GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s wasn’t clean, but it worked.
The Seattle Seahawks came into Arizona and picked up their third road win of the season, beating the Cardinals 34-22 Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
As was the case in Sunday’s victory over Tennessee, the Seahawks got in their own way at times, but managed to build a 31-13 lead by the end of the third quarter and hung on to improve to 6-1 for the first time in franchise history. Seattle also matched its regular-season road win total of a year ago.
“We’re still not playing as clean as we want,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “We still have not had the across-the-board clean game we’re looking for. It feels like we’re still growing.
“We have enough firepower in a lot of areas to overcome the things that are going in the wrong direction.”
That firepower starts with one of the NFL’s best defenses.The Seahawks punished Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer — who played for Carroll at USC — sacking him seven times. Making matters worse for Arizona, the Cards averaged just 1.7 yards per run.
“Whole lot of hungry dudes,” Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin said of the defense. “Bunch of crazed dogs, man.”
Malcolm Smith, Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett, Clinton McDonald, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, Red Bryant and K.J. Wright all hurled Palmer to the ground.
Irvin chatted him up.”I said, man, you’re going to be sore,” Irving said. “He told me he’s used to it.”
Falling into an early 14-0 hole didn’t do Palmer and the Cardinals’ offense any favors.
“When you get into that type of game and you get behind, it’s going to be a struggle,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said, “but we have to figure out ways to start faster on both sides of the ball.”
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was effective through the air, finishing the night 18-for-29 for 235 yards and three touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch ran 21 times for 91 yards and a score.
Wide receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate had strong nights. Rice, who has been quiet this season, caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Tate led the Seahawks with 77 receiving yards. Tight end Zach Miller had a team-high five catches.
The Seahawks put the game away in the third quarter when tight end Kellen Davis caught a 1-yard touchdown and Lynch ran in from 2 yards out. Seattle dominated the first half — out-gaining Arizona 210 yards to 69 — but led just 17-10 at halftime.
In the second quarter, after Seattle failed to convert on a fourth-and-1, Arizona dragged itself 26 yards on 10 plays to end up with three points on a 49-yard field goal from Jay Feely.
Still, the Seahawks led 14-3. Until another turnover.A week after the Seahawks fumbled five times against Tennessee to help the Titans stay close, Wilson fumbled when he was hit from behind by Arizona linebacker Matt Shaughnessy. Arizona recovered the ball at the Seahawks’ 3-yard line. One play later, running back Rashard Mendenhall was celebrating with teammates in the end zone.
Those two scores wiped out most of a fast start by the Seahawks that produced a 14-0 lead.
On Seattle’s first possession of the game, Wilson made a throw of power and precision when he rolled right, drifted back then launched the ball toward Rice. Rice ran under the pass into an unmanned patch of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown.
Wilson threw the ball more than 40 yards in the air off his back foot and led Rice to the open area.
Miller, back from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss two weeks, caught a 15-yard touchdown pass with 13:25 remaining in the second quarter to put the Seahawks up 14-0 and make the game appear on its way to an obvious conclusion.
The stuffed fourth down and turnover changed things during another week when the Seahawks had trouble hanging on to the ball (four fumbles, two of them lost) and committed 10 penalties for 70 yards.Eventually, though, Seattle regained control of the game in the second half behind its defense. The key play was an interception by Brandon Browner that he returned to the 1-yard line, setting up Lynch’s TD run that gave Seattle a comfortable 31-13 lead.
“It’s been going that way for a couple weeks now,” Carroll said of the defense stepping up. “We expect our guys to play like that.”