A roundup of national-media reaction after the Seahawks' 36-6 victory over the Cardinals to close out the regular season.
There won’t be any home playoff games this season for the Seahawks.
But with the way they polished off their regular-season slate, that might just be fine with them.
Seattle put together a dominant, 36-6 victory over Arizona in Glendale to finish 10-6, the fourth straight season the Seahawks collected at least 10 wins.
It was a record-setting day for Russell Wilson and the defense. But of more immediate concern, Sunday’s game was a chance to “get right,” as coach Pete Carroll said.
SEATTLE 36, ARIZONA 6
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Minnesota’s win over Green Bay on Sunday night locked Seattle into the NFC’s sixth and final playoff spot, which means all road games for as long as the Seahawks are in the postseason, starting with a wild-card showdown against the Vikings. Yes, Seattle is only 2-9 in road playoff games in franchise history. But Seattle won its final five road games this season, and has gone 16-8 on the road since the start of the 2013 season.
The odds are long to reach another Super Bowl, but with the way the Seahawks played on Sunday (on the road, of course), the national pundits are doing anything but writing them off. What follows is a sampling of their reaction:
Peter King of MMQB tried to take stock of both teams, who played under different circumstances on Sunday:
“The Seahawks took their turn as The NFL’s Unstoppable Team, beating up the Cardinals 36-6 on Sunday. You wonder how much motivation Arizona really had, knowing it had already clinched a bye week. The Cards certainly didn’t play with the urgency we’re accustomed to seeing in a Bruce Arians team. Minnesota, meanwhile, rolled to a 20-3 lead at Green Bay and seems to be a more diverse team than the one that got steamrolled by the Seahawks 38-7 at Minnesota a month ago.”
ESPN.com’s Bill Barnwell, who named Wilson his offensive player of the year, called Sunday’s win the most impressive one of the season:
“Is there any single-game performance that really compares to what the Seahawks just did? Start with the top two teams in each conference — Arizona, Carolina, Denver and New England — and none of those four have lost by anything resembling this sort of margin until this week. The closest thing was Kansas City’s 29-13 win over Denver in Week 10. This was nearly twice the margin of victory, and it didn’t involve a clearly injured Peyton Manning. Beating a team this good on the road by this much just doesn’t happen very frequently. Per PFR, this is just the fourth time that an underdog of seven points or more has gone on the road and beaten a playoff team by 30 points or more.”
Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar sized up the Seahawks’ chances against the Vikings:
“The Vikings’ reward for beating the Packers in the last regular-season game of the 2015 season is… they get to host a matchup with a Seahawks team they hosted in Week 13. That Seahawks team, just a bit hotter than this Seahawks team, absolutely smoked Minnesota, 38–7. … That game was reflective of Seattle’s status as a team you generally did not want to face in the second half of the season. Given Seattle’s 36–6 thrashing of the Cardinals in their regular-season finale — an appropriate recovery from its embarrassing loss to the Rams the week before — it’s hard to imagine a different result.”
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated said the Seahawks have to feel better about themselves after beating the Cardinals:
“I’m not really sure if Arizona getting dominated 36–6 at home by Seattle hurts the Cardinals’ confidence level, but it can’t help but boost the Super Bowl hopes of the Seahawks. If Seattle should have to go back into Glendale in the playoffs, Pete Carroll’s team can feed off the reality of having had their way with Arizona, even when the Cardinals were playing starting quarterback Carson Palmer in the first half.”
ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia wrote that Seattle is one of a handful of teams that can make the Super Bowl:
“In 15 of the Seahawks’ 16 games, they held a lead at some point in the fourth quarter. This is a hard team to put away, and the Seahawks have played their best football down the stretch. The passing game is clicking better than it has at any point since Wilson has been the quarterback. And the defense answered some questions with its performance in the first half against Carson Palmer and the prolific Cardinals. The ground game is a question and the injuries are worth monitoring, but the Seahawks look like a serious threat to make a run.”
Will Brinson of CBSSports.com handicapped the playoff field and doesn’t see the Vikings as a threat to the Seahawks:
“The Seahawks are 4-1 in their last five games with a +101 point differential. One of those games was a 38-7 shellacking of the Vikings in Minnesota. History in the NFL rarely repeats itself. But the Seahawks are a dangerous team and Minnesota just bought a ticket to the buzz saw.”
CBSSports.com’s John Breech gave the Seahawks an A-plus for their performance on Sunday (the Vikings got a B-minus):
“The Seahawks might need to give Russell Wilson another raise. When this game mattered, Wilson was almost perfect. The Seahawks quarterback threw for 155 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, which put the game so far out of reach that the Cardinals decided to bench Carson Palmer in the second half.”
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com believed the Vikings have nowhere to go but up after their first meeting with the Seahawks:
“The Seahawks destroyed Minnesota 38-7 five weeks ago, and the Vikings haven’t been the same team since. They nearly won in Arizona, then played their best football of the season to finish on a three-game winning streak. The Vikings defense (Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith and Linval Joseph) were all hurt in the first game. If nothing else, the defense should be more reliable this time around.”
As for Sunday’s game, NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling heaped praise on Wilson:
“Russell Wilson has rivaled Cam Newton as the NFL’s best player since the last time these two teams met in Week 10. He leads the league with 24 touchdowns versus just one interception during that span, finishing with a 110.1 passer rating — the 15th best figure in history. He became the first player ever to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns while also running for 500 yards. Along the way, he set franchise records for touchdown passes (34) and passing yards (4,024). Wilson’s offense is peaking at the ideal time. Nobody wants to face this buzzsaw in January.”
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic said the Cardinals have reason to be worried heading into the playoffs:
“The best regular season in Cardinals history ended with an unfamiliar sound: Thud. A resounding 36-6 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday was more than an ill-fitting conclusion. It did more than snap the Cardinals’ nine-game winning streak. The lopsided outcome made Valley fans wonder about the importance of momentum, and what might occur if there is a playoff rematch against Seattle down the road. Alas, a new year begins with a new fear.”
The Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman took the opposing view on the Cardinals:
“In the grand scheme of things, this supposed disaster of a loss means squat. You know why? Because Bruce Arians revealed in his postgame news conference that sitting Carson Palmer in the second half was ‘planned ahead of time.’ After what happened last season, the Cardinals coach wasn’t about to risk losing his franchise quarterback for the playoffs just on the remote possibility his team could improve upon the No. 2 seed it already had clinched a week ago.”