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Cards had wrapped up a playoff spot and first place bye. If they beat Seattle and Carolina were to lose to Green Bay, the Cardinals would secure a first place bye and lock up home field
advantage throughout the playoffs. The only thing in question for Seattle would be whether they'd earn a 5th seed or 6th seed. Cardinals had won 9 straight in convincing fashion over some of the NFL's more elite teams. Seattle's roster had been decimated by injury, was not as dominating as it had been in past seasons and they had to play hard just to reach the playoffs. Local and national media had come close to anointing the Cardinals "Super Bowl champs" and there was some low-level concern over whether the Cards would fall in love with their press clippings.
Cards Waxed by Seattle 36 - 6 .
The Bottom Line:
"They who were we thought they were" - Bruce Irvin.
With each week, some Cardinal fans (not used to all that success) were wondering whether the Cardinals would stay grounded or whether they'd let all that newfound notoriety go to their head. And each week, the Cardinal team would rise up and put a profound thumping their next opponent in convincing fashion. With their team at 13 - 2, Cardinal fans were asking themselves if the Cardinal team was "for real?" Did they actually by into the Bruce Arians work ethic, and would they continue to play at consistently high level only found in elite NFL teams? We asked ourselves that question, took a deep breath and (for the first time since perhaps the Trippi and Angsmann Cardinal teams of the late forties) said: "Yes!"
We were wrong.
Let me put it this way: The Cardinals are capable of playing at an elite level even most of the time. But they have demonstrated that they're capable of going into the proverbial dumper. Memo for the future: "Love them when they do good. Root for them always. But never, ever, ever trust them; because they'll turn around and lay an egg when you least expect it.
Let's hope this year's Cardinal team makes Bruce Irvin eat his words.
Cards won toss and received. TB on the KO. Cards looked sluggish. After Palmer hit Fitz for +15 on the first play, the Cards went three and out. Punt (net flag on Sherman) nullfied a 22-yard Lockett return. Seattle ball on their own 12. Wilson engineered a 12-play (7:19) TD drive capped by a 1-yard run up the middle by B Brown. Key plays were a 45-yard run around RE by Michael and a 20-yard completion to Helfet. Seattle 7 - Cardinals 0.
(Note - With Lynch and Rawls not playing, it seemed as if Pete Carroll was substituting an "attack the perimeter wth speed" strategem in place of the usual "pound 'em between the tackles" approach).
TB on the KO. On the second play from scrimmage, Palmer threw an interception (Lane). It looked like a cross-up with his receivers on routes. Seattle took over on the Cardinal 41 but had to settle for a 52-yard Hauschka FG. Seattle 10 - Cardinals 0.
TB on the KO. The Cards reached the Settle 46 in 6 plays as the quarter ended
1st Quarter Score: Seattle 10 - Cardinals 0.
- Six plays later, Palmer hit Fitz short-right for a 17-yard TD. Catanzaro missed the XP (bad omen). Seattle 10 - Cardinals 6.
TB on the KO. Wilson led his offense on another long drive - this one taking 11 plays and 5:57 - finished off with a 7-yard TD pass to Tukuafu. (Key plays: Wilson to Lockett: +36; Wilson to Baldwin: +16). Seattle 17 - Cardinals 6.
TB on the KO. Cards reached their own 26 before punting. LOckett returned the punt 66 yards. On the first play from scrimmage, Wilson hit Coffman for an 8-yard score. Seattle 24 - Cardinals 6.
TB on the KO. Cards went 3 & out. Lockett returned the punt 42 yards. (Why was Butler kicking to him? What were our coverage guys doing)? Seattle started out at the Card 27 and, on the third play from scrimmage, Wilson hit Kearse for a 24-yard TD. XP no good. Seattle 30 - Cardinals 6.
TB on the KO. Cards went 3 & out. Punt returned 31 yards by Lockett (!!!!!) Seattle ball near midfield with 1:37 left. Drive ended at the Cardinal 22 with Hauschka's FG attempt wide-left. Cards took over on their thirty wqith 0:27 left and managed to reach the Seahawk 33 where Catanzaro's 51-yard attempt was no good (Maybe the stillness of the air with the roof closed unnerved him).
