With the game, the NFC West race and the season all in a nervous balance for the Seahawks – when they absolutely had to have someone step up – Russell Wilson did.
Wilson was perfect passing, Houdini-like running and gritty leading the defending Super Bowl champions to the game-clinching touchdown pass to Cooper Helfet late in the third quarter.
Returning Bobby Wagner and the defense then shut down Arizona to finish off the 19-3 victory Sunday afternoon that revived the Seahawks’ late-season push for the playoffs.
Wilson was 17-for-22 passing for 211 yards and the touchdown for a passer rating of 121.6 that was remarkable considered the blitzing Cardinals sacked him seven times. Wilson also ran 10 times for a game-high 73 yards while scrambling away from six more would-be sacks.
Wilson was 6-for-6 passing on the TD drive that made it 19-3 late in third quarter. He escaped two sacks and ran for 15 yards on third-and-11 scramble.
At that point Wilson was 14-for-17 passing for 169 yards and the touchdown. His passer rating was 127.7 – while he’d been sacked six times in less than three quarters.
He also had seven rushes for 56 yards, including a 40-yard run on which he crossed the goal line but Jermaine Kearse was caught holding at the 10 to negate the touchdown. Wilson should have been dumped 10 times by the go-for-broke Cardinals in those first three quarters, but he scrambled, twisted, turned and pump-faked out of four more sacks.
Other than that, he didn’t do much Sunday.
He sure was timely. The Seahawks improved to 7-4, and dropped Arizona to 9-2 with its first loss in seven games.
Wagner had eight tackles in his first start after missing five games with turf toe. He led a defense that held Arizona to 204 total yards. The last time the Cardinals had scored so few points: Dec. 9, 2012, a 58-0 loss here to the Seahawks.
Seattle plays again in four days, a Thanksgiving-night showdown at San Francisco in a rematch of last January’s NFC championship game.
The Seahawks had a nervous, 12-3 lead after getting to Arizona’s 20 or beyond four times in the first 2½ quarters yet managing only field goals each time.
The Seahawks' defense kept the home team ahead through an uneven first half. Their offense should have had them up by far more than 9-3 at halftime.
Seattle drove inside the Arizona 20-yard line three times in that first half.
The first time, third and 7 from the Cardinals 15, Wilson completed a short pass to Marshawn Lynch only to the 9. That became a Steven Hauschka field goal.
The second red-zone trip was a first and goal at the 8, after Wilson faked a handoff to Robert Turbin then threw 48 yards to wide-open Ricardo Lockette. It was the second-longest reception of Lockette's four-year career, and just his second catch in four games. But then the Cardinals sacked Wilson twice in three plays, two of the five times Arizona dumped Wilson in the first half. Arizona only had 18 sacks in 10 games coming in, part of the reason its pass defense was 29th in the league. So that second red-zone trip also ended with another field goal.
Seattle's third trip to the 20 came after Byron Maxwell intercepted Drew Stanton's far-overthrown pass at midfield midway through the second quarter. Wilson's 40-yard run on a read-option keep would have been a touchdown had Kearse not tackled a Cardinals defensive back at the 10 for holding. Wilson got sacked on second down and threw for 1 yard in the flat on third and 16 to create Hauschka's third field and a 9-0 lead.
Arizona went 15 plays on a drive at the end of the half, aided by defensive fouls on Maxwell for illegal contact in downfield coverage and Michael Bennett for offside. But Jaron Brown dropped a sure touchdown pass just inside the goal line on third down as Drew Stanton was being hit as he threw by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is playing his first game for Seattle in six weeks. Brown's drop forced Arizona to settle for a field goal with 13 seconds left before halftime.
Lynch was out for two of the drives that first half with a recurrence of his sore lower back. But he did not only jog off the field with his teammates at the start of halftime but skipped into the Seahawks' locker room. Apparently he only stays out when the wind chill is 10 degrees, as it was when he stayed outside at halftime for his back last week at Kansas City.
Arizona's sixth sack of Wilson ended the first Seahawks' drive of the second half – before Wilson emerged for the biggest series of the game, if not Seattle’s season.
Lynch finished with 39 yards on 15 carries.