Before the Seahawks joined the NFC West in 2002, they only had six meetings with the St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals. They lost FIVE of them. While the teams have split 16 NFC West meetings 8-8, there really isn't a fierce rivalry here, mainly because when the Seahawks were great from 2003-2007 the Cards SUCKED. Conversely, over the last two seasons Arizona ruled the NFC West while the Hawks were bottom-feeding sucka fools. Sunday's meeting is for first place in the NFC West, and might be the most important game the Seahawks have ever played against Arizona.
Of course, I expect nothing less than a brutal, gory mauling of the Cardinals this Sunday.. But first, a look back on five memorable Seahawks wins over their feathered foes...
Our first ever win over the nomadic Cardinals franchise, after five losses from 1976-1995. Shawn Springs and Willie Williams both took Jake Plummer INTs all the way back for scores, Ricky Watters gashed the Cards for 116 yards from scrimmage, and Michael Sinclair notched 2.5 of Seattle's 7 sacks.
Odd coda: Arizona would recover to go 9-5 down the stretch, make the playoffs, and beat NFC East (huh?) rivals Dallas in the Wild Card game. The Seahawks? Um, well... there was that Phantom Touchdown later on, but overall they went 6-8 the rest of 1998 and got Coach Erickson canned.
In two games against Arizona in 2005, Shaun Alexander rushed for 313 yards a SIX touchdowns! Four of those scores came in this one, which was actually fairly competitive until Seattle pulled away in the 4th. The Seahawks defense contributed 3 sacks, two takeaways, and kept the Cardinals out of the endzone for the full 60.
Rightly so, this game is remembered for Shaun Alexander's 88-yard TD scamper and 173-yard, 2-TD overall performance... But it's easy to forget that for a moment it looked like the Seahawks would crap this one away; A 27-9 lead got whittled down to 27-19 in the 4th, but thankfully the league MVP salted the victory away with another touchdown. Most likely this game was the moment where Shaun Alexander became a legitimate MVP candidate in the eyes of the national football press.
The Seahawks knew that with one win over their final two games in 2004, they'd make the playoffs. Up to that point, 2004 had been an absolute nightmare for Seahawks fans: The blown 17-point 4th quarter lead to the Rams, the MNF collapse v Dallas, and an embarassing blowout home loss to Buffalo had scarred the Twelve Army badly. Still, they were on the verge of the playoffs, which was a very novel experience for Seahawks fans still stung by the Behring Dark Ages.
For any other fan base, Shaun Alexander's 4th quarter TD to put Seattle up 24-7 would have been cause for celebration... We all were waiting for the terrible rain of anvils, and it looked like we'd all get splattered into oblivion when the Cardinals pulled within three late. Frankly, Trent Dilfer had an awful day subbing for Hasselbeck: 10-26 for 128 and an INT. But on 3rd down, he somehow outraced multiple Arizona defenders to the first down marker, allowing Seattle to kneel their way to a wayyy-too-stressful victory and a playoff berth.
Arizona came into this one needing a win to pull within one game of Seattle for the NFC West lead. The Seahawks? They would clinch a 4th consecutive NFC West title with a victory. They wouldn't blow the opportunity, jumping out to a 24-0 lead before cruising to an easy victory. Kurt Warner threw for 337 yards and 3 TDs, but was also picked (and sacked) 5 times. Hasselbeck tossed 4 TDs, and Tru delivered the death blow with an 84-yard pick six in the final quarter.
That was our last victory over Arizona... A new winning streak starts Sunday.
Check out my home blog if you fancy additional Seahawks coverage: Dave Krieg's Strike Beard