Setting the Stage:
Road game for Cards & final contest of regular season. A Seattle win and an Atlanta loss ould put Seahawks in the Playoffs. A Card are out of it, but a win would make them a .500 football team. There's nothing BA (& hopefully every Cardinal player) would like more than to knock Seattle out of contention. Both teams are banged around a lot. Offensively, Seattle has become somewhat one-dimensional. riding the shouiders of mobile QB Russell Wilson. Drew Stanton figures to start again for Cards. Last week, Seattle outdueled Dallas 21 - 12; Cards shut out the Giants 23 - 0.
Opponent's Last Game
Seahawks kept Cowboys off the board in the first and final quarters; scoring one TD in each of the final three quarters to eke out the win. Seahawk victory knocked Dallas out of the playoffs and kept Seattle's playoff hopes alive. Game seemed to consist of Dallas running the ball up and down the field but then settling for four FG's and handing the ball over to Seattle at inopportune times. Meanwhile, Seattle simply waited in the weeds and scored 3 TD's capitalizing on Dallas mistakes.
Dallas received. TB on KO. Three & out Punt returned to Seahawk 31.Seattle moved into Cowboy territory in 5 plays before Charlton sacked Russell Wilson. Seattle had to punt. Punt downed at Dallas 7. Cowboys moved to midfield in 10 plays before Jones' punt was downed at the Seattle 1-yd line. Seattle held to 3 & out. Punt (net penalty) gave Dallas the ball at their own 42. They moved to the Seattle 18 in 9 plays at quarters' end.
First Quarter Score: Seattle 0 - Dallas 0.
On the 3rd play of the quarter, Bailey kicked a 34-yd FG to give Dallas its first lead. Dallas 3 - Seattle 0
TB on KO. Seattle couldn't get past ita own 31 (a sack for minus-7 by Mayowa didn't help). Punt returned to Dallas 37. They ran Elliott three straight times for +9. +4 and +6-yds. They managed to drive to the Seattle 33 in 5 plays before settling for a 51-yd Bailey FG. Dallas 6 - Seattle 0.
TB on KO. Seattle held to 3 & out. (Key Play: A minus-22-yd sack by Lawrence). Punt (net Dallas unsportsmanlike penalty) spotted at Dallas 35. On the next play, Bryant caught a pass and fumbled. Seattle ball on the Dallas 43.
Play Sequence: Pass to Davis (+12)...Rawls off LT (+6)...R Wilson around LE (+14)...DPI: (+10)...Ball on Dallas one....Aborted snap for no gain...Wilson to Graham for a 3-yd TD. Seattle 7 - Dallas 6.
1:38 till halftime. KO returned to Dallas 18. A 13-yd scramble by Prescott followed by a 17-yd pass up the middle to T Williams helped set up Bailey's third FG of the afternoon. Dallas 9 - Seattle 7.
0:03 left. TB on KO to end first half.
1st Half Score: Dallas 10- Seattle 7
Seattle received. (TB on KO). Seattle managed to get out to its own 34 before punting. Punt O-O-B at Dallas 26. On the second play of the Dallas possession, Prescott's short pass for Elliott was intercepted by J Coleman and returned for a 30-yd TD. Seattle 14 - Dallas 10.
KO returned to Dallas 35. Dallas managed to reach the Seahawk 21 before settling for another Bailey FG (a 39-yarder). Seattle 14 - Dallas 12..
TB on KO. A false-start flag contributed to a Seattle 3 & out. Punt returned to Dallas 31. Cowboys moved to the Seattle 25 in 6 plays before Prescott's pass for Bryant was intercepted by K Wright and returned to the Dallas 21. Seattle moved to the Dallas 37 in 7 plays before the 3rd quarter ended.
Third Quarter Score: Seattle 14- Dallas 12.
Seatttle continued the drive, moving to the Dallas one-yd line in 5 plays before Wilson jot Baldwin for a 6-yd TD to put Seattle ahead for good. Seattle 21 - Dallas 12..
TB on KO. Dallas moved to the Seattle 16 in 11 plays . Two plays after Prescott was sacked (by F Clark) for minus-11 yds, Bailey's 36-yard FG attempt was wide right.
Seattle ball with 5:39 left. Seattle chewed up time before punting from their own 29. Punt (less roughness flag on Seattle's J Lane) put ball on the Dallas 39 with 2:40 left. A minus-6 sack by Bennett slowed down the Dallas drive which ended at the Seattle 30 (1st & e5). Bailey's 48 yd FG attempt with 1: left was wide right. 1:00 left - Seattle took 2 knees. Game over.
