Sunday, November 14, 2010

Seahawks spank Cardinals 36-18; earn first season sweep since 05'

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks(5-4) dominated the Arizona Cardinals(3-5) in the second half 36-18 to earn the season sweep. Led by the passing attack of Matt Hasselbeck and his season high 333 yards the Seahawks were able to earn their first ever victory at the Cardinals new stadium which opened in 2006. With the victory the Seahawks are back in first place today in November for the first time since 2007.

The Seahawks who have struggled on the road this year(1-3) and at Unversity of Phoenix stadium got off to a rough start. The Cardinals drove down the field behind a 33 yard completion by Derek Anderson to Larry Fitzgerald set up a two yard touchdown run by Tim Hightower to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead. The Cardinals in the first meeting up in Seattle didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. The Seahawks would answer back on their first series of the game behid Matt Hasselbeck.

It was quite the difference this week for the Seahawks having veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck back who missed last week against the Giants. Hasselbeck would hit a third and eight pass to Mike Williams for a gain of 32 to get a first down at the Cardinals 43. Williams in the first game against the Cardinals would have 11 receptions. Then facing a third and four Hasselbeck would hit Williams again for a gain of 10 for a first down. Facing a third and six Hasselbeck would hit Williams for a gain off 11 to set up another first down. After Hasselbeck hit Lynch for an 11 yard pass, Lynch would end the drive with a one yard touchdown run to tie the score at 7-7.

After the Seahawks weathered the field position battle storm against the Cardinals in the first quarter they took off in the second. The Seahawks would take the lead when Olindo Mare would kick a 41 yard field goal which was set up by a Hasselbeck 44 yard completion to tight end Chris Baker. Last time against the Cardinals Mare would hit five field goals. The Seahawks would hold the Cardinals in the redzone to a 23 yard field goal by Jay Feely. With the score tied at 10, Hasselbeck would get busy again. Hasselbeck would avoid the sack roll to his left then step up and throw a pass to Deon Butler for a 63 yard touchdown pass. Hasselbeck would hit Butler in stride at the 20 yard line, then after Butler ran to the 10 he cut back and outran all three Cardinals defenders for the touchdown.

The Seahawks towards the end of the half were moving the ball yet again ont he Cardinals. With 3:14 left in the half and the Seahawks facing a second and 16 from their own 35 Hasselbeck would hit Ben Obomanu for a 44 yard pass to the Cardinals 25. Facing a third and two from the Cardinals 17, Hasselbeck would hit Butler on a quick receiver screen for just a yard setting up a fourth and one from the Cardinals 16. Instead of kicking the points and going up 10 on the road Carroll decided to go for it. Instead of running Marshawn Lynch who would acquired for situations just like this he was on the sidelines. The Seahawks then decided to quarterback sneak it with Matt Hasselbeck, Hasselbeck came up short. Not only did the Seahawks not score but Hasselbeck cracked his wrist and would have to leave the game for two series. The Seahawks would go into halftime up 17-10.

The Seahawks would have the most dominating third quarter a defense could possibly have. The Seahawks would have the ball first in the second half and without Hasselbeck were forced to use backup Charlie Whitehurst who struggled against the Giants in his first career start. Whitehurst began the drive by hitting Obomanu for seven yards, then Justin Forsett busted a run up the middle for 29 yards. The following play Whitehurst would hit Marshawn Lynch for a 22 yard gain in what should have been a gain of one. Lynch avoided the tackler then outran everyone. The Seahawks had the ball on the Cardinals 22 and Whitehurst was showing progress then he threw a terrible interception to Dominque Rogers-Cromartie which was returned 26 yards. The Seahawks would three and out the Cardinals on defense and set up Whitehurst yet again.

The Seahawks began the drive with a reverse run to Obomanu for 13 yards followed up by Forsett running for 17 yards. Whitehurst would hit Obomanu for a gain of eight yards then a few plays later hit Mike Williams for a gain of 16. The Seahawks then went consertative and settled for a Mare 34 yard field goal to finally give the Seahawks a 20-10 lead. On the first play for the Cardinals Anderson would throw a pass to Fitzgerald but it was tipped by Jordan Babineaux which resulted in Kelly Jennings getting the interception. Hasselbeck would return to the game and would hit Forsett for a gain of 13 to the Cardinals 10 yard line. Then Hasselbeck would hit Forsett again for a gain of nine yards down to the Cardinals one yard line. The Seahawks couldn't punch it in and Carroll this time decided to settle for the three points which Mare made another field goal giving the Seahawks a 23-10 lead.

