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Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks: What we learned in the Cardinals 26-24 win

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What we learned in the Cardinals 26-24 win.

Arizona Cardinals vÊSeattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Cardinals absolutely dominated every aspect of the first half, except for another STs nightmare.

If anyone didn't know which team was still alive for a playoff berth---he surely would have thought it was the Cardinals.

Bruce Arians has proven that his teams in bad years will not quit. Over the past two seasons he is 4-0 in games after mathematical elimination from the playoffs. Tough part is his teams for the last two years only won 11 meaningful games, a sharp contrast to winning 14 games in 2015.

While it was wonderful to watch the Seahawks implode down the stretch when they usually pull rabbits out of their hats or the officials' pockets....winning games like this are kind of like sifting for fool's gold.

The fact is the momentum of winning two meaningless games at the end of last season---did not carry over into this season. Even worse, those games gave the GM, HC and the staff the false impression that Justin Bethel could be the starting RCB, that Evan Boehm was ready to be the full-time starter at RG and that Brandon Williams would be ready to challenge for significant playing time.

As for the Seahawks, I said this earlier in the season to the hilarity of others, but it would not surprise me if Pete Carroll is let go. That team, despite its record over the past few years, is a total mess. Just in the past week, you have Earl Thomas running over to the Cowboys' locker room to tell them "come get me." Then, despite BA's locker room message last week of going to a "home game in Seattle" to "kick their arses"...and that being given national notoriety, how in the world could the Seahawks come out of the tunnel in the game so poorly motivated. Pete Carroll has lost that team and it is obvious. The penalties that team commits are of the utmost boneheaded variety, as we saw today. And the decisions---why play the last minute so ultra conservatively in order to set up a 48 yard FG by Blair Walsh...the very same PK who shanked a chip shot at home in mind that should have eliminated the Seahawks in the 2015 playoffs.

BA was all hugs and buddy-buddy with Carroll after the game, and Carroll was kind and gracious to give BA credit and kudos for the win and for his career (if this was his last game)...but then BA says at his press conference "welcome to my house." Arians made this all about him. He didn't say welcome to our house. When Fitz was asked about that remark from BA he sort of bristled and said, "Well I don't know about that, but it was great to get back to .500 and end the season on a positive note."

This post game comment is, once again, poor form and poor sportsmanship. As much as I can't stand Pete Carroll, mostly because of the envy I have felt about how hard and tough his players usually play, has Pete Carroll ever called U of P a "home game" for the Seahawks? How would that feel to us Cardinals' fans if he did?

Well, Arians never beat Carroll at U of P. Not once in 5 tries. And winning meaningless games in Seattle the last two years doesn't quite seem as exciting as winning when the games really matter. The fact is too, that Carroll came to U of P in 2015 to put a licking on the 13-2 Cardinals in hopes of knocking them off their perch...and one could argue that the Cardinals, after that 36-6 pasting, have not been the same ever since. Curious that 31 year old Sean McVay of the Rams decided to rest his key starters versus the 49ers today (taking a 34-13 loss), recognizing that being healthy going into the playoffs is the wiser choice.

The standout efforts for the Cardinals today came from QB Drew Stanton (who is now 7-1 in his last 8 starts and who, according to Fitz, played the last two weeks with an ACL tear), the makeshift OL (even when Boone and Boehm were injured, Watford and Painter helped get the offense in FG range---thanks too for another boneheaded roughing the passer penalty, this time by Bobby Wagner, after a 3rd down incompletion), Ts Holden and Wetzel help up pretty well, all things considered, WR Larry Fitzgerald and RB Kerwynn Williams who carried the offense in the 1st half. RB Elijah Penny ran hard and well on his carries, one for a TD.

On defense: DE Chandler Jones (17 sacks---a Cardinals record!), DT Olsen Pierre (who is becoming a beast in the pass rush), DE Robert Nkemdiche (for making his best splash play of the season) and DE Kareem Martin (for his QB pressures).

On STs...K Phil Dawson closed out the season very well, as did P Andy Lee and LS Aaron Brewer---plus, the team got a very good kickoff return from D.J. Foster (and a nifty RB loop pass from Stanton late in the game for a key conversion).

