The Cardinals beat Seattle Sunday in part by holding Shaun Alexander to just 70 yards rushing.
After Arizona jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter against defending NFC West champion Seattle, the Cardinal defense came through with a timely fourth-quarter turnover and kicker Neil Rackers added two field goals in the final 4:44—including the game-winner from 42 yards with one second left—to give new Cardinal head coach Ken Whisenhunt his first victory with a 23-20 win before 64,542 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"It's hard to win in the NFL," said Whisenhunt. "There's never any guaranteed wins in this league, and that's (Seattle) a good football team. They're the division champs. To hang in there with those guys and make a play at the end is a great thing for our football team."
The Cardinals, who piled up 259 yard offense in the first half and 431 yards overall, opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 28-yard Rackers field goal, and after forcing a Seattle punt took over at heir own 30-yard line near the end of the opening period. Leinart hit Anquan Boldin for 31 yards, Edgerrin James added nine yards on consecutive carries, and on a third-and-one from the 30, Leinart connected with tight end Leonard Pope for a touchdown to push the Cards' lead to 10-0.
Later in the period, the Cards stretched their lead to 17-0 with a 38-yard, five play drive capped by a 17-yard run by James, who rushed for 128 yards on 24 carries and was quick to credit the Cards' revamped offensive line.
"They know that they're doing, and when you to the person you're supposed to block, it's a whole lot better than thinking about who you're supposed to block. And that's what makes the game so much simpler."
Seattle cut the Card lead to 17-7 by halftime when Hasselbeck connected with Nate Burleson for a 24-yard scoring play, and then continued to storm back with a touchdown and a pair of field goas on their first three possessions in the second half to take a 20-17 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Rackers, who saw a 53-yard field goal try hit the left upright and bounce out on the final play of the first half, tied the game at 20-20 on a 52-yarder with 4:44 left, but on the ensuing possession the Seahawks drove into Card territory, and looked to be well in range for kicker Josh Brown.
But on a first-and-five from the Cardinal 36 with 1:55 to play, Card linebacker Gerald Hayes crashed into the Seahawk backfield, further disrupted a botched hand off from Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to Shaun Alexander, and Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett recovered the ball at the 46-yard line to set up Rackers' winning kick five plays later.
"It was a miscommunication," said Seahawk head coach Mike Holmgren. "Shaun thought Matt had audibled. It was loud and so he was doing something Matt didn't expect. They tried to make a play and it didn't happen."
Leinart finished the game with 23 completions in 37 attempts for 299 yards, while Larry Fitzgerald caught seven passes for 87 yards to lead Card receivers. Arizona's defense, which held San Francisco's Frank Gore to just 55 yards last week, was successful again Sunday by limiting Alexander to just 70 yards on 18 attempts.
The Cardinals evened their record to 1-1, and next week travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens.