GLENDALE, Ariz. – A recap of the Seahawks’ 34-22 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium:
PLAYER OF THE GAME: RUSSELL WILSON
It’s impossible to deny – or ignore – the impact of the Seahawks’ second-year quarterback on this game. There were six touchdowns scored, and Wilson had a hand in five of them.
He passed for three scores – a 31-yarder to Sidney Rice, a 15-yarder to Zach Miller and a 1-yarder to Kellen Davis. He handed the ball to Marshawn Lynch on his 2-yard TD run. He also lost a fumble at the Seahawks’ 3-yard line on a sack to setup the Cardinals’ first TD.
It’s called taking the good with the bad, and on this night there was a lot more good than bad when it came to Wilson’s evening in the desert. He was 18 of 29 for 235 yards and did not throw an interception for a 122.1 passer rating. It was a night-and-day performance from his first trip to University of Phoenix Stadium. That was in last year’s season opener, and Wilson’s first regular-season start in the NFL. He was 18 of 34 for 153 yards with one TD and one interception for a 62.5 passer rating in the Seahawks’ 20-16 loss.
Wilson also ran eight times on Thursday night for 29 yards.
“He makes ridiculous plays all the time,” Miller said.
UNSUNG HERO: MALCOLM SMITH
With K.J. Wright moving from weak-side linebacker to middle linebacker to replace Bobby Wagner, Smith is back on the weak side – but turning in strong performances.
Against the Cardinals, Smith had a team-high eight tackles, including the sixth of the Seahawks’ season-high seven sacks. In Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field, Smith had four tackles.
He’s creating one of those problems coaches love: When Wagner returns, Smith has shown he deserves to still be on the field – somewhere, somehow.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: There were all those touchdowns, including Miller’s impressive grab in the back of the end zone for his TD and the launch-and-catch from Wilson to Rice for the Seahawks’ first TD. But the play that best personified the way the Seahawks’ offense played was a pass from Wilson to Miller on a third-and-3 play during the drive that ended with Davis’ TD catch.
It was resourceful, and even bordered on the ridiculous. Here’s what happened: Wilson was in the grasp of Cardinals’ linebacker Daryl Washington and falling for what appeared to be a sack. That’s when he made a “shortstop flip,” as the former minor-league second baseman put it, to Miller, who caught the pass as it was heading toward the turf for a 6-yard gain and the first down.
“That was just one of those plays,” Wilson said. “I kind of got away from the defensive player and Zach Miller made a huge play. I just tied to give him a chance to make a big play for us and he made a great catch and a big first down.”
Added Miller, who had a team-high five catches for 40 yards in his return after missing two games with a hamstring injury, “I just knew the ball somehow got out. So I just dove as hard as I could at it and did whatever I could to get a first down because I knew how big it was going to be.”
Defense: On the sixth play of the Cardinals’ second possession, cornerback Brandon Browner got a hand on a Carson Palmer pass that was intended for Larry Fitzgerald and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas flew in from seemingly nowhere to make an interception that led to Wilson’s TD pass to Miller.
“The corners use me, so I’ve got to use them,” said Thomas, who rolled over Browner in making his fourth interception of the season and second in the past two games. “It works hand and hand.”
Special teams: Steven Hauschka’s 51-yard field goal with five seconds left in the first half. It capped a 12-play, 47-yard drive that was more of a trudge after back-to-back penalties moved the ball from the Cardinals’ 19 to the 34. It also gave the Seahawks a 17-10 lead after the Cardinals had cut the score to 14-10 on the previous series.
Safety Jeron Johnson reinjured a hamstring that forced him to miss three games earlier this season, and fullback Derrick Coleman also went out with a hamstring injury and did not return. That left rookie tight end Luke Willson to lineup at fullback when the Seahawks went with regular personnel.
Wide receiver Golden Tate injured a toe and a shoulder and left guard James Carpenter injured a shin, but both returned.
The Seahawks scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game for the first time this season.
They also scored in every quarter for the second time this season, and the first time since Week 3 against the Jaguars when they put up a season-high 45 points.
Wilson completed passes to nine receivers – Miller (5 for 40), Tate (4 for 77), Rice (3 for 50), Willson (1 for 23), Jermaine Kearse (1 for 17), Doug Baldwin (1 for 16), Coleman (1 for 8), Lynch (1 for 3) and Davis (1 for 1).
The Seahawks converted a season-best 58 percent of their third-down situations (7 of 12), after going 2 for 12 in their only loss against the Colts in Indianapolis 12 days ago. They also had six first downs on 13 plays in the first quarter.
Eight players combined for the Seahawks’ seven sacks – one each for Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett, Clinton McDonald, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Smith, and half-a-sack each for Red Bryant and Wright.
The Seahawks also had eight passes defensed – three by Browner, two by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and one each by strong safety Kam Chancellor, Thomas and Smith.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I think I’ve grown so much. Our football team has grown a lot.” – QB Russell Wilson, comparing Thursday’s game to his first NFL start against the Cardinals in last year’s season opener