Coming into the game against the Cardinals, Seattle was 5-0 at home. By kickoff, the Seahawks knew they could overtake the Chicago Bears for the fifth playoff spot with a win.
With a ground game that racked up 284 rushing yards, a defense that forced eight turnovers and a special- teams touchdown, the Seahawks dominated all aspects of the game.
Game stats from NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
The Seahawks never gave up. The Cardinals, on the other hand, appeared to give up fairly early in this game.
It only took Marshawn Lynch 11 carries to amass 128 yards and three touchdowns. Arizona looked as though it wanted no part in trying to get him on the ground.
It's tough to call a group of professionals quitters, but for the Cardinals to lose nine straight, they've certainly quit on their coach and their teammates. It was way too easy for the Seahawks to run the ball right at them. Plus, committing eight turnovers is unacceptable for any team.
It was so bad that Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt started his postgame press conference by apologizing to Cardinals fans for the embarrassing loss.
Rather than play down to a team that clearly didn't come prepared to play, the Seahawks continued to put forward a solid effort.
Perhaps going for it on 4th-and-23 in Cardinals territory seemed like they were trying a little too hard that late in the game, but kicking a 50-yard field goal or trying to pin them inside the 10 wouldn't have been taking it easy on them either.
Is Breno Giacomini the offensive-line version of Ndamukong Suh? That was the question I was asking myself after he picked up another unnecessary roughness call. It's one thing to play through the whistle, but he consistently plays after the whistle. And the officials noticed.
With the Seahawks up 3-0 in the first quarter, Marshawn Lynch broke a 15-yard run to get down to the 5-yard line. But Giacomini's efforts after the whistle put the Seahawks back on the 20.
Fortunately, Lynch took the ball into the end zone on the next play to give the Seahawks a 10-0 lead and the blowout ensued, making fans forget Giacomini's first 15 minutes.
When Lynch scored to start the second quarter, it looked like the right tackle could've been flagged again. Lynch was already in the end zone and Giacomini continued to block his man.
It wasn't just his play after the whistle. The only sack of the game also came on a linebacker blitz when Giacomini chose to double-team a defensive lineman, allowing Quentin Groves to go untouched to Russell Wilson. As a result, Seattle wasn't able to take a shot at the end zone on third down and settled for a field goal to go up 3-0.
Seattle's first four draft picks continued their impressive rookie seasons.
Bruce Irvin (Round 1, 15 overall): Already leading all rookies in sacks coming into the game, Irvin picked up his eighth.
Bobby Wagner (Round 2, 47 overall): Wagner jumped up to third, passing Lofa Tatupu and Kenny Easley, on the all-time list of tackles by a Seahawks rookie. His 109 lead the team. Wagner kicked off the Seahawks' turnover spree with a 45-yard interception return on the Cardinals' first possession. He then picked off another pass on their first possession of the second half. His three interceptions have come in the last three games.
Russell Wilson (Round 3, 75 overall): Anyone still hoping for Matt Flynn to take the reigns of the offense may have seen enough, now that he's had an opportunity to take command of the offense in a regular-season game. Of course, Flynn wasn't asked to do a whole lot, coming into the game with a 45-point cushion. Regardless, it is clear that Wilson is the starter. Despite throwing an interception, Wilson is second among rookie quarterbacks behind Robert Griffin III and seventh in the NFL in quarterback rating.
Robert Turbin (Round 4, 106 overall): Turbin had his first 100-yard rushing game against the Cardinals. With Marshawn Lynch on the bench, it gave Turbin the opportunity to keep pushing the ball down the field and running out the clock.
This was one of the tougher calls to make, because I'm a huge Golden Tate fan. But he had three plays that stood out in a negative way.
The first was his pass interference call. It looked like he was going to lay a big block a bit too early. The defender was ready for him, though, and ended up putting Tate on his back.
Tate was only targeted three times, so he didn't have a lot of chances to make a big play. But had he waited for his blocker on a screen pass, he probably could have made the sort of big play that we've all come to expect.
The main reason he makes the list is for slipping and losing position to Patrick Peterson, which allowed for the Cardinals' only takeaway and dinged Wilson's quarterback rating.
Maybe the Cardinals 111 passing yards were more a result of the struggling quarterback play, but cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Richard Sherman didn't give them a lot of room to make plays either.
Thurmond definitely didn't give fans any reason to believe he couldn't get the job done in his return to a starting role
Considering he actually beat out Sherman for a starting role last year, Brandon Browner might have more to worry about. Four games gives Thurmond a lot of time to prove he deserves to win back the role he lost when he went down to injury.
Going up against Larry Fitzgerald, Richard Sherman had one of his best games this season, with two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. His added three more passes defensed to his total of 16 and also recovered a fumble.
So why is he listed among the losers?
With an appeal for his four-game suspension on the horizon, you want your players to be focused on the game no matter what, rather than worrying about what the outcome might be. Sherman didn't appear to be anything but focused on this game.
But it seemed like a bad time to be celebrating and putting on a show after big plays. Sherman even picked up a penalty for an illegal demonstration. Apparently, it is against the rules to dance with another man on the football field?
I love the trash talk and the attitude, but guilty or innocent—it might be best to save it for after the appeal.
With the Seahawks defense allowing game-winning drives against the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins, and allowing the Bears an opportunity to tie the game in Chicago, it's worth asking whether Seattle truly has an elite defense.
If the defense isn't elite, then it must be the next category down, whatever that is. After 13 games, the Seahawks are third in total yards allowed, fifth in passing yards, 12th in rushing yards and third in points. They're in the discussion with the Bears, 49ers and Steelers as the best units in the NFL. That's some elite company.
If the Seattle defense continues to show up like it did on Sunday, making four interceptions, recovering four fumbles and recording three sacks on its way to a shutout, there won't be any argument about where it ranks.
The St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, all teams trailing the Seahawks in the playoff race, picked up a win on Sunday. But the Vikings' 21-14 win over the Bears dropped Chicago behind the Seahawks and into the sixth playoff spot.
The Bears have a lot to worry about in their Week 15 matchup against the Packers. That doesn't mean the Seahawks can relax, though. The Bears' final two opponents are the struggling Cardinals and Lions, but both games are on the road..
The Seahawks win Sunday also keeps the NFC West title in reach.
The San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins to maintain their lead. But, if the 49ers lose on the road against the New England Patriots next weekend and the Seahawks beat the Bills in Toronto, it would make the Dec. 23 game at CenturyLink for the division lead.
In Clare Farnsworth's recap of the game on Seahawks.com, Richard Sherman has a great quote reflecting on his fumble recovery. "It just kept bouncing around,'' he said. "I was like, ‘There’s no way this ball is going to bounce right to me.’ And it did. It was the opposite of Murphy’s Law. Everything that could go right went right.”
While Sherman may have been speaking for that play, it certainly seemed to be going that way for the Seahawks the entire game. Everything went right.
Perhaps Murphy's Law only applied to the Cardinals on Sunday. If that's the case, it was apparently a winner after all.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.