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Seahawks pass, run and sack their way to 6-1 start
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Chuck Knox-coached Seahawks never did it. Neither did the Mike Holmgren-coached Seahawks.
But the Pete Carroll-coached Seahawks of 2013 are 6-1 after a 32-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday night.
So the Seahawks are 6-1 for the first time in their 38-year history, and the win over the Cardinals assures they will continue to lead their NFC West – regardless of how the San Francisco 49ers (4-2) do against the Titans in Tennessee on Sunday – as they now get a long break before their Oct. 28 game against the Rams in St. Louis on “Monday Night Football.”
The victory also was only the second in eight games for the Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Cardinals got the ball first, but the Seahawks scored first – on Russell Wilson’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice that capped a five-play, 83-yard drive. Wilson was 3 of 3 for 57 yards and ran for 11 yards on the drive-opening play, as four of the Seahawks’ five plays produced first downs.
It was the first time this season that the Seahawks scored a touchdown on their opening possession of the game, and only their third TD in the first quarter. The Seahawks produced seven first downs on 13 plays in the opening quarter.
The Seahawks got the ball back when Earl Thomas made a lunging interception of a Carson Palmer pass to Larry Fitzgerald that Brandon Browner broke up. The play was ruled an incompletion, but Pete Carroll challenged the call and replays showed that Thomas had control before going out of bounds.
Thomas’ interception was just the latest example of how you’re supposed to play free safety in the league. And that’s why Thomas was voted All-Pro last season and to the Pro Bowl the past two seasons.
An 11-play, 72-yard drive that started in the first quarter ended with Zach Miller’s falling grab of a Wilson pass in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 with 13:25 left in the half. Wilson was 4 of 5 for 39 yards, while Marshawn Lynch ran 4 times for 18 yards.
The Cardinals’ ensuing possession was a three-and-out, and an emphatic one at that as Chris Clemons sacked Carson Palmer for a 9-yard loss on third down. Golden Tate returned the Cardinals’ punt for a touchdown, but an illegal block on Mike Morgan nullified the play.
The Seahawks then failed to gain a yard on two carries by Lynch on second-and-1 and third-and-1 and a fourth-down attempt by Wilson. The Cardinals took advantage on a 49-yard field goal by Jay Feely with 4:02 left, as the Seahawks begrudgingly gave up 26 on 10 plays.
But the fortunes flipped quickly, as Matt Shaughnessy sacked Wilson to force a fumble that was recovered by Calais Campbell. Rashard Mendenhall then scored on a 3-yard run on the next play to make it 14-10 with 3:40 left in the half. The fumble-forcing sack by Shaughnessy, who used a spin move to beat right tackle Michael Bowie in getting to Wilson, led to the Cardinals scoring 10 points in 22 seconds, after the Seahawks had dominated the first 25 minutes of the game.
The Seahawks then drove 47 yards in 12 plays to a 51-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that made it 17-10 with 5 seconds left.
Fullback Derrick Coleman and backup safety Jeron Johnson left with hamstring injuries in the first half and were ruled out of the remainder of the game.
The Seahawks’ second half-opening possession not only ended in three quick plays, it ended with a fumble-forcing sack on second down and a minus-3 yard run by Marshawn Lynch on third down. The Cardinals cashed in as Jay Feely hit a 52-yard field goal with 11:48 left in the quarter to make it 17-13.
But the Seahawks came right back and drove 80 yards in 10 plays to a 1-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to No. 3 tight end Kellen Davis to make it 24-13 with 7:48 left. Wilson was 4 of 6 for 48 yards and ran twice for 11 yards, while Lynch ran twice for 21 yards.
On the sixth play of the ensuing series, Brandon Browner intercepted a Carson Palmer pass and returned it 29 yards to the Cardinals’ 4-yard line. Two plays later, Lynch scored on a 1-yard run to make it 31-13 with 3:52 left.
On the possession after the Cardinals had kicked their field goal, the Seahawks had a third-and-3 at the Cardinals’ 48 and linebacker Daryl Washington had Wilson in his grasp. But as Wilson was going down he got the ball off to Miller for a 6-yard gain. Six plays later, the Seahawks score a TD.
The fumble-forcing sack of Wilson at the end of the third quarter turned into a 22-yard field goal by Jay Feely on the fourth play of the fourth quarter to make it 31-16. The “drive” covered 11 yards and took six plays.
The Seahawks then added a field goal of their own as Steven Hauschka kicked a 42-yarder to cap an eight-play, 56-yard drive that included a 32-yard pass from Wilson to Golden Tate.
The Cardinals pulled to within 34-22 when Carson Palmer passed to Jaron Brown for an 8-yard TD with 4:34 left to cap a seven-play, 71-yard drive. But Richard Sherman broke up the pass on the two-point conversion attempt.
In the final seconds of the game, the Seahawks fans in attendance broke into a Sea-Hawks, Sea-Hawks chant.