Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals for first place in NFC West

By Kshell

This Sunday at Qwest Field the Arizona Cardinals(3-2) travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks(3-2) in a NFC West showdown. These teams have won the last six division titles yet don't really have much history with each other. So I'll touch briefly on the past but mainly focus on the present.

The Cardinals are the answer to a trivia question having been the first NFL team to win at Qwest Field back in 2002. The Cardinals rallied from 10-3 and then 13-10 to win 24-13. When the Seahawks were moved the NFC West they had to contend with the Rams, the 49ers who were in transition then the lowly Cardinals. The Cardinals were a mess in the NFL bringing in coaches every other year, changing quarterbacks had no stability or tradition. The Cardinals had never hosted a playoff game since they moved to Arizona.

The Cardinals used to play their games at Sun Devil stadium which was the deadest atmosphere in the NFL. The Seahawks dominated this series early on winning three out of four at Sun Devils stadium. The Seahawks in 2003 on their way to the playoffs swept the Cardinals by a combine score 66-10. The Cardinals finished the year 4-12 and last place as usual.

Then in 2004 heading into the Cardinals game down in Sun Devils stadium the Seahawks had acquired hall of fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. The Seahawks were upset to the Cardinals 25-17. That was Matt Hasselbeck's worst game in the Mike Holmgren era completing only 17 of 41 passes with four interceptions. The Cardinals were led by the all-time leading rusher in NFL history Emmitt Smith who ran for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals in the rematch at Qwest field 24-21 even though the Seahawks almost blew a 24-7 lead. The Seahawks win that win clinched their second straight playoff berth. Shaun Alexander led the way with 154 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

The following year in 2005 Alexander continued to crush the Cardinals. The Seahawks spanked the Cardinals in a game at Qwest field which I happen to attend 37-12. The Cardinals new free agent acquisition Kurt Warner was knocked out of the ball game. Alexander ran for 140 yards and four touchdowns in the blowout win. Then the Seahawks faced the Cardinals in lowly Sun Devils Stadium again and won 33-19 which marked Mike Holmgren's first win for the Seahawks after the bye week. Again Alexander crushed the Cardinals rushing for 173 yards and two touchdowns. That would be the last time the Seahawks would win in Arizona.

The Cardinals in 2006 opened up a new stadium in Glendale and the atmosphere changed in Arizona. The Seahawks raised their NFC Championship banner against the Cardinals in their home opener in 2006. The Seahawks won 21-10 and Alexander ran for just 89 yards and a touchdown. The return trip to Arizona saw the Seahawks get upset 27-21 to the Cardinals.

In 2007 the Seahawks were upset again in Arizona 23-20 in a game that the Seahawks gave away when Hasselbeck and Alexander collided in the backfield for a fumble. The rematch in Qwest was electric as the Seahawks had a chance to clinch their fourth straight division title. The Seahawks won 42-21 and at that point in their careers Alexander was done so Hasselbeck was asked to carry the team. Hasselbeck sure responded in front of his family who was there because his brother Tim was on the Cardinals. Hassebleck was 22 of 33 for 272 yards and four touchdowns while the Cardinals Kurt Warner threw five interceptions. Little did anyone know that would be the Seahawks last win over the Cardinals.

In 2008 and 2009 the Cardinals have dominated the Seahawks and won the last two NFC West championships. The Cardinals in 2008 even reached the Super Bowl. The Cardinals in 2008 handed Mike Holmgren in his last game as head coach a loss. The series hasn't featured many great games and there is no tradition between these two teams. The Seahawks are 0-4 all-time at the Cardinals new stadium but just 5-3 at Qwest Field against the Cardinals.

This year look for Qwest Field to be rocking this Sunday. The Seahawks haven't hosted a big game since the 2007 season when they defeated the Washington Redskins 35-14 in the Wild Card playoffs round. The Cardinals will be bringing in an undrafted rookie quarterback Max Hall who is 1-0 all-time in Seattle dating back to his BYU days. The Seahawks under Pete Carroll are dominant against the run making teams one dimensional. In fact Seattle is second in the NFL behind just Pittsburgh against the run. The Seahawks as long as they hang onto the ball look for them to jump on the Cardinals early. The Cardinals with an undrafted rookie quarterback in the loudest stadium in the NFL with no run game could be a good day for the Seahawks.

All in all, this isn't a must win by any means but it would sure give the Seahawks a leg up. The city wants a winner so badly with the Sonics leaving, Huskies football struggling and the Mariners being terrible. Qwest field despite having a team who won just 9 games the last two years is still loud. I was at the first preseason game and it was loud the entire game. In fact in the fourth quarter you could have thought it was a regular season game. If the Seahawks keep winning look for the Qwest to be even more impossible to win at. Be loud 12th man this Sunday and lets get the Seahawks to first place.

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