Reaction: Seahawks fall to Cardinals 34-31, lose second seed in NFC playoffs
Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson scores an 80-yard touchdown in the second quarter. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)
Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson scores an 80-yard touchdown in the second quarter. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Ok, so I expected the Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) to have a pretty comfortable time defeating the visiting NFC West division rival Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) at home in CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon.  But with Seattle trailing 14-3 after one half of football, it was looking like I was way wrong. And when the game ended 34-31, I was left in disbelief.

But much unlike the LA Rams of last week – a franchise in total disarray – these Cardinals apparently are still a prideful talented bunch. And on this Sunday, Arizona played as if they had a prize more significant than a meaningless victory on the line. So if the goal was to prevent the Seahawks from earning the second seed in the NFC playoffs, then kudos to the Cardinals because for one more week, that’s exactly what the did.

And they did so with a dominating defensive performance that absolutely disrupted the Seahawks ability to generate any offense. Russell Wilson was sacked five times in the first half and the QB completed only 8 of his 16 passes for 108 yards.

Seattle lost three key players in the opening half and even when the Seahawks had their opportunities they failed to convert. For one half of ball, our Seahawks looked absolutely pathetic and were purely outclassed at home. Which was a shame since so much was riding on the game.

As a result Seattle fell from the second position to fourth and now will need help from other teams if they intend to host more than an opening-round playoff game.

As for the game…

The Cardinals took advantage of a Seattle turnover on the Seahawks’ first possession. That gaff led to a David Johnson 2-yard TD score which gave Arizona an early 7-0 lead and capped a 5-play, 23-yard drive.

Seattle finally moved into scoring position later in the half, but a Stephen Hauschka 45-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

The Cardinals then stuck with a swift 3-play drive that found pay-dirt when Carson Palmer hit the speedy J.J. Nelson for a long gain. The receiver outran the defense and finished the 80-yard connection for the score and a 14-0 lead.

The Cardinals had a chance to enter halftime with a two TD lead, but instead Seattle capitalized on a costly turnover inside the visitor’s ten.

Arizona fumbled the ball trying to run-out the first half clock. Yet Seattle only mustered three on the drive as the Cardinals’ defense held and Stephen Hauschka was called on to convert a 27-yard kick, which he did. Finally getting the home-team on the board at 14-3.

Seattle continued the comeback as the Seahawks took the opening possession of the second-half and on thirteen plays moved 66 yards on a drive that ended with receiver Jermaine Kearse’s first TD grab of the year, a nice 2-yard catch in the right corner of the end zone which made the score 14-10 Arizona.

Now we had a game.

The Cardinals moved the ball on their subsequent drive but the march stalled on the Seahawks’ 35 yard line. Arizona was then held to a 53-yard field goal attempt but the Chandler Catanzaro kick fell a few yards short.

Seattle was forced to punt on their next possession which was quite unfortunate as the Cardinals took possession on their own 39 yard line and finished a nine-play drive with a Doug Johnson 1-yard TD score extending the Arizona lead to 21-10 early in the fourth quarter.

Seattle came right back thanks to a drive that ended with a short pass from Wilson to Baldwin that the receiver took 42 yards for the score. Electing to go for two, Seattle converted with a Wilson pass to fullback Marcel Reece and now trailed 21-18 with momentum on their and the 12s feeling it.

But again, the Cardinals continued to show fight and moved right back down the field thanks to a few big plays on a drive that took just over two minutes and ended with David Johnson’s third TD score of the game, a 1-yard plunge over the left side into the end zone. With the score, Arizona move back on top 28-18.

Seattle had an ugly end to their next drive when after four plays the Seahawks turned the ball over on a bad execution of a zone read play that was stuffed out but the Arizona defender who took down Wilson as all the QB tossed the ball away going to the ground.

After only moving the ball six yards after the turnover, the Cardinals extended their lead to 31-18 with a successful Catanzaro 42-yard boot

Things didn’t look good as Seattle now trailed by two touchdowns with just over five minutes remaining in the game.

But with all three time outs and the home field at their side, our team would respond.

Finally Jimmy Graham made his mark in the contest as the tight end took a short Wilson pass 37 yards for a score. Once again, the crowd was rocking and the Seahawks tailed 31-25 with 2:48 to play in the game.

Arizona took the following kickoff and started their drive on their own 14 yard line but after some very questionable play calling and poor time management that actually helped conserve timeouts for Seattle, the now tremendous Seahawks pressure forced a punt without even using a timeout.

With the assistance of a holding penalty on the punt, Seattle started their most important drive of the game on the Arizona 45 yard line. And six plays later,  Wilson found a wide open Paul Richardson in the back corner of the end zone and lofted an easy pass for the score and 31-31 tie pending the extra point.

But as in the first game this season played between these two, kicking was anything but assured. And luck would have it, Hauschka missed the attempt and the game remained tied 31-31. Seriously.

The drama was just too much to take. The Seattle defense needed one more stop to force overtime but alas they could not.

Arizona moved the ball thanks to a few big plays and on fourth down with the clock running and no timeouts, the Cardinals’ kicking game personnel took to the field and with only moments remaining, Catanzaro calmly kicked his second successful boot of the game, a 43-yarder for the win 34-31.

Injury News

The Seahawks lost their all-purpose receiver Tyler Lockett when he sustained, what is reported to be a broken leg, in the second quarter after making a nice one-handed catch  for a first down. Unfortunately Lockett’s leg got pinned under him during the tackle and the training staff had to secure the receiver’s appendage before carting him from the field.

Seemingly now often injured running back Thomas Rawls left the game late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Rawls did not return to the game and was replaced by the rookie Alex Collins.

Saftey Kam Chancellor also left the game in the first half after suffering an apparent ankle injury. Chancellor did return on defense in the second half.

SSU Player of the Game

Alex Collins entered the game in replacement of the injured Rawls and as a result contributed heavily to the Seahawks score of the second half that got the team going and for the game the rookie finished with 7 carries for 28 yards. Collins also snagged four receptions for 19 yards in limited action.

Doug Baldwin had a career day grabbing 13 passes for 171 yards and a score. Russell Wilson had a huge second half throwing four TD scores and finishing with 350 yards passing.

But it was Collins who was featured on six of the Seahawks 13 plays on the team’s opening TD drive of the second half and it was that score the set up all that Seattle would achieve in the second half.

Next Up

The season comes down to one more division game this time on the road at San Fransisco. The 49ers are not good at all and as such, Seattle should earn the victory. There is much still on the line for the Seahawks as playoff positioning is undetermined in the NFC.

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Kevin was born in the Motor City and raised a hella-sports fan of Detroit sports. Now he calls the great Pacific Northwest home and started this website in tribute to all things Emerald Green and Blue. "Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders FC, it's all good!