Sunday's matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals had everything a sports fan wants in a game. Primetime. National television. Top seed in the NFC on the line. Doesn't get much bigger than this.
The Seahawks stepped up to the challenge in a dominating 35-6 win. The win wasn't just dominating, it was historic. Seattle's 596 yards of offense not only set a franchise record for the Seahawks, but was also the most yards allowed by the Cardinals since 1958.
Luke Willson led the way with three catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard touchdown reception, the longest of his career.
Russell Wilson had another masterful performance, completing 20-of-31 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Marshawn Lynch did Marshawn Lynch things, grabbing certain regions of his body on his way into the end zone. More on that later in the recap. Lynch had 10 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including a 79-yard touchdown run that was classic Beast Mode.
The Seahawks now control the NFC and will look to lock up the No. 1 seed next week in their regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 28-26 back on October 19 in St. Louis. Now let's get to the recap, this was a fun one.
Robert Turbin got the start for the Seahawks as Marshawn Lynch was held off the field early due to an upset stomach. Lynch strolled out of the locker room at kickoff wearing a beanie, looking like he was in no hurry to get into the game. Turbin had a few good touches to get the Seahawks out to midfield, but their drive would stall at midfield after a false start penalty against Jermaine Kearse.
GET MARSHAWN LYNCH SOME SKITTLES NOW— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) December 22, 2014
Enter Ryan Lindley.
Lindley hit Larry Fitzgerald on his first pass attempt, converting a third down and probably letting out a big sigh of relief. However, Lindley would then throw three straight incomplete passes as the Cardinals would punt it away. On one of the incomplete passes, Earl Thomas came close to an interception, prompting this fantastic reaction.
Earl Thomas is the best https://t.co/XFUdFEDpRH— jose rivera. (@Jose8BS) December 22, 2014
Despite Lynch still being on the sidelines with his upset stomach, the Seahawks still managed to move the ball on the ground with Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. But once again, a false start penalty would stall the drive at midfield. The Cardinals put plenty of pressure on Russell Wilson, forcing him to scramble and throw the ball away while delivering big hits on him.
Lindley and the Cardinals would catch a break on the first play of their next drive as Byron Maxwell was hit with a pass interference. However, the Cardinals couldn't turn it into much of anything as Lindley looked as if he was still in the process of settling down and didn't complete a pass during the drive. On one of his pass attempts, Michael Floyd had Sherman beat deep, something you don't see too often. Fortunately for Sherman and the Seahawks, Floyd got turned around and wasn't able to haul in the pass.
Wilson ended the first quarter with a bang, breaking up the middle for a 55-yard run to move the ball into Arizona territory, the longest run of his career.
Arizona's offense struggled in the first quarter with just 15 yards of offense, including five passing yards from Lindley which came on his first completed pass of the night. Seattle had 134 yards of offense, including 103 rushing yards. The Seahawks also controlled the ball for almost the entire quarter with a time of possession of just over eleven minutes.
Arizona would once again bring the pressure on 3rd down, forcing Wilson to throw it on the run. The pass fell incomplete, and Steven Hauschka's 52-yard field goal attempt was off the mark as the field position battle continued with the game remaining scoreless early in the second quarter.
On Arizona's next drive, the Cardinals were helped out by Michael Bennett who was called for offsides on two consecutive plays. Now, I'm no football player (hence why I write for a Seahawks blog instead of putting on the pads). But not lining up in the neutral zone and looking at where the ball is doesn't seem like a difficult concept to me. Peter was not pleased.
After the Cardinals moved the ball inside the 10, Seattle's goal-line defense stepped up and held Arizona to just a field goal. On 3rd and goal, Jeremy Lane nearly came up with an interception as Ryan Lindley tried to hit John Brown in the back corner of the end zone, but Lane wasn't able to come up with a hold on the ball as it slipped through his hands.
On Seattle's ensuing drive, Russell Wilson hit his brother from another mother, lobbing a pass downfield to Luke Willson for the 80-yard touchdown, giving the Seahawks a 7-3 lead. Credit to Luke on the play for turning on the burners and outrunning the Arizona secondary. The pass tied for the longest of Russell Wilson's career.
Lynch ran for no gain on the first play of the drive. Play action to Lynch allowed Willson to get behind secondary on next play.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) December 22, 2014
Ryan Lindley continued to struggle to complete a pass. A third of the way through the 2nd quarter, Lindley had completed just 4-of-12 passes for 39 yards. The Cardinals would be forced to punt out of their end zone after three straight incomplete passes, one from Logan Thomas, who head coach Bruce Arians said would be used in certain packages throughout the night.
Wilson continued to hurt the Cardinals with his legs, scrambling for a 17-yard gain to move the Seahawks inside the red zone. After a clutch pass completion to Doug Baldwin on 3rd and 8, Marshawn Lynch powered his way into the end zone to give the Seahawks a 14-3 lead with 3:41 left in the half.
