Not that there was much hope for the divisional crown, but if they were to have a shot at an NFL Wildcard berth, the Cards would have to keep pace with both the Rams (8-4) and the Panthers (8-4). This would mean the club would have to have its most productive December in recent memory. Only to add to that challenge was the fact that RB Edgerrin James would miss at least another two games with the possibility of being out for the entire month. The good news was that at least Arizona could still play their way into postseason without much outside help, not to mention that they held several three-way-tiebreaker advantages over St. Louis.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Seahawks had not been just lucky in attaining their .833 winning percentage for the first 3 quarters of the season – they had earned it. This fact showed early and often. The Seahawks wasted no time in getting on the board. After taking over at their own 26 yardline, QB Matt Hasselbeck found RB Shaun Alexander on a quick middle screen. LB Karlos Dansby had a bead on him initially, but was nearly juked out of his shoes on a nifty move by Alexander, who proceeded untouched into the Arizona endzone.
The Seattle defense found the confines just as friendly as their offensive teammates, making life miserable for QB Kurt Warner and RB Marcel Shipp all game long. It was evident that it would be a long day from the beginning. After starting at their own 12, the Redbird offense could get nothing going. Shipp was stopped in his tracks by a slew of Seahawks on the first play from scrimmage, losing 3 yards in the process. Warner faced even worse punishment as the offensive line was manhandled by the Seattle front four and was easily the most porous it had been all season. On his first two attempts, Warner was sacked, the second only inches away from being a safety.
Even the Seahawks special teams turned the screws on their Arizona counterparts, as they did not allow a return of any kind longer than 12 yards. In fact, of the 4 first half kickoffs fielded by Arizona, none crossed the 15 yard line. On the other side, the Seahawks' return men averaged 27 yards per punt return for the game. It was painfully obvious that the division leaders were in total control for the duration of the contest.
The second half began with a 24-3 Seattle lead and quickly got worse. On the same play that saw Kurt Warner leave yet another game with injury, WR Anquan Boldin turned his ankle and had to be helped off the field. Although Boldin expressed his desire to have returned later in the game, the ever-cautious Cardinal medical staff put him on ice and listing him as day-today. Warner, who was still dropping back when CB Marcus Trufant laid into him with a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit. The Cardinals, who picked up 15 yards on the personal foul, inserted QB Matt Leinart into the fire. All things considered, he performed well, going 14-25 for 186 yards for 2 TDs and perhaps more importantly, no INT.
The game actually turned into a "futures" contest after the Seattle first-team offensive unit was pulled in the 4th, leading 37-10. RB J.J. Arrington replaced Shipp, who figures to be putting in more time than expected due to the delay of James' return. Arrington showed some moves as well, putting up 65 yards on 8 carries in the 4th quarter. The silver lining in this decidedly dark cloud is that not only did Arizona have a chance to see their players of the future, but those players shined.
Cardinals lose 37-17.
Things get no easier for the Cardinals, whose record now sits at 7-6, as they host another division leader. The Denver Broncos march into town next, riding a 5-game winning streak and ruling the AFC West with a 10-3 record. QB Jake Plummer will return to Arizona to play his first game in the stadium that many believe would have kept him in town. Arizona will have no time to reminisce, however as they now have their collective back against the wall in regards to playoff chances. They will need a win to even pretend to remain in the race as both St. Louis and Carolina were victorious last week, pushing the Redbirds two games from the last playoff spot.