Final Score: Skins 21 - Seattle 12
Key Game Stats
Team Stats to Date
Wilson was 14 of 21 for (you read it right) 93 yds, 2 TD's and 0 interceptions. (Prescott went 21 of 34 for 182 yards, 0 TD's and 2 interceptions)
Wilson was the top Seattle ground gainer with 29 yds on 9 carries. (Davis gained 25 yds on 15 carries. Rawls only gained 20 yds on 5 carrries). (Total Ground Yardage: Seattle - 76 yds on 30 carries. to 51 yds on 23 carries. Dallas - 128 yds on 30 carries.
Baldwin and Davis led Seattle receivers with 4 catches apiece. Baldwin and Graham posted 1 TD apiece.
Defensively, E Thomas led Seattle with 11 tackles followed by Wagner (8) and K Wright (6). Three other Seattle defenders had 5 tackles apiece.
Seattle had 4 sacks (Dallas had 3). Griffin, Bennett, Jordan and Clark each had a sack.
Seattle converted 4 of 11 (33%) 3rd downs (50%) Dallas was 6 of 13 (46%)
Seattle gained 2.5 yds per rushing play (Dallas runners racked up 4.3 ypc).
Seattle Net Punting average was 41.6
Seattle penalized 11 times (Dallas was penalized 7 times)
Seattle was 2 for 2 (100%) in the Red Zone (Dall was 0 for 2 0%)
Turnover Ratio: Plus-3. (Seattle - No fumbles lost/no passes intercepted. Dallas - one fumble lost/2 [passes intercepted).
Offensive Yards - Seattle 4990 / Opponents 4913
Passing Yards - Seattle 3462/ Opponents 3205
Rushing Yards - Seattle 1528 /Opponents 1708
3rd Down Conversions -Seattle 78/200 / Opponents 81/208
Yards Per Game Allowed - Seattle 4913 /Opponents 4990
Passing Yards Per Game Allowed - Seattle 3205 /Opponents 3462
Rush Yards Per Carry - Seattle 3.9 /Opponents 4.1
Key Player Stats
Passing: - Wilson: 321 of 524 for 3762 yds, 32 TD's... 11 Interceptions
Wilson - 550 on 90 carries, (6.1 ypc...3 TD).
Lacy - 179 on 69 carries (2.6 ypc...0 TD)
Davis - 192 on 58 carries (3.3 ypc...0 TD)
Rawls - 149 on 55 carries (2.7 ypc...0 TD)
Carson: 208 yds on 49 carries for (4.2 ypc....0 TDs)
Baldwin (901 yds on 71 catches 12.7 ypc 6TD's)
Graham (475 yds on 54 catches 8.8 ypc...10 TDs
Richardson: (703 yds on 44 catches 16.0 ypc...6 TDs
Lockett (530 yds on 42 catches 12.6 ypc...2 TD's)
Field Goals -Walsh - 20/27 (Missed 3 from 30 to 40 yds and 3 from 40 to 50 yds).
Ryan - 84 punts...45.2 ypp...27 Inside 20...5 TB. Seattle Opponents - 79 punts...43.8 avg...17 inside 20.
Lockett - 32 Ret...21 FC...6.2 YPR
Opponents - 43 Ret...17 FC...10.1 YPR
Kickoff Returns -
Lockett - 33 Ret 24.0 YPR...
Opponents - 36 Returns...22.2 YPR
Tackles - Wagner 130, Wright 100, E Thomas 82
Seattle 38 Opponents 40...
Clark (9.0). Bennett (8.5)...F Clark (4.5)...Jordan (3.0)
Interceptions - Seattle 13 / Opponents 12...Thomas (2), Sherman, Coleman, Wagner (2 apiece)
Joeckel, M Davis iffy
WR.....89 Baldwin...........16 Lockett.....83 Moore
LT......76 .D Brown..........73 Tobin
LG ..xx Roos...............78 Joeckel
OC .68 Britt.................53 Hunt
RT......65 Ifedi.................73 Tobin
TE......88 Graham...........82 Willson.....81 Vannett
WR ..10 P Richardson..19 McEvoy....84 Darboh
QB ....03 Wilson.............06 Davis
RB.....34 Rawls..............27 Lacy.........21 McKissic.....39 M Davis
LDE 97 Mauro..........72 Pierre...........94 X Williams
DT 98 Peters (A).....95 Gunter
DT 92 Rucker.........90 Nkemdiche
SLB 55 C Jones........54 Albright
ILB 20 Bucannon....58 S Wright
ILB 56 Dansby........57 Bynes.........49 E Robinson
WLB xx Reddick.......96 K Martin
LCB 21 Peterson.....26 B Williams...42 Goodwin
RCB 25 T Williams....28 Bethel.
