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Seahawks win in a romp
No fourth-quarter heroics needed in this one.
That’s because the Seahawks came up with a season’s-worth of big plays in the first, second and third quarter at CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon in a 58-0 rout of the Arizona Cardinals.
Three rushing touchdowns by Marshawn Lynch, and a fourth by Leon Washington. Eight turnovers, including two interceptions each by cornerback Richard Sherman and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, and a 19-yard pick-six by Sherman. A recovery of a muffed punt by Malcolm Smith for another TD.
It all added up to the Seahawks’ most-lopsided victory of the season, and lifted them into the No. 1 wild-card spot in the NFC playoff picture.
The victory boosted the Seahawks’ record to 8-5 – which is one more victory than they had in each of Pete Carroll’s first two seasons as coach. It also upped their home record to 6-0, with two of their three remaining games also at CenturyLink – Dec. 23 against the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers and on the 30th against the St. Louis Rams, which follow next Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto.
At 8-5, the Seahawks are tied with the Chicago Bears, who lost to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. But the Seahawks have the tiebreaker because they beat the Bears in overtime last week.
The Seahawks stormed – yes, stormed – to a 38-0 lead at halftime by scoring in all three phases. Lynch scored twice. Sherman returned an interception for the touchdown. Smith scored off the muffed punt.
The Cardinals got the ball first, but the Seahawks scored first on a 31-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that was set up by Wagner’s interception and 45-yard return. Lynch then scored on a 20-yard run with 2:04 left to cap an 11-play, 85-yard drive that consumed 6:14.
Lynch not only scored the TD, he broke a 15-yard run on a draw to the Cardinals’ 5, only to have the ball moved back to the 20 because of a roughness penalty on right guard Breno Giacomini. No worries, as Lynch scored on the next play. He carried five times for 58 yards on the drive.
Wagner’s pick came after linebacker K.J. Wright ripped the ball from the grasp of Larry Fitzgerald and cornerback Walter Thurmond tipped the ball before it could hit the turf. The Cardinals had taken the opening kickoff and driven from their 22 to the Seahawks’ 37 before the triple-heads-up plays.
The Seahawks pushed their lead to 17-0 as Lynch scored on a 4-yard run on the first play of the quarter. Lynch’s second TD was setup by a 67-yard pass play from Russell Wilson to tight end Anthony McCoy on the final play of the first half. Lynch had 300-pound defensive tackle David Carter on his back as he crossed the goal line.
Sherman made it 24-0 with 10:12 remaining as he intercepted John Skelton's pass that was intended for Fitzgerald and returned it 19 yards for a TD. Then, quicker than you could say muffed punt return, Patrick Peterson did just that. Jeremy Lane whiffed on recovering the ball, but kicked it with his foot while on the ground, allowing Malcolm Smith to catch it for the TD that made it 31-0 with 6½ minutes left.
Then, quicker than you could say Peterson fumbles a punt return, Byron Maxwell forced and recovered that fumble and Wilson passed 27 yards to tight end Zach Miller for a TD with six seconds to play.
Chris Clemons, the Seahawks’ sack leader, came up with a hat trick in the second quarter, as he beat tackle Nate Potter to swat the ball from the hand of QB John Skelton for a sack and then recovered his own forced fumble. Good. Better. Best. All in a blink.
Sherman also added a second interception. On his pick-six, as he read Skelton’s pass better than Fitzgerald to get his hands on the ball and then ran it in.
The Seahawks’ 38 first-half points were more than they had scored in their previous 12 games.
The Seahawks picked up in the second half where they left off in the first half, as Lynch scored on a 35-yard run – on third-and-4 – to run the Seahawks lead to 45-0. Lynch carried three times on the seven-play, 86-yard drive for 59 yards.
Wagner’s second interception of the game setup a 28-yard field goal by Hauschka to make it 48-0 with 7:43 left in the quarter. Anyone for 51? It came on Hauschka’s 32-yard field goal, which was setup by Sherman recovering Jeron Johnson’s sack that forced a fumble.
The trio of Lynch, rookie Robert Turbin and Leon Washington combined to carry the ball 13 times in the quarter for 122 yards. Lynch’s TD run matched his career-best from a 2010 game against the Panthers.
After the Seahawks’ avalanche of points in the first three quarters – including 28 in the second – they settled for seven points in the fourth quarter when Leon Washington ran 3 yards for a TD with 2:32 remaining.
The Seahawks’ backups took over in the fourth quarter, as QB Matt Flynn got his first snaps of the season. The backup O-line also got in. Some players who have played sparingly on defense made some plays. Rookie Robert Turbin went over 100 yards rushing for the game, giving the Seahawks their first pair of 100-yard rushers (Marshawn Lynch was the other) since 2005 – when Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris did it against the Texans.
Just how big a rout was this? The Seahawks went for it on a fourth-and-23 play from the Cardinals’ 33 with roughly seven minutes to play. The pass into the end zone from Flynn went off the hands of rookie wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
The 58 points is the franchise record for most in a game. The previous record was 56 against the Bills in 1977. The only other time the Seahawks topped 50 was in 1983, in an overtime win against the Chiefs.