PLAYER OF THE GAME
Larry Fitzgerald. Surprise, surprise. The Cardinals’ Pro Bowl wide receiver came into the game with 93 receptions for 1,222 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 career games against the Seahawks.
But what he did Sunday was somewhat startling, because the Seahawks used their big cornerbacks – 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner and 6-3 rookie Richard Sherman – to contain the 6-4 Fitzgerald for much of the game. He had one catch for 1 yard in the first half, but caught three for 44 yards in the third quarter; two for 58 yards in the fourth quarter; and three for 46 yards in the overtime drive to Jay Feely’s game-winning field goal.
Put it all together, and you get a slow-starting, dramatically finishing nine-catch-for-149-yard afternoon.
“On the performance of Larry Fitzgerald, I mean, he’s just an incredible football player,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s as good as you can get in this game. And he showed it. I just marvel at the things that he does. He’s done it before, and it did it again. He proved who he is.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Special teams: The game-winning 28-yard field goal by Feely, which capped that Fitzgerald-fueled 13-play, 71-yard drive that consumed almost eight tortuous minutes. There were other options. Like rookie Patrick Peterson blocking a 24-yard field-goal attempt by the Seahawks’ Steven Hauschka. Or, Peterson’s 42-yard punt return in the second quarter to set up Feely’s 41-yarder. But a game-winner is a game-winner, especially when it comes in overtime in the season finale.
Offensive: The 61-yard pass play from QB Tarvaris Jackson to rookie wide receiver Ricardo Lockette that allowed the Seahawks to tie the score at 20 midway through the fourth quarter. Lockette, who was just signed off the practice squad last week, not only used an extra gear to run down Jackson’s pass, but made the catch despite tight coverage. In his first two NFL games, Lockette has a 61-yarder for a TD and a 44-yarder in last week’s loss to the 49ers.
“From where he came from, (he’s come) 1,000 miles,” coach Pete Carroll said of Lockette, a free agent from Fort Valley State.
Sunday, Lockette did a pretty impressive job of going 61 yards, as well.
Defense: Sherman’s interception and 33-yard return in the fourth quarter that set up Hauschka’s 26-yarder the made it 20-13. Sherman was on the coverage as John Skelton threw to Andre Roberts, and then jumped the pass intended for the Cardinals’ wide receiver.
“I was in press coverage,” Sherman said. “I saw the quarterback repeatedly looking back at the receiver, I felt like it was going to be a quick gain, so if you’re in press, they’re going to convert it to a fade. I knew we needed a big play, so I stepped off so he would actually run the route and I jumped it. The rest is what it is.”
This was the Seahawks’ first overtime game since Week 2 of 2008, when they lost 33-30 to the 49ers in Seattle.
The Seahawks will have either the 11th or 12th pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft. A coin flip with the Chiefs will determine who gets the 11th pick.
By finishing third in the NFC West, the Seahawks will play the following opponents in 2012: home – Jets, Patriots, Packers, Vikings, Eagles, 49ers, Cardinals and Rams; road – Dolphins, Bills, Bears, Lions, Panthers, 49ers, Cardinals and Rams.
Middle linebacker David Hawthorne became the sixth player in franchise history to lead the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons. He had a game-high 13 tackles, including a sack, to finish with 115 for the season – one shy of his career-high from 2009.
Golden Tate led the Seahawks with five receptions for 46 yards, while Doug Baldwin added three for 40 yards to his team-leading totals. Baldwin became the first rookie free agent to lead his team in receptions and receiving yards since 1960.
Marshawn Lynch carried 19 times for 86 yards. When he carried 20 or more times this season, the Seahawks were 5-3. When he got fewer than 20 carries, they were 2-5. He sat out one game because of back spasms. Lynch also missed some time Sunday because he became ill on the sideline.
Leon Washington had a 48-yard touchdown run for his first score of the season, and also a 47-yard kickoff return.
The Seahawks rushed for a season-high 178 yards.
The Seahawks converted just three of 16 third-down situations (19 percent), while the Cardinals were 7 of 17 (41 percent) and also converted once on fourth down.
Each team ran 73 plays, with the Cardinals gaining 388 yards and the Seahawks 369.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We wanted to get to 8-8, just because we wanted to.” – Carroll