A recap of the Seahawks’ 13-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sidney Rice. So this is what all the hubbub was about. The Seahawks were downright giddy when they signed the former Pro Bowl wide receiver from the Minnesota Vikings in free agency in late July. But he then disappeared for almost because of a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Well, Rice was back on Sunday, and in a big way: eight catches for 109 yards. In one game, he moved into a tie with Ben Obomanu for the team lead in receptions and is one shy of Doug Baldwin in receiving yards.
It wasn’t just that Rice made all those catches; it was when – and how.
On the first play of the game, Tarvaris Jackson went to Rice for a 9-yard gain – rekindling the chemistry they had while playing together in Minnesota the previous four seasons. The next series ended with a 30-yard field by Steve Hauschka to give the Seahawks their first lead of the season. Again, the first pass went to Rice as did the second – for a 32-yard gain along the sideline, as he wrestled with Cardinals Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson for the ball.
On the drive late in the half that ended with Hauschka kicking a 52-yard field goal, Rice again caught the first two passes – a 12-yarder and an 8-yarder. On the first possession of the second half, the Seahawks drove 72 yards in 14 plays to their only touchdown – Jackson’s 11-yard run. Rice contributed a 9-yard catch on the play just before the score.
“This is a big deal for us to get him back on the field,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He is a fantastic football player, and he’s going to make a difference for us.”
Sunday, Rice also was a productive player – and he made a big difference for the Seahawks.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Defense: With less than two minutes to play, the Cardinals had moved to the Seahawks’ 34-yard line and appeared to be driving to a game-winning touchdown – or at least a game-tying field goal. But on a third-and-12 play, strong safety Kam Chancellor intercepted Kevin Kolb’s pass that was intended for tight end Todd Heap.
“I love the way he plays,” Carroll said. “I really like this guy. He’s tough, aggressive. He’s going to make tough plays. I thought that was a great interception, cutting in front and stealing the ball at such a critical time. It was a really cool thing.”
And it helped the Seahawks ice their first victory.
Offense: The obvious choice would be the 12-yard TD catch the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald made by going up and over free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Brandon Browner in the end zone. But we’ll go with the 32-yarder from Jackson to Rice – on style points, if nothing else.
“That was a ridiculous throw and catch right there,” Carroll said. “He just believed in Sidney and gave him a chance.”
One that Rice wasn’t about to waste, as he went to the turf still fighting Wilson for the ball.
“Tie goes to the receiver,” Rice said with a smile.
Special teams: Field position had swung in the Cardinals’ favor. Decisively. That’s when Jon Ryan used his Aussie-drop style to plop a punt near the Arizona 5-yard line that hopped to the side and was downed at the 4-yard line by rookie linebacker Malcolm Smith. Honorable mention to Hauschka’s 52-yarder.
Linebacker Matt McCoy took a shot to head, but Carroll said it didn’t seem serious.
“He was smiling and all that, so I think he’s OK,” Carroll said. “He might not know where he is. I don’t know. I’m not sure. But he was smiling and he said he’s OK.”
Jackson also limped off the field early in the fourth quarter, and backup Charlie Whitehurst began warming up on the sideline. But Jackson returned on the Seahawks’ next possession.
“A guy kind of fell on my leg a little bit,” Jackson said. “And it felt awkward.”
The Seahawks played without left guard Robert Gallery, who is expected to miss at least a month because of a groin injury that will need surgery; and fullback/special teams co-captain Michael Robinson, who has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle he got in the opener. Paul McQuistan started for Gallery, while the offense continued to use a lot of two-tight end sets to compensate for not having Robinson.
Linebacker Leroy Hill had a game-high 11 tackles, including one of the Seahawks’ three sacks. In fact, the three leading tacklers were Hill, middle linebacker David Hawthorne (nine) and defensive end Chris Clemons (seven). In their first two games, the leading tacklers were defensive backs – Chancellor and fellow safety Earl Thomas in the opener; Chancellor and Browner last week.
After not forcing a turnover in their first two games, the Seahawks had two against the Cardinals – interceptions by Chancellor and cornerback Marcus Trufant.
Cornerback Kennard Cox had three tackles while covering kicks.
The Seahawks averaged 4.1 yards per carry while rushing for a season-high 122 yards – after averaging 2.9 and 2.4 yards in their first two games.
The Seahawks yielded a 51-yard kickoff return to the Cardinals’ A.J. Jefferson, who was subbing for an injured LaRod Stephens-Howling. They now have allowed kickoff returns of 102 and 51 yards and punt returns of 55 and 41 yards.
Wide receiver Mike Williams, who had 22 catches in two games against the Cardinals last season, did not catch a pass and was targeted only once.
Jackson was sacked four times in the first half, upping his season total to 14.
The defense held the Cardinals to a 3-of-14 performance on third downs, but the Cardinals had more yards (324-216), plays (70-65) and time of possession (31:49-28:11) than the Seahawks.
The Seahawks have now won three in a row against the Cardinals after sweeping last season’s home-and-home series.
YOU DON’T SAY
“This crowd is the loudest I ever heard, and I played in the SEC. But this is a loudest I’ve ever heard. So they were the real deal for us as far as helping us win.” – rookie linebacker K.J. Wright on the 12th Man