By John Boyle Herald Columnist
SEATTLE — This wasn’t a victory as much as it was a statement.
Needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt, the Seahawks could have slogged out an ugly, low-scoring win over the Cardinals Sunday. That would have sufficed.
Or Seattle’s suddenly suspect late-game defense could have shown more signs for concern and done just enough against the hapless Arizona offense and its bad-quarterback carrousel to help the Seahawks pull off another thrilling win.
Instead, in all phases of the game, the Seahawks dismantled a team they had lost to three months earlier, embarrassing the Cardinals to the tune of 58-0.
Yes, this was a statement game for the Seahawks in a lot of ways.
It was a statement that they can win games without making their fans sweat it out until the final second has ticked off the clock; a statement that the defense can generate a pass rush, force turnovers, and be dominant (thought that was a pretty awful offense Seattle shut down); a statement that the Seahawks are becoming a team that can take advantage of inferior opponents, something they haven’t done at times this season; and most importantly, a statement two weeks in the making that this is a resilient team.
Progress reports don’t come much better than this.
“I think we’ve gotten 10 times, 20 times better from that first game,” receiver Sidney Rice said. “Hopefully we can use this to continue to build. … We feel like we’re building something here, we’ve got something to work with.”
And yes the 58-point victory, the biggest in franchise history, did come against the Cardinals, who now have lost nine in a row. But beating bad teams has been far from a sure thing for the Seahawks this year.
In this game, the Seahawks had a chance to put their foot on the throat of an inferior opponent, and they did just that, using eight turnovers and scores by the defense and special teams to dismantle the Cardinals in just about every way imaginable.
“It’s unfathomable,” cornerback Walter Thurmond said. “Especially in the NFL. Being able to put that many points up and holding a team to zero points — that’s a big deal. We were just clicking on all cylinders today.”
Did the Seahawks beat up a bad team that came into the game on an eight-game losing streak? You bet. But that’s what they had to do, and they did it in resounding fashion. And as laughable as this game became in the second half — oh, who are we kidding, it was laughable in the first half — this type of result was anything but a given.
Last month, the Seahawks let the Jets stay within a touchdown into the fourth quarter, and two weeks ago in Miami, they let an offense that had been dismal in its previous two games march up and down the field to pull off a fourth-quarter comeback victory.
And speaking of that loss in Miami, this win, combined with Seattle’s road victory in Chicago last weekend, was a testament to the resilience of these Seahawks. Not only was the loss in Miami potentially devastating to the Seahawks’ playoff hopes — it dropped their record to 6-5 with a road game in Chicago looming — but that game was immediately followed by reports that cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were facing four-game suspensions.
Had the Seahawks done in Chicago what they had done in every previous road stop aside from Carolina — lost — they would have been 6-6, potentially missing two of their top defenders down the home stretch, and facing a very real possibility that a promising season was going to spiral out of control in December. Instead, Seattle has won two straight, last week in a tough road environment, and on Sunday in dominant fashion.
The Seahawks are again in control of their playoff destiny.
“It just shows the resolve in this team,” fullback Michael Robinson said.
On Sunday we saw just how far the Seahawks have come this season (and yes, how far the Cardinals have fallen).
The lopsided nature of this victory is nearly impossible to repeat in the NFL, but the way the Seahawks exerted their will, the way the defense dominated at home, the way they didn’t let a bad team hang around, bodes well for a team that gets to play two of its final three at home. It has its only remaining road game against the 5-8 Bills on a quasi-neutral field in Toronto.
“We have so much more to do and our goal is to do a lot of great things and to bring a lot of great things to this city and our franchise,” quarterback Russell Wilson said.
Two weeks ago after a forgettable afternoon in Miami, greatness seemed like a pipe dream. After their past two victories, however, the Seahawks are a team nobody can ignore.
“It’s just a stepping stone,” safety Earl Thomas said. “We’re getting hot at the right time. It’s getting late in the season and we’re ready for this push into the playoffs.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org