With a potential playoff spot on the line, Arizona came into Seattle and did something no one had done in two seasons: knock off the Seahawks at home. Now each team heads into the final week of the season with something on the line; for the Cardinals a wild card spot is at stake though they will need help and could still miss the playoffs with 11 wins, while the Seahawks look to lock up the top seed in the NFC.
As for this one, the 17-10 score should say quite a bit; both teams struggled to get going offensively, combining for six turnovers, with the Cardinals ultimately able to do just enough to get the win. Let’s take a look at some of the notable performances from this NFC West matchup.
Arizona – Three Performances of Note
Cardinal Defense Powers to Victory
The Seahawks targeted Jerraud Powers often, but with little success; of the nine passes thrown with the Cardinal in primary coverage, only two were completed for a total of 10 yards. While he wasn’t quite as good as those numbers might suggest, beaten in coverage on three passes that were either off-target or dropped, Powers made several impact plays. The corner displayed impressive ball skills on a pair of defenses (Q3 11:07 and Q4 14:10), while his motor paid off when he chased down Golden Tate after a completion and forced a fumble (Q4 9:55). The latter example was particularly impressive, especially in comparison to teammate Patrick Peterson who spent the back end of the same play complaining to the officials with the ball still live.
Another large piece in Arizona’s effort to hold Seattle under 200 total yards was Karlos Dansby (+2.1). Whereas Powers did most of his work in pass defense, Dansby was a force against the run, making several stops for short gains and twice beating blocks of James Carpenter. That’s not to say he was a slouch in pass defense; Dansby’s diving interception of a deflected pass sealed a Cardinal victory with 2:06 remaining in the game. With another strong performance, he now has the fifth-highest grade among inside linebackers on the season.
Palmer Struggles, But Comes up Big Late
Somehow, the Cardinals came away with the win despite four Carson Palmer interceptions. Two were bad luck to some degree, finding the hands of Seahawk defenders only after deflections, as one (Q1 11:44) went off of his receiver in the end zone and another (Q2 0:55) was picked after it was batted in the air at the line. The other two, however, were just poor decisions. His interception at 4:54 of the first was simply forced, though the defender made a great play. And while he was hit on the throw at 14:17 of the fourth, the ball should never have left his hand with a defender bearing down. Still, give Palmer credit for bouncing back and leading the Cardinals 80 yards for the go-ahead TD, a throw that was as good as any on the afternoon, hitting Michael Floyd perfectly over his shoulder for the 31-yard score.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Knifing Through the Line
Although Seattle lost the game, it was little fault of the defense led by Brandon Mebane (+3.5) in the middle. Mebane generally had his way with the Cardinal offensive line and particularly Lyle Sendlein, beating the center for two hurries and a hit, three of his four total pressures on the day. He gave Palmer little chance on the hit at 11:44 of the first, quickly defeating Sendlein to his left to get to the QB in under two seconds. Two plays prior, he beat the same Cardinal to his right to blow up a stretch run for a loss. Sendlein was able to return the favor by sealing Mebane on a few occasions in the run game, though the Seahawk ultimately came out ahead.
Quarterbacks continue to test Richard Sherman and he just keeps making them pay. In this one, both passes thrown into his primary coverage ended up in his hands instead of those of the intended target, not an easy task working against the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Not only does the Seahawk now lead the league in interceptions with eight, he’s done it in the fewest targets; no CB who has played at least 150 snaps has been targeted less frequently than Sherman, as QBs have gone his way just once every 9.2 snaps in coverage. As long as he’s shutting opposing receivers down like he’s done to this point, Seattle will take the penalties that go along with his physical play. The two flags for defensive pass interference were about the only negatives on another strong day for Sherman.
When the team scores just 10 points, it’s usually in large part due to the play of the quarterback. Russell Wilson (-1.7) had his moments, like the laser rolling to his left at 1:40 in the second quarter, and the perfectly placed deep ball at 13:07 in the third, both of which were in the hands of his receivers, yet ultimately fell incomplete. However, he also had his share of boneheaded plays, including the inexplicable throw into triple coverage (Q1 10:08), which should’ve been picked off by two different Cardinal defenders. Perhaps karma for that pass, his last throw of the day was picked off after it deflected off of a diving Doug Baldwin. Bad luck or not, the pass was underthrown, one of a number of misfires on the day.
– Only RT Eric Winston graded positively among the Arizona offensive linemen, with a strong effort in the run game. The five starters and reserve Bobby Massie combined to allow pressure on over 46% of passing plays.
– Marshawn Lynch forced four missed tackles, the seventh straight game in which he’s forced at least two.
– Larry Fitzgerald was held to a season-low 0.69 Yards per Route Run.
PFF Game Ball
This one goes to Dansby, Powers, and the rest of the Cardinal defense.
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