All season long, the Arizona Cardinals have relied on their defense to help them win games. Unfortunately, the unit put together their worst performance of the season in a 35-6 loss at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night from the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Things got off to a good start for the Red Birds. Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 27-yard field goal to give Arizona a 3-0 lead eight minutes into the game, but it was all Seahawks from that point on.
On the Hawks next drive, Russell Wilson hit his tight end Luke Wilson for a 80-yard touchdown pass, the first of many big plays from the Seahawks offense on the night. Seattle would score again on their next possession via a Marshawn Lynch six-yard run.
Arizona’s defense would hold Seattle’s offense silent for the next two quarters. The Cardinals would tack on a field goal late in the third quarter to draw to a one possession game, but even though they were only down eight points, you never really got the feeling that the Cardinals were really in it.
The fourth quarter is where Seattle would break things wide open. It started with another big play from Wilson to Wilson, this time for a 20-yard touchdown to put the Hawks ahead 21-6.
After a quick three-and-out from the Cardinals offense, Seattle would score quickly on a run from Marshawn Lynch, which you will see plenty of in the coming days on Sportscenter. It looked like Lynch was going to be tackled multiple times, only to get into the end zone on a 79-yard run. Seattle would tack on another touchdown late on a Wilson five-yard run.
After this loss, the playoff scenarios for the Cardinals are now endless.
They currently stand as the sixth seed in the NFC, but a NFC West title isn’t out of reach. If the Cardinals beat the 49ers and the Seahawks lose the Rams at home next week, the Cardinals would will the division. Of course with how the Seahawks have looked over the past week, them losing doesn’t seem likely.
Now, onto the Good, Bad and the Ugly of tonight’s fiasco.
This game was a train wreck across the board, so it’s really, really hard to find anything positive to take away from this one.
It really looks like Catanzaro is back on track after having a poor couple of weeks kicking. Over the past two weeks, Catman has made six straight field goals. With the playoffs right around the corner, that is very good news as kicking is a crucial part of postseason play.
Drew Butler has been up and down all season long, but he was pretty good tonight. He averaged just 44 yards a punt tonight and pinned Seattle twice inside their own 20. This game could have been even uglier if it weren’t for him helping out with field position.
So yeah, the defense flat out stunk this evening. There’s really no other way to put it.
Arizona’s D gave up just under 600 yards to and they allowed big play after big play. That was very disappointing considering Seattle’s lack of big weapons on offense and with Lynch spending the first quarter on the bench with stomach issues.
Antonio Cromartie, who has been great all season long minus the Denver game, was horrific all evening long in coverage. He got burned on several plays, including on one where he just fell down, which allowed Doug Baldwin to run down field.
The Cards run defense wasn’t particularly good either as they allowed 267 yards on the ground on only 34 carries. Like I said, that was also with Lynch on the sidelines for 15 minutes.
There were far too many times where for whatever reason, the Cardinals didn’t have a spy on Wilson and he was free to roam where he would like. Wilson had 88 rush yards on the night, highlighted by a huge 55-yard run scramble that was a back-breaker early on in the game.
Probably the worst part of tonight’s effort by the defense was the poor tackling.
There were a couple of times where a pass rusher had Wilson dead to right, only to allow him to either escape to either throw it away or run for plus yardage. The tackling on that Lynch play was just horrific. I get that Lynch is hard to bring down, but when multiple guys have clear shots at him, you have to bring him down.
So I’m going to include both Bruce Arians‘ playcalling and the play of Ryan Lindley in this. They were both equally ugly.
First off, I don’t get why Arians abandoned the run so early on. The Cardinals were still in the ballgame until the fourth quarter and Arians pretty much refused to run the ball beginning early on in the second quarter. Arizona had 15 carries on the night.
Now, those who support Arians on this will argue that they weren’t running the ball well early on, which is true, but in order to open up the pass game and protect Lindley, you have to stick with the run game, especially when the game is still within reach. Just a poor job by Arians across the board.
The poor play of Lindley goes without saying. He completed just 18 of his 44 passes and his yardage totals didn’t pick up until the Seahawks were going very conservative on defense late in the fourth quarter.
I’m sure Lindley is a nice guy and he’ll be successful in whatever he does in life, but to put it bluntly, the guy has no business being on a NFL field. His accuracy his horrific, he locks down on his receivers and throws to the wrong team far too often. He has yet throw a touchdown in his NFL career and has been picked off eight times. Not good.
If Drew Stanton is unable to go next week in San Francisco, Arians has to go with Logan Thomas. Yes, he’s extremely raw and shouldn’t be starting in the NFL yet, but his tools will at least give you a shot to pull off a victory on the road. Lindley sure doesn’t do that for you.