AZ-SEA grades: Calais Campbell shines in NFC West victory
Arizona Cardinals 34, Seattle Seahawks 31
Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from the Cardinals’ 34-31 win over Seattle in Week 16:
Quarterback grade: Carson Palmer, 78.9
Palmer excellent in victory, handles pressure well
Against Seattle in their Week 7 tie, Palmer struggled mightily, but especially under pressure, as he completed 7 of 16 attempts for just 42 yards and a passer rating of 51.0. While he didn’t give Seattle gifts in the form of interceptions, he tried to the first game with two turnover-worthy throws. This time around, Palmer was not in the spirit of giving, as he didn’t throw any wayward passes into the arms of Seattle defenders, and delivered Arizona an early Christmas present with two big-time throws, while averaging 7.8 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 71.5 when delivering the pigskin under pressure.
Top offensive grades:
WR J.J. Nelson, 81.8
C A.Q. Shipley, 79.6
QB Carson Palmer, 78.9
LT John Wetzel, 74.7
WR Larry Fitzgerald, 72.5
Cardinals OL improves from Week 7 tie, Nelson delivers
After being responsible for five sacks, two hits, and four hurries in the Week 7 tie, the Cardinals’ offensive line wasn’t in the spirit of the season, and arguably had their best game of the year, allowing just one sack, two hits, and three hurries. Led by A.Q. Shipley, the former Penn State center is quietly having a solid season, grading well in run blocking. WR J.J. Nelson was spectacular on just six targets, catching three for 132 yards and a touchdown, forcing two missed tackles, and beating Richard Sherman on two occasions for 52 yards.
Top defensive grades:
DE Calais Campbell, 85.8
CB Justin Bethel, 85
LB Sio Moore, 83.4
ED Chandler Jones, 83.3
SS D.J. Swearinger, 80.6
Campbell and Jones provide the heat
DE Calais Campbell was a force against the Seahawks O-line as he notched a sack, two hits, and three pressures, while also dominating in the run game with three run stops. OLB Chandler Jones also dominated the Seahawks OTs, recording two sacks and five hurries. Seven Cardinals’ defenders recorded multiple QB pressures in the game. Christmas came early for CB Justin Bethel, as he was targeted 10 times, but allowed just five catches for 36 yards, one touchdown, and had three pass breakups.
Quarterback grade: Russell Wilson, 87.0
Wilson handles Cardinals’ pass-rush well
Russell Wilson was incredible under pressure against the Cardinals, as he completed 10 of 17 for 184 yards and three touchdowns (135.8 passer rating). Wilson picked apart the Cardinals’ coverage unit, completing 13 of 21 attempts for 258 yards and four touchdowns when targeting receivers over 10 yards downfield.
Top offensive grades:
QB Russell Wilson, 87.0
RT Garry Gilliam, 82.7
WR Doug Baldwin, 78.9
WR Tyler Lockett, 74.0
WR Paul Richardson, 72.8
Seahawks’ receivers excellent in defeat, though O-line struggles
While RT Garry Gilliam played arguably the best game of his career, allowing no pressure for the first time in his three seasons, the rest of the Seahawks’ offensive line was in the spirit of giving up monster pressure to the Cardinals’ pass-rushers. LT George Fant allowed one sack and five hurries, but was arguably worse in run blocking. LG Mark Glowinski was worse in pass protection than Fant, surrendering one sack, two hits, and four hurries, while RG Germain Ifedi allowed one sack and three hurries.
Top defensive grades:
ED Michael Bennett, 82.6
SS Kam Chancellor, 81.8
CB Richard Sherman, 80.9
LB K.J. Wright, 77.3
LB Bobby Wagner, 73.3
Seahawks’ defense unable to make final stop
Seattle’s normally-dominant defense looked suspect in two of the past three games, allowing over 31 points after not surrendering more than 25 in a game all year. Michael Bennett is playing at an almost elite level this year, as he recorded one sack, one hit, and three hurries. Kam Chancellor is having arguably the best season of his career, as he continues perform well in run defense and even in coverage, despite allowing the gut-wrenching 29-yard pass to David Johnson. FS Steven Terrell and CB Jeremy Lane struggled in coverage, and ultimately their poor play was the biggest gift the Cardinals’ received.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Cardinals DE Calais Campbell
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