SEATTLE – On a night when the Seahawks reclaimed control of the NFC West with a 28-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals, they also regained their identity.
For the first time this season, this was true Pete Carroll-era Seahawks football, with the offense playing flawlessly while also mixing the run and the pass the best it has all season, while the defense – if not quite back to the Legion of Boom heyday – played as consistently stout and tough as it has all season. Most of all, the defense made the big plays to put it away when the game was on the line.
With the victory, the Seahawks improved to 7-3, while Arizona fell to 6-4. They also earned a split of the season series with the Cardinals, negating any Arizona head-to-head tiebreaker advantage.
Russell Wilson, whose 10 turnovers over the past four weeks had been critical factors in three losses in that span – beginning with the first game against Arizona 25 days earlier – played an almost spotless game with no turnovers while completing 23 of 28 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
This time, he was ably complemented by a consistent rushing attack that gained 165 yards on 31 carries, the biggest percentage of runs to passes this season and only the second time this year the Seahawks ran more than they threw.
And the defense, while allowing the fewest points it has all season, held an Arizona offense averaging an NFL-high 425.4 yards per game to 314 yards and a rushing attack averaging an NFL-high 168.9 yards to just 57 yards on 18 carries.
Most critically, after the Seahawks took a 28-21 lead on a 41-yard field goal by Jason Myers with 2:21 left, the much-criticized Seahawks defense got the stop it needed.
Arizona moved quickly into Seattle territory, and to the 27 with just under a minute left. But it got no further.
After an incompletion on first down, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray took a shot near the end zone to Larry Fitzgerald, but Quandre Diggs helped break it up.
On third down, a Murray pass to Andy Isabella was broken up by D.J. Reed.
That set up one last play for Arizona with 38 seconds left.
This time, Murray didn’t have time to get the pass off, sacked by Carlos Dunlap back at the 33 – the Seahawks’ third sack of the game after it infamously didn’t record a single quarterback hit in a 37-34 loss to Arizona on Oct. 25.
It was a fitting end to a win at newly re-christened Lumen Field that seemed in Seattle’s control almost all the way.
The Seahawks led 16-7 at the end of the first half, scoring on the opening possession and again after Arizona tied it early in the second quarter, immediately retaking the lead. The Seahawks added a field goal on the final play of the half.
It was the best half of defense of the season for the Seahawks, holding Arizona to 107 yards on 25 plays and just 4.3 per play, two yards per play less than its average.
The Seahawks scored on their opening possession, a methodical 75-yard march in which they converted three third downs before ending in a splash when Wilson evaded pressure and threw to DK Metcalf in the back corner of the end zone for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson was 5 of 5 for 58 yards on the drive and ran once for nine yards, and a clear tone had been set.
Arizona had just 23 yards on 10 plays in the first quarter, and just one first down.
The Cardinals had only one real march in the first half, but used it to tie the game on a Kenyan Drake 2-yard touchdown run with 13:51 to play in the second. The ball popped loose as Drake hit the ground as he fell into the end zone and the play was initially ruled a fumble and a recovery by the Seahawks’ D.J. Reed. But after a review it was ruled a touchdown.
But Seahawks immediately responded with another 75-yard drive, this time running 10 plays capped by an 11-yard pass from Wilson to Tyler Lockett with 8:27 left in the first half. Myers missed the extra point to keep the lead at 13-7 and would never trail again.
In the final seconds of the half, Wilson lofted a deep pass to Metcalf, which paid off when Patrick Peterson was called for defensive pass interference. The 46-yard penalty put the ball at the Arizona 9 with 11 seconds remaining.
An incomplete pass on the next play meant the Seahawks had to settle for a field goal, but Myers drilled it from 27 as the half ended to put the Seahawks up 16-7.
Arizona got right back in the game with an 81-yard, 11-play drive to start the second half that was keyed by two penalties – personal fouls on Diggs and Bobby Wagner. But the Seahawks came right back to go ahead again by two scores.
The Cardinals appeared to have the Seahawks stopped after a short pass to Lockett, who was tackled at the 32 by Dre Kirkpatrick.
Metcalf appeared to yell at Kirkpatrick in anger over his tackle of Lockett. Kirkpatrick twisted Lockett’s leg after he was already dealing with a knee injury that had him listed as questionable.
Kirkpatrick responded to Metcalf, and a scrum ensued, and when order was finally restored a taunting penalty was called on Kirkpatrick.
That turned an apparent fourth-and-two at the Arizona 32 – and a tough decision for the Seahawks – into a first down at the Cardinals 17.
Carlos Hyde ran for 15 yards, and then two more yards for the score, to put Seattle back in control at 23-14 with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
But the breakneck game that many anticipated all along appeared to be breaking out as Arizona then embarked on a 15-play, 90-yard drive culminating in a 3-yard pass from Murray to Chase Edmonds that made it 23-21 with 13:19 left.
The score came on third down, when Edmonds broke wide open into the back of the end zone with the Seahawks blowing their pass coverage.
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