Coach Pete Carroll had insisted that last week’s loss to the Rams was an aberration. He was confident the team of the previous five weeks — when it won five in a row by averaging 34 points — was the real Seahawks.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Seahawks played Sunday without two starters on their offensive line, their top two running backs and their top two tight ends.
All the Arizona Cardinals knew, though, was that the Seahawks had too much of everything else for their liking.
In a rousing regular-season finale, the Seahawks routed the 2015 NFC West champion Cardinals 36-6, a performance that was surprising in its ease and heightened expectations for the playoffs.
Russell Wilson by the numbers
34: TD passes for the season. Wilson surpassed Dave Krieg’s franchise record of 32 set in 1984.
4,024: Passing yards for the season. Wilson is the first QB in Seahawks history with 4,000 yards.
110.1: Wilson’s passer rating, a franchise record and the best in the NFL this season.
“You saw the fun we were having,’’ said quarterback Russell Wilson, who set franchise records for touchdown passes in a season (34) and yards (4,024). “Guys were making plays all over the field.’’
Even die-hard Seahawks fans might barely have known the names of some of the guys making those plays.
Running back Bryce Brown, who first played for the Seahawks two weeks ago in the wake of injuries to Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, scored the first touchdown.
Chase Coffman, playing in his first game at tight end, scored another.
And in the kind of play that showed what a difference a week can make, fullback Will Tukuafu scored just the second touchdown of his career on a 7-yard pass from Wilson in the second quarter.
It was Tukuafu’s fumble last week against the Rams that was returned for a touchdown, setting the stage for a shocking defeat that had some wondering where this Seahawks season was headed.
Coach Pete Carroll, though, insisted all week that the game against the Rams was an aberration. He was confident the team of the previous five weeks — when it won five in a row by averaging 34 points — was the real Seahawks.
“Coming off of last week, we wanted to get right,’’ Carroll said. “Today was a good day for doing that.’’
The game had uncertain meaning for both teams, Arizona having already clinched the NFC West and Seattle resigned to a wild-card spot.
But both teams insisted they were approaching it straight up, and there was no indication of any let-up on either side early on.
All there was, instead, was a Seahawks landslide of points and eventual team records.
Along with Wilson’s marks, Tyler Lockett returned four punts in the first half for 139 yards to set a single-game record, and the Seattle defense ended up leading the NFL in fewest points allowed for a fourth consecutive season. The defense took great delight in a couple of late stops that helped preserve the NFL scoring title, including an interception by DeShawn Shead in the end zone.
“We knew what was going on on the sidelines,” Carroll said. “The guys were having a ball, trying to get it done, and the offense was trying to keep the football to let that happen. That’s a really cool accomplishment, so we take great pride in that one.”
Seattle also finished 10-6, reaching double-digit victories for the fourth consecutive season after having won 10 or more just five times previously.
And despite a season that had unexpected twists and turns, the Seahawks enter the postseason feeling there’s no reason it can’t end in the same destination of the previous two — the Super Bowl.
“When you’ve got all three clicking together (offense, defense, special teams) it’s going to be tough to beat us, that’s for sure,’’ Wilson said.
The defense took great delight not only in again being able to say it’s the best in the NFL, but also in shutting down an Arizona team that had scored 39 on it in Seattle in November.
“I think people can sometimes forget who we are,’’ cornerback Richard Sherman said. “We let a few penalties, weird calls or miscues change their perception, and then we come back and remind them.’’
Sherman seemed to epitomize the most that little has changed. As the Seahawks jumped to a 30-6 halftime lead, he bantered with some Arizona fans sitting behind the Seattle bench.
In the fourth quarter, he drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for noting to Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer how he had shut down receiver John Brown — Sherman squatted in the process, signaling to Palmer that he was already on the bench, taken out at halftime with the game long lost.
“It’s like, ‘You’re sitting on the bench,’ ’’ Sherman said. “ ‘What are you talking about?’ ’’
It was the Seahawks, instead, making statements.
Seattle has won its past five road games, the final three in blowout fashion and two against teams it could face in the playoffs (Minnesota and Arizona), a confidence Carroll said was critical entering a postseason that will be played away from home.
“We couldn’t be more ready than we are at this point,’’ Carroll said.
The Seahawks also have won six of their past seven games after a 4-5 start that had simply making the playoffs seem like a longshot. Now they again appear a Super Bowl favorite, even if they’ll have to do so going the toughest route possible, winning three road games in three weeks.
“You have your peaks, you have your valleys,’’ Sherman said. “A champion overcomes those valleys. They don’t let them destroy us. We started off 2-4, everybody (is saying) all is lost, that Super Bowl hangover or whatever they had. Guys just continued to stay the course.’’
Now to see where it takes them next.