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Originally published October 18, 2009 at 4:06 PM | Page modified October 19, 2009 at 12:01 AM

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Cardinals pounce early in 27-3 rout of Seahawks

Arizona had a 14-0 lead before the Seahawks offense even set foot on the field in one of the most lopsided losses ever at Qwest Field.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Seahawks began the second half in a position that has become oh-so familiar the past 14 months or so.

They found themselves in a hole, looking for any way out.

The Seahawks trailed Arizona 17-3, but they had the ball to start the half and 30 minutes to make up the difference. Then came two running plays, each of which lost yardage, and Seattle was once again headed nowhere fast.

"It was not a great way to start off," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "But the plan was not just to bang our heads against the wall. The plan was to throw it."

Seattle's plans didn't matter all that much in Sunday's 27-3 loss. The Seahawks trailed by two touchdowns before they ran their first offensive play, and it didn't get any better later.

They ran three plays in the first quarter, resulting in one first down, a turnover and no points. The Seahawks finished with 14 yards rushing, the lowest game total in franchise history.

"It was tough out there offensively," coach Jim Mora said. "It was evident to everybody. I think that is probably the understatement of the world right there."

Seattle crossed midfield just once, and that was on a 42-yard pass from punter Jon Ryan on a fake. It was Seattle's longest play, setting up the field goal that kept the Seahawks from being shut out, and accounted for nearly half of their first-half total of 90 yards of offense.

Hard to tell which was bigger Sunday — the significance of this loss, or the gap in the performance of the Cardinals (3-2) and the Seahawks (2-4).

Arizona supplanted Seattle atop the NFC West last year, and the Cardinals had won four of the past five games against the Seahawks. But most of those games were close. Three of Seattle's four losses to the Cardinals were by six points or fewer.

Sunday's loss so one-sided that Seattle's punter was its most productive player, and its defense was a bright spot. Yes, the defense that allowed Arizona to hold the ball for more than 10 minutes on its first drive and gave up 13 receptions to Larry Fitzgerald.

Seattle gave up only one play of more than 20 yards, and four of the Cardinals' five scoring drives began on the Seahawks' half of the field.

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"What you're seeing on defense is some consistency in the lineup finally," Mora said. "And you're seeing us improve on defense. That first drive wasn't an indication of that, but I think the rest of the game was."

It was the offense that was inconsistent, Mora said, but that wasn't exactly true. Seattle was consistently unable to do anything with the ball.

The Seahawks had the ball for all of 43 seconds in the first quarter. They ran three plays before Hasselbeck was sacked, fumbling the ball away. It was a scenario that was to be repeated because on those occasions in which the Cardinals did allow Seattle to possess the ball for a few plays, they chased Hasselbeck relentlessly.

The Seahawks are down to starting their No. 4 left tackle, Kyle Williams. They played Steve Vallos at left guard, the third player to start there this season.

The Cardinals' defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, and the Seahawks couldn't run the ball. Five of their 11 rushing plays failed to gain yardage.

"I've always been a part of a team that was capable of running the football," Mora said. "Right now that is part of our struggles."

Yes, there was more to Seattle's problems Sunday. The Seahawks couldn't protect Hasselbeck long enough to pass the ball, either. He was sacked five times.

"I do know Matt Hasselbeck will be soaking in the hot tub," Cardinals linebacker Chike Okeafor said.

Ninety yards used to be a good drive for Seattle back in 2005, when the Seahawks offense was at its peak. On Sunday, it was half a game's worth of work for a team that has been downright schizophrenic in its first six games this season.

The Seahawks' two victories came by a combined score of 69-0. Their four losses have come by a combined score of 109-49.

"You don't know which team is going to show up," Hasselbeck said.

Well, it wasn't a very good team that took the field Sunday.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Not-so-sweet home
Seattle's 24-point loss to Arizona Sunday was its second-largest home loss since Qwest Field opened in 2002:
Margin Opponent Score Date
29 Buffalo 38-9 Nov. 28, 2004
24 Arizona 27-3 Oct. 18, 2009
22 Denver 31-9 Nov. 17, 2002
19 Philadelphia 26-7 Nov. 2, 2008
18 Minnesota 31-13 Oct. 22, 2006

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