BY SPNW Staff 07:30AM 12/22/2013

Cardinals plenty capable of playing spoiler

Seahawks handled Cardinals 34-22 in first meeting, but Arizona since has won six of seven to get back in the playoff race. Cards have No. 1 rush defense in NFL.

Last time the Seahawks and Cardinals met at CenturyLink, linebacker Bobby Wagner had a 45-yard interception return that began with teammates K.J. Wright and Walter Thurmond keeping the ball from Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: Arizona Cardinals (9-5, 3rd, NFC West) at Seattle Seahawks (12-2, 1st, NFC West). TYPE. Regular season. WEEK: 16. WHEN: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 30th (Cardinals lead 15-14). STREAKS: Seahawks W 1, Cardinals W 2. HEAD COACHES: Bruce Arians, Arizona; Pete Carroll, Seattle. LINE: Seahawks by 10. TV: FOX. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.

The Seahawks can secure the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs if they defeat — or tie — Arizona Sunday at CenturyLink, or if San Francisco loses or ties Monday night. The latter is not likely to happen with the 49ers hosting the 4-10 Atlanta Falcons, so Seattle probably won’t get any help if it falters against the Cardinals, one of the league’s scarier teams as the playoffs approach.

The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 34-22 Oct. 17, but Arizona has won six of seven since, including a 40-11 thumping of the Indianapolis Colts, who handed the Seahawks one of their two losses (34-28) Oct. 6.

“They’re just cleaner, sharper, better at everything,” said Carroll, citing Arizona’s improvement over the past two months. “Their run game on defense is the best in the league. They’ve always had really good, talented guys up front and they’re just getting after it. Carson Palmer is really hitting. They really have come together. You can see how efficient he’s been in the last couple of months.

“Bruce (Arians) is doing a great job. You can see his imprint on this whole thing. They have made a big improvement. They’ve given themselves a great chance to have a heck of a season.”

Standing 3-4 after losing to the Seahawks, the Cardinals still have a chance for a wild card spot and, as Carroll mentioned, Palmer is at the top of his game. Sacked seven times and intercepted twice by the Seahawks Oct. 17 in Phoenix, Palmer since has posted five passer ratings above 100.00, including 112.1 vs. St. Louis two weeks ago.

Seattle’s strength, running the ball, is what Arizona stops better than any team. The Cardinals rank No. 1 in the NFL, allowing 83.2rushing yards per game (the Seahawks average 105.3). Seattle ranks second in rushing at 140.1 yards per game.

“They were a salty defense the last time we played them,” said Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “They present a lot of issues, particularly with their pressure game. I remember we didn’t have either one of our tackles (Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini), so it’s good to have those guys back. It’s still a great challenge. They’re a tough defense to run against and then they bring a lot of pressure.”

The main keys to that pressure are DT Darnell Dockett and DE Calais Campbell, who have combined for 10.5 sacks.

“Those are two really great players inside for them,” Bevell said. “They just present a lot of problems, particularly with the package of the pressures they have. Whether it’s inside, whether it’s outside, they move the guys around enough that they try to make it tough on you to get their defense identified.”

The Seahawks will be seeking the eighth division title in club history and the second in Carroll’s four seasons. Q win would be their 15th consecutive at CenturyLink, all with Russell Wilson at quarterback. Wilson threw three touchdowns and no interceptions the last time the teams met, and Marshawn Lynch ran for 91 yards and a TD.

Lynch hasn’t had a big game since going for 145 yards at Atlanta Nov. 10. In his last four, he’s rushed for 54, 45, 72 and 47 yards, not once averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

OG J.R. Sweezy will not play against the Cardinals as he recovers from a concussion. WR Percy Harvin won’t suit up as he continues his rehab from a hip injury. The Seahawks have cleared Jeremy Lane (ankle) to play.

SERIES: Dates to Sept. 12, 1976 when the Cardinals won 30-2 at the Kingdome in a game in which Seattle quarterback Jim Zorn threw two touchdown passes to Sam McCullum. Seattle has won the past two meetings, 58-0 Dec. 9, 2012, and 34-22 Oct. 17, when Russell Wilson tossed three touchdown passes without an interception.

Seahawks: Scored 380 points (27.1 per game), ranking 5th; allowed 205 points (14.4 per game), 1st; differential of +175 points ranks 1st. Cardinals: Scored 342 points (24.4), ranked 15th; allowed 291 (20.8), 8th; differential of +51 points ranks 9th.

SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (70-56 career, 37-25 Seattle) is in his fourth 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 Carolina, 25 of 33, 320 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 115.7 rating; vs. San Francisco, 8 of 19, 142 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 63.9 rating; vs. Jacksonville, 14 of 21, 202 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 117.5 rating; at Houston, 12 of 23, 123 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 48.7 rating; at Indianapolis, 15 of 31, 210 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT78.7 rating; season, 91.2; vs. Tennessee, 23 of 31, 257 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 98.5 rating; at Arizona, 18 of 28, 235 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 122.1 rating; at St. Louis, 10 of 18, 139 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 117.6 rating; vs. Tampa Bay, 19 of 26, 217 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 91.3 rating; at Atlanta, 19 of 26 for 287 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 134.6 rating; vs. Minnesota, 13 of 18, 230 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 151.4 rating; vs. New Orleans, 22 of 30 for 310 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 139.6 rating; at San Francisco, 15 of 25, 199 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 81.9 rating; at NY Giants, 18 of 27 for 206 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 83.6 rating. Tarvaris Jackson vs. Jacksonville, 7 of 8, 129 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 158.3 rating; at Indianapolis, no statistics; vs. Minnesota, 1 of 3, 6 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 42.4 rating; at NY Giants, 2 of 2, 16 yards, )TD, 0 INT, 100.0 rating.

SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES

  • REGULAR SEASON SUMMARY: Record: 12-2-0. Home: 6-0. Road: 6-2. Vs. NFC: 9-1. Vs. AFC: 3-1. Vs. NFC East: 1-0. Vs. NFC North: 1-0. Vs. NFC South: 4-0. Vs. NFC West: 3-1. Points For: 380 (27.1). Points Against: 205 (14.4).
  • NFL RANKS: Scoring Offense — 27.1 (5th); Total Offense – 354.5 (12th); Rushing Offense – 141.0 (2nd); Passing Offense — 213.5 (24th); Scoring Defense – 14.6 (1st); Total Defense — 279.5 (1st); Rushing Defense — 105.3 (10th); Passing Defense — 174.2 (1st); Turnover Differential — +16 (2nd).
  • Won 19 of the past 22.
  • Point differential of +175, best in the NFL. Denver is No. 2 at +163.
  • 28-10 since the final half of the 2011 season. In those 10 losses, the average margin of victory for opponents has been 4.3 points.
  • 65-29 at home since 2002. Only Green Bay (65-28-1) has a better home record during that span.
  • 73 pass plays of 16 or more yards this season and 45 running plays of 12 or more. With 118 explosive plays, the Seahawks rank No. 3 in the NFL behind Philadelphia’s 137 and Detroit’s 133.
  • +16 in turnover differential (33 takeaways, 17 giveaways) ranks second in the NFL behind Kansas City (+21).
  • Russell Wilson has the highest passer rating (110.2) in the NFL since Week 9 of the 2012 season. Peyton Manning is second at 109.5.
  • Wilson has 14 consecutive wins at home. The NFL record for most home wins to start a career is 16 by Danny White of Dallas in 1980-81. Kurt Warner (1999-01) had 15. Also on the list: Marc Bulger (14, 2002-04), Doug Flutie (10, 1988-98), Philip Rivers (9, 2006-07).
  • Over his past 22 starts, Wilson is 19-3. He has exceeded a 100 passer rating 14 times.
  • Wilson has nine fourth-quarter comebacks, the most recent against Tampa Bay Nov. 3.
  • Wilson has 23 wins in his first two seasons, the top mark in NFL history by a player over that span.
  • Wilson’s record as a starting quarterback is 23-7, a winning percentage of .767. Among quarterbacks with a minimum of 15 starts, only Tom Brady has a better mark, .772 (146-43).
  • Only three second-year quarterbacks since 1970 have a passer rating above 100.0: Kurt Warner (1999), 109.2; Dan Marino (1984), 108.9; and Wilson (105.0).
  • Wilson has tossed 50 touchdowns in his first two seasons, more than any quarterback in NFL history with the exceptions of Dan Marino (68) and Peyton Manning (52).
  • Marshawn Lynch leads the NFL with 19 100-yard game games since 2011 and has rushed for 100 or more in 19 of his last 39. The 19 100-yard games rank first in the NFL over that span; Adrian Peterson 18.
  • Since Week 9 of 2012, Lynch has rushed for 3,620 yards and 31 touchdowns, both totals leading the NFL (Adrian Peterson 3,493 yards, 25 TDs).
  • Seattle has limited opposing quarterbacks to a 65.5 passer rating, lowest in the NFL.
  • Richard Sherman picked off 18 passes since 2011, most in the NFL. His six picks this year are tied for the NFL lead. Sherman has also defensed 57 passes since 2011, most in the NFL.

SEAHAWKS 2013 OFFENSIVE LEADERS

Rushing

Player G Att. Yards TDs Long Y/G
Marshawn Lynch 14 260 1089 11 43 77.8
Russell Wilson 14 89 508 1 25 36.3
Robert Turbin 14 70 251 0 15 17.9
Christine Michael 3 18 79 0 13 26.3
Team 14 453 1974 13 43 141.0
Opponents 14 361 1474 4 27 105.3

Passing

Player G Att. Cmp. Yards TDs/INT Rate
Russell Wilson 14 357 231 3077 24/8 105.0
Team 14 370 241 3228 25/8 140.2
Opponents 14 469 275 2715 14/22 65.5

