Final | Seahawks 38, Cardinals 30
1:25 p.m. | State Farm Stadium | Glendale, Arizona
TV: FOX | Radio: 710 AM/97.3 FM | Stream: NFL Game Pass
Seahawks hold off Cardinals in 38-30 win to finish season
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The team that had nothing to play for gave it everything it had Sunday in Arizona.
And that proved enough to lift the Seahawks to a 38-30 win over an Arizona team hoping to win the NFC West Division at State Farm Stadium.
While Arizona could have won the NFC West with a win, it was the Seahawks who made a statement, winning four of their last six games, improving to 7-10 and playing the rare role of spoiler.
Three things we learned from the Seahawks’ 38-30 upset at Arizona to close out the season
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Russell Wilson and the Seahawks closed out a disappointing 2021 season with what they hope was a momentum-building performance entering an uncertain offseason, upsetting the Arizona Cardinals 38-30 Sunday afternoon at State Farm Stadium.
With so much speculation swirling about his future in Seattle, Wilson had a wild day, offsetting two turnovers that set up two Arizona touchdowns with four total touchdowns to help the Seahawks finish the season with back-to-back wins and a 7-10 record.
Third quarter impressions
Another bad turnover
After his fumble led to Arizona’s first touchdown to start the game, Russell Wilson threw an ugly interception early in the third quarter that set up another Arizona touchdown.
And just like that, the Cardinals took the lead.
Wilson badly overthrew his intended target, Travis Homer, and Jalen Thompson made the easy interception, returning it 33 yards to the Seattle 1.
James Conner ran it for the touchdown two plays later to give Arizona a 24-17 lead.
So, yes, that’s essentially 14 points for Arizona off those two Wilson turnovers.
Wilson made up for it late in the third quarter, orchestrating a quick-strike drive to tie the score 24-24 entering the fourth quarter. Rashaad Penny had a 29-yard run — to get him over 100 yards for the fourth time in the past five weeks — to set up Wilson’s 25-yard touchdown strike to Freddie Swain.
A lot of missed tackles
The Seahawks defense, all things considered, played one of its best halves of the season in bottling up Arizona’s offense in the first half.
That changed quickly to start the second half.
Arizona got possession to start the third quarter and marched 77 yards in six plays to tie the score at 17-17 on Kyler Murray’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Conner.
Conner broke several tackles on the play, and that was a theme for the Seahawks defense on the drive — a lot of missed tackles that added up to a lot of extra yards for the Cardinals.
Back in business
After tying the score 24-24, the Seahawks twice sacked Murray late in the third quarter and then got their first turnover of the game — a fumble lost by Arizona punter Andy Lee.
Pressure from Travis Homer off the edge forced the fumble, and the Seahawks recovered at the Arizona 10-yard line on the final play of the third quarter.
Where did this come from?
You might not have realized that it’s Arizona with a lot to play for, going into the game with a chance at the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a home playoff game.
But a Seahawks team that has nothing tangible to play for has dominated this game other than the fumble returned for a TD on the second play of the game.
Seattle has outscored Arizona 17-3 since then and has a 229-89 edge in yards.
Seattle’s lead should have been greater but tight end Gerald Everett flat out dropped a touchdown pass with 1:30 to play from the Arizona 19 on a third-and-6.
Seattle has also held Arizona’s usually explosive offense to 2.9 yards per play.
So far so good for the Seahawks, hoping to win their fourth game in their last six to end the year.
Don’t forget about Tyler Lockett
Tyler Lockett had been a little quiet of late with 54 yards on six receptions the last two weeks while DK Metcalf had four TD catches.
Consider the tables turned in this game as Lockett has four catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
Lockett had already set a career high in receiving yards for a season but has now increased it to 1,164. More importantly he has a 16.2 yard average per completion that is the second best of his career following a 16.9 average in 2018.
Lockett also now has 36 touchdowns in the last four seasons.
Third-and-long? So what?
The Seahawks have had notable issues all year converting third downs.
The Seahawks entered the game 64 of 181 on third downs (35.4%), 27th in the NFL, as big of a reason as any for Seattle’s 6-10 record this season.
But the Seahawks so far on Sunday have been tearing it up on third down, converting 6 of 8 — it should have been 7 of 8 if not for Everett’s drop.
First quarter impressions
Welp, the first two snaps of the game perfectly summed up a maddening season for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense.
Wilson’s first pass, intended for DK Metcalf, was well off-target and incomplete.
The next snap was even worse.
Chandler Jones stripped Wilson at the Seattle 16-yard line, where Arizona’s Zach Allen scooped it up and ran in for an easy touchdown. That gave the Cardinals a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the games.
We’ve seen this before
It was an impressive response from Wilson and the offense.
Rashaad Penny gained 30 yards on his first three carries, and then Wilson threw a classic moon ball to a wide open Tyler Lockett for a 43-yard touchdown.
The Seahawks drove 75 yards in just five plays to tie it up, 7-7.
Going deep (into the depth chart)
The Seahawks have been hammered hard with injuries at safety this season.
First it was Marquise Blair (knee) lost for the season, then Jamal Adams (shoulder). Earlier this week, Ryan Neal — who had taken over for Adams at strong safety — was placed on the COVID-19 list.
