Coming into the game, the Cardinals were playing for their lives. Cam Newton had just led the Panthers to a come-from-behind, last second victory against the Saints, which meant that if the Cardinals lost against Seattle, they'd be out for good from the 2013 Playoff picture. Things were looking bleak, as Russel Wilson's Seahawks were riding a 14 game win streak at home, aided by their "12th man". Admittedly, even I had low expectations for this game. But then the Arizona Cardinals defense happened.
Today was perhaps one of the finest games ever played by an Arizona defense. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was spot on all day, keeping the pressure on Wilson while stuffing RB Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks run game. It was a low-scoring battle from the start. On the 1st drive of the game, Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense drove down the field; however, any chance of scoring was foiled by TE Rob Housler in the endzone, which led to a Seahawks interception (This would be the first of four Palmer inteceptions). For the rest of the half, the only scoring would be done by the kickers, with the Seahawks Steven Hauschka converting a 27-yarder, and Jay Feely completing a 39 yard attempt for the Cardinals.
However, even more importantly, at the end of the 2nd half, after another Palmer turnover, the Seahawks drove down the field and looked set to score a TD right before halftime. But once again, the Cardinals defense stepped up, as Lynch was absolutely stuffed, and DE Frostee Rucker kept the pressure up on Wilson to prevent any TD passes from the star QB. The Seahawks would end up attempting a FG, but luck would be on Arizona's side, as the ball hit the goal-post to keep the game tied at 3-3 after two quarters.
The second half was more of the same, as Wilson and Palmer struggled, with their defenses playing incredible games. After two more Jay Feely FG's (From 46 and 26 yards, respectively), the Cardinals found themselves up 9-3. Unfortunately, with 7:26 left to go in the game, Wilson would finally decide to utilize the defense's weakness, as he would find his TE Zach Miller for an 11 yard TD to put the Seahawks up 10-9.
But finally, Palmer would have an answer. Nearing the 2 minute mark, the QB who had struggled all day would connect with WR Michael Floyd on a floater in the end-zone on 3rd and 6 to put the Cardinals up 15-10. After RB Rashard Mendenhall converted the 2 point conversion, the score sat at 17-10 (Which would prove to be enough for the win). Palmer would end the day 13-25 for 178 yards, 1 TD, and 4 interceptions.
On a last drive effort by the Seahaws, with only a couple minutes left in the game, Russel Wilson would attempt a pass to WR Doug Baldwin. However, right after hitting the forearm of Baldwin, it was picked up by LB Karlos Dansby to seal the game. Wilson ended the day 11-27 for 108 yards, 1 TD, and 1 interception (One of his worst performances of the year, which just stands to show how well the defense played today).
Many things went in favor of the Cardinals in this game. After a few weeks of what seemed like official ineptitude, the Cardinals finally seemed to get the calls they needed. Multiple penalties kept drives alive, and two major calls went in favor of the team. One was a potential fumble by Mendenhall; After reviewing the play, the referees found that there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call. The other was the final interception by Dansby. There was a dispute about whether it had hit the ground or not, but once again, inconclusive evidence played in favor of the Cardinals.
I'm sure Playoff scenarios are all we'll be talking about in the coming week, but as of now, the Cardinals are still alive in the post-season race, and I'm happy with that. Like I stated earlier, I did not expect the team to pull this victory off, and they shocked me, as well as the rest of the league. Seattle is an incredibly hard place to play in, and the Seahawks are arguably the best team in the league. But the Cardinals defense played out of their minds today, and Palmer and the offense did just enough to pull out the victory.
Celebrate tonight, Cardinals fan, for we live to see another day!