First Half Score: Seattle 30 - Cardinals 6.
TB on the KO. Roughness penalty (Fua) gave Seattle the ball at their own 35. Seattle got as far as the Cardinal 15 before settleing for a 33 yard Hauschka FG. Seattle 33 - Cardinals 6.
Williams returned the KO to the Cardinal 10 (nice to see we continue to dominate on special teams!!!!) Stanton in for Palmer. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Stanton's pass for john Brown was intercepted by E Thomas and returned to the Cardinal 33. Seahawks moved to the Cardinal 34 (after a minus-16 yard sack by Freeney) before settling for Hauschka's final FG of the afternoon - a 52-yarder. Seattle 36 - Cardinals 6.
TB on the KO. Cards went 3 & out. Punt fair caught by Lockett at the Seattle 33 (a minor victory). They reached their own 44 before punting. Fair catch by Nelson at the Cardinal 10. The Cards reached their own 25 as the quarter ended.
Third Quarter Score: Seattle 36 - Cardinals 6.
Stanton led the Cards all the way to their own 12. Punt went (mercifully) out of bounds at the Seattle 34. Three and out. Punt returned by Nelson to the Cardinal 10 again. Stanton managed to reach the Seattle 12 in 10 plays, but on the 13th, threw an interception to Shead who returned it 40 yards to the Seattle 40 with 5:13 left to play.
Seattle ran out the clock.
Final Score: Seattle 36 - Cardinals 6
Passing: Palmer was 12 for 25 (129 yards, 1 TD and 1 pick). Stanton was 8 for 18 with no TD's and 2 picks. (Wilson was 19 for 28, 197 yards, 3 TD's and no picks), 1 TD's.
Takeaways: Cards minus-3. Palmer was picked off once; Stanton twice. (Wilson none). Neither team fumbled.
Rushing: Johnson gained 25 yards on 11 carries. (MIchael gained 102 on 17 carries).
Receiving: Fitz caught 6 for 55-yards and a TD. Smokey picked up 45 yards on 4 catches.
Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 13/Pass: 43). Seattle Run/Pass Ratio: 37/32).
Bucannon led the Cards with 8 tackles. Gunter, T-Jeff and Bethel were next with 7 each.
Sacks - Cards had 1 (Freeney's huge one late in the game). Seattle sacked Card QB's twice.
Situational Efficiency: Cards converted 5 of 12 third downs (41%).Seattle was 8 of 15 (53%). Cards never made it to the Red Zone. eattle was 3 of 6 for 50%
Penalties: Each team was penalized 6 times.
Time of Possession: Cards 23:23 - Seattle 36:37
The Dark Side
Three picks. Palmer seemed to be throwing a lot off his front foot on the move while moving forwards. Neither Stanton or Palmer exceeded 50% completion rate.
All Butler had to do was consistently punt out of bounds (or at least away from Lockett). But no-o-o! Seattle punters had 139 yards in punt returns (For what it's worthy, Cards had minus-2).
How about Net Rushing Yardage of 27 (vs. 145 for the Seahawks). Cards had only 13 rushing plays, and all of them seemed to feature the RB running right up the backs of Veldheer and Iupati for no gain or negative yardage. (Not that the design of these running plays looked especially creative).
The Cardinal offensive line looked as though they were not happy to be playing.
Bethel is getting closer to where he has to be, but still was getting schooled by Seattle receivers early and often.
The cliche is that "maybe yesterday's drubbing by Seattle will serve as a 'wake-up call'." Reply: "At this level of play, you shouldn't need a wake up call."
The effort wasn't there. Solution: PIck up the effort. The danger, of course, is that Cardinal players will convince themselves they're not good enough to compete. They are - if the desire, focus and poise are there. But we can't automatically assume that this will happen. As fans, we can lobby for it and we can hope that BA and his staff will turn on a few light bulbs, but we'll just have to see.
Note - The good news is that some of our biggest problems came from a small number of esoteric but fixable areas of play - like punt return coverage, interceptions, kicking and rebounding from turnovers. Cards have an extra week to lick their wounds (& hopefully correct their mistakes). We'll see.