The Arizona Cardinals (7-2) exorcised some demons and at the same time let it be know that the road to the NFC West crown goes thru Arizona with their convincing 39 to 32 win over the Seattle Seahawks (4-5)Sunday night at Century Link Field.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns against the vaunted Seattle defense. What was most impressive in the win was the Cardinals resiliency and unwilling to change their game plan. Arizona came into Century Link field as one of the top passing teams in the NFL and left some wondering if they were not the top passing team in the league.
Arizona jumped out to a 19-7 halftime lead after a dominating first half in which it amassed 269 offensive yards to Seattles 89. Before it’s late first half touchdown with 1:55 to go before the break the Seattle offense was non existence. Seattle was flagged for four penalties in the first quarter for 35 yards. Seattle’s offensive yards in the first quarter was 33 yards.
Despite the dreadful first half, Seattle clawed it’s way back into the game with a 23-3 run to start the second half. The unexpected points explosion started with a 31 yard field goal by Steven Hauschka, was then followed by a 32 yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin. Marshawn Lynch continued the spree with a three yard touchdown run and Bobby Wagners 22 yard fumble recovery to the house gave the Seahawks a 29 to 25 lead with 13th minutes left in the game. The Seahawks margin would have been greater where it not for failed two point conversions after the Baldwin and Wagner touchdowns.
With an opportunity to erase last seasons midseason collapse, Carson Palmer showed that he would be this seasons game changer by engineering a 10 play 83 yard drive that was capped by a 14 yard TD to Jermaine Gresham to give the Cardinals a 32 to 29 lead they would not relinquish.
Despite seeing their beloved defense give up another fourth quarter lead, the 69,005 Seahawks fans in attendance where beyond optimistic if not down right giddy when the Seattle offense hit the field with 8:41left in the game. Hope turned to despair when Seattle was penalized a 14th time in the game for intentional grounding. The Seattle drive stalled due to the penalty and the Seahawks punted.
Given a chance to take control of the game and the NFC West, Palmer seized the moment once and for all and led Arizona to a 8 play 80yard drive that ended with a 48 touch down run by Andre Ellington. For Palmer the game clinching drive showed the Cardinals determination and resiliency.
“We’re a resilient group,” Palmer said. “It trickles down from the head coach. I think good teams and really good teams – hopefully great teams – take on their coach’s mentality. I think that’s what B.A. brings and we’ve figured out how to let that trickle down to our minds by the way we work, by the way we prepare to play and ultimately, the way we play.”
After the Arizona score, Steven Hauschka made good on a 46 yard field goal and the attempted onside kick by Seattle was recovered by Larry Fitzgerald. After three Carson Palmer knee downs Arizona walked away with a convincing 39 to 32 win over the two time defending NFC Conference Champions
With the win Arizona now has a three game lead in the NFC Division with seven games left in the season. Arizona left tackle Mike Lupati suffered a scary neck injury during the game and was transported to a local hospital for test. Lupati was released and joined his teammates in the locker room after the game. Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette joined his teammate for pregame activities. Lockette had surgery to repair ligaments in his neck after taking a hit in the Dallas game on Nov. 1.