Seahawks @ Cardinals
Final Score: Seahawks 38, Cardinals 30
Writer: Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)
The Cardinals scored a defensive touchdown on a Russell Wilson fumble on the second offensive play of the game, and yet the Seahawks would ride their running game and big plays to a come-from-behind victory.
In a key stretch in the second half, Seattle punted with 6 minutes left in the third quarter down 24-17, and they looked to be on the ropes. However, they would force a three and out, score a touchdown, force a three and out, and then a special teams mistake from the Cardinals punt team set up a first and goal for Seattle. Seattle quickly punched it in to take a 31-24 lead.
After an Arizona field goal, Rashaad Penny put the nail in the coffin, breaking a 62-yard rushing touchdown to give Seattle a 38-27 lead with four and a half minutes left. It was a real dream scenario for Pete Carroll to end the season, winning on the back of the running game against a divisional rival.
Russell Wilson: 15/26, 238 yards, 3 TD, INT, sack, fumble | 4 carries, 5 yards, TD
Russell Wilson had a poor fumble on the second play of the game that resulted in a Cardinals touchdown. But Wilson responded on the next drive after the running game got going, and he hit Tyler Lockett on a play-action shot for a long touchdown.
Wilson showed some of his ability to buy time and escape the pocket on a big play to Travis Homer, and then threaded in a deep pass to D.K. Metcalf for a big gain shortly after. He then bought time and hit Cody Parkinson on 3rd and 10 on the sideline, before hitting Lockett on a short pass for a touchdown on the very next play on a sprint out.
On the last drive of the first half, Wilson had all day and fired a deep pass for a completion to Lockett to get things moving, and after Penny helped move them down the field on the ground, Wilson hit a wide-open Metcalf for a first down on 3rd and 6. A pass interference by Gerald Everett brought it back, but Wilson then hit Lockett on a quick out that led to a first down despite the third and long. Wilson had a beautiful deep ball dropped by Everett to end the drive, and a field goal put Seattle up 17-10.
Wilson threw a bad interception in a tie game early in the third quarter, forcing a pass under pressure and sailing it over his receiver’s head to set up a short field. Later in the fourth, Wilson scrambled in a short touchdown on 3rd and goal after the Arizona punter fumbled the ball and gave them a short field.
Nobody open? No problem for @DangeRussWilson. He takes it in himself to put the Seahawks back on top.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 9, 2022
Most of the second half was given to the running game, limiting Wilson’s overall numbers. While Wilson looked good and was able to get the deep ball on track, much of his yardage came on a few big plays, and his two turnovers were very poor plays.
Rashaad Penny: 23 carries, 190 yards, TD
Travis Homer: 1 carry, 4 yards | 3 targets, 1 reception, 23 yards
Deejay Dallas: 1 carry, 1 yard
After not touching the ball on the brief two-play opening drive, Rashaad Penny began ripping off long runs on the second drive, including a 20 yarder with good burst. On the next drive, he impressively broke a tackle in the backfield and was able to get outside for a first down.
Penny broke a huge run late in the third quarter to help set up another Seattle touchdown, showing his speed in the open field yet again. And then in the fourth quarter, Penny flashed his speed on a 60+ yard rushing touchdown where he left the Arizona defense in the dust.
He didn't need THAT much space but @pennyhendrixx will gladly take it.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 10, 2022
Penny then diced his way through the Arizona defense on just two plays to gain a first down and put the game on ice at the end. Penny exploded down the stretch of 2021, and it will be fascinating to see what happens to him in 2022.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tyler Lockett: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 98 yards, 2 TD | 1 carry, 2 yards
D.K. Metcalf: 11 targets, 5 receptions, 58 yards
Freddie Swain: 1 target, 1 reception, 25 yards, TD
Gerald Everett: 3 targets, 1 reception, 20 yards
Cody Parkinson: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards
Tyler Lockett caught a long touchdown on a coverage bust off of play-action, the typical deep strike that we are used to with this Seattle passing game.
Pop, Drop, and @TDLockett12 😤
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 9, 2022
Lockett would later catch a short touchdown on a designed play to him in the red zone, showing good timing with Wilson. Lockett got most of his yardage on big chunk plays, but showed good chemistry with Wilson throughout.
