ReFo: Cardinals @ Seahawks, Week 14
Where do you begin with a game that ended 58-0 and, in truth, could have been a far more lopsided scoreline? The Seattle Seahawks were far from irresistible in this game, but in truth all they needed to do to stroll away with a win was tie their shoelaces as the Arizona Cardinals put forth one of the most inept displays in NFL history.
After a 4-0 start, which had Cardinals fans lambasting PFF for not buying in and drinking the Kool-Aid, the team is now reeling from one defeat to another in utter ignominy. Arizona has seemingly been unable to find a quarterback that can complete a simple pass on the occasions where they manage to avoid pressure in the pocket.
For Seattle, the win represented another important home victory, one that moves them one step closer to the playoffs, and keeps their dreams of snatching the division from the 49ers alive. Even if they fail to capture the division crown they hold vital tie-breakers over other wild-card rivals and now need to start looking to the postseason.
But, let’s take a look at this train wreck of a game to distill some performances worth focusing on.
Arizona – Three Performances of Note
Send Help – QB Needed
Arizona’s quarterback display was so bad the Cardinals signed Brian Hoyer after the game, and he could well be in line to start. John Skelton and Ryan Lindley orchestrated a conclusive and damning indictment of the team’s scouting department, showing an almost complete and total inability to pass the football. By the end of the game the Seahawks were playing almost a prevent defense with their second team players and the Cardinals were still relying on short, quick passes for Lindley of the type your mother would have a good chance of completing. Skelton managed to amass one of the worst quarterback grades PFF has ever handed out on just 36 snaps and 23 passing plays, displaying a staggering lack of accuracy or awareness for what can happen on defense. In that time he threw four interceptions, each more face-palming than the last, before eventually being benched for his own safety as much as anything else.
Defense Mailing it In
It wasn’t long ago that this side of the ball was one of the better units in the league, able to keep the struggling Arizona offense in games. This game, however, they just rolled over and played dead for the vast majority of plays. Daryl Washington, one of the league’s better linebackers inside, had an absolute stinker. He was washed out of plays any time a blocker came near him, getting involved in after-the-play antics as the game got increasingly chippy the higher the score went, and generally torpedoing his grade for the season. He was far from the lone offender. Darnell Dockett decided to experiment with irony, giving up after causing a fight over being instructed to give up on a play and allow the opposition to score when it was the only hope the team had of winning. They were far from the only offenders, but both should be extremely disappointed with their play.
If there was a game you would expect right tackle Bobby Massie to revert to form, and his struggles from early in the year, it would be this one. Not only was he facing some talented defensive linemen, but with the rest of the team drowning itself in quicksand, the temptation to join them would seem an easy one to give in to — but Massie had another strong game. His +2.9 grade came as the result of giving up just a single hit and hurry from 42 snaps pass blocking. It was by far the best grade of the offensive line and really makes a statement that he was serious about taking control of his NFL career and being a better player.
Kudos to Massie, who represents one of the bright spots of the Cardinals’ season.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Beastmode Alive and Well
Evaluating the performance of the Seattle players is somewhat tricky given how complete the Arizona capitulation was, but by any rational measure Marshawn Lynch was once again monstrous. He rushed just 11 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns, forcing five missed tackles along the way before he gave way to backup Robert Turbin. Turbin also rushed for over 100 yards to give you an indication of how dominant the battle in the trenches was, but it took him 20 carries to get there. Lynch seems to have spent his entire career overshadowed by Adrian Peterson, and yet again he finds himself simply the next best guy as Peterson chases down 2,000 yards. Still, the Seahawks won’t mind.
Optimus Prime Transforms Passes into Picks
At times in this game it seemed like Richard Sherman was Skelton’s primary read on pass plays. The scattershot Arizona passer seemed able to hit him far more readily than he could his own receivers, and Sherman was there to kill every pass that came his way. He was thrown at five times in the game, allowing just one catch for 9 yards, but he broke up one pass and intercepted another two, bringing one back to the house for a score. Sherman was masterful in coverage, and was able to bait Skelton into throwing passes no NFL quarterback should be attempting. His second interception on a deep ball was a perfect example of this mix of fantastic play and inept passing. Sherman baited Skelton into throwing to the outside on a wheel route only to simply peel off his man, the inside receiver, and wait for the ball to drop into his hands.
Defensive Rookie of the Year?
Lightweight pass-rusher Bruce Irvin grabbed himself another sack and added a fistful more pressure from his 29 pass-rushing snaps, but the player I’m talking about is Bobby Wagner (+5.4) who broke out with another fantastic performance in the middle for Seattle. Wagner played 48 snaps before Seattle broke out the second team defense, but he earned himself a pair of interceptions and showed well in the run game as well. While some will be pointing to Carolina’s Luke Kuechly because he has racked up more tackles, he simply hasn’t been in the class of Wagner this season, even if again he was aided in this game by the Cardinals self-destruction.
– Arizona missed 10 tackles on defense, and given how the game went, that’s less than expected.
– On passes aimed over 10 yards down field, John Skelton completed three more balls to Seattle players (3) than to Cardinals players (1).
– Larry Fitzgerald was targeted 11 times and managed just a single reception, coming late on a quick out against soft coverage seemingly just to get him on the board.
PFF Game Ball
The Seahawks are brimming over with viable candidates here, with Lynch, Wagner, Giacomini and Chris Clemons in particular having strong cases, but Richard Sherman gets the nod.