Seattle jumps out to a 14-0 lead in the first half, but Arizona fights back behind Beanie Wells' two second-half touchdowns.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Matt Hasselbeck stood behind a podium after spending a good chunk of Sunday’s game on his back. Still sweating from an afternoon of survivalist quarterbacking, he insisted those two broken ribs and sore shoulder didn’t feel any worse after being sacked four times by Arizona’s defense.
In fact, he felt quite a bit better about his offense’s performance.
“It was more fun to be out there,” Hasselbeck said. “I felt like offensively, it felt like we were more in the zone.”
The fun stopped somewhere short of satisfaction, though. Eleven points short, actually.
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Seattle lost 31-20 at Arizona in a game that offered plenty of encouragement for the Seahawks but absolutely no closure. After spending so much of this season playing from behind, the Seahawks suffered a come-from-ahead defeat. Arizona scored the final 14 points and Hasselbeck was intercepted on the final two possessions.
“We’ll look back at this film and we’ll be disappointed,” Hasselbeck said.
The Seahawks will have lots of company in that regard.
Seattle showed plenty of improvement from its 24-point loss to Arizona four weeks ago in Seattle. The Seahawks’ running game was no longer an oxymoron, and their outspoken wideout had the receptions to measure up to any rhetoric. But after holding a halftime lead on the road for the first time all season, Seattle stumbled down the stretch.
“I think when we look back at this we’ll see that we did improve as a football team today,” coach Jim Mora said.
Seattle was certainly better than it was against Arizona last month. In that game, Seattle rushed for 14 yards, the lowest game total in franchise history. On Sunday, the Seahawks ran for 164 yards — their most since the season opener against St. Louis — and that came despite the fact Julius Jones suffered a broken rib in the first quarter, which landed him in the hospital. Justin Forsett gained 123 yards and scored on an 11-yard run.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught nine passes for 165 yards after having 92 yards receiving in his previous three games combined.
Seattle even held the lead in the fourth quarter. Sure, it was only a three-point lead and it lasted for less than two minutes, but still, it was a late lead.
The Seahawks weren’t rendered road kill until the final period when Beanie Wells ran over Seattle’s defense. That wasn’t a metaphor. He ran right through safety Deon Grant on a 13-yard touchdown run, spinning out of Grant’s hit and putting Arizona ahead for good with 11:20 left in the game. It was Wells’ second rushing touchdown of the second half.
The Seahawks held Arizona to 10 points in the first half, but gave up 14 in the final period as Larry Fitzgerald caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner for the Cardinals’ final touchdown. Warner passed for 340 yards and Anquan Boldin led Arizona with 105 yards receiving.
“They’ve got a ton of talent on offense,” Mora said. “They started making plays.”
This was a disappointment for Seattle. It was not a demolition, however. Not like the last time the two teams met.
Four weeks ago in Seattle, Arizona outgained Seattle 137-3 in the first quarter, held the ball for 14:17 and led 14-0. Sunday in Arizona, the Seahawks outgained the Cardinals 131-38 in the first quarter and led 7-0.
Seattle kept moving the ball in the second half, it just couldn’t always convert those opportunities. The Seahawks had first-and-goal at the Arizona 1 in the fourth period after a pass-interference penalty against Cardinals cornerback Bryant McFadden in the end zone. Seattle settled for a field goal.
The Seahawks were at the Arizona 3 with two minutes remaining, down 11, when Hasselbeck bobbled a shotgun snap and tried to whip a quick pass to Justin Forsett. Instead, safety Adrian Wilson picked off the pass, Hasselbeck’s second interception in Seattle’s final two possessions.
“At that point, you’re getting a little aggressive, a little desperate,” Hasselbeck said.
But the fact Seattle was still in the game constituted a small step forward.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org