GLENDALE, Ariz. — This was the ultimate “tell your stats to shut up’’ game.
The Seahawks and the Cardinals each rushed for 115 yards Sunday, Seattle on 27 carries and Arizona on 23.
And they also had almost identical passing totals — Seattle threw for 225 yards on 28 attempts and the Cardinals 206 on 32.
But from the midway point of the first quarter on, it felt like a game in which the Seahawks always had control, able to make the big plays when they had to be made.
It was the opposite of a week ago, when the Seahawks seemed to make every play except the ones that really mattered in a 33-27 defeat against the Saints.
But if that loss, and wins in the first two weeks that had seemed a little more dramatic than necessary, had thrown some angst into the fan base, it apparently proved to only serve as more reason to go back to work for the players and coaches.
“There was a ton of energy on our sidelines and in the locker room and it carried right to the field and lasted the whole game,’’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
The Seahawks hope they can now take that energy into the showdown Thursday night with the Rams in a game that, if not technically for first place in the West (the 49ers are 3-0), feels like an early test of divisional supremacy.
On to the grades.
Russell Wilson didn’t have to do too much in this game. But what he did, he again did well. Wilson is completing 73% of his passes for the season with eight touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a passer rating of 118.66 — his career high is 110.9 last season.
Chris Carson spent all week saying his fumbles were no big deal and that he didn’t think it would be all that hard to move on from them. Then he went out Sunday and proved it, not only rushing for 104 yards but doing so, as Carroll said, in the kind of punishing and physical style on which the Seattle offense depends. Carson also caught four passes on four targets for 41 yards. C.J. Prosise added a 9-yard touchdown late continuing to show why — if only in brief glimpses — the team hung on to him through all those injuries.
With Seattle making liberal use of its tight ends and backs in the passing game, there weren’t a ton of big numbers from receivers. But Tyler Lockett caught all four passes thrown his way, including a big grab on third down on the final series, while Jaron Brown had three catches, two to spark the Seattle offense early on. Conversely, DK Metcalf had his quietest game with just one catch for 6 yards on four targets and he has just three catches on 10 targets in his past two games.
The Will Dissly story just continues to get better and better. Regarded mostly as a blocker for the Huskies, he now has 19 catches on 22 targets for 181 yards and four touchdowns in four games this season. And send a hearty “LUUUUUKKKKKEEEEEE!!!!!” out to Luke Willson, who announced his return with two catches on two targets for 26 yards, one a 17-yarder that keyed the final game-clinching drive.
The offensive line didn’t have a penalty of any kind — the holds were on players from other positions — and if the offensive stats weren’t glamorous, the Seahawks made the yards they had to when they needed to. And statistically, the running game is beginning to hit a little stride, with yards per carry averages the past three games of 4.6, 4.2 and then 4.3 Sunday. Not yet the 4.8 of last season but seeming to trend in the right direction. Wilson was sacked four times, but it’s often worse than that against the Cardinals.
The Jadeveon Clowney pick-six was enough for a good grade here. But Seattle’s defensive line seemed as disruptive throughout as it has been all season, with Rasheem Green getting an early sack and Ziggy Ansah recording two quarterback hits and a sack on the final play of the game. The Seahawks will hope this is a sign that he’s beginning to shake off the rust. Ansah had five tackles, three coming downfield, evidence of some good hustle, as well.
The Seahawks again kept their starting three linebackers on the field for most of the game, and again the linebackers proved the worth of that strategy. Mychal Kendricks, essentially playing a nickelback role much of the game, had six tackles, including a team-high two sacks. Bobby Wagner had 10 tackles, and K.J. Wright added seven as the Seahawks held Arizona to 3 of 9 on third-down attempts.
Sunday was maybe the best day yet for the secondary, which again featured Tedric Thompson starting at free safety after he missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. Seattle tackled far better than a week ago and allowed just 241 passing yards to Kyler Murray, and no gains of longer than 21 yards in the second half, when the Seahawks were in a mode of just trying to keep everything in front of them. Shaquill Griffin continued what has been a bounce-back third NFL season with another solid game, including a pass breakup at the Seattle 26-yard line on a third down during Arizona’s first series.
A week after the special teams were as much of a reason why Seattle lost as anything else, they helped carry the load on this day. Jason Myers made both of his field-goal attempts while Arizona’s Zane Gonzalez missed two of his three tries, and Seattle kept Arizona pinned back all day — none of the Cardinals’ 10 drives started outside their own 25-yard line.