Seahawks vs. Cardinals: Instant Grades & Analysis for Arizona's Week 1 Game
John Skelton had an up-and-down performance and had to leave the game early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. He gave way to backup Kevin Kolb, who led the offense down the field and threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Andre Roberts.
Arizona moves to 1-0 on the season, while Seattle drops to 0-1.
Here are the final grades:
Skelton sits on a cart on his way back to the locker room after injuring his right ankle during the fourth quarter.
Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
Final Grade: C-
Skelton started well, going 11-of-17 for 124 yards in the first half and leading the team to a 10-3 halftime lead. But things went sour from the get-go in the third frame.
He went 0-for-3 with an interception on his first two drives and was unable to recover from the poor start to the second half.
D'Anthony Batiste, who played well throughout the first half, could not stop Chris Clemons from getting to Skelton during the third quarter. It is unknown what change took place, but Batiste could not adjust.
As for Skelton's injury, coach Ken Whisenhunt is hoping it is just a high ankle sprain, according to Darren Urban (via Twitter), but the extent of the injury is not known.
Skelton finished 14-of-28 for 149 yards and one interception.
After going 2-of-4 to start the quarter, Skelton had to leave the game with a right ankle injury. He did not return.
Skelton was 1-of-7 for 3 yards and one interception in the third. Increased pressure has caused him to be a bit erratic, and the lack of a run game is creating obvious problems.
Continuing to look strong, Skelton completed 7-of-10 for 83 yards in the second quarter. For the game, he is 11-of-17 for 124 yards with an 86.4 QB rating.
He missed tight end Jeff King in the end zone, throwing it behind the veteran. But his management of the game has been stellar. He is has had a clean pocket all game and has been able to deliver passes on time and accurately.
Skelton looked good in the first quarter. He completed 4-of-7 passes for 41 yards, and nearly had a touchdown pass completed to Ryan Williams on an improvisational shovel-pass near the goal line. Look for him to continue his upbeat start into the second quarter.
Kevin Kolb celebrates with Andre Roberts after the two connected on the game-winning touchdown.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Final Grade: C-
Andre Roberts rushed for 15 yards on a reverse for his only carry of the game.
He was the team's leading rusher.
For what was supposed to be a good one-two tandem in Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, they sure fell flat on their faces today. There were no lanes through which to run at all.
Seattle did a nice job bottling the Cardinals' rushing attack, forcing Skelton to make plays through the air. He did so throughout the first two quarters, but when the line broke down in the second half, Skelton was unable to make anything happen.
Following Kolb's entry into the game, you could see help being given to Batiste by way of Daryn Colledge (who was called for holding Clemons during the drive). The line looked as solid as they were in the first half on the game-winning touchdown drive—as if invigorated by what they allowed to happen to their starter, Skelton.
The offense did drive down for the game-winning touchdown behind the arm of backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, but the start of the quarter brings the grade down. They were flat, and the offensive line was awful at best.
Because of them, Skelton will likely miss significant time due to injury.
Larry Fitzgerald came alive on the touchdown drive, catching two Kolb passes for 37 yards. Roberts caught the TD, a six-yard strike at the pylon from Kolb.
The Cardinals had the ball five times in the third quarter. Those five possessions netted them 14 total yards. The rushing attack is failing, and the Seahawks are beginning to get pressure on Skelton.
Momentum has completely shifted, and if something doesn't happen, this one will get away.
Through Skelton, the offense has been able to move the ball on long drives. Six different receivers have receptions already. The run game continues to falter; Beanie Wells entered the game and has four carries for five yards. Stephens-Howling's one-yard TD run was his only carry of the half.
Wells, Williams and LSH have combined to carry the ball 11 times for 15 yards and one TD. Roberts equaled that on his rush.
The final drive of the half was ugly, as communication broke down after a timeout, leading to Skelton calling another timeout. The resulting delay of game penalty for attempting to call back-to-back timeouts backed them up, and they were forced to punt.
Skelton looked solid, but the run-game was invisible. Williams started the game and has six carries for nine yards, and Andre Roberts took a reverse 15 yards. Roberts also is the leading receiver, catching two passes for 26 yards—both came on the scoring drive.
Beanie Wells, who is active after being questionable with a hamstring injury, has yet to play a single snap.
Larry Fitzgerald has one catch for three yards.
Paris Lenon sacks Russell Wilson in the first quarter.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Final Grade: A
The defense allowed the Seahawks only 254 yards of offense.
Marshawn Lynch carried the ball 21 times for 85 yards and was held out of the end zone.
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was impressive at times, but completed 18-of-34 passes for only 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked three times.
Inside linebackers Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington accounted for all three sacks and led were the team's top tacklers. Washington recorded 10 tackles (all solo); Lenon, nine.
