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State of the rivalry: Seattle Seahawks

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Presenting the final of our rivalry rundown pieces, this time on the Seattle Seahawks.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
Two major players in the heated Cardinals-Seahawks rivalry.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, we’re just days away from the Cardinals’ first preseason game of 2019. So before Redbirds football is back in our lives once again, we’ll finish up our look back on each of our division rivalries, taking a look at the Cardinals’ record since realignment in each series, notable streaks, best games, and standout players, as well as touching on the 2019 matchups.

We’ve already checked in on the Rams and 49ers. That means our final rivalry review is the most hated of them all: the Seattle Seahawks.

Records and Streaks

Cardinals’ Record Since Realignment: 14-20 (.412)

Obviously, the Seahawks have gotten the better of us in the 17 years since realignment. But this rivalry has been relatively close in recent years. After a 2-7 start to this rivalry from 2002-2006, we’ve played Seattle to a 12-13 record since. And while we may come out on the losing end, record-wise, the streaks in this rivalry have been far less pronounced than with the Rams and 49ers. While we have a win streak of 8 against both those teams, and a losing streak of 5 games against each, the streaks only are 4 games for either team against the Seahawks. There also have been a number of important matchups and close games with Bruce Arians across the sidelines from Pete Carroll. Given the recent history of tight matchups and bad blood, many Cardinals fans consider the Seahawks to be our biggest rival. That sentiment might not be returned, exactly, but there’s no love lost for the Cardinals up in the Pacific Northwest either.

Current Streak: Lost 2 in a row

The Cardinals dropping both games to the Seahawks during last year’s 3-13 debacle is hardly surprising. What might surprise, however, is that we lost both games by just a field goal—and both losses came via a Seabass field goal as time expired. The first game, a Week 4 affair at State Farm Stadium, was actually Josh Rosen’s starting debut. My, how times have changed. (If you don’t remember who he is, he started several games for us last season. No one would blame you for not remembering.) The second was a Week 17 road tilt that nearly cost the Redbirds the #1 pick in the draft. Things could have turned out much differently for us if the Seahawks had decided to rest their starters in what was largely a meaningless game for them.

Longest Win Streak: Won 4 in a row from 2008-2009

This 4-game winning streak came during the height of the Ken Whisenhunt/Kurt Warner era for the Redbirds and at just about the only low point for the Seahawks since 2002. This was the end of the Mike Holmgren era and the ill-fated, one-season Jim Mora era before Pete Carroll jumped ship from USC. (Just like Kliff Kingsbury did this offseason. Hmmm…) The Seahawks had no answer for Warner and Larry Fitzgerald during this streak—Warner had 1,274 yards and 9 TDs, while Fitz racked up 454 yards and 4 TDs himself. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck was largely ineffective against the Birdgang defense, as we twice held the Seahawks to under 200 total yards. But the good times would not last for the Redbirds, as they lost the first three games of Carroll’s tenure starting in 2010 and have gone just 6-12 against him in his 9 season at the helm.

Longest Losing Streak: Lost 4 in a row from 2004-2006

This 4-game losing streak is part of the aforementioned 2-7 stretch to begin this divisional rivalry. During this time, the Cardinals were floundering at the end of the Dennis Green era, before Whisenhunt and Warner would take the franchise to new heights starting in 2007. But the Redbirds’ struggles in this particular streak can be summed up in two words: Shaun Alexander. He doesn’t get talked about much these days, but he was one of the best running backs in the league for several years—and he ran absolutely roughshod over the Cardinals in these matchups. Check the numbers over these four games: 101 attempts, 556 yards, 10 TDs. That’s 25 attempts for 140 yards and 2.5 TDs per game. Who knows how much more damage he could have done to use had injuries not derailed his career.

Best Games and Players

Best Game: Cardinals 39, Seahawks 32 (Week 10 of 2015)

There have been a number of memorable Cardinals/Seahawks games over the years. But the best one? Well, it isn’t this one, that’s for sure. And it most definitely isn’t this one. No, there’s only one possible answer: it’s this classic 2015 primetime showdown.

