BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – There was so much hype and energy surrounding the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. The NFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC were on the line. All Arizona needed to do was take out the world champions in front of a worldwide audience and both were theirs.
Russell Wilson had a different idea in mind. He let it be known that the Seahawks were taking no prisoners.
Wilson was electrifying. He completely shredded the Cardinals defense to the tune of 339 yards passing and two touchdowns – one an 80-yard touchdown pass to tight end Luke Willson – as the Seahawks trampled the Cardinals 35-6 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
In giving Arizona its first home loss of the season, Seattle racked up a franchise record 596 yards of offense – 267 of those yards coming on the ground. Running back Marshawn Lynch – who sat out the first few offensive series – rumbled his way for 113 yards on 10 carries, including a beast mode like 79 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, which put a dagger in hearts of the Cardinals and their fans.
Wilson ran for 88 yards on six carries. His five-yard touchdown run in the fourth – which saw him out juke linebacker Alex Okafor and elude a leg tackle attempt by cornerback Antonio Cromartie – was the capper on an embarrassing evening for the Cardinals.
“My hat’s off to Russell [Wilson]. He made a bunch of great plays,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s that type of player. You’ve got to be able to tackle him, and obviously we couldn’t do that in the fourth quarter, and he made some nice throws in man coverage. You live with it.”
Wilson seemed to do whatever he wanted to do to the Arizona defense, and they had no counter attack whatsoever. If Wilson wasn’t gashing the secondary with touchdown passes to Willson, he ran the ball up into the heart of the Cardinals defense with no resistance.
“He [Wilson] scrambles away to go for those big plays, it’s really frustrating,” safety Tony Jefferson said. “He scrambles around and keeps plays alive. That can’t happen. That hurt us.”
“We knew that coming into the game, we couldn’t let him keep plays alive with his feet. We let it happen too much,” Jefferson said.
Wilson did everything right to get his team the win. On the flipside, Ryan Lindley did absolutely nothing to even keep the Cardinals close from an offensive standpoint.
“Frustrated. Frustrated is the biggest thing,” Lindley said. “I expect more from myself. The attitude of this team is that we take this seriously.”
“For me, to get this opportunity and go out there and not play the way I wanted to, you’re frustrated by that,” Lindley said.
Lindley looked overwhelmed for the majority of the night and his numbers reflected that look. He was 18-of-44 for 216 yards and one interception. Lindley’s NFL record of consecutive passes without a touchdown extended to 225 after Sunday’s performance.
Arizona’s running attack had no attack in it. Kerwynn Williams missed a great portion of the game because of a bum knee, so he wasn’t able to make an impact. As a team, the Cardinals ran for 29 yards, their second lowest running output of the season.
“I think a part of the reason for that is when you’re in the second half and your down a couple scores, you have to pass the ball a little bit,” Lindley said. “I think we had more passing situations in the second half and it was more that we got forced into that play calling.”
The world isn’t coming to an end, as Arians said afterwards. The Cardinals are in the playoffs and can still win the NFC West and that top seed. They’re going to need the Rams to beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field next Sunday and they’re going to have to take care of business at Levi’s Stadium next Sunday against the 49ers.
“It shows you where we have to go, the kinds of teams that we’re going to have to beat for us to reach our ultimate goals and that’s playing and winning the Super Bowl,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “We have to be able to beat teams that are this quality, and we have to perform to the best of our ability.”