Week 12 holds the beginning of a very tough schedule for the NFC West. With only a half dozen games to go in the season, every game and every conference game has even more meaning.
Going into Seattle the Cardinals need to win in order to maintain their strangle hold on the conference and all but assure a playoff bid. The Seahawks on the other hand are sitting at 6-4 and desperately need a win in order to maintain their relevancy in the playoff push.
Going into Seattle is always a challenge as they hold one of the best home field advantages in the NFL. Likely for Cardinals fans is another Cardiac Cards game.
Is "eww" an appropriate way to start an article? I hope so because it bests describe the start the Cardinals had with Andre Ellington getting tackled for a four yard loss and Drew Stanton missing an open WR, leading the Cardinals to a three and out.
The offense struggled all quarter with the run game getting stifled and the pass offense stagnant with Stanton missing passes and just completely starring down WRs. Even with some help of a pass interference call the Cardinals were unable to capitalize with Chandler Catanzaro missing his second field goal of the season.
Thankfully for the offense the defense showed up. The Seahawks broke a few long plays including a long run by Marshawn Lynch, and a few big catches by Ricardo Lockette. One big catch by Lockette was on a miscommunication between Patrick Peterson and Rashad Johnson.
The defense held giving up just a field goal ending the quarter 0 – 3 Seattle.
The Cardinals defense held despite the Hawks starting four of their next five drives on the Cardinals side of the field. The Cardinals were able to sack Wilson four times in the quarter and five times in the half, saving the Cardinals from letting the game get away from them.
Tommy Kelly even came up big blocking a Steven Hauschka field goal that would have put the game at 0 – 12 Seattle. The block gave the Cardinals just enough time left in the quarter for the offense to have a chance to score.
Overall the offense continued to struggle the majority of the quarter with Stanton missing throws and even starring down a WR for an easy Seattle INT.
The quarter went quickly with both teams sticking to the run despite both teams struggle in that category. On the Cardinals third possession of the quarter, after the Kelly blocked FG the Cardinals actually showed some signs of life with a nice drive to the Seahawks 20 yard line.
On the drive the Cardinals used a timely penalty, a nice catch by Jaron Brown and a first down run by Stanton on a critical third down.
With 1:34 left in the half and the ball on Seattle’s 20 yard line the Cardinals stepped on their own foot with a false start, putting the ball back to the 28 with a second and long but Stanton, seeming to find a grove made another big play to get the Cardinals back into action on a 20 yard pass to John Carlson, moving the ball inside the Seattle’s ten yard line.
Stanton began to fizzle again, with a short one yard completion to John Brown and another short gain to John Carlson. With it third and five and 19 second left, Bruce Arians called a TE to scheme up one last shot at a TD.
But it didn’t happen as Jaron Brown dropped an easy TD forcing a FG try with just a few seconds left. Catman nailed it, ending the half 3 – 9 Seahawks.
Overall it was an ugly first half for the Cardinals offense but a beautiful showing by the defense. 19 of 23 of the Seahawks snaps started in Cardinals territory and were only able to get 9 points. Calais Campbell was dominate and newly added Josh Mauro made several big plays, looking like the next Ed Stinson, Tommy Kelly and, well, like most of the Cardinals defensive roster. Dudes just be stepping up.
Half Time Stats
On the half the Cardinals had 117 total yards to the Seahawks 115, 40 of those on a Russell Wilson run that was almost a TD if not for a holding call on a Seattle WR.
Both teams averaged a pathetic yards per pass at 3.9 for the Cardinals and 4.2 for the Hawks. Only the long run from Wilson saved the Hawks running yards per attempt from also being abysmal.
There were seven sacks in the first half with the Cardinals amassing five of those, with Campbell on a tear with three him self. Also Deone Bucannon is really starting to look like a future safety stud.
Starting the second half the Hawks received the ball. The Cardinals known for their half time adjustments came out and knocked the Hawks into a three and out. On third down Alex Oakafor came in hot and was rewarded with his sixth sack of the season (and the sixth of the day) to force the punt. On 28 total plays (including the kneel down) the Cardinals have sacked Wilson on almost 25% of the Hawks plays.
The Cardinals started with the ball in good field position but went three and out, still looking stuck in the mud. Sadly the pain didn’t end there with the Hawks blocking the ensuing punt, Butler’s third blocked punt on the year. Rashad Johnson was the culprit on the play getting blown up and allowing the Seattle defender through.
With the ball on the Cardinal’s own 24 yard line for the n-teenth time in the game, the outcome of the game again was lain on the shoulders of the defense.
The defense responded by continuing their assault on the Hawks offense. Tyrann Mathieu showed up big on the series with a tackle for loss on a Wilson keeper, forcing a third and long. The defense held again on long forcing ANOTHER field goal. 3 – 12 Seahawks lead.
On the ensuing drive for the Cardinals it was more of the same. Some unproductive runs and a third and out. The only pro was that at least the Hawks didn’t have the ball in Cardinal territory after the 4th down punt.
In a game of field goals it’s imperative that the field position battle be won and with the Hawks on their own 25 it was a big moment for the Cardinals defense to make a play.
That said the Cards were unable to do so.
Russel Wilson did what he does and avoided a few big sacks to hit a few big plays moving the chains for first downs including a big pass to Lynch on a dump out to move the ball into the Cardinals territory. The Wilson Experience ended with him again avoiding another sack, hitting his TE for a TD on a little TE screen.
3 – 19 Seahawks.
Not looking good for the Cardinals with their offense playing as it has been.
Stanton started hot hitting Michael Floyd for a first down that was negated by a Bobbie Massie hold, but the hold didn’t hurt the Cardinals as Stanton hit John Brown on an absolutely beautiful catch by John Brown. It was another gem that shows that this kid is going to special.
Seattle challenged the play but lost the challenge and the timeout.
The next play and last of the third quarter was a first down completion to Andre Ellington.
The Cardinals have been amazing in the fourth but today, down 16 with the offense looking terrible all game, it was hard to feel confident in the Cardinals chances.
The Cardinals started the fourth with a big catch by Jaron Brown only to be brought back on a holding call on Rob Housler. It was just one of those days. The Cardinals were forced to punt.
It didn’t look good there with Seattle beginning to take over on a tired looking defense. All day they fought and were rewarded just 3 points, something very reminiscent of years past.
Finally, on a failed flea flicker from the Hawks the Cardinals were able to get the ball back but were pinned back deep on the punt. For the Cardinals it was now or never.
John Brown was able to give the Cardinals some hope with some big catches but again the offense was unable to do anything. With the game basically three scores out this last punt came off as the final nail in the coffin.
The Hawks offense continued to chip away and the time continued to drip away. The Cardinals fundamentals broke down and Wilson was again able to dodge sacks and make plays.
Once Wilson hit his TE Luke Wilson for a big gain into the Cardinals red zone I turned off the TV.
Drew Stanton looked bad the majority of the game with only a few redeeming passes that were really made on the back of John Brown. Sure it’s tough to beat Seattle in Seattle but so far, outside one big game against the Rams, Stanton does not inspire much hope.
Not much to be said but bleh. Stanton looked like the inexperienced QB that he is, struggling to beat the zone and struggling to connect passes. The defense played great for three quarters until worn down by the Hawks 35 minutes of possession. Even with the best record in football the Cardinals did not look like the best team.
With this loss the Cardinals fall to 9-2 on the season, 2-1 in the conference and 3-2 on the road.
Next week the Cardinals play the 4-7 Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.