seahawks team that is 5-0 at the Clink and against a quarterback, Russell Wilson, who leads the NFL in passer rating (122.0) at home.
“Playing Seattle in Seattle – there’s nobody that’s even a close second to most difficult places to play in the NFL,” said Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. “Hands down, it’s the most hostile, loud experience that you will have in the NFL. You’re fighting against a lot of different things. Not only just a great defense but the weather, the fans, the noise. You can’t hear yourself think. This is a tremendous atmosphere to play in, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity of competing with them.””
While oddsmakers have installed the Seahawks as 10-point favorites, Seattle has a pattern of playing down to the level of its competition. Against teams with records at .500 or better, the Seahawks are 5-1. Against teams with losing records, the Seahawks are just 2-4. The Seahawks will also be playing their first game without suspended cornerback Brandon Browner, without starting guard James Carpenter (out for the season, knee), against an Arizona defense that ranks seventh overall, and against a highly motivated quarterback, Skelton.
“We know that Skelton’s a good football player who won a lot of games last year and did a lot of good stuff,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “He’s very resourceful, can move and make things happen. He didn’t play the last couple of weeks, but we have a lot of respect for what he can do and the playmaking that he brings. He’s done some really good things against us in particular as well as other people.”
Skelton, a third-year pro from Fordham, beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting job in preseason, then went down late in the opener against Seattle with an ankle injury. Kolb came on to direct the winning touchdown drive against the Seahawks.
When Kolb went out with a rib injury against Buffalo (Oct. 14), Skelton came on and started the next four games before being benched in favor of Lindley three weeks ago after completing two of seven passes and missing a wide-open Fitzgerald in the end zone early against Atlanta. Now Skelton returns.
“You can’t take any opportunity for granted,” Skelton said this week. “If it comes at the beginning of the season, the end of the season, when you’re losing, when you’re winning, you’ve just got to take advantage of every opportunity you get.”
“I don’t think it’s really our position to be worried so much about that,” Fitzgerald said, addressing the Cardinals unstable quarterback situation. “We have to do our job. My job is to go out there and to be able to get open against press coverage and be able to make my plays and do my job. Our quarterbacks have to make their throws, our offensive linemen have got to block, and when the running backs get their opportunities to run the ball, they’ve got to make guys miss. That’s really what it comes down to.
“The game is won by individual matchups. You look at last week and you see the game (the Seahawks) won in Chicago. It’s because of the plays by Sidney Rice and the extra effort by Golden Tate and those guys on defense causing turnovers. It’s about the individual matchups and guys stepping up and making plays in key moments. That’s why they’ve had the success because they have guys who are willing to do that defensively and so we have to definitely match that same intensity and turn it up a level.”
With Browner gone for four games, the Seahawks will turn to Walter Thurmond, who played in six games with three starts last season.
“We’re excited to have him,” said Carroll. “We’re very fortunate to have Walter with some background of having been a starter for us in the past. He’s an excellent athlete and he’s played very well this past week. A couple of the young guys will be battling for their spot. Jeremy Lane will get the first shot in helping us in extra corner situations, and Byron Maxwell will be there as well. DeShawn Shead (up from the practice squad) will be the fourth corner. Marcus Trufant is still rehabbing, I’m not sure when he’ll return.
“We have to be very aware here because they’re still tearing it up. They (the Cardinals) took the ball away from Atlanta five times just a couple of weeks ago. They have a ton of sacks and a bunch of interceptions. This is a very, very aggressive difficult defense. They come out of the chute flying.”
This week the Cardinals fined DT Darnell Dockett $200,000 for arguing with coaches and spitting at a teammate. He was protesting a decision to permit the Jets to score a touchdown more quickly so Arizona could get possession with time remaining. The union is appealing the decision and Dockett may have a more limited role Sunday.
SERIES: Dates to Sept. 12, 1976, when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 30-24 in the Kingdome — the first game in Seahawks history. Arizona has won eight of the last 12 meetings, including the last one Sept. 9 in the season opener. Since division realignment in 2002, the Seahawks have won 11 of 21 meetings, including the last two played at CenturyLink Field.
LAST MEETING (Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16, Sept. 9): Kevin Kolb, replacing the injured John Skelton, engineered a no-huddle, game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, ending with a six-yard TD pass to Andre Roberts with 4:59 to play. The Seahawks had one last chance to win, but rookie Russell Wilson’s final three passes from the Cardinals’ four-yard line fell incomplete. The Seahawks scored 13 consecutive points to go up 16-13, but couldn’t hold the advantage. Leon Washington had an 83-yard kickoff return and a 52-yard punt return to set up 10 Seattle points. Steven Hauschke kicked three field goals for the Seahawks.
