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Originally published Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 9:24 PM

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Cardinals embarrassed, coach on shaky ground

The Arizona Cardinals started their debacle of an afternoon with a damaging turnover on the opening drive at CenturyLink Field.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Arizona Cardinals started their debacle of an afternoon with a damaging turnover on the opening drive at CenturyLink Field.

Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals' occupationally endangered coach, started what might be his final postgame news conference with an apology for the worst loss in franchise history.

"I want to apologize to our fans and everybody associated with our organization," Whisenhunt said. "That was embarrassing today. We owe it to them, our fans, our supporters, to give them a better product, a better job than what we did today. We have to work to get better than that."

But they could be doing it without Whisenhunt, whose job security is even more tenuous after Arizona's ninth straight defeat. The magnitude of this 58-0 loss, with eight turnovers by the Cardinals fueling the Seahawks' romp, could force out the coach who led Arizona to within an eyelash of victory in Super Bowl XLIII.

"There is nothing I can do about that," Whisenhunt said. "We all know what this business is. I've been in it a long time as a player and coach. I'm not worried about that. I know how we work and how we prepare, and all you can do is stick with that."

The beleaguered Whisenhunt showed he hasn't entirely lost his sense of humor — at least of the gallows variety. Asked who would play quarterback next week (an unappealing choice between John Skelton, who was yanked in the third quarter Sunday after three interceptions and a fumble, and Ryan Lindley, who brought a dreadful 40.8 QB rating into his relief role), Whisenhunt deadpanned to the reporter, "Do you play?"

Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton, a Tacoma native and former Huskies All-American defensive back, is a likely choice to take over the head-coaching duty if the Cardinals do fire Whisenhunt right away.

About the only positive for the Cardinals was that they weren't at home to hear what surely would have been a cacophony of boos for this stinker. In the shellshocked Cardinals locker room, players tried, in vain, to come up with answers for their brutal performance. This is a team, remember, that won its first four games this season.

Darnell Dockett said he was speechless. Vonnie Holliday used the words "ugly" and "frustrating." For many others, "embarrassing" was the pejorative of choice.

"It's just a tough, long, brutal season," said cornerback Patrick Peterson. "That's definitely a tough 'L' to take."

Skelton didn't mince words, calling the defeat "an old-fashioned ass-kicking. They beat us in every aspect, but I think we have enough prideful guys in this locker room that we will come back Monday, come back for the next three weeks and try to get the W's. Because at this point, that's all we can do."

Arizona's losing streak is the franchise's longest since it lost all 10 games in the 1944 season. Since the franchise's beginning in 1920, it had never given up so many points.

The Seahawks were relentless, throwing six passes in the fourth quarter and going for the end zone on fourth-and-23 with a 51-0 lead. But Whisenhunt didn't voice any objections.

"It's our job to stop it," he said. "That's what it really comes down to. You have to give them credit. They're doing their thing. I have no comment on that other than to say, it's our job to stop them and we didn't get that done."

Arizona actually got off to a promising start on its opening drive, moving to Seattle's 37 before suffering its first turnover."That was definitely a momentum killer," said six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

And the Arizona disaster that followed was possibly, for Whisenhunt, a job killer.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @StoneLarry.

Most turnovers forced by Seahawks
Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner each had two interceptions, part of the eight turnovers forced by the Seahawks on Sunday.
TO Game Breakdown
10 Dec. 20, 1981 vs. Cleveland 3 interceptions, 7 fumbles
8 Dec. 9, 2012 vs. Arizona 4 fumbles, 4 interceptions
Dec. 13, 1998 vs. San Diego 7 interceptions, 1 fumble
Sept. 9, 1984 vs. San Diego 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles
Oct. 16, 1983 vs. L.A. Raiders 5 fumbles, 3 interceptions

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