D.K. Metcalf was given a deep shot on the opening play and caught a slant later on in the first quarter. Metcalf later had a third-down conversion called back on offensive pass interference by Everett. He saw some downfield shots into double and triple coverage from time to time, and would come down with a deep bomb down the sideline in single coverage but landed out of bounds. Seattle tried multiple screens to Metcalf, but they didn’t result in much, and he drew away the coverage to set up a long touchdown to Freddie Swain on a busted coverage. Metcalf was heavily involved and could have had a big day with a few breaks.
Gerald Everett had a rough stretch to end the first half, with an offensive pass interference call first, followed by a drop on a potential long touchdown. It was a wide-open over-the-shoulder catch that he has to make. Everett’s lone reception came on 3rd and 5 where Wilson bought time and found him by himself along the sideline.
Kyler Murray: 28/39, 240 yards, TD, 5 sacks | 5 carries, 35 yards
Kyler Murray opened the game focusing on James Conner and A.J. Green in the passing game, with mixed results. Murray picked up a first down on a hard count towards the end of the first quarter and used his legs to set up a third and short that they would convert on the ground. The drive would stall out with a screen and rushing attempts failing to move the chains.
Murray was often checking down to running backs or scrambling for yardage in the first half and had several plays called back by offensive penalties. Most of Murray’s sacks were coverage sacks, and he struggled to find anyone open downfield, as the Cardinals leaned on the running backs in the second half. The lack of a true number one receiver is beginning to show for Murray, as he held the ball too long when looking downfield, leading to sacks. Murray made very few mistakes in this one, but just couldn’t make the big plays to overcome the Cardinals mistakes.
James Conner: 15 carries, 52 yards, TD | 6 targets, 6 receptions, 41 yards, TD
Eno Benjamin: 7 carries, 31 yards | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 25 yards
James Conner received the first two touches of the game for the Cardinals and was involved throughout. He had two more touches on the next drive and then converted a risky 4th and 1, backed up in their own territory, with an extra effort conversion.
In the second-half, Conner lined up in the slot, caught an out route, and broke two tackles for a touchdown on the kind of impressive receiving play that he has flashed all year.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 9, 2022
Conner then punched in a short rush a few plays later for his second touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Conner picked up a 3rd and 18 but left for the locker room grimacing and did not return.
Eno Benjamin was in early in the first quarter for his first carry of the game, but got the bulk of his work after Conner’s injury. After the Conner injury he looked particularly looked good in the passing game and was competent with his rushing attempts. Arizona did not deviate from the game plan after Conner left, as Benjamin continued to get peppered with passing attempts.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Christian Kirk: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 43 yards
A.J. Green: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 23 yards
Antoine Wesley: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards
Zach Ertz: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 84 yards
A.J. Green got a deep shot early where he couldn’t separate from one on one coverage against a beatable defender. In a very similar spot on the next drive, Green caught a big downfield pass but it was brought back on offensive pass interference. Green would then catch a 3rd down pass to move the sticks on the same drive.
Green had a 31-yard reception called back on an illegal shift, on a play where he showed some run after catch ability. He had a 3rd and 1 target where he and Murray seemed to be on different pages, and the pass fell incomplete. Green was also targeted late in the end zone on an incomplete pass. This was a very modest day that was close to being a big one with a break or two, but for the most part, Green failed to separate consistently.
Christian Kirk made his first play of the game on a 35-yard reception on 3rd and 3, coming down with a tough catch. He was quiet otherwise, as Murray looked to Green and the running backs over and over again.
Zach Ertz picked up a nice 3rd and 10 conversion at the end of the second half, and early in the third quarter caught a screen and broke a tackle for a nice gain. Ertz consistently found holes downfield in the defense and was their most efficient option in the passing game. Ertz committed an offensive pass interference penalty on an end zone target and was the target on the next play on a pass that fell incomplete prior to the Cardinals’ final field goal. He had an excellent day that could have been bigger if he could have converted one of his red zone chances.
— Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)