Safety Rashad Johnson (49) hits Seahawks tight end Zach Miller Sunday but it can't prevent a 24-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter, during Seattle's 58-0 win over the Cardinals.
SEATTLE – It wasn't about which quarterback should be playing, or late-game strategy, or missed opportunities for the Cardinals Sunday.
No deep analysis was necessary. Not with every unit breaking down. Not after the Cards had their worst performance of the Ken Whisenhunt era, a 58-0 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Stadium.
"I've never died before," running back Beanie Wells said in a quiet locker room, "but it's like a painful death."
The Cards lost their ninth straight, a game that actually started well for a brief moment before the first of eight turnovers started the slide. By the time it was over, the Seahawks had rushed for 284 yards and there was very little to say.
"Let me start by saying I apologize to our fans and everybody associated with our organization," Whisenhunt said. "That was embarrassing today.
"We owe it to our fans, our supporters, to give them a better product."
Whisenhunt, asked again about his job status, said he had not talked to anyone in the organization about his future. He reiterated his future wasn't a concern because it wasn't something he could control.
"We all know this business," Whisenhunt said. "I've been in it a long time as a player and a coach. I'm not worried about that."
After a performance like Sunday's, however, the topic was unavoidable.
"You try not to think about it but some of it is inevitable," Wells said. "It crosses everyone minds. Not just coaching changes but player changes. Guys worry about their jobs."
Added wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, "We're playing for our jobs. There's a lot to play for."
For a brief time, the Cardinals (4-9) looked like they would be OK. Quarterback John Skelton hit receiver Andre Roberts twice on the first possession, and the Cards were moving the ball. But a third-down pass to Fitzgerald bounced of his hands and the hands of a couple of Seahawks before linebacker Bobby Wagner picked it off and returned it all the way to the Arizona 14-yard line for the first turnover of the day.
Even then, the defense held for a field goal. But from there, the game unraveled. The Cards had six turnovers in the first half alone, allowing the Seahawks (8-5) to put up 38 points. Skelton, back in the lineup to replace Ryan Lindley, turned the ball over five times. Four times Skelton was intercepted, and he lost a fumble.
Lindley ended up coming in for Skelton in the third quarter, and on his first drive, he lost a fumble while being sacked. Whisenhunt couldn't yet answer who his quarterback would be next week against Detroit, throwing in some gallows humor when asked by a reporter the question.
"Do you play?" Whisenhunt said.
"Let's face it, in this league, part of our struggles have been tied to that position," Whisenhunt added. "You have to have someone there that can cover up other areas."
It wasn't just the offense, which had only 154 yards, which struggled. The defense allowed almost 500 yards. Cornerback Patrick Peterson did make his sixth interception of the season, but on special teams, he fumbled away two punt returns, both of which the Seahawks ended up turning into touchdowns.
"We didn't fit the gaps well, there were blown a couple assignments on the long passes (defensively)," Peterson said. "We didn't play well in any phase. It's been a tough, long, brutal season. We have to find a way to get out of it."
The Seahawks ended up playing what they considered a near-perfect game.
"That's a hard thing, in the NFL, to do what we did today," Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said
The Cardinals did have a terrible road game in New England in 2008 with Whisenhunt as coach, a 47-7 loss that ended up serving as a launch point for the Cardinals' Super Bowl run after Whisenhunt cracked the whip the following week at practice.
That team already had clinched a division title, however. This one knows it has just three games remaining.
"It was an ass-kicking, that's all you can say," Skelton said. "It's embarrassing. But I think people in the locker room have enough pride to come out in these last three weeks."
Whisenhunt expressed belief his players would respond well and be ready for the Lions. That was generally the theme from his players too, who had plenty of time to absorb the loss by the time it had ended and the interviews had begun.
At this point, defensive lineman Nick Eason said, all the Cardinals can do is come back to work this week. The final three games have to be played, so the Cards might as well see what they can fix.
"If you don't come out and play well in all cylinders against a good team, things can get out of hand," Fitzgerald said. "Obviously, I could never imagine anything like this."