Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston hauls in a 28-yard touchdown pass to start Arizona on its comeback in a 31-20 win Sunday over Seattle.
Drama was probably unnecessary, since the sellout crowd of University of Phoenix Stadium was searching for a win more than entertainment Sunday.
In the end, the Cardinals delivered both against the Seattle Seahawks. They trailed 14-0 early before eventually coming up with a 31-20 victory, achieving their defense of home field and likely handing the Seahawks a death blow with NFC West hopes.
"It wasn't the prettiest game, but it wasn't the ugliest game either," safety Adrian Wilson said. "We got the win, and we ended their season."
The Cards (6-3) began the second half of the season as needed, with a victory against a beatable opponent at home. They just didn't begin the game itself as planned.
The offense was stagnant early, unable to push across a score from the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal at one point. The defense, playing without starting middle linebacker Gerald Hayes (back), couldn't stop Seahawks backup running back Justin Forsett (123 yards rushing) after starter Julius Jones was hurt early.
The Seahawks (3-6) took their two-touchdown lead midway through the second quarter. Fans were clearly nervous and even Wilson acknowledged there was "concern." But the Cardinals came up with a touchdown drive on their following possession, ending with a 28-yard strike from Kurt Warner to a wide-open Steve Breaston, and the offense suddenly awakened.
"That's the resolve we have," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said.
Warner got off to a sluggish start – one interception was negated on a replay challenge by coach Ken Whisenhunt – yet finished a spectacular 29-for-38 for 340 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. Rookie running back Beanie Wells had his first two-touchdown game, including a memorable 13-yard score early in the fourth quarter that put the Cards ahead for good, and had a career-best 85 yards rushing.
And Boldin returned from his one-game absence looking like the Q of old, catching eight passes for a team-high 105 yards and sparking the Cards' second-half surge.
"At halftime down 17-10, we wasn't out of it," Wilson said. "We were just out of whack, out of sync."
With the defense – plagued by penalties all day – hanging on to hold Seattle to three second-half points, Whisenhunt looked weary but admittedly proud afterward.
"Hopefully," Whisenhunt said, "that's a sign of us growing up a little bit."
The game turned for good in the fourth quarter. With the score tied at 17, the Seahawks reached the Arizona 1 and had a first-and-goal. But Seattle couldn't push it across, and settled for a field goal.
It took the Cardinals just four plays to take command. Warner hit Boldin for a 10-yard pass. Wells ripped off a seven-yard run and then Boldin had a 37-yard catch that ended with a horsecollar tackle, adding 15 more yards.
Down to the Seahawks 13, Wells then got away from a couple of tacklers for his stunning 13-yard score, forcing the crowd to erupt.
"I just had one guy to beat and I wasn't going to be denied," Wells said.
Neither were the Cardinals, who got interceptions late from safeties Antrel Rolle and Wilson to seal a win.
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw 52 passes, completing 26 for 315 yards. Seahawks receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh had nine catches for 165 yards, and the Cardinals' defenders weren't happy the Seahawks piled up 472 yards.
The Cardinals stayed two games ahead of San Francisco in the division. Next is a road trip to St. Louis, against a Rams team that, despite its 1-8 record, almost upset undefeated New Orleans Sunday.
The Cards hope to get off to a little better start.
"We got challenged," defensive end Darnell Dockett said. "Today was part of growing up."
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