The Sehawks lost a couple key guys on offense during the first half as Jermaine Kearse was lost for the game with a hamstring injury while Cooper Helfet was taken to the locker room for a rib injury. Suddenly, Luke Willson was the last tight end standing for Seattle. But considering his 80-yard touchdown catch, that seemed just fine for the night. (Helfet would return early in the second half).
With the exception of a whole heap of penalties, the Seahawks completely dominated the first half. Seattle had 318 yards of offense compared to just 64 yards for the Cardinals. Ryan Lindley completed 5-of-15 passes for 54 yards, while Russell Wilson completed 11-of-20 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 81 yards on three carries.
The only aspect the Seahawks didn't completely control in the first half was penalties, committing 11 penalties for 92 yards. Four of Arizona's first downs came from penalties and was pretty much the only reason they were even able to manage a field goal during the first half.
The second half started just as poorly for Lindley and the Cardinals as the first half had gone as Arizona went three-and-out on their opening drive. Three plays, -3 yards, two more incomplete passes, punt. Yep, Lindley was really "slinging it" like his coach told him to.
For the second time of the night, Steven Hauschka missed from 50+, this time from 50 yards out as the kick fell short. Coming into tonight, Hauschka had hit his last five attempts from at least 50 yards.
Seattle caught a break on their next drive as they were pinned deep in their own territory. On 3rd down, Wilson tried to hit Paul Richardson, but wound up hitting the hands of Patrick Peterson. Fortunately for Seattle, Peterson wasn't able to haul in the interception, allowing the Seahawks to punt it away. Otherwise, the interception could have been a game-changer as a touchdown would've made it a 14-10 game.
Arizona continued to struggle on offense with their third straight three-and-out. Midway through the 3rd quarter, Lindley had completed 6-of-21 passes for 61 yards.
On Seattle's ensuing drive, Wilson made yet another big play, hitting Doug Baldwin for the 49-yard reception down the sidelines, moving the ball into field goal range with one strike.
Unfortunatley, Steven Hauschka's struggles continued. Hauschka missed his third field goal of the night, this time from 47 yards out. Coming into tonight, Hauschka had only missed three field goals all season. Sometimes as a kicker, it's just not your night. I know present to you, "Confused Peter."
The Cardinals finally converted their first 1st down of the half in a big way as Lindley went up and over Richard Sherman to hit Michael Floyd for a 32-yard gain, moving the ball down to the Seattle 20.
Thanks to a huge sack by Jordan Hill, the Cardinals would have to settle for a field goal, making it a 14-6 game going into the fourth quarter.
Wilson began the 4th quarter with two huge passes to Luke Willson. First, Russell detected a blitz perfectly and hit Luke for a 39-yard gain to move the ball to the Arizona 30.
That was a fantastic throw by RW, perfectly lofted over double-coverage right into Luke's hands for a 39-yard play.— Terry Blount (@TerryBlountESPN) December 22, 2014
Three plays later, Russell hit Luke for the second "Wilson to Willson" touchdown of the night, this time from 20 yards out. The score gave the Seahawks a 21-6 lead, which considering how Lindley and the Cardinals offense was faring, might as well have been a 58-0 lead.
Then, Marshawn Lynch went Beast Mode on us all over again. With Seattle already in control, Lynch took off downfield. Any poor soul who got in his way was viciously shoved to the ground as the Beast rumbled his way 79 yards for the touchdown. And did you all see what he did upon his arrival to the goal line? No? You missed it? Let me fill you in.
HE DID IT AGAIN. HE ACTUALLY DID IT AGAIN.
Here's the radio call of the play. It's magical.
Here is the GIF of the full run. It's like a near mirror image of the original Beast Quake against the Saints.
The touchdown run was the longest of Lynch's career.
As if the game wasn't sealed by Beast Quake 2.0, Richard Sherman came up with a late interception to cap off another dominating performance by the Seahawks defense.
And as if the game needed another stamp, Wilson provided one. On Seattle's next drive, Wilson danced, stiff armed and juked his way to the end zone for the 5-yard touchdown run, putting the Seahawks up 35-6.
Now, the Seahawks "control their own destiny." I put this in quotations because like Chip Kelly once said, "You know you can't control your own destiny? Destiny is a predetermined set of events, therefore if it's predetermined, you can't control it." Technicalities aside, it's simple for the Seahawks now. Win, and they clinch the top seed in the NFC. Well, technically they need a win AND Green Bay and Detroit non-tie, but we'll take our chances with that last one. Lose, and they'll slip to the No. 6 seed. The stakes are just as big, and the Rams will be looking to play spoiler. You can bet the entire NFC will be rooting for the Rams as well. Otherwise, the road to the Super Bowl will once again go through CenturyLink Field.