And then there is the on-going situation with Patrick Peterson. Let me put it this way: in my opinion, either the Cardinals find a coach who can bring out the best in Peterson or they should trade him while they can for very good value in return.

Look---his man coverage is very good (although he did give up 26/394/4 TDs/83.6 QBR on 60 targets this year---plus 8 penalties)---but, in a way his man coverage allows him to hide and play in a bubble---and these days you cannot hide a player on defense---teams are too well coached---they will find that player and exploit him, as we have seen this year.

Look at his feeble punt returns today. Why do they still (after 4 years) have him faking it out there? It's a joke. He even fair caught a line drive with wide open field in front of him. Then later he let a normal punt bounce on the 15 yard line (luckily it bounced backwards). On the one punt he tried to return up the middle he took two steps and then took an Ellington-esque dive.

Why did Amos Jones put Peterson, the worst tackler on the team, as a safety on the kickoff team? That's right, he was safety---right to side that Lockett ran through---and Peterson played it the same passive, run-toward-the sideline-way that he plays a screen to his side---and you know what---how does Peterson look his teammates in the face after plays like this? Fact is, 43 year old Phil Dawson made a far stronger effort to tackle Lockett. That's no lie. Budda Baker came screaming across the other side of the field to try to chase him down and almost got there, while Peterson was trailing the play.

Then in coverage Peterson got called for holding once again on the slot (which he tells the coaches he does not want to play) when the Cardinals DL was in Wilson's face again---and that let the Seahawks off the hook and helped them go for their first scoring drive. The TD he gave up to Baldwin was perfectly executed, although Peterson hasn't been turning back to the ball lately on fades, which the Seahawks picked up the fade TD he gave up to Hopkins. The guy is hiding out there. But, the irony is, it's now too obvious. How many times did the camera man zoom in on Peterson after another one of his feeble tackling efforts? Heck, he made Russell Wilson look like Mike Iupati.

Again, while these last two wins feel good...let's not forget that the Cardinals went 1-5 in 1 PM (EDT) starts and lost those games by a combined score of 265-120 (that's 26.5 to 12.0 ppg).

Let's not forget that the Cardinals lost twice to the Rams by the score of 65-16. Let's not forget that the Cardinals lost both of their prime time games (both at home) to the Cowboys and Seahawks by a combined score of 50-33. Let's also not forget that before the defense finally got on a roll, they gave up 31 points to QB Tom Savage and the Texans at a critical point in the Cardinals' playoff contention.

Let's also not forget that the only Cardinals who played consistently well throughout the seasons are: WR Larry Fitzgerald, OLB Chandler Jones, DT Corey Peters, DE Olsen Pierre, S Budda Baker, S Antione Bethea, S Tyvon Branch, CB Tramon Williams and P Andy Lee. These are the only players on the Cardinals who earned PFF grades for the season in the 80s.

No Cardinals player had a consistently good season at QB, RB, OL, TE, WR (other than Fitz), and ILB. Budda Baker and Kareem Martin were the only two draft picks over the past 4 years to make a consistent impact---and both were late season substitutions. Unfortunately, RB David Johnson, OLB Markus Golden and T D.J. Humphries were lost for the season to injuries. Player development, particularly of high draft picks, continues to be an area of utmost concern.

This was a team that was maddeningly inconsistent. It was also a team that only showed up when it wanted to. The injuries took their toll, but the last few weeks proved that the Cardinals could still win games if the defense stepped up, the offense could protect the ball and the STs could hold their own.

BA deserves kudos for not letting his team quit. His playcalling the last couple of weeks have been some of his best. It's frustrating that the types of effort we saw the past two weeks were not evident in a number of previous games.

However, BA ends this season, as he did last year on a high note, and he is now the winningest coach in the history of the Arizona Cardinals. There was a time when BA's teams were consistently competitive---more so that any other teams previously. There were stretches of games that were exhilarating to watch. For that, and for all the great moments over the course of 5 years, thanks to BA and the coaching staff.