Seahawks: 7-5, 2nd, NFC West; scored 242 points (20.2 per game), ranking 22nd; allowed 202 points (16.8 per game), 3rd; differential of +40 points ranks 11th. Cardinals: 4-8, 4th, NFC West; scored 186 points (15.5), ranked 32nd; allowed 234 (19.5), 7th; differential of -48 points ranks 24th.
SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (53-54-0 career, 20-23-0 Seattle) is in his third season. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven Pac-10 titles.
SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: Russell Wilson at Arizona — 18 of 34 for 153 yards, 1 TD, one INT, 62.5 passer rating; vs. Dallas — 15 of 20, 151 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 112.7 rating; vs. Green Bay — 10 of 21 for 130 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 99.3 passer rating; at St. Louis — 17 of 25, 160 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 45.8 passer rating; at Carolina — 19 of 25, 221 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 82.2 passer rating; vs. New England, 16 of 27, 293 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 133.7 passer rating; at San Francisco, 9 of 23, 122 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 38.7 passer rating; at Detroit, 25 of 35 for 236 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 96.8 passer rating; vs. Minnesota, 16 of 24, 173 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 127.3 passer rating; vs. New York Jets, 12 of 19, 188 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 131.0 passer rating; at Miami, 21 of 27, 224 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 125.9 passer rating; at Chicago, 23 of 37, 293 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 104.9 passer rating. Matt Flynn — DNP all games.
SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES
TEAM OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
|Total Yards||3943||24||Total Yards||3349||32|
|Yards / Game||328.6||24||Yards / Game||279.1||32|
|Rush Yards||1696||7||Rush Yards||978||31|
|Rush / Game||141.3||7||Rush / Game||81.5||31|
|Pass Yards||2247||30||Pass Yards||2371||27|
|Pass / Game||187.3||30||Pass / Game||197.6||27|
|Points / Game||20.2||22||Points / Game||15.5||32|
TEAM DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
|Total Yards||3403||T5||Total Yards||3896||7|
|Yards / Game||309.4||T5||Yards / Game||324.7||7|
|Rush / Allw.||1195||14||Rush / Allw.||1543||24|
|Rush / Game||1098.6||14||Rush / Game||128.6||24|
|Pass Allw.||2208||3||Pass Allw.||2353||3|
|Pass / Game||200.7||3||Pass / Game||196.1||3|
|Points Allw.||185||3||Points Allw.||234||8|
|Points / Game||16.8||3||Points / Game||19.5||8|
SEAHAWKS OFFENSIVE LEADERS
SEAHAWKS DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Wagner 90, Chancellor 68, Wright 68|
|Sacks||Clemons 8.0, Irvin 7.0, Mebane, 3.0|
|Quarterback Hits||Clemons 17, Irvin 13, Branch 5, Mebane 5|
|Interceptions||Sherman 4, Browner 3, Thomas 2|
|Passes Defensed||Sherman 15, Thomas 7, Browner 6|
|Forced Fumbles||Browner 2, Sherman 2|
|Fumbles Recovered||Mebane, Browner, Branch, Trufant 1|
CARDINALS QUARTERBACKS: Kevin Kolb, questionable for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks (ribs) has started five games, completing 109 of 183 passes for 1,169 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs and a passer rating of 86; John Skelton has started five games, completing 98 of 179 passs for 1,058 yards and 2 TDs, 5 INTs and a passer rating of 64.4; Ryan Lindley, who started against the Jets last week, has completed 50 of 103 passes for 448 yards, 0 TDs, 5 INTs and a passer rating of 40.4.
CARDINALS HEAD COACH: A native of Atlanta and a graduate of Georgia Tech, Ken Whisenhunt was hired as the 34th head coach of the Arizona Cardinals Jan. 14, 2007. He led the Cardinals to the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 2008, where the team lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before arriving in Arizona, Whisenhunt served as an assistant with the Steelers for six years, the first three as tight ends coach and the last three as offensive coordinator. He had previously coached at the pro level with the New York Jets (tight ends, 2000), Cleveland Browns (special teams, 1999) and Baltimore Ravens (tight ends, 1997-98). He began his coaching career in the collegiate ranks, spending two seasons with Vanderbilt (1995-96).