The fourth-quarter goal-line stand was incredibly impressive. Twice, members of the secondary were called for pass interference near the goal line during the drive. The defense was able to overcome it, with Wilson's fourth-down pass attempt to Braylon Edwards falling incomplete.
As if it were not already known, the defense will be the strength of the team this season. They were spectacular down the stretch, holding Seattle to only a field goal after the punt coverage broke down allowing Leon Washington to return a punt down to the Arizona 16-yard line.
All things considered, the defense held up well. For what they were given, it could have been worse. They allowed 10 points in the quarter, but both scoring drives started deep in their own territory.
They could start to tire if the offense continues to falter.
Though they did not sack Wilson in the second frame, the defense continues to pressure him into inaccurate throws. He has begun to escape the pocket prematurely on occasion. For the half, Wilson completed 6-of-11 passes for 59 yards.
Adrian Wilson intercepted a pass on the final play of the half, then handed the ball to Patrick Peterson. Peterson found some running room up the left side, but was only able to return it from inside his own 10-yard line to about the 30.
Lynch has carried the ball 10 times for 40 yards and has been a bear to bring down.
The tenacity on defense has been evident from the first snap of the game. There have been multiple skirmishes between Lynch and Wilson, with the rest of the units getting involved—they clearly do not like each other.
The pressure has been consistently in the face of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The rushing attack for Seattle has been average, as Marshawn Lynch has five carries for 23 yards and a 4.3 yards per carry average.
They have sacked Wilson once, and the rookie completed 2-of-4 passes for 20 yards.
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Final Grade: D+
Two big plays during the second half added pressure to that which was already mounting on the defense due to the offensive woes.
Blown coverage is something the Cardinals normally take advantage of, but today it was the other way around.
Leon Washington totaled three kick returns for 133 yards (44.3 AVG) and two punt returns for 56 yards (28.0 AVG).
That must change going forward.
Along with the offense, the special teams play declined as the game went along. The fourth quarter was no exception.
Washington gashed the punt coverage for a 52-yard return that set up a go-ahead field goal, and it nearly cost the Cardinals a victory.
The kick coverage was shoddy following a Feely field goal. Leon Washington ripped off an 83-yard return, setting up Russell Wilson's first career touchdown pass.
Peterson has looked solid as usual during punt returns, returning two for 24 yards thus far. He hasn't had much to work with but still has given the Cardinals good field position. His 17-yard return to the Seattle 42-yard line set up the touchdown drive that is the difference in the game.
Punter Dave Zastudil's lone punt pinned the Seahawks inside their own 20 near the end of the half, thwarting any attempt at a late-half scoring drive.
Calais Campbell blocked a field goal, while Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka converted his second attempt from 27 yards. Jay Feely hit from 21 yards, and that has been the extent of the points.
Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
Final Grade: C+
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton gets an "A" for his efforts. His blitzes and zone coverages had Wilson confused at times, making the sudden star rookie look like just what he is—a rookie.
Offensive coordinator Mike Miller called far too many run plays between the tackles.
It wasn't working in the first quarter, the second, the third or the fourth, yet he continued to call them. The strength of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams is to get into space and make things happen. That did not happen once against Seattle.
On one occasion, Williams attempted to bounce an inside run to the outside, and it was met with great haste. Should the play have been called out there and the blocking been moved that way, things may have been different.
Can't fault the kid for trying; even he knew the play-calling was bad.
This has been a problem on offense for many years. It's nothing new, but it needs to change. Stubbornness won't work with the offensive line the Cardinals possess. It's a makeshift unit as it is, and not even bringing in a great talent at left tackle would fix it.
In this league, it seems to make sense that teams play to their strengths. It defies logic to try and force players into doing things they are not capable of doing, yet the offensive coaching staff continues to do so.
Change? Can anyone spare some change?
The running game wasn't working all game, and the coaches finally abandoned it after Skelton left with injury. Once Kolb entered, he threw the ball eight times to just one run on the game-winning drive.
Horton's defense was stellar, and his play-calling was perfect. On the final drive, the defense held on seven plays from within the red zone.
The running game has been non-existent all game, and the same plays keep being called. The offense has yet to call a run play to the outside; everything up the middle is being stuffed for minimal or loss of yards.
The defense is holding on, but if the offense can't get anything going, they will begin to get worn down, and they may break.
Riding the hot hand on offense, offensive coordinator Mike Miller put the ball in the hands of his quarterback. Skelton delivered on numerous occasion, and the scoreboard reflects that.
Horton has been brilliant in calling blitzes so far, and we should expect the same in the second half.
There was no attempt on the goal line to hit either Fitzgerald or rookie Michael Floyd on a jump-ball. The running plays did not work, and they had to settle for a field goal. Ray Horton has dialed up good blitz schemes, getting to Wilson once.