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Instant Replay: A brief sketch of the Seahawks' loss to Arizona
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Arizona Cardinals 23, Seahawks 20, OT
Why the Cardinals won: Arizona (8-8) controlled the first half and took a 10-3 lead into the break. The Cardinals led 20-10 entering the fourth quarter before the Seahawks rallied and forced overtime. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, as usual, was an unstoppable beast. He finished with nine receptions for 149 yards, including an amazing one-handed snag in overtime as the Cardinals drove to a game-winning field goal. Fitzgerald accounted for nearly half of backup quarterbackJohn Skelton's 22 completions and more than half of his 271 passing yards. Without starting quarterback Kevin Kolb and 1,000-yard rusher Beanie Wells, the Cardinals managed a solid 388 yards against the Seahawks defense, which has had stingier performances. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling rushed for 93 of the Cardinals' 131 rushing yards.
Why the Seahawks lost: Despite playing from behind for most of the game, the Seahawks had chances to win. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who did fine work in helping the Seahawks rally from a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit, couldn't lead his team to victory on its last two possessions. The Seahawks had the last true possession of regulation and the first possession of overtime, but both drives resulted in punts. Jackson was 1 of 4 on those final drives. He couldn't make plays, and neither could his receivers. The Seahawks also blew a couple of opportunities with some questionable play-calling. Most notably, they had first and goal at the 6-yard line in the third quarter but couldn't score. They ran four plays (none of those was a Marshawn Lynch run) and didn't reach the end zone. It was not offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's finest game, and he inexplicably called for a lot of empty formations in crucial situations. As a result, the Seahawks converted only three of 16 third downs. After the Seahawks' failed red-zone opportunity in the third quarter, Arizona's Patrick Peterson blocked Steven Hauschka's 24-yard field goal attempt. On the positive side, the Seahawks rushed for 178 yards. And wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, still fresh off the practice squad, caught a 61-yard touchdown pass to help tie the game at 20.
Key play: In overtime, Fitzgerald put the Cardinals in field-goal range with a crazy diving, one-handed grab. Three plays later, Jay Feely kicked a 28-yard field goal to win the game.
Player of the game: Fitzgerald. Is any further explanation necessary?
Shame of the game: The Seahawks lost six games this season that were still in doubt deep into the fourth quarter. Winning a larger share of those games is always the difference between good and mediocre in the NFL. While the solution isn't as simple as finding a better quarterback, a QB who can make clutch plays would help dramatically. Jackson was better than expected this season, but the Seahawks still need an upgrade.
What this means in the big picture: The Seahawks finish the season with a 7-9 record. (A coin flip with Kansas City will decide whether the Seahawks pick No. 11 or No. 12.) Overall, it was a progressive year. They went young, struggled mightily during a 2-6 start and then won five of six games to crawl back into the playoff picture. But the Seahawks closed the year with two difficult losses. They were a couple of plays against San Francisco and Arizona from being 9-7. Instead, they're 7-9 for the second straight year. But this 7-9 feels a lot different. This team is getting better -- quickly. But the Seahawks must solve this quarterback issue.
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