KEY DATES: Jan. 5-6, 2013 — Wild Card weekend; Jan. 12-13 — Divisional playoffs; Jan. 19-20 — Conference championships; Jan. 27 — Pro Bowl (Honolulu); Feb. 3 — Super Bowl, New Orleans. Feb. 20-26 — NFL combine (Indianapolis); April 25-27 — NFL draft.
NFC West Standings
|S. Francisco||8-3-1||2-1-1||Sunday vs. Miami|
|Seattle||7-5||0-3||Sunday vs. Arizona|
|St. Louis||5-6-1||4-0-1||Sunday at Buffalo|
|Arizona||4-8||1-4||Sunday at Seattle|
COMING UP: The Seahawks travel to Toronto Dec. 16 for their first meeting with the Buffalo Bills since Sept. 7, 2008. Seahawks have dropped their past two to Buffalo.
2012 Seahawks Preseason Schedule
|8/11/12||vs. Tennessee||7 p.m.||Q13||W||27-17||1-0|
|8/18/12||at Denver||6 p.m.||Q13||W||30-10||2-0|
|8/24/12||at Kansas City||5 p.m.||Q13||W||44-14||3-0|
|8/30/12||vs. Oakland||7 p.m.||Q13||W||21-3||4-0|
2012 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule
|9/9/12||at Arizona||1:25 p.m.||FOX||L||20-16||0-1|
|9/16/12||vs. Dallas||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||27-7||1-1|
|9/24/12||vs. Green Bay||5:30 p.m.||ESPN||W||14-12||2-1|
|9/30/12||at St. Louis||10 a.m.||FOX||L||19-13||2-2|
|10/7/12||at Carolina||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||16-12||3-2|
|10/14/12||vs. N. England||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||24-23||4-2|
|10/18/12||at S. Francisco||5:20 p.m.||NFLN||L||13-6||4-3|
|10/28/12||at Detroit||10 a.m.||FOX||L||28-24||4-4|
|11/4/12||vs. Minnesota||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||30-20||5-4|
|11/11/11||vs. NY Jets||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||28-7||6-4|
|11/25/12||at Miami||10 a.m.||FOX||L||24-21||6-5|
|12/2/12||at Chicago||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-17||7-5|
|12/9/12||vs. Arizona||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/16/12||*at Buffalo||1:05 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/23/12||vs. San Francisco||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
|12/30/12||vs. St. Louis||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
* in Toronto
2012 Seahawks Capsules
Aug. 11 Seahawks 27, Titans 17 (at Seattle) — Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson ran for a touchdown and passed for one, leading the Seahawks over a Tennessee Titans team featuring two quarterbacks with strong local ties, ex-Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck and ex-Husky Jake Locker. Hasselbeck threw two interceptions while Locker completed 7 of 13 for 80 yards.
Aug. 18: Seahawks 30, Broncos 10 (at Denver) — Starting his second straight exhibition game, QB Matt Flynn failed to seize control of the quarterback job, finishing 6 of 13 for 31 yards with no TDs or INTs. But Wilson made a case for himself by completing 10 of 17 for 155 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 28.5. The Seahawks finished with 228 yards rushing, led by Sutton’s 48 yards on three carries.
Aug. 24: Seahawks 44, Chiefs 14 (at Kansas City) — Wilson completed 10 of 17 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. With Wilson playing into the second half, Seattle scored 21 points, overcoming a 10-9 halftime deficit. Earl Thomas made the big defensive play, returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. Flynn did not play due to injury.
Aug. 30: Seahawks 21, Raiders 3 (at Seattle): Flynn, getting most of the snaps, completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards. Seahawks outgained the Raiders 334 yards to 101.
Sept. 8: Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16 (at Phoenix): Despite seven tries inside Arizona’s red zone in final minute, the Seahawks could not score the game-winning touchdown. The Seahawks overcame a tepid first half offensively thanks to an 83-yard kickoff return and a 52-yard punt return by Leon Washington.
Sept. 15: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7 (at Seattle): The Seahawks took a 10-0 lead in less than five minutes when Michael Robinson forced Felix Jones to fumble the opening kickoff, leading to a short field goal, and Malcolm Smith blocked Chris Jones’ punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and the defense allowed the Cowboys only 34 yards and three first downs in the second half.