Enter Josh Jones.
Josh Jones, you say?
Jones, a former second-round pick of Green Bay, made his debut with the Seahawks defense today when Seattle opened in their nickel package against Arizona. Ugo Amadi started and is playing strong safety in base defense.
The Seahawks signed Jones to the practice squad on Dec. 15. He had played sparingly with the Colts earlier this season.
He played the previous three games on special teams, and then came through with a nice breakup on Arizona’s first third-down play today while covering A.J. Green.
No surprise inactives for Seahawks, but Cardinals rule Chase Edmonds and Rondale Moore out
There were no real surprises on the Seahawks’ list of inactive for Sunday’s game at Arizona.
Seattle had to declare five as inactive to get down to the gameday maximum of 48.
The five consisted of third-team quarterback Jacob Eason, and four players who are dealing with injuries — middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (knee), cornerback John Reid (concussion), left guard Gabe Jackson (knee) and tight end Will Dissly (heel).
With Jackson out, the expectation is Phil Haynes will start at left guard.
Cody Barton will start in place of Wagner at MLB and Seattle’s cornerbacks are expected to be D.J. Reed on the right side and Sidney Jones on the left.
Arizona’s inactives included two key names — running back Chase Edmonds and receiver Rondale Moore. Edmonds also did not play in Arizona’s 23-13 win over Seattle in November. Moore had 11 receptions against the Seahawks in that game.
Both are dealing with injuries — Edmonds rib and toe injuries and Moore an ankle injury.
Seahawks’ Rashaad Penny is ‘beasting’ with support from his tight-knit family
They talk a lot, big brother and little brother. Like, every day, all the time. Sometimes their interaction is a quick back-and-forth text exchange. Sometimes they talk extensively about the technical aspects of playing running back in the NFL.
So of course Elijhaa Penny, a veteran fullback for the New York Giants, has been watching intently at what his younger brother has been doing out of the Seahawks backfield over the past month. Elijhaa’s 5-year-old son, Kurrenci, summed up things nicely while watching the Seahawks play the other day: “Uncle ’Shaddy is beasting!”
The kid’s right: No running back in the NFL has been beasting better than Rashaad Penny lately.
His family is a big reason for that.
The Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson era for the Seahawks began in Arizona. Could it end there, too?
Arizona is where the Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson era of Seahawks football began almost a decade ago.
Arizona is also the scene of the ill-fated play that forever altered how the Carroll-Wilson era will be remembered.
Is Arizona also where that era ends?
That question is impossible to escape as the Seahawks conclude their 2021 regular season in Glendale against the Cardinals in a 1:25 p.m. kickoff at what is now called State Farm Stadium.
It was named University of Phoenix Stadium when Wilson played the first game of his NFL career Sept. 9, 2012.
The Seahawks lost 20-16 but not before a three-hour-plus game that foreshadowed much of what was to come as Wilson drove the Seahawks from their own 20 to the Arizona 4 before a fourth-down pass with 18 seconds remaining fell incomplete.
“It always pissed me off that he didn’t get that because he was worthy of winning that first game, first one out,’’ Carroll said earlier this year. “I still regret that.”
That game began a coach-quarterback partnership that has resulted in 103 regular-season wins, sixth-most of any coach and QB in NFL history. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick hold the record with 219 with the Patriots.
What to watch for when the Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 18 — plus Bob Condotta’s prediction
It figures that one of the oddest series in Seahawks history also is deadlocked.
Sunday’s Seahawks-Cardinals game in Glendale, Arizona, is the 46th meeting between the teams. The first was also the first game in Seahawks history in 1976, a 30-24 win for the then-St. Louis Cardinals at the Kingdome.
The series now rests at 22-22-1, the tie the only one in Seahawks history.
But unlike most Seahawks series, which feature massive edges for the home teams, this one instead has been a tale of the road wins lately.
Arizona has won six of the past nine games in Seattle, including a 23-13 victory at Lumen Field on Nov. 21, and the Seahawks are 6-1-1 in the past eight games against the Cardinals in Glendale.
Arizona is a 6.5-point favorite and is the only one of the teams with something to play for — with a chance at the second seed in the NFC playoffs — but history and trends favor the Seahawks.
For one last time this season, on to our weekly keys to the game.
Pete Carroll credits improved O-line play for Seahawks’ offensive resurgence. Could it be a sign of things to come?
When the 2020 Seahawks season ended, coach Pete Carroll said he had one primary goal for the offense in 2021: run the ball well enough to get opponents out of playing two-high safety schemes designed to take away big plays in the passing game.
It was Seattle’s inability to run well in the second half of 2020 that Carroll felt allowed opponents to go to the two-high looks — meaning, not having to bring a safety closer to the line to play the run — which curtailed Seattle’s passing game. QB Russell Wilson, who had thrown 28 touchdowns in the first eight games of 2020, threw just 12 in the final eight games.
“Frankly, I’d like to not play against two-deep looks all season long next year,” Carroll said last January. “We need to be able to knock those guys into the scheme that we want to throw at.”
Finally, as the 2021 season comes to a close, the Seahawks may have accomplished that goal thanks to a revived rushing attack led by resurgent running back Rashaad Penny and an offensive line that Carroll thinks has blocked well most of the season.
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