AZ-SEA grades: Calais Campbell shines in NFC West victory

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Cardinals' Week 16 win over the Seahawks.

| 5 months ago
Calais Campbell

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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:

Arizona Cardinals

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.

Carson Palmer vs 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.

Seattle Seahawks

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.

Russell Wilson vs pressure

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

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • JR

    Maybe santa claus will drop off some offensive lineman and a new offensive line coach in seattle…….

    • InvokeMyRage

      new OC

      • JR

        im not a huge bevell fan either, but lets be honest here……..if the offensive line cant open up any holes, who is at running back and what running play is called doesnt matter. similarly, if wilson cant take a 5step drop before hes hit by 3 people, the play call is irrelevant. 3 step drops dont work on 3rd and long…..

        • Ian

          I give Bevell more benefit of the doubt than most Hawks fans too… but still, there is no excuse for the uninspired red zone playcalling and the complete ignorance of Jimmy Graham all game long (particularly down by the goal line).

    • crosseyedlemon

      Santa doesn’t have much love for NFL fans since being pelted with snowballs by Eagle fans back in 1968.

  • Bill Doerr

    Only reason why Wilson looked so good throwing for the TDs he did is because basically AZs ENTIRE STARTING SECONDARY didn’t play. Only Patrick Peterson played n he was his usual All Pro self shutting everyone down but AZs 2016 Pro-Bowler 6″2 #2CB Marcus Cooper was out, Elite All-Pro FS/CB Tyrann Mathieu didnt play n has been shut down (Not because of a new injury, Keim n BA jus decided to sit Mathieu to get him fully 100% healthy for 2017 not wanting to risk anything being AZ isnt going to playoffs, Elite top 3 ranked SS Tony Jefferson didnt play due to sprained ankle suffered n for minutes of game!!!!!!

    None of the starters played. Wilson was facing rookie CBs like 6″1 (4.35spd) Brandon Williams n excellent coverage CB 6FT (4.45spd) Harlan Miller in the slot though he is an outside corner. 6″1/200pd CB Justin Bethel whos has elite 4.39spd is a very solid #2CB when healthy n he is healthy which is why he was so good . Harlan Miller played FS Today though he isnt a FS & 6FT/225 DJ Swearinger played SS, Swearinger is elite versus the run n top 20 ranked SS though for AZ he is a rotational Safety….. Wilson was playing AZ s 2nd n 3rd string DBs n still couldnt lead his team to a win, id hope he would atleast throw for some TDs against backups

    • cool

      Nice essay, but who is in the playoffs again? All this hate on Wilson when he’s done more than any QB the Cardinals ever had.

    • Ian

      Oh boo hoo. Patrick Peterson shut everyone down? He was incredibly fortunate as he nearly lost the game for you guys. Marcus Cooper? Who? Pro Bowl? Since when? If you count alternates, then half of the Seattle starting lineup made the Pro Bowl. No big deal. Tyrann Mathieu? Dude is made of glass. You’re most certainly not elite if you can’t even stay healthy for a full season.

      News flash. Every single team in the NFL can play the injury card. For example… you won the game because of a blown play by our reserve FS and nickelback. Our starting RB for most of the game was our third-string 5th round rookie. Our “Pro-Bowler Elite All-Pro” QB has been hobbled all year and was under duress all game long and yet still played like a stud.

    • Darnell

      If injury excuse logic was always applied to football no player would have legitimate stats and no team would have a legitimate win. It’s a silly way of thinking.

    • eYeDEF

      I’m not sure what game you were watching but Patrick Peterson had track marks all over him from Doug Baldwin catching on him all game. Baldwin caught for 171 yards, the majority of which were caught on Patrick Peterson. Watch the replays yourself.