Receiving

Player G Rec. Yards TD Long Y/G
Golden Tate 14 54 735 4 80 52.5
Doug Baldwin 13 49 770 5 52 55.0
M. Lynch 14 33 307 2 55 21.9
Zach Miller 12 29 355 4 55 29.6
J. Kearse 14 19 308 4 43 22.0
Luke Willson 14 18 265 1 39 18.9
Team 14 241 3228 25 80 230.6
Opponents 14 275 2439 14 73 174.2

SEAHAWKS 2013 DEFENSIVE LEADERS

Category Skinny
Tackles Wagner 99, Thomas 89, Wright 80
Sacks Avril 8.0, Bennett 7.5, 2 with 4.5
Quarterback Hits Bennett 22, Averill 12, Clemons 11
Interceptions Sherman 6, Thomas 5, Maxwell 3
Passes Defensed Sherman 16, Browner 10, Maxwell 10
Forced Fumbles Avril 5, Thomas 2
Fumbles Recovered Chancellor, Mebane, McDaniel, Wright 1

CARDINALS NOTES: Arizona defeated Detroit (25-21), Tampa Bay (13-10), Carolina (22-6), Atlanta (27-13), Houston (27-24), Jacksonville (27-14), Indianapolis (40-11), St. Louis (30-10) and Tennessee (37-34), and lost to St. Louis (27-34), New Orleans (31-7), San Francisco (32-20), Seattle (34-22) and Philadelphia (24-21) . . . Arizona ranks 15th in scoring offense (24.4), 19th in total offense (339.5), 25th in rushing offense (94.1), 14th in passing offense (245.4), eighth in scoring defense (20.8), seventh in total defense (322.3), 1st in rushing defense (83.2), 17th in pass defense (239.1), 12th in turnover differential (+3). . .  Bruce Arians is in his first year as head coach after serving as offensive coordinator at Indianapolis (2012), Pittsburgh (2007-08) and Cleveland (2001-03) . . . The Cardinal roster includes DL Alameda Ta’amu, a product of Rainier Beach High School and the University of Washington. Ta’amu was a team captain and honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2011. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Ta’amu in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, but cut him after training camp this season. The Cardinals claimed him.

CARDINALS QUARTERBACKS: Carson Palmer completed 321 of 498 passes for 3,689 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a passer rating of 86.5. Palmer has four 300-yard games, including 419 with two touchdowns against Jacksonville. He is coming off a 231-yard, 1 TD performance at Tennessee.

2013-14 KEY DATES: Jan. 4-5, 2014 — Wild-card playoff games; Jan. 11-12 — divisional playoff games; Jan. 19, 2014 — AFC and NFC championship games; Jan. 26, 2014 — AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Honolulu; Feb. 2, 2014 — Super Bowl XLVIII, MetLife Stadium, New York; Feb. 18-25, 2012 — Scouting combine, Indianapolis; March 11, 2014 — Free agency begins; May 8-10, 2014 — NFL draft.

NFC West Standings

Team Overall vs. Div. Next
Seattle 12-2-0 3-1-0 Sun, vs. Arizona
S. Francisco 10-4-0 4-1-0 Mon, vs. Atlanta
Arizona 9-5-0 1-3-0 Sun, at Seattle
St. Louis 6-8-0 1-4-0 Sun, vs. Tampa Bay

2013 Seahawks Preseason Schedule

Date Opponent Time TV W/L Score Rec.
8/8/13 at San Diego 7 p.m. NFLN W 31-10 1-0
8/17/13 vs. Denver 7 p.m. NFLN W 40-10 2-0
8/23/13 at Green Bay 5 p.m. CBS W 17-10 3-0
8/29/13 vs. Oakland 7 p.m. Fox W 22-6 4-0

2013 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule

Date Opponent Time TV W/L Score Rec.
9/8/13 at Carolina 10 a.m. FOX W 12-7 1-0
9/15/13 vs. SF 5:30 p.m. NBC W 29-3 2-0
9/22/13 vs. JAX 1:25 p.m. CBS W 45-17 3-0
9/29/13 at Texans 10 a.m. FOX W 23-20 4-0
10/6/13 at Indy 10 a.m. FOX L 34-28 4-1
10/13/13 vs. Tenn 1:05 p.m. CBS W 20-13 5-1
10/17/13 at Arizona 5:25 p.m. NFLN W 34-22 6-1
10/28/12 at StL 5:40 p.m. ESPN W 14-9 7-1
11/3/13 vs. Tampa 1:05 p.m. FOX W 27-24 8-1
11/10/13 at Atlanta 10 a.m. FOX W 33-10 9-1
11/17/13 vs. Minn 1:25 p.m. FOX W 41-20 10-1
11/24/13 BYE WEEK —– —– —–
12/2/13 VS. NO 5:40 p.m. ESPN W 34-7 11-1
12/8/12 at SF 1:25 p.m. FOX L 19-17 11-2
12/15/13 at NYG 10 a.m. FOX W 23-0 12-2
12/22/13 vs. Ariz 1:05 p.m. FOX ——
12/29/13 vs. STL 1:25 p.m. FOX ——

 


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