A recap of the Seahawks’ 22-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Olindo Mare. So many Seahawks did so many things well in the win that lifted the Seahawks into sole possession of first place in the NFC West – the first time they’ve been in that position this late in the season since 2007.
But no one did more than the veteran kicker.
Mare converted five field goals that counted – from 20, 31, 51, 24 and 26 yards – to run his club-record streak to 30 in a row. But he actually kicked nine field goals. In the third quarter, he hit from 31 and 41 yards, but holding penalties on Cameron Morrah nullified them, so Mare nailed the 51-yarder. Later in the quarter, he hit from 46 yards, but an offside penalty on the Cardinals gave the Seahawks a first down. He eventually ended that drive with a 24-yarder. In the fourth quarter, he kicked a 21-yarder, but a delay-of-game penalty erased it. That’s when he kicked the 26-yarder.
Mare actually gave himself credit for 10 field goals, counting a 22-yarder that was blocked in the first quarter by the Cardinals’ Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – who was offside on the play. Mare then kicked his 20-yarder.
“It was one of the most impressive kicking things I’ve ever seen, to be honest,” holder and punter Jon Ryan said. “The way the wind was howling around.
“Honestly, if those uprights were two feet apart, he would have hit all nine of those. Every single kick was dead down the middle.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: The Seahawks scored only one touchdown, and it came on Mike Williams’ first TD catch of the season – and first since 2006, for that matter. On second-and-goal from the Cardinals’ 2-yard line, QB Matt Hasselbeck threw a pass to the 6-foot-5 Williams along the left edge of the north end zone. The coverage was good, but the pass and catch were better – as Hasselbeck put the ball where only Williams could catch it, and Williams made the grab and still got both feet down.
“It seems like the first one is always the hardest to get,” said Williams, who now leads the Seahawks with 32 receptions. “I’m probably the last one in our group.
“It’s a good feeling and we just need to keep working hard and try to get there as much as possible.”
Defense: The Seahawks had only two sacks, but defensive end Chris Clemons made the second one count. He got to QB Max Hall on a blind-side hit on the third play of the second half. The jarring hit knocked the ball from Hall’s grasp, and knocked Hall out of the game. Defensive end Raheem Brock recovered the fumble and four plays later Mare kicked his second field goal to make it 13-0.
“That’s what’s making us dangerous, because you don’t where we’re coming (from),” said strong safety Lawyer Milloy, who had two sacks in last week’s win over the Bears in Chicago. “Even if you do know we’re coming, and you slam the line down, then someone else is going to be free. It’s a total team effort.”
Clemons now has a team-leading 5½ sacks.
Special teams: There were Mare’s kicks, of course. But there also was the play that set up Williams’ TD. It happened on a Ryan punt, which Cardinals’ rookie Andre Roberts muffed. Just as he was controlling it, Michael Robinson slapped the ball from Roberts’ hands. Roy Lewis ran it down and recovered at the Cardinals’ 2.
“Well, obviously you can’t turn the ball over five times – especially twice down there tight,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’s too tough to win on the road. And when you do that, it makes it even worse.”
Pre-game: Rather than introducing the offense or defense, the Seahawks opted to go with their special teams units. Good decision, because the Seahawks would not have won this one without them. It also was fitting that former special teams standout Isaiah Kacyvenski raised the 12th Man Flag above the south end zone prior to kickoff.
In-game: At one point in the second half, coach Pete Carroll let his offense know that was not happy about something – or perhaps several things. After the sideline chat, the offense drove 70 and 78 yards to Mare field goals and then had a 12-play, 53-yarder to run out the clock late in the fourth quarter.
“There was too much jawing going on out there,” Carroll said. “We were wasting a bunch of energy. That’s totally out of the realm of focus. That’s not what we’re dealing with. It’s not how we want to play.”
Post-game: As Mare was busy showering and doing interviews, his son sat in a cubbyhole next to his cubicle in the locker room mesmerized by the video game he was playing. That uncanny focus apparently runs in the family.
First-round draft choice Russell Okung left the game in the first quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return. It was a high sprain of his right ankle that forced the rookie left tackle to miss 5½ weeks earlier.
“It’s not as bad as the last one, but it’s so unfortunate,” Carroll said. “He just gets going and he’s such a big part of what we’re doing.”
Although the sprained isn’t as severe, Carroll did say it was the same type of injury.
“Very, very unfortunate,” Carroll said.
Tyler Polumbus finished the game at left tackle. He started the first three games there while Okung was sidelined.
Also, Robinson left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return – leaving the Seahawks without a fullback.
“It changed us some,” Carroll said. “We didn’t have a fullback that was ready to go.”
The Seahawks also played without right cornerback Kelly Jennings (hamstring) and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf), who were inactive. Rookie Walter Thurmond started for Jennings, while Kentwan Balmer stepped in for Mebane for the second consecutive game.
Nose tackle Colin Cole led the Seahawks with seven tackles. It was the first time this season either a defensive back (four times) or linebacker (once) did not lead the team.
Rookie free safety Earl Thomas intercepted his fourth pass, which ties the club record for a rookie set in 1978 by free safety John Harris.
The Seahawks have held their past two opponents to a 2-for-24 performance on third downs. The Cardinals were two for 12 and the Bears went zero for 12 last week.
The Seahawks got their hands on 10 of the passes thrown by Hall and backup Derek Anderson – two each by Thurmond, Thomas, Lewis and Jordan Babineaux.
Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught his first pass with 5½ minutes left in the first half and finished with three catches for 30 yards. This from a receiver who had 35 receptions for 454 yards and four touchdowns in his past four games against the Seahawks.
FREE FOR (ALMOST) ALL
Because the Seahawks achieved the following incentive goals, fans get free items:
- The 22 points won everyone in attendance a free short stack of pancakes at IHOP. Fans simply need to show their ticket to receive their free pancakes.
- Williams’ touchdown catch in the red zone earned everyone at Qwest a free bag of Oberto beef jerky and a free Slurpee from 7-Eleven. Show you ticket to redeem.
- A touchdown and a win produced two free toppings at all Puget Sound area PapaJohn’s on Tuesday.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I’m trying not to talk about it too much, because I don’t want people to know.” – Hasselbeck, on Williams catching 21 passes for 210 yards in the past two games. He then paused briefly before adding, “I think we’re done sneaking up on people with that situation.”