Cardinals’ Win a Wild One In a Hostile Environment

Before last night’s game, the Arizona Cardinals had a dismal 1-4 record in the Pete Carroll era (since 2010) at CenturyLink Field (the home of the Seattle Seahawks). But last night that didn’t mean a whole lot, as the Cardinals went toe-to-toe with the Seahawks from the opening quarter to the last as they beat the Seahawks 39-32.

The final score of this game was misleading, because the Seahawks never had this game in the bag. The only reason why they even got within seven points of the Cardinals, was because of two strip-sack/fumble recoveries that were converted into great field position and a touchdown. Otherwise, this game would have been a blowout or the final score would have looked like this: 39-18.Carson Palmer_Arizona Cardinals.jpg1

Quarterback Carson Palmer (29 of 48 for 363 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 pick) had the game of his life and the nightmares of his life in the same game. Yes, he picked through the Seahawks’ defense like a homeless man through garbage. But, he was also pressured a heck of a lot, sacked three times, intercepted once, and he was stripped twice by two different Seattle defenders.

Luckily for him, the Cards defense came through when they needed to and his receivers had his back all night, particularly budding star receiver Michael Floyd.Michael Floyd hauls in the game winner

Floyd and the great Larry Fitzgerald were the main recipients of Palmer’s passes tonight and they both had 100 yard games. Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 130 yards and Floyd snatched 7 passes for 113 yards and 2 scores.Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals Photographer Trish Scott

Palmer also got help from his running backs in Andre Ellington (5 carries for 61 yards and 1 score) and Chris Johnson (25 carries for 58 yards), who both annoyed the Seahawks defense with their outside speed.

The Cardinals put the first points on the board, when their kicker Chandler Catanzaro sent a 33 yard field goal through the uprights. With 12:52 left in the second quarter, the Cardinals took a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinals added to their lead, when quarterback Russell Wilson (14 of 32 for 240 yards, 1 touchdown pass and 1 pick) took the snap and drifted back to pass, and then he ran forward where he bumped into his left tackle Russell Okung, which resulted in Wilson fumbling the ball into the end zone where he fell on the ball for an Arizona safety. That was Wilson’s fourth fumble of the 2015 season. With 12:14 left in the first half, the Cardinals sported a 5-0 lead.

Then later in the second quarter, the Cardinals after losing their talented and high-priced left guard Mike Iupati to a neck injury and a 6-yard sack of Palmer, the Cardinals stood up in the face of diversity and delivered. This delivery was a 27 yard Palmer back of the end zone touchdown pass to Floyd. With 6:41 left in the second quarter the Cardinals took a 12-0 lead.

Then less than three minutes later, Floyd added to his super hot first half with a 35 yard down the left sideline touchdown grab amid close coverage from Seattle cornerback Cary Williams. With 4:02 left in the second quarter the Cardinals took a 19-0 lead.

The Seahawks finally got on track on their next offensive possession, when Wilson fired deep and found receiver Paul Richardson for a 40 yard reception to the ARZ 15 yard line. That was Richardson’s longest reception of the year and also it was his only reception of the year up to that point. Richardson for most of this year has been convalescing the ACL tear he suffered on January 10, 2015, when Seattle beat the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

Richardson’s clutch catch led to a 1 yard touchdown smash up the middle by fullback Will Tukuafu. That was the first touchdown of any kind (rushing or receiving) in Tukuafu’s six-year career. That score cut the Cards’ lead to 19-7 with 1:52 left in the second quarter.

Catanzaro sent the game into halftime with a 43 yard field that winded from left to right and then finally through the uprights. The Cards took a 22-7 lead.

On the Seahawks’ first offensive drive of the second half, they seemed to be on their way to a touchdown but a couple big stops by the Cardinals’ defense on 2nd and 3rd downs forced a 31 yard field goal attempt by kicker Steve Hauschka. The reliable Hauschka made the field goal attempt and so with 11:18 left in the third quarter, Seattle cut the Cardinals’ lead to 22-10.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin (7 catches for 134 yards and 1 score) was huge on the Seahawks’ next scoring drive. On 1st and 10 from the SEA 31, Baldwin took a Wilson pass 33 yards down the right sideline to the ARZ 36. Then three plays later, Baldwin got behind the Cards’ defense for a 32 yard scoring pass. With 4:52 left in the third quarter, the Cards’ lead was cut to 25-17.

The Seahawks early in the fourth quarter caught a break. On 3rd and 5 from the ARZ 19, Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril (3 tackles included 1 sack, 1 forced fumble) sped into the backfield and took ahold of Palmer. And then on accident, forced the quarterback to fumble at the ARZ 10 yard line with the ball rolling back to the ARZ where outside linebacker K.J. Wright recovered the ball and advanced it to the ARZ 3 where he was ruled down by the officials.

That Wright fumble recovery set up a Lynch 3 yard touchdown run up the middle. With just under fifteen minutes left in the game the Seahawks cut the Cards’ lead to 25-23.

Then seven plays later, Wright slipped into the Cardinals backfield and slapped the ball out of Palmer’s hand with the ball then rolling to the SEA 22 yard line. That was where Seahawks inside linebacker Bobby Wagner picked up the ball and ambled untouched into the end zone. With a little under thirteen minutes left in the game the Seahawks took their first lead of the game at 29-25.

But the Cards snatched the lead right back, when on 1st and 10 from the SEA 14, Palmer threw into the end zone where he found a leaping Jermaine Gresham who caught the pass near the back of the end zone. With 8:41 left in the game the Cards took a 32-29 lead.

Then on 3rd and 4 from the SEA 48, bad tackling and balance along the left sideline aided Ellington’s 48 yard touchdown run. With 1:58 left in the game the Cards took a 39-29 lead.

After that sucker-punch touchdown run by Ellington, all the Seahawks could get was another Hauschka field goal and a failed recovery of an onside kick a play later.

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