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The Setup
This past week, the Cards lost another close one (this time a 48 - 41 barn-burner to NO. Seahawks took care of the Rams 24- 3. Seattle's the NFC West champ. Cards have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. Game is scheduled for 4:30 pm (ET) Christmas Eve in the hostile confines of Seattle. Talk in the Valley goes back and forth between (1) Off-Season Moves and (2) "Playing for Pride." Cards are banged up. "Hawks are getting some of their walking wounded back.

The Lede
Kat Kick Klips 'Hawks

The Bottom Line:
Nearly to a man, Cardinal players and coaches viewed this game as "a fist in the mouth slugfest." (As Fitz put it: Who's going to be the hammer and who's going to be the nai?l"). And that's how the Card defense started out - with with RB Thomas Rawls (before he got injured) running into a solid brick wall and Russell Wilson running for his life.

Pete Carroll and his staff apparently "made some adjustments" at halftime, and Seattle got right back in it, tying the score late in the game (they should have taken the lead - a botched XP cost them a go-ahead point). By an ironic twist of fate, it was Chandler Catanzaro (not known for his kicking accuracy or reliability) who booted home the winning FG with 0:00 on the clock to break the tie and win it for the Cardinals.

It was a hard-fought contest, with the "team playing for pride" triumphing over the playoff contender seeking to improve home field advantage. The Cards entered the game with a make-shift O-line and shredded secondary comprised mainly of backups, but the guys hung in there and managed to post a "W."

The season was a huge disappointment, but the way the Cardinals took care of business - beating Seattle one more time "In their house" - brought a smile to my face. If there ever was a case for "keeping the band together" next year, it was the way the guys played this game.

Game Recap
Cardinal defense looked "All World" in the first half, holding the Seahawks at bay, while allowing the Carson Palmer/David Johnson offense to build up a 14 - 7 halftime lead. But Seattle came roaring back in the second half, to eventually tie the score 31 - 31 with less than 2:00 left in the game.

1st Quarter
  • Cards received (have they ever kicked off to start a game this year?). KO was returned to to the Card 17. After D Johnson ran for +13 yds, the Cards went 3 and out. Punt was returned by Lockett to the Cards 37 yard line. Four plays later, Wilson fumbled an aborted snap and Calais Campbell recovered. Cards ball on the Seattle 23. An 11-yd pass to Nelson helped set up a 2-yd run up the middle by D Johnson. . Cards 7 - Seattle 0.

  • KO. was returned to the Seattle 23. On the first play from scrimmage, Golden nailed Wilson for a 9-yd loss, and to setup a 3 & out. Punt fair caught and (net penalty) gave Cards the ball on their own 16. A holding call (Gresham) boxed them in at the Card 10. Lockett returned the punt to the Seattle 34. Seahawks moved to the Cardinal 27 in 9 plays where Golden's minus-9 yd sack stalled the drive and Haushka attempted a 45-yd FG. Kick was blocked by Gunter. Cards ball on their on 35. A couple of plays later the quarter ended with the Cards 3rd & 8 at the Seattle 37.
  • 1st Quarter Score: Cards 7 - Seattle 0.

2nd Quarter
  • Cards punted from their on 34. Fair catch at the Seattle 24. Another sack (this time shared by C Jones and Campbell forced Seattle to go 3 & out. Punt fair caught by Peterson at the Cardinal 36. Cards moved into field goal range mainly due to a 34-yd pass to Gresham, but an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on Gresham 3 plays later moved the Cards back to Seattle 46.

    Punt was fair caught by Lockett. at the Seattle 17. Wilson nickeled and dimed his way to the Seahawk 46 where Ryan's punt was fair caught by PP21 at the Cardinal 9. Three plays later, Palmer hit JJ Nelson deep for an 80-yard TD. Cards 14 - Seattle 0.

    TB on the KO. A 15-yd scramble by Wilson and a 31-yd pass to Baldwin was followed by a 29-yd TD pass to Lockett that was ruled 1-yd short of the goal line. (Lockett injured/out for remainder of game and probably season).

    Back-to- Back Goal Line Stand: Card defense refused to let Seattle score. They stopped them at the Cardinal one for three straight plays. The 4th down play was a minus-7 yd sack by Gunter. Cards took over on their 8, but gave the ball right back to Seattle on a fumble by D Johnson - an early Christmas gift. Seattle ball on the Cardinal 9 with 0:32 left in the half, but the Card defense continued to play "lights out" and Seattle had to settle for a 27-yd FG. Cards 14 - Seattle 3.

    0:15 left in the half. Quarter ended without further incidence.

    First Half Score: Cards 14 - Seattle 3.

3rd Quarter
  • Richardson returned the 2H KO to the Seattle 34. Wilson then engineered a 13-play (6:40) TD drive capped by a 2-yd TD pass to Kearse. Cards 14 - Seattle 10.

    FTB on the KO. An interception by Lane was nullfied by a defensive PI call. A 22-yard pass to Golden helped move the Cards to the Seattle 35 where Catanzaro's 53-yd FG attempt was short.

    Seattle took over on their own 43, but couldn't move his team past the Cardinal 45. Punt was returned for no gain at the Card 39.

    A 12-yd pass to J Brown and 12-yard end run by D Johnson moved the Cards to the Seattle 17 as the quarter ended.

