By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
PHOENIX — Seattle’s defense looked like a top-five defense in the team’s season opener against NFC West rival Arizona.
Except when it mattered most.
The Seahawks held the Cardinals to 253 total yards. They forced Arizona’s offense into two turnovers that Seattle’s offense turned into six points. They limited the Cardinals to 43 rushing yards and held Arizona to 3 of 10 on third downs.
“We were just trying to create opportunities for our offense to get into position to score,” said Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. The Cal product was a force inside, finishing with four tackles, two pass deflections and a fumble recovery. “We just turned it up a notch, and we knew what type of game it was going to be. It was going to be a dog fight, and that’s what it turned out to be.”
Up 16-13 with just over nine minutes left, the Seahawks appeared in good position to close out the game with the way the defense had played up until that point.
But the Cardinals went with a quick tempo and surprisingly marched 80 yards on 11 plays, going up for good on Andre Roberts’ 6-yard touchdown reception.
Backup Kevin Kolb replaced starter John Skelton two plays into the drive, when the Fordham University product suffered what appeared to be a broken ankle when Mebane fell on his leg after Skelton completed a 17-yard pass to Roberts.
Skelton’s leg was placed in an air cast, and he was carted to the locker room for further evaluation.
Kolb lost out to Skelton in the battle for Arizona’s starting quarterback job during the preseason, and was set to earn $8 million this year as the team’s reserve quarterback.
But he finished 6-of-8 for 66 yards on the drive, and appears to be back as the team’s starter with Skelton likely out for an extended period of time.
The Cardinals didn’t have a first down in the second half until Kolb took over.
“They just got into a rhythm,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “We saw everything they tried to throw at us, but they just got in a rhythm at the end. We just have to hold them. When we gave up all those yards at the end, we just have to hold them to a field goal at least, just give our offense a better chance.”
“Let’s talk about how poetic that was,” Arizona safety Adrian Wilson said. “The guy didn’t get any reps in practice really. John got all the reps, and he came in there and led the game-winning drive. Defensively, we just went out there and did our job. Kevin is really the one that should be talked about right now.”