Sept. 24: Seahawks 14, Packers 12 (at Seattle): Russell Wilson and Golden Tate hooked up on a wildly controversial 24-yard touchdown pass as the clock ran out, giving the Seahawks a dramatic victory. As Wilson’s pass reached the end zone, Tate committed a pushing penalty that wasn’t called. Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball and Tate tried to wrestle it away. One official ruled no touchdown, another signaled TD. After review, Tate was awarded the touchdown. The Seahawks had eight sacks in the first half, a record-tying four by Chris Clemons.
Sept. 30: Rams 19, Seahawks 13 (at St. Louis): Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein booted four field goals, including a club-record 58-yarder which he later topped with a 60-yarder, as the Rams handed Seattle its second NFC West loss. Zuerlein also was a perfect decoy on the biggest play of the day — a fake field goal that turned into a two-yard touchdown pass from punter Johnny Hekker to Danny Amendola. The score put the Rams (2-2) ahead 10-7 late in the first half. Marshawn Lynch ran for 118 yards and a touchdown,Seahawks, but Russell Wilson threw three interceptions.
Oct. 7: Seahawks 16, Panthers 12: (at Charlotte): The Seahawks used a series of big defensive plays, the best pass of Russell Wilson’s NFL career, and a planned safety in the final minute to edge Carolina. Cornerback Brandon Browner made two of the three biggest defensive stops. With Carolina at the Seattle 27-yard line in the third quarter, Browner stripped the ball from DeAngelo Williams, giving the Seahawks a chance to take the lead after they had fallen behind 10-6 on Wilson’s worst pass of the season. Less than three minutes into the second half, Wilson threw behind intended receiver Anthony McCoy, and Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn snatched the ball and raced 33 yards for a touchdown that put the Panthers ahead 10-6. But after Browner stripped Williams. Wilson, on a third-and-eight from the Carolina 13, rocketed a slant pass to Golden Tate for a touchdown.
Oct. 14: Seahawks 24, Patriots 23: Russell Wilson threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 1:18 to play to give the Seahawks a come-from-behind victory. The Seahawks trailed 23-10 in the second half, but Wilson fired touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin and Braylon Edwards before finding Rice with the game-winning throw.
Oct. 18: 49ers 13, Seahawks 6: Alex Smith threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker late in the third quarter and San Francisco held off the Seahawks in a battle for first place in the NFC West. Frank Gore ran for 131 yards. The 49ers made just enough plays to win a defense-first game. Marshawn Lynch ran for 103 yards for Seattle, but Russell Wilson couldn’t generate a passing game, going 9 of 23 for 122 yards and a passer rating of 38.7.
Oct. 28: Lions 28, Seahawks 24: Titus Young caught his second touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford on a one-yard slant with 20 seconds left, lifting Detroit. Young needed to make the second TD catch after Zach Miller had a spectacular, 16-yard snag on a toss from Russell Wilson with 5:27 left that put the Seahawks ahead. But Seattle (4-4) couldn’t stop the Lions (3-4) on their last possession.
Nov. 4: Seahawks 30, Vikings 20: Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, Wilson threw three first-half touchdown passes, and the Seahawks overcame 182 yards by Adrian Peterson to snap a two-game losing streak. Peterson tore through the Seahawks defense for one of the finest games of his career, yet was stuck being a spectator as Seattle slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter, mostly on the legs of Lynch, with a few key passes by Wilson.
Nov. 11: Seahawks 28, N.J. Jets 7: Wilson threw two touchdowns to Sidney Rice, and Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown as the Seahawks overwhelmed the Jets at CenturyLink Field. Rice also threw the first pass of his NFL career, completing a 23-yard touchdown to Golden Tate.
Nov. 25: Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21: Dan Carpenter hit a 43-yard field goal at the final gun after Ryan Tannehill led a 65-yard, six-play drive, and the Dolphins rallied to beat the Seahawks at SunLife Stadium. Miami scored 17 points in the final 8:08 after the Seahawks took the lead on a 98-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington. The eighth KOR TD of Washington’s career tied the league record. Russell Wilson completed 21 of 27, including 16 in a row, for 224 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 125.9.
Dec. 2: Seahawks 23, Bears 18 (OT): Russell Wilson engineered scoring drives of 97 and 80 yards at the end of regulation and in overtime, finishing off with touchdown passes to Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, giving the Seahawks their third consecutive win at Soldier Field and just their second victory of the season on the road. After Wilson led the Seahawks on a 12-play, 97-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard TD pass to Tate, the Bears tied the score at 17-17 with 24 seconds to play on a Robbie Gould field goal. The Seahawks won the OT coin flip and Wilson directed an 80-yard, 12-play drive that ended with a 13-yard TD to Rice.