"This is the mecca of NFL road games, Cardinals; it's the toughest game you'll play all season. The Seahawks will not roll over because they're in the dance already. They'll punch you, bite you and kick you until everything hurts. Then they'll drop the hammer that is Marshawn Lynch on your head."
That was the closing paragraph in my "3 keys" column on Friday. My God, were they ever true?
The Arizona Cardinals played in their toughest game of the season when they traveled to face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. It was a tribute to old football, when teams ran to set up the pass and yards were hard to come by.
The ugly offensive performance means this is a tough choice this week. So many times, the offensive performances stand out and win because offense is "sexy." Well, defense was the name of the game this week. Offensive performances were more clutch than impressive.
Here are the candidates for player of the game.
Stats: 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 3 QB hits
Inside linebacker Daryl Washington was all over CenturyLink Field on Sunday. He led the team with his seven tackles, and he was in on many of the stops of running back Marshawn Lynch -- including near the goal line to keep Seattle out of the end zone just before kicker Steven Hauschka missed a short field goal.
The Cardinals have the No. 1 run defense in the NFL this season, and a large part of that is what Washington does, roaming from sideline to sideline and shooting the gaps to stop running backs. He played like a champion on Sunday.
Stats: 15 carries, 64 yards, 4.3 YPC; 2 receptions, 8 yards
Rookie running back Andre Ellington did not blow away the Seahawks with his speed or athleticism. But he did help wear that defense down with some tough running.
Seven of Ellington's 15 carries went for four yards or greater, including a 26-yard jaunt in the first quarter and a big 10-yard scamper that gained a first down just three plays before Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd for the game-winning touchdown.
He was pivotal once again -- without him in the backfield on Sunday, the Cardinals may not win. They improved to 8-1 this season when he has 10-plus touches.
Stats: 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits
Defensive end Calais Campbell wreaked havoc in the Seattle backfield most of the afternoon, having a direct impact on many plays and an indirect impact on several others. His two sacks bring him to eight on the season, which ties a career high set in 2011.
He has 35.5 sacks in his career, which is good for 10th in franchise history and just a half sack from tying David Galloway for ninth all-time.
Stats: 1 reception, 31 yards, 1 TD
For having so few receptions in the game, Floyd sure had a big impact. His lone reception was the aforementioned game-winner, a spectacular bobbling catch you'll see all week on highlight shows -- you'll also see it as part of the Week 16 plays of the game piece right here at RoTB.
Floyd tied Larry Fitzgerald with five targets, but he had to deal with Seattle's secondary all afternoon. Cornerback Byron Maxwell even had solid coverage on the touchdown; it was just a great throw and an even better catch.
Stats: 2 special teams tackles, 1 fumble recovery
We don't give enough love to the special teams players. But gunner Justin Bethel is closing in on one of the best seasons from a special-teamer in franchise history.
His fumble recovery after a Jay Feely field goal could have been -- should have been -- crippling to the Seahawks, but Palmer threw one of his four interceptions just moments afterward to thwart the scoring chance.