GLENDALE, Ariz. – A recap of the Seahawks’ 36-18 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt Hasselbeck. How sharp was the Seahawks’ quarterback in his return from missing last week’s game against the New York Giants because of a concussion? Hasselbeck passed for a season-high 273 yards – in the first half.
And that was before he went to the locker room for X-rays that detected a cracked bone in his left wrist, and returned to complete his 333-yard passing performance – his highest since going for 337 in Week 11 of 2007 against the Chicago Bears.
“Matt played a great game today,” coach Pete Carroll said.
And that might be understating it, considering everything he was dealing with.
But Hasselbeck completed 22 of 34 passes, including 11 to Mike Williams – who fractured the pinkie on his right hand in practice on Thursday. But the real key to this day was Hasselbeck involving his other receivers, as well. Deon Butler caught four passes for 66 yards, most of it on a 63-yard touchdown. Ben Obomanu, who got more snaps because slot receiver Brandon Stokley (strained calf) was inactive, had four catches for 60 yards. Tight end Chris Baker had a 44-yard catch.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: The TD pass to Butler. The play call by coordinator Jeremy Bates was aggressive. The pass by Hasselbeck was the personification of precise. The protection provided by the offensive line was mandatory. What Butler did after catching the ball was masterful.
Hasselbeck needed time to allow Butler to shake free in the secondary. He then put the pass right on him. Butler made the catch at the 22-yard line, ran toward the sideline and then cut back to the middle of the field.
“I was really hitting it on the run when I caught it,” Butler said. “I think they just really didn’t want me to continue up the sideline. They were really taking away the touchdown angle. So it made it a real easy read for me just to cut back and then make it a race to the other pylon.”
Defense: There were many from which to chose, but Chris Clemons’ second sack defied logic – and perhaps the laws of gravity. The Seahawks’ 254-pound defensive end drove 324-pound tackle Levi Brown into the backfield and then dropped QB Derek Anderson for a 10-yard loss on a fourth-and-10 play in the fourth quarter.
The impressive play snuffed any hopes the Cardinals had of making a comeback, and setup the Seahawks’ final touchdown as Clemons took Anderson down at the Cardinals’ 10-yard line.
“That’s not a small man he’s moving around out there,” cornerback Marcus Trufant said. “So you’ve got to take your hat off to him.”
With two sacks, Clemons has 7½ in nine games. One more and he’ll surpass his career-high total from 2007 while playing with the Oakland Raiders.
“Any time we were able to get pressure on him we knew it was huge,” Clemons said. “Because we knew once we did he’d start making mistakes.”
Special teams: Leon Washington entered the game as the NFL’s leader in kickoff return average. But he had only one chance and returned it for 22 yards. But Washington also broke a 48-yard punt return that setup the fifth – and final – field goal by Olindo Mare.
Pre-game: This one actually occurred on Saturday, after the team arrived in Phoenix. Line coach Art Valero and offensive quality control coach Luke Butkus met up with Alex Gibbs for dinner. Gibbs, who lives in the Phoenix area, abruptly resigned as the team’s line coach just before the start of the regular season.
In-game: The emotional rollercoaster that was watching Hasselbeck jog off the field at the end of the first half to have his left wrist X-rayed, and then jog back out with roughly nine minutes left in the third quarter.
“I texted my wife and said, ‘Hey, I hurt my wrist,’ ” Hasselbeck said. “She wrote back: ‘Good. I thought it was your head!!”
Post-game: The series of eruptive cheers coming from the Seahawks’ locker room, as Carroll called out all the players who deserved recognition on this day.
Ten of Mare’s 15 field goals have come in the two games against the Cardinals.
Twenty two of Williams’ 46 receptions have come in the two games against the Cardinals.
The Seahawks had only four rushing touchdowns in their first eight games – and two of them were by Hasselbeck. But they got two against the Cardinals, one each by Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch.
Linebacker Aaron Curry and free safety Earl Thomas each had seven tackles to lead the Seahawks. It was the first time either has led the team this season.
Curry had three career sacks entering the game, but got to Anderson twice.
Butler’s TD reception was his team-leading third of the season.
The Seahawks’ season-high 490 offensive yards were 164 more than they had in their previous two games combined – and their highest total since recording 501 against the Falcons on Dec. 30, 2007.
The Cardinals were two of 11 on third-down situations, or 18 percent. It was the fourth time this season the Seahawks have held an opponent below 20 percent on the pivotal down.
Carroll said that Hasselbeck cracked a bone his left wrist, adding that the injury “looks to be manageable” as far as playing in next week’s game against the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in New Orleans. But Hasselbeck is scheduled to have additional tests on Monday.
The Seahawks also played without three starters: nose tackle Colin Cole (ankle), left tackle Russell Okung (ankle), fullback Michael Robinson (hamstring).
YOU DON’T SAY
“It was like at recess – everybody go long.” – Hasselbeck on the play, formation and routes that led to Baker’s 44-yard reception, which surpassed his yardage total (36) from the first eight games