SS 36 Baker...........34 H Miller
FS 32 Mathieu
Matchup: Seattle Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Seahawks aren't putting a whole lot of passing points or yards on the board of late but Wilson has remained quite efficient - posting 32 TD's but only giving away 11 TD's. Wilson in a Nutshell: He was 14 of 21 for a sparkling 92 yards last week vs. Dallas but also racked up 2 TD's and gave up zero interceptions.
His 2 most lethal go-to guys are a WR (Baldwin) and a TE (Graham) who is starting to post big numbers. (causing many Seattle fans to wonder out loud why it's taken so long for Seattle's play callers to make Graham a key cog in the Seattle offensive scheme). M Davis has also been incorporated more into the Seattle offense, but his status is iffy for Sunday. And, although, not a huge factor thus far in Seattle's passing scheme, Lockett remains an ever-present home run threat.
While arguably not as shredded as the Cardinal O-line, Seattle's OL is not what you'd call rock-solid, causing Wilson to bail out on passing plays so that he's become Seattle's top ground gainer.
Of late, the Cardinal pass defense has become more and more solid, with C Jones and K-Mart coming off each edge and other members of the Front 8 looping, twisting or dropping off into coverage on virtually every down. Back in the secondary, T Williams has become a rock-steady companion to PP21. Bucannon has come back from injury to become a dominant force in his hybrid LB/S role. Leading member of the secondary has been Bethea (2 picks last week) but he's injured and won't play this Sunday. But T Mathieu is nearly all the way back at S/Slot Corner and #1 pick Budda Baker is making big plays more and more often.
How to Stop Seattle's Passing Attack: Top priority - Contain Russell WIlson (Keep him from scrambling and you've taken away 50% of the Seattle offense. We'd put a spy on him (rotating Bucannon and Mathieu). Next - Keep Graham under wraps - again the safeties - Bucannon, Mathieu and Baker. Then put Patrick Peterson on Baldwin and have C Jones and K Martin apply the heat early and otren
Key Matchups: Willson vs. T Mathieu/Bucannon... Seattle OL vs. C Jones, K Martin and Nkemdiche...Baldwin vs. Peterson....Graham vs. Bucannon or Dansby...
Matchup: Seattle Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
In past years - regardless of whether it was via M Lynch, Rawls or whomever - Seattle used to pound us. But, lately, they've seemed to have gotten away from the inside run, but that doesn't mean they won't return to it if given the opportunity. Fortunately, Arizona has been in the Top 5 in run defense and should be able to contain Rawls and McKinnon.
This year, Wilson leads all Seattle runners wirth 550 yards on 90 carries (next Seattle rusher is Carson with 208 yds, but he may not be ready to return to the lineup).
Keys to Stopping Seattle running attack - Spy on R Wilson. Be quickest off the ball. Sound tackling. Gap discipline.
Key Matchup: R Wilson vs. Mathieu/Bucannon...Cardinal DL vs. Seattle OL...RB by Committee vs. Cardinal LB's
WR1 11 Fitzgerald......14 Nelson.....16 C Williams
LT 69 Holden...........64 Barnes
LG 75 Boone..
C 53 Shipley...........70 Boehm.....79 Tuerk
RT........73 Wetzel ..........78 Painter
TE .87 Niklas............86 Seals-Jones
WR2 .13 Ja Brown......12 Jo Brown.
QB 05 Stanton........07 Gabbert...09 Barkley
RB 33 K Williams....35 Penny.....37 Foster.......48 B Hill
TE 84 Gresham .....85 G Holmes
LDE.....72 Bennett............67 Jackson...99 Jefferson....95 Jordan
LDT.....90 Reed................98 G Smith
RDT.....91 Richardson......92 N Jones
RDE....55 Clark................97 M Smith
OLB....57 Wilhoite...........52 Garvin......58 Alexander
OLB...50.KJ Wright........47 P Dawson
LCB...41 Maxwell...........20 J Lane......23 Thorpe
RCB...26 Griffin..............28 Coleman..35 Shead.........40 Tyson
SS.....30 McDougald......42 Hill...........33 Thompson
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Seattle Pass Defense
In a nutshell, it's the #2 Cardinal QB, backup RB, 50-50 pass-catchers/TE's and Larry Fitzgerald - operating behind a replacement OL (with linemen still introducing one another) vs. a stingy though banged up Seattle pass defense (with no Sherman at one corner).
