But man, the Arizona Cardinals sure did try to make it easy on Seattle, making just about every mistake feasible to help the Seahawks roll to a 58-0 victory in front of 67,685 at CenturyLink Field, hopefully none of whom were related to Cardinals quarterback John Skelton.
And speaking of Skelton, the man who threw four interceptions before getting benched, summed up Sunday’s game best when addressing reporters in the visitor’s locker room.
“Ass kicking,” Skelton said. “That’s the only thing you can say.”
Only it wasn’t the only thing he could say. Skelton later elaborated, explaining that it was “an old-fashioned ass kicking.”
That really is about the only way to explain what transpired Sunday, as the Seahawks scored the most points in franchise history, posted their first shutout since 2009 and tied for the second most takeaways in team history with eight.
Before the first half was over, the Seahawks scored on offense. They scored on defense — Richard Sherman’s interception return for a touchdown put the Seahawks up 24-0. They scored on special teams — Malcolm Smith recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone to make it 31-0. Meanwhile, the Cardinals couldn’t score at all.
Seattle’s running game was so dominant, totaling 284 yards, the fourth most in franchise history, that the Seahawks managed to put 58 points on the scoreboard with just 209 passing yards.
“I don’t think I’ve seen (a blowout like this). I’ve never been a part of something like that, but a lot of crazy plays happened out there today,” receiver Sidney Rice said.
The win improved the Seahawks’ record to 8-5, guaranteeing the first non-losing record in Pete Carroll’s tenure, and keeps the Seahawks in the driver’s seat to earn a Wild Card berth. The victory also keeps alive Seattle’s hopes of catching the 49ers in the NFC West. However, the Seahawks would still need help for that to happen, perhaps in the form of a San Francisco loss in New England next weekend.
In a season that has in a lot of ways been defined by late-game heroics from Russell Wilson, the rookie quarterback this time found himself in a spectator’s role by the third quarter, giving way to backup Matt Flynn who came in for mop-up duty.
“I came out with 12 minutes left in the third quarter,” Wilson said, sounding somewhat shocked. “It’s great to be able to come out of the game because we blew them out so bad. The game was crazy throughout the whole entire game.”
Indeed the game was crazy. What’s easy to forget now is that the way it started, it looked like the Cardinals might have some fight in them.
Losers of eight straight heading into the game, Arizona opened the afternoon by quickly driving into Seahawks territory. But just when it looked like the Cardinals might be heading for an early lead, a Skelton pass to Larry Fitzgerald was broken up by linebacker K.J. Wright. Just before the ball hit the ground, a diving Walter Thurmond tipped it up and rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner scooped it up and returned it 45 yards, setting up a field goal.
Facing a struggling defense, the Seahawks’ plan all along was to dial up the pressure and try to create turnovers. They never could have imagined it would have turned out this well, however.
“We had a game plan to attack,” said Sherman, who was one of two Seahawks along with Wagner to have two interceptions. “They had given up a quite a few sacks already on the year, so we were trying to attack, get some turnovers, get the ball rolling, and Bobby started it off with the pick, Thurm tipped it up, that started everything off, and once that ball got rolling, it kind of turned into a landslide.”
Kind of? Well, that’s something of an understatement.
Not long after Marshawn Lynch gave the Seahawks a 17-0 lead with the second of his three touchdowns, Chris Clemons sacked Skelton, forced a fumble and fell on the loose ball. The Seahawks couldn’t score off that turnover, but two plays after punting, Sherman had his pick six. And when the Cardinals stopped the Seahawks offense again, returner Patrick Peterson muffed the punt, the ball bounced off several players and as it did pretty much all day long, it found a Seahawk — this time going to Smith in the end zone.
The Seahawks did give the ball back once, with Peterson making a diving catch on a pass from Wilson, but that was almost immediately followed by Sherman’s second interception. Seattle took a 38-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, and didn’t let up in the second half, using a strong rushing attack and two more turnovers to extend the lead to comical levels.
And for once, the team that seems to take every game down to the wire got to enjoy a laugher.
“It just feels good to get a dominant win like that,” said safety Earl Thomas. “Throughout this whole season, we’ve been having to fight to the last little bit. It definitely builds confidence. Like I said last week after we won that game, it’s stuff we can build on and get better.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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