A recap of the Seahawks’ 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kurt Warner. The numbers don’t lie: 32 of 41 for 276 yards and two touchdowns. What the Cardinals’ 38-year-old quarterback was able to do was enough to do in the Seahawks on this day.
Warner had help, of course, from ridiculously sure-handed wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (13 catches for 100 yards); the multi-faceted Steve Breaston (seven catches for 77 yards and TD, plus punt returns of 36 and 24 yards); and a swarming, aggressive defense (five sacks and eight tipped or deflected passes).
But, as is usually the case with the Cardinals, as Warner goes so goes his team.
“Kurt does such a good job of reading what the defense gives us,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s just so efficient with the football. He doesn’t make many mistakes. Those are the kind of games he’s going to play.”
Warner did throw an interception – on a heave into the end zone at the end of the first half that Seahawks free safety Jordan Babineaux picked off.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: There were bigger plays, longer plays and more significant plays. But no play summed up this afternoon better than Fitzgerald’s 7-yard catch for the first of four third-down conversions on the Cardinals’ game-opening, 15-play, 80-yard drive. What made it so special? Fitzgerald was on the ground with cornerback Kelly Jennings all over him as he reached up to take the pass.
“The guy’s remarkable,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “You can be draped all over him and he still makes the catch. He’s a big man with long arms.”
Not to mention those vice-grip hands.
“If he’s not the best receiver in the NFL, he’s one of the top two or three,” Mora said. “He just amazes me, the things he can do with the ball. That first catch he made, where he was on the ground, I said, ‘How do you do that?’ He’s special.”
Defense: The first of the Cardinals’ five sacks of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. It came on the Seahawks’ third offensive play, and outside linebacker Clark Haggans forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Bryan Robinson at the Seahawks’ 23-yard line to set up a field goal that made it 17-0.
“It was a great way to start the game for them,” Hasselbeck said of the Cardinals’ long scoring drive, which was followed by a special play from their special teams, which was followed by the fumble-forcing sack.
“Really, for us in all three phases, not a great start.”
Special teams: The play that was sandwiched between the long scoring drive and the fumble-forcing sack – a textbook pooch kickoff by Neil Rackers. Greg Toler recovered the bouncing ball at the Seahawks’ 23-yard line to set up his team’s second touchdown.
What made the play especially difficult for the Seahawks to handle was, well, let Mora explain it.
“We showed them the exact play (Saturday morning) that they ran on the pooch kick,” he said. “They were able to convert it, and that’s not good.”
The we-are-family presentation of a defense that had shut out the Jaguars last week. The Seahawks introduced four defensive ends – starters Lawrence Jackson and Patrick Kerney, as well as rotating “backups” Cory Redding and Darryl Tapp; and three safeties – starters Deon Grant and Jordan Babineaux, and also Lawyer Milloy.
The Cardinals total domination of the first quarter. A 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. The pooch kickoff. The fumble-forcing sack on the Seahawks’ third offense play. It created a lopsided situation that the Seahawks were not able to rebound from – as the Cardinals held huge advantages in plays (21-3), yards (128-3), first downs (9-1) and, of course, time of possession (14 minutes, 17 seconds to 43 seconds).
The look on Mora’s face when he announced that middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu will be lost for the rest of the season after tearing a pectoral in the second quarter.
In addition to Tatupu, Kerney aggravated a strained groin on the final play of the first half and did not return; and cornerback Kelly Jennings injured his left hip and ribs on his right side while covering the Cardinals’ final touchdown in third quarter.
Jennings started the game because Ken Lucas has spent the week in Mississippi to be with his family after the death of his father last Friday.
“It would have been tough for him to play every down,” Mora said of Lucas, who played in the nickel and dime defenses until Jennings went down. “I thought he went out and competed hard and competed well. I didn’t notice him giving up anything, or backing down from anything. He came back very focused and ready to go. Tough week for him. Very tough week.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“We just stunk on third down. We really didn’t get a rhythm and made it really hard for ourselves, which was frustrating.” – Hasselbeck, after the Seahawks failed to convert any of their 11 opportunities