The Arizona Cardinals returned from the bye week and made a statement defeating the Seattle Seahawks 39-32 Sunday night in The Emerald City. With the victory the Cards improve to 7-2. The Seahawks drop to 4-5.
Here are five things we learned.
1. Sleepless in Seattle…Bruce Arians said last week he wanted to see his team play hard for 60 minutes. Sunday was far from perfect but no one will question the moxie of the Cardinals who went into the bullies’ backyard and left them looking like Ronda Rousey Saturday night. “Guys just stepped up,” quarterback Carson Palmer said after the game. “We’re there for each other, we fought for each other and we found a way to win.” With the victory the Cards take a stranglehold on the NFC West heading into the teeth of their schedule in the coming weeks.
2. First Half Focus…the Cardinals didn’t seem phased by the bright lights and the big stage of CenturyLink Field jumping out to a 19-0 lead before the Seahawks knew what hit them. The Cards amassed 269 total yards, while allowing just 89 before the half. Palmer, Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald were unfazed by the ‘Legion of Boom’ picking up 18 first downs in typical Bruce Arians fashion–pushing the ball downfield. The halftime lead would have been even bigger had Palmer not been intercepted by Earl Thomas in the end zone.
3. Second(ary) to None…much of Arizona’s first half success can be attributed to their secondary who smothered Seattle’s receivers and forced Russell Wilson into a 14-32, 240-yard performance. Tyrann Mathieu had an interception and six tackles. While Doug Baldwin had a big game (seven catches, 134 yards, touchdown) Jimmy Graham was held to just three receptions for 41 yards, 30 coming on one play.
4. Finding Floyd…the aforementioned Floyd had his way with Seattle’s secondary reeling in scoring plays of 27 and 35 yards in the second quarter taking the life out of the 12th Man as the Bird Gang took control on the road in the first half. Floyd’s partner-in-crime Fitzgerald was just as effective downfield finding gaps in the secondary working out of the slot. Floyd left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. The two finished with a combined 17 catches for 243 yards. The 39 points allowed was the most ever by a ‘Legion of Boom’ team.
5. Pressure Points…whatever first-year defensive coordinator Kris Richard said to his team at halftime certainly worked as Seattle attacked the Cards’ o-line from all angles after guard Mike Iupati was carted off in a scary incident midway through the second quarter. The Seahawks flipped the script and took their first lead on Bobby Wagner’s 22-yard scoop and score which came just one possession after a Palmer sack/fumble set up Marshawn Lynch’s three-yard touchdown. However, in the end the Cards made the plays on both sides of the ball to seal their biggest win of the season.