The Seattle Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals 21-10 in an NFC West showdown on Sunday. This win gives the Seahawks an early leg up in a division that looks to be much more competitive than it was last year.
In losing, the Cardinals missed a chance to make a statement against the defending NFC champions, and they will need to pick up their play if they plan on competing for the division title.
The race for the Western crown won't be close if the other teams in the division go 0-for-the season against Seattle, as they did in 2005.
This weekend, Arizona's high-powered offense had its plug pulled by a tough Seahawks defense. The offensive line for the Cardinals was under siege all day and couldn't handle the pressure.
Kurt Warner had no time to throw the ball and ended up on his backside the majority of the time he dropped back to pass. The running game did not fare much better, with Edgerrin James stifled and unable to find holes.
All told, the Cardinal's offense wasn't able to sustain drives and never made a trip into the red zone.
On defense, Arizona was at least able to pressure Matt Hasselbeck and, for the most part, contain the Seahawks' offense. Big plays were a problem for the Cardinals, though, with Seattle tallying four passing plays of 25 yards or longer -- one of which resulted in a touchdown for Darrell Jackson. The Cardinals also had problems stopping the Seahawks' ground attack in short yardage situations, which kept the Seattle offense on the field and the Cards' weapons on the sideline.
On special teams, the Cardinals were good and bad as they blocked a kick but also missed two of three field goals. Bottom line: Dennis Green and the boys will have a lot to work on in practice this week if they want to establish themselves as legitimate contenders.
As for the Seahawks, they won while failing -- again -- to find a consistent offensive groove. The receivers dropped passes that hit them in the hands, and at times Matt Hasselbeck threw balls that were flat out bad.
Despite all that, the 'Hawks were successful moving the ball and putting it into the end zone. The running game was a community effort, with Shaun Alexander, Maurice Morris, and Mack Strong combining for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
The Seattle defense looked excellent against the highly-touted Cardinal offense, keeping their vaunted receiving duo of Fitzgerald and Boldin scoreless on the day. The Seahawks' pass rush was consistently in Kurt Warner's face, and the defensive front seven used strong penetration to hold Edgerrin James in check.
The Cardinals did get a long touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to Bryant Johnson, which will certainly draw attention from Mike Holmgren when the coach reviews the game tape. The story out of Seattle is remarkably similar to the one from last week: they came away with a win...and plenty of things to improve on before next Sunday.
The fans in Seattle were loud, as usual, and seemed to disprupt the Cardinals offense -- proving that the Seahawks have one of the strongest home field advantages in the league. You can bet that those fans -- this writer included -- are still waiting for their team to realize its full potential on the field.