The Cardinals offense would continue to be pathetic reminding Seahawks fans of their third performance against the Giants the previous week. The Seahawks Aaron Curry would get his second sack of the game on Anderson forcing a fumble which was recovered by Chris Clemons on the Cardinals 17 yard line. After Hasselbeck hit Williams for a gain of 10 the Seahawks again had to settle for a field goal by Mare to give them a 26-10 lead. On the Cardinals next drive they had zero total yards of offense in the third quarter until Clemons sacked Anderson giving them negative yardage for the quarter. The Seahawks took a 26-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Seahawks got great contribution from the offense and defense well now it was Leon Washington's turn. Washington who has been a special teams return ace and apparently has beaten out second round pick Golden Tate on punt returns returned the punt 48 yards to the Cardinals 11 yard line. On third and six from the Cardinals seven yard line Hasselbeck would hit Williams for a gain of six to set up first and goal from the one yard line. The Cardinals stuffed Lynch all three times which meant Seattle had to settle on another field goal which Mare made giving the Seahawks a 29-10 lead with 12 minutes to go. That would be Mare's fifth field goal which would match his season high of five which was also against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals offense would finally get going in the fourth quarter going on a 12 play 79 yard drive when Anderson would hit Early Doucet for a two yard touchdown. Then Anderson would hit Fitzgerald on the two point conversation to cut the lead down to 29-18 with just seven minutes remaining. The Cardinals would try an onside kick and recover the kick but due to illegal touching by Feely the Seahawks would recover. Facing a second and 20 from the Cardinals 49 yard line, Hasselbeck would throw a pass to Williams in traffic in which Williams would use his long arm and wrap his arm around the ball while craddling the pass for a 22 yard reception. Unfortunetly that catch led to no points as Mare missed a 29 yard field goal which would hit the uprights giving the Cardinals life with five minutes to go.

The Seahawks defense would continue to step it up. After Anderson had thrown three straight incompletions, the Cardinals decided to go for it on their own 20 yard line. Clemons would sack Anderson for a loss of nine yards giving the Seahawks first and 10 from the 11 yard line. Lynch would bust a nine yard run coming up just short of the goaline. Then facing a third and four the Seahawks played it safe with a draw to Forsett in which Forsett scored the touchdown to put the Seahawks up 36-18 to put the game away.

The Seahawks would win the game and most importantly take back first place in the NFC West. With the Rams losing to the 49ers today the Seahawks lead the division with a 5-4 record followed by the Rams at 4-5 then the Cardinals and 49ers are in last with a 3-6 record. The Cardinals are a different franchise without Kurt Warner who was 4-0 against the Seahawks the last two years and 6-2 the last four years. For the Seahawks they are slowly getting healthy but need to get some more guys back mainly Russell Okung to help out Lynch and Forsett.

The Seahawks passing game was on fire today unlike last week. First Matt Hasselbeck would enjoy his best this season passing 22 of 34 for 333 yards and a touchdown with a quarterback rating of 106.9 while his backup Charlie Whitehurst was 4 for 6 passing for 53 yards but an interception. The Seahawks threw for almost 400 yards on the Cardinals and most of those were to Mike Williams who owns the Cardinals this year. Williams would have 11 receptions for 145 yards for the game and for the two games against the Cardinals Williams would have 22 receptions for 232 yards and a touchdown. The Seahawks young receivers also stepped up in Deon Butler who would have 4 receptions for 66 yards and Ben Obomanu who was making the start had 4 receptions for 60 yards. Obomanu would also add 17 yards rushing on two reverses.

The Seahawks running backs had trouble running the ball but they were contributing in the passing game. Marshawn Lynch is having a hard time without Russell Okung and would have just 29 yards rushing on 13 carries but a touchdown. Justin Forsett would run the ball 9 times for 64 yards and a touchdown. Lynch would add 33 yards receiving and Forsett would add 31 yards rushing. When the Seahawks get Okung back the running game should improve.