In 2015, the Cardinals flying high in Bruce Arians’s third season. Going into this Sunday Night Football matchup in Seattle, the Redbirds were 6-2 and one of the most exciting teams in the league. Meanwhile, the Seahawks were suffering from a Super Bowl loss hangover at 4-4—yet they were as dangerous at home as ever, as the Redbirds would soon find out.

It didn’t seem like we would be tested at first, as we jumped out to a 19-0 lead in the first quarter behind a couple Michael Floyd TDs, a safety, and a Chandler Catanzaro field goal. But the Seahawks rallied in front of the home crowd, holding the Redbirds to a pair of field goals over the next two quarters. A Marshawn Lynch TD at the beginning of the 4th quarter made the score 25-23, but the scoring wasn’t over, not by a longshot.

Disaster struck on the Cardinals’ next possession, as Carson Palmer was strip-sacked by K.J. Wright—and Bobby Wagner scooped the ball up and rumbled into the end zone to give the Seahawks their first lead. It wouldn’t last long though, as Palmer hit Jermaine Gresham for a TD to put the Cardinals up by 3. The Seahawks punted on their next possession, but the Cardinals were in danger of stalling out near midfield and giving Russell Wilson a chance to do Russell Wilson things in the two-minute drill. But then magic happened.

You know the rest. Andre Ellington. Drew Stanton. Game over. I vividly remember watching this game live at Devil’s Advocate in Tempe, and it’s one of my favorite Cardinals memories to this day.

Cardinals MVP: WR Larry Fitzgerald

That makes it 3-for-3. Fitz has always played well in divisional matchups, but the Seahawks have actually held him to the fewest receptions (170), yards (2,022), and TDs (12) of our three divisional foes. But, in a way, these numbers might be his most impressive within the division, as the Seahawks have seemingly had a top-10 defense since he’s been in the league—and he had to contend with their Legion of Boom secondary for several years. But now that those guys are all gone, can Fitz improve his career numbers against the Seahawks with Kyler Murray running the show?

Cardinals Achilles’ Heel: RB Shaun Alexander

This should come as no surprise after seeing the numbers above. But Alexander’s career numbers against the Redbirds are just as impressive: 12 games (8-4), 226 attempts, 1,070 yards (4.7 YPC), and a whopping 16 TDs (for a 16-game pace of 301/1,427/21 TDs). The yards and TDs are Alexander’s most against any opponent. He was just a beast against us. Speaking of which, how about Beast Mode himself? Marshawn Lynch’s numbers against us are pretty good (191/890/8 TDs in 12 games), but pale in comparison to Alexander’s… even if Lynch did have the much better nickname.

2019 Outlook

Week 4 – Home

Week 16 – Away

The Cardinals don’t have a home win against the Seahawks since the 2012 season. (Just that tie in 2016.) Can Kyler and Fitz lead us to a win in Week 4? It’ll be tough without Patrick Peterson, but the Seahawks will be without Jarran Reed (serving a 6-game suspension himself for violating the league’s personal conduct policy). They’ll also be breaking in several new players on both sides of the ball. Can we surprise them before they jell? Will we have jelled yet? This early-season matchup will tell us a lot about the 2019 Cardinals. As for the Week 16 road matchup, until last season’s loss in Seattle we had a 3-game winning streak up there in the rain and fog. I don’t like our chances in 2019 with a rookie head coach and QB, but a lot can happen between now and then. Still, our best chance for a win against the Seahawks this season is that Week 4 home game. Can Kyler outduel one of the players he’s been compared to most in Russell Wilson?

Final Thoughts

Although the Seahawks have gotten the better of us over the past 17 seasons, this is my favorite divisional rivalry. The Rams don’t really feel like a true rival at this point, and although they’ve experienced a lot of success in the past couple seasons, they’ve mostly been a bad football team since we moved into the NFC West. The 49ers rivalry has certainly had its moments, but we’ve never really been good at the same time, so it doesn’t have the same cachet as the Seahawks rivalry. Here’s hoping the rivalry will continue to be a good one in the Kliff Kingsbury/Kyler Murray era—and that we can get that record closer to .500 over the next few seasons.

Thus concludes our rivalry rundown. Give us your thoughts on the Seahawks rivalry in the comments—I’m sure you have a lot! And feel free to discuss any other rivals—most notably the Cowboys. Is there still a lot of hate out there for “America’s Team” in the Valley?