The Seahawks, favored by eight, put together their best performance of the year in overwhelming Arizona Sunday night to take over first place in the NFC West.
Defying oddsmakers who had them favored by eight points, the Seahawks rolled up a franchise-record 596 yards and delivered another stunning defensive performance in overwhelming the Arizona Cardinals 35-6 Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. The fifth consecutive win gave them first place in the NFC West and set them up for a chance at homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
The game was close for a half (14-3), but the Seahawks (11-4) blew it apart in the second. They get the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, which they had a year ago, if they defeat the St. Louis Rams in their regular-season home finale Sunday.
The Seahawks, who have won their past five by a combined 114-33, will need some help to become the No. 1 seed but are in position, thanks to their best all-around effort of the season, which started with QB Russell Wilson.
Wilson threw for 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns to TE Luke Willson, one an 80-yarder, and ran for 88 and a TD. Wilson not only matched the longest TD pass of his career, he had the longest run of his career, 55 yards, and darted five yards for a score on one of the great juke jobs in recent franchise history.
“Russell was just ridiculous, he was so good,” said a grinning head coach, Pete Carroll, whose team won eight of nine since starting 3-3. “He made some fantastic big throws, and his touchdown run was, well, it’s as good as you can get.”
Wilson was sacked 11 times by the Cardinals in the two previous meetings, including seven times at CenturyLink Field Nov. 23. But Sunday night, the Cardinals reached him once as Wilson (a) used a quick passing game and (b) eluded trouble with effective scrambles or throwing the ball away.
Wilson, who passed for 339 yards (second-highest total of his career) and had a 122.9 passer rating, had no end of offensive collaborators. Marshawn Lynch didn’t start due to an upset stomach but gulped some Skittles and rushed for 113 yards and two scores against the NFL’s No. 3-ranked defense, including a 79-yard TD in the fourth quarter that may have been the equal of his famous “Beast Quake” romp in the 2010 playoffs.
“That might have been the best run I’ve ever seen,” said Carroll. “It reminded me of O.J. Simpson against Ohio State.”
Luke Willson nearly matched his entire season’s output with three catches for 139 yards and two scores, including the 80-yarder in the second quarter that staked the Seahawks to a 7-3 lead they would never relinquish.
Doug Baldwin, with seven catches for 113 yards, including a 49-yarder.
The 596 yards broke the franchise record of 591 against San Diego Dec. 29, 2002 in a game that went overtime.
“That’s a lot of yards against a really tough group,” said Carroll. “For Tom Cable (assistant head coach/offensive line) to put that together is just a fantastic job.”
The Seahawks held the Cardinals to 216 total yards, 29 on the ground. Sunday’s game marked the fourth time this season the Seahawks have held an opponent without a touchdown.
“That’s just great stuff,” Carroll added. “The thing I’m most proud of is that we continued to play at this type of level. It gives us real confidence going into the final game of the season.
“This is as good a run as I can ever remember, and this gives us a chance to have high hopes. Personally, I couldn’t have had more fun than I did tonight. I had a frickin’ blast.”
Unlike Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley. A third-stringer playing because of injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, Lindley completed 18 of 44 for 216 yards and was sacked four times. He proved to be as ineffective as advertised. CB Richard Sherman also got him with a 53-yard interception return.
“We just believe in each other and we’ve worked so hard for this,” said Wilson. “We made a lot of plays tonight. Marshawn Lynch’s run, does it get any better than that? That was pretty special.”
The game would have been over earlier if usually reliable Steven Hauschka hadn’t clanked three field goals, from 52, 50 and 47 yards, and if the Seahawks hadn’t been nailed for 10 first-half penalties (to Arizona’s one) that thwarted two scoring drives.
The 80-yard TD pass from Wilson to Willson in the second quarter matched the longest of Russell’s career. He threw an 80-yarder to Golden Tate at St. Louis in 2013 . . . Wilson’s 300-yard passing game was his fifth . . . Wilson is 35-12 as a starting quarterback and 11-2 in December . . . Lynch has 15 TDs (11 rush, four pass), most in the NFL . . . Sherman’s interception in the fourth quarter was the 24th of his career, most in the NFL since 2011 . . . The Seahawks won 31 of their last 39 . . . Seattle is 45-26 all-time in prime time (4-0 this season) and 13-1 under Carroll . . . WR Jermaine Kearse did not play due to a hamstring injury and TE Cooper Helfet left the game in the second quarter with a rib injury. Carroll did not know either injury’s severity.
The Seahawks close out the regular season at 1:25 p.m. Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals at CenturyLink Field (FOX).
2nd Qtr. (Cardinals 3-0): Chandler Cantanzaro 27 FG, 7:55. Drive: 10 plays, 49 yards in 6:15. Key Plays: Stepfan Taylor 25 pass from Ryan Lindley; consecutive 5-yard penalties on Michael Bennett; Rob Housler 13 pass from Lindley.
2nd Qtr. (Seahawks 7-3): Luke Willson 80 pass from Russell Wilson (Steven Hauschka kick), 7:03. Drive: 2 plays, 80 yards in 0:52.
2nd Qtr. (Seahawks 14-3): Marshawn Lynch 6 run (Hauschka kick), 3:42. Drive: 6 plays, 39 yards in 2:48. Key Plays: Wilson 22-yard scramble; Doug Baldwin 10 pass from Wilson on 3rd and 8.
3rd Qtr. (Cardinals 14-6): Cantanzaro 32 FG, 0:59. Drive: 9 plays, 49 in 4:30. Key Play: Michael Floyd 32 pass from Ryan Lindley to Seattle 20-yard line.
4th Qtr. (Seahawks 21-6): Willson 20 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick), 11:59. Drive: 7 plays, 70 yards in 4:00. Key Play: Willson 39-yard pass from Wilson to the Arizona 30.
4th Qtr. (Seahawks 28-6): Lynch 79 run (Hauschka kick), 10:14. Drive: 1 play, 74 yards in 0:16.
4th Qtr. (Seahawks 35-6): Wilson 5 run (Hauschka kick), 4:49.Drive: 7 plays, 40 yards in 4:11. Key Play: Richard Sherman interception return of 53 yards.