Overall this was a great win for the Seahawks. Whether this is a bad division doesn't matter because two years ago the NFC West was awful and quite frankly the Cardinals weren't very good. The Cardinals were also one fourth quarter drive away from winning the Super Bowl that season. Just get to the playoffs and in a one and done situation just hope to get hot at the right time. The Seahawks improve to 5-4 and 3-1 in the division on the year. Most importantly the Seahawks are in first place this late in the season.


- The Seahawks stopped the running game which was nice to see. Once Red Bryant went down in the middle of the Raiders game the Seahawks have been killed on the ground. Today the Seahawks held the Cardinals to 41 yards on 14 carries which is less than three yards a carry. When the Seahawks are stopping the run they can blitz Aaron Curry more who had two sacks, Clemons also got pass rush with two sacks and Lawyer Milloy got a sack as well.

- The Seahawks Jon Ryan must have been sore after punting non stop last week while this week was probably bored. Ryan had just one punt. The Seahawks were pretty effective today driving into Cardinals territory on 11 drives today. The Seahawks offense had they actually been clicking especially inside the five yard line easily could have dropped 50 on the Cardinals. The score doesn't do the game justice at all. The Seahawks had 490 yards of offense and held the ball for 35 minutes while running 73 plays.

- The Seahawks dominated the third quarter despite only outscoring the Cardinals 9-0. The Seahawks ran 33 plays to the Cardinals 9. The Seahawks had 170 yards of offense to the Cardinals negative 10 yards offense. That also doesn't include the Seahawks 48 yard punt return from probowl hopeful Leon Washington.

- John Carlson has been the big mystery of the season. Heading into the year he was expected to have a big year but instead Chris Baker has been outproducing him. Baker had two receptions for 51 yards today while Carlson was shut out.

- It's not to early to talk probowl and the Seahawks have three guys who have a shot who weren't on the roster last year. First from special teams Leon Washington who already won a game for the Seahawks this year. Amongst regular kickoff returners Washington leads the NFL in a 31.0 KOR average with two touchdowns and six have been over 40 yards. He also averaging 23.8 yards on punt returns in just five attempts. In those five has ran two over 20 yads and another two over 40 yards. Washington gives the team much needed field position. Chris Clemons is another guy who is leading the team with eight sacks on the year which has him tied for fourth in the NFC and third amongst defensive ends. Then the next guy is Earl Thomas who has four interceptions which leads all free safeties in the NFC while also having 47 tackles on the year. Without these three guys the Seahawks would be struggling this season that is for sure.

- The Seahawks other safety veteran Lawyer Milloy is pretty good too. In fact Milloy leads all defensive backs in sacks with four. The next best guy has just two. Milloy also has 47 tackles on the year while causing a fumble. The Seahawks backup safety Jordan Babineaux has 1.5 sacks, an interception and a force fumble. Long are the days of Michael Boulware or Brian Russel who make you want to scream swear words. Instead the Seahawks have two really good safeties who make plays. Thomas is a ball hawk while making tackles while Milloy is creating havoc on opposing quarterbacks and runningbacks. Babineaux comes off the bench and does a little bit of everything.

- Despite the short miss in today's game Olindo Mare is now 10 for 11 this year against the Cardinals. That says a lot about the Seahawks when they play the Cardinals, it says the Cardinals defense can't stop the Seahawks from scoring but tighten up in the red zone. The Seahawks rank 31st out of 32 teams in the red zone in scoring touchdowns. The Seahawks if they wish to win the division must find a way to clean that up.

All in all Pete Carroll could be up there amongst coach of the year candidates. He still makes coaching errors like not kicking the field goal today but he does motivate this team. Carroll also knows defense extremely well and that is the big difference this year compared to the last two years is the defense actually is pretty good. The Seahawks offense under Jeremy Bates is struggling but when you have three offensive lineman who are starting for you who you just signed makes things tough. It should be interesting to see the run game when Okung returns which should be pretty soon. Hasselbeck deserves a ton of praise he was a guy the fans wanted to run out of town and struggled early on. Hasselbeck is showing why he is still the NFC West best quarterback because of that the Seahawks are still the favorites to win the division. Should be a fun last seven games remember after this game at New Orleans the Seahawks close the season out with four of their six games at home. The Seahawks took a big step today in winning the division title for the first time since 2007.

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