Not that Seattle isn't stingy on "D." Safety Earl Thomas is All Everything. Maxwell and Griffin are solid at corner. Bennett is their top pass rusher. The "W" Squad (Wilhoite, Wagner and KJ Wright) are all back. Ex-Jet Richardson has shored up the middle.
Challenges for the Cardinals - If recent games are any indicator, Seattle tends to play things close to the vest, make as few mistakes as possible and then capitalize on their opponents' mistakes. (Take away the turnovers last week and Dallas is in the playoffs. Sounds simpler than it is, but key to success Sunday figures to be keeping picks, sacks, fumbles and penalties to a bare minimum. (Which means not trying to force the ball to Larry in double coverage).
Bennett and Clark are Seattle's top pass rushers. That they'll apply constant pressure is a given. How well, Stanton and his blockers manage the Seattle pass rus threat (i.e. get the ball off quickly, avoid bad decisions, keep Drew upright) could determine the outcome of the football game.
One other wild-card factor - Dropped passes. If the majority of balls thrown to Nelson and the two Browns get scooped in (& don't bounce-off) this could be the pivotal factor in this game. One positive factor - this could be a very emotional game for Fitz, and we could expect an insane effort from #11. Containing Fitz will probably mean double-coverage - which, in turn should open things up for other Cardinal receivers.
Key Matchups: Fitz vs. E Thomas. K Williams vs. McDougald. Bennett, Richardson, K Wright and Wagner vs. Cardinal OL.
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Seattle Run Defense
Cards have lost D Johjnson C Johnson & A Peterson and let go of Ellington and are down to K Williams, with Penny and Foster as backup. Bad enough that ground yards are hard to come by - the lack of a major running threat puts more pressure on Stanton (both via the pass rush and keeping Fitz double-covered). Despite the lack of pop in the run game, BA has not shyed away from handing the rock to KW if for no other reason than to keep the Seattle defense honest. This strategy has directly paid off in the form of at least one double-digit running per game.
Key Matchups: Wagner vs. K Williams....Cardinal OL vs.Richardson, Bennett, Clark
K 07 Walsh
P 09 Ryan
H 09 Ryan
LS .69 Ott
KR 16 Lockett
PR 16 Lockett
K 04 Dawson
P 02 Lee
H 02 Lee
LS 46 Brewer
KR 33 Foster
PR 33 P Peterson
Matchup: Seattle Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Seattle- Walsh is 20 for 27 in FG attempts (not good). Ryan's punting average is a couple of yards better than Seattle opponents. Lockett is always a threat to go all the way.
Cardinals - While Dawson seems good for at least one missed FG or XP, he's been "Mr Reliable on most of his FG attempts. With Golden out, it looks like Foster returning kicks (not much of a threat) and PP 21 returning punts (threat).
Key matchups: None of note.
Seattle - HC Pete Carroll...OC Darrell Bevell.... DC Kris Richard... ST Brian Schneiderr. Carroll has his own "New Age" approach to handlng his players (& it seems to work). But this hasn't been one of Carroll's easiest seasons - injuries and FA departures have punched holes in the Seattle roster on both sides of the ball. But the Seahawks have still found a way to claw their way into playoff contention. (To be successful will involve a Seattle win and an Atlanta loss). From what we can determine, Seattle's success seems to be due to a combination of factors: (1) They had enough talented roster depth to manage an unusually high number of injuries to keyt players. (2) Regardless of the challenges - they'd find a way to win. If that meant making Russell Wilson their top ground gainer, so be it. (Wilson threw for a whopping 93 yards vs. the Cowboys and Seattle still managed to win).
Cards - Cards have been flirting with .500 throughout the year. Major motivating factors - Play for your jobs. Play for fun and pride. Keep Seattle out of the playoffs. (Not quite as sexy as "play to make the playoffs" but definitely motivators). If this turns out to be BA's last season, it could also be Bruce's last game and, if so, a very emotional occasion for the entire Cardinal family.
How to Beat Seattle
Make fewer mistakes than they do. Win the intensity battle.
We love football. We love the Cardinals. We hope BA will be back to kick everyone's ass for at least one more year