    Third Quarter Score: Cards 14 - Seattle 10.

4th Quarter
  • A 16-yd completion to Fitz set up a 1-yd TD run by D Johnson. Cards 21 - Seattle 10.

    Cards seem to be in control (Yeah, right!). TB on the KO. Wilson responded with a 9-play (4:43) TD drive ending in a 42-yard Wilson to Baldwin TD pass. Cards 21 - Seattle 10.

    8:57 left. TB on the KO. A 36-yd pass to Cooks helped set up a 4-yd. TD pass to M Thomas. 2-pt conversion was good. Cards 21 - Seattle 18.

    TB on the KO. 8:49 left. Boom! D Johnson ran for 33-yds off right tackle. Palmerhit JJ Nelson who made an acrobatic catch along the left sideline for 41-yards. Two plays later, D JOhnson ran it in from one-yard out. XP was good. Cards 28 - Seattle 18.

    6:47 left. KO returned to the Seattle 21. Cards held 'Hawks to 3 & out and Seattle couldn't convert a 3rd & 1 at their own 30. Cards took over and 4 plays later settled for a 42-yard Catanzaro FG. .Cards 31 - Seattle 18.

    4:10 still left.TB on the KO. Seattle made it to the Card 37 in 5 plays. One the 6th play of the drive, Wilson made it look easy, hitting Graham down the seam for a 37-yd TD. Cards 31 - Seattle 25.

    2:48 left. KP returned to the Cardinal 14. Suddenly, the offense seemed stuck in a bucket of glue. They went 3 & out (using up practically zero clock) and punted. Punt was downed (net holding call on K Williams) at the Cardinal 45 with 2:22 left. A 31-yard pass to Baldwin moved the ball to the Cardinal 15 and helped set up a 5-yard TD pass to Richardson. But the go-ahead XP was wide left. Cards 31 - Seattle 31.

    1:00 left. Completions for +13 yds and 29 yds to D Johnson, put the ball on the Seattle 33 with 0:35 left. A gritty 8-yd completion to Fitz moved the Cards to the Seahawk 25-yard line where, on 4th down (& no chance for Palmer to spike), Catanzaro ran onto the field (with 0:03 left) to kick a 43-yard game-winner. Cards 34 - Seattle 31.

    Final Score: Cards 34 - Seattle 31.

Notable Game Stats.

  • Palmer threw just 26 times completing 16 for 284 yards, 1 TD's and 0 interceptions. (Wilson was 29 for 45 for 350 yards, 4 TD's and no picks).

  • D Johnson picked up 95 yards on 28 carries. The Seattle QB (Wilson) led the Seahawks in running yardage with 36 yards on 10 carries.
  • Fitz and D Johnson had 3 catches apiece. Nelson led in total receiving yardage with 132-yds on 3 catches. (Baldwin led Seattle with 13 grabs).

    NO won the turnover war (2 fumbles/0 picks vs. Cards' 2 fumbles/0 picks)

  • Run/Pass Ratio: . (Cards: Runs: 29 /Pass: 26. Seattle: Runs: 27/Pass 45).

  • Catanzaro missed one FG in 3 and was 4 of 4 in XP's.

    Wile outpunted the Seattle punter 43.0 to 36.0 in net yardage.

  • Sio Moore led Card tacklers with 14 followed by Brandon Williams with 11.

    Palmer was sacked once. Cards defense was credited with 6 sacks - Golden was credited with 2. C Jones with 1.5. Okafor and Gunter with 1 apiece, Campbell with half a sack.

    Cards were 1 for 9 (11%) in Third Down Efficiency. Seattle was 8 for 17 (47%).

    Red Zone Efficiency: Cards 3 for 3 (100%). "Hawks 2 for 5 (40%)

    Penalties: Cards were penalized 7 times (compared to Seattle's 5)

    Time of Possession: Cards 26:18 - Sea: 33:42

  • Card defense gave up an average of 4.1 per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 7.7)

Bright Spots

  • The Cardinal first half defense was breathtaking - as good as it gets.

    David Johnson is as steady as he is talented - as a runner and as a pass catcher.

  • We beat Seattle in front of their loud fans, having little to play for other than pride.

    The two back-to-back goal line stands late in the 2Q were the kinds of things you'll talk about over a couple of drinks 30 years from now.

    The rookies - They had to play. While they weren't perfect, the OL only allowed Palmer to get sacked once. The secondary backups - after we lost Jefferson on the opening KO - while not perfect, remained aggressive and engaged. Props to B Williams, Bethel and Miller for stepping up big time.

    Sio Moore should mollify fan outcry that we "have to" use our first round pick to draft an ILB.

    Carson Palmer looks far from being "over."

    "The Good Gresham" made a positive difference out there.

    Props to the Cat and also his holder (Wile).

    Gunter - especially the way he gobbled up Wilson on that blitz

The Dark Side

  • We were far from owning the beginning of the 3rd quarter.

    We only converted one of eleven 3rd downs.

  • "The Bad Gresham" needs to clean up his act - we need him to deliver 100% of the time/not just part of the time.

Last Word:
We beat Seattle in Seattle. While the season has been a disappointment, seeing us play as hard as we did (and well enough to win) brought a happy holiday smile to my face. Happy Holiday!

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012