The Cardinals' defense swarms Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck during Sunday's 27-3 win over the Seahawks.
SEATTLE – The Cardinals started. They also finished.
That statement – which morphed into near a plea from coach Ken Whisenhunt the day after the Cards hung on to a win over Houston a week before – that Whisenhunt was hoping his team could play a full four quarters seemed to resonate Sunday.
The Cards whipped the Seahawks, 27-3, Sunday at Qwest Field, a performance that was as complete as Whisenhunt could have hoped.
"We were out there in the fourth quarter and we're still trying to kill them," defensive end Darnell Dockett said. "That's the way it should be."
The Cardinals (3-2) held the Seahawks (2-4) to only 128 total yards, and 42 of them came on a pass off a fake punt. Seattle ran for just 14 yards, while Arizona got a little more balance in its offense with 43 passes and 26 rushes.
If there was any question of which direction the game would head, however, it was answered immediately.
The first quarter was a exercise in practical perfection from the Cardinals' perspective. Knowing the importance of quieting the crowd, the Cards received the ball first and embarked on a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that chewed up 10 minutes and 42 seconds before Larry Fitzgerald caught a two-yard scoring pass from Kurt Warner.
Then Neil Rackers executed a pooch kick that dropped over the initial lines of Seahawk blockers and dropped – live and untouched – before rookie Greg Toler eventually jumped on the loose ball at the Seattle 23. Three plays later, Tim Hightower had a two-yard touchdown run and the Cards led 14-0.
"I don't even know what the clock said before they go on the field on offense down 14-0," Warner said, "but it helps to suck away that home-field momentum."
The defense got their first-quarter highlight too, with defensive end Calais Campbell sacking Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and forcing a fumble on Seattle's first possession, leading to a Rackers field goal.
The Seahawks are fighting injuries – their offensive line has been mix-and-match all season, and defensive starters Patrick Kerney and Lofa Tatupu left during the game – but the Cards weren't feeling sympathy or feeling bad for taking advantage.
"This is the NFL," defensive tackle Bryan Robinson said. "You suit up and take it where you can get it."
Hasselbeck was harassed into a 10-for-29 passing day, and was sacked five times by a defense that had been sackless for two games. Warner was an efficient 32-of-41 for 276 yards and two touchdowns, with a lone interception coming only because he heaved a Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half.
Fitzgerald ended up with 13 catches for exactly 100 yards, his first 100-yard game of the year. Steve Breaston had seven catches (and averaged 21.3 yards on three punt returns) to make up for Anquan Boldin's sprained ankle.
Whisenhunt said he'd know more Monday, but he took Boldin out of the blowout win mostly to protect him in an effort to have Boldin available for the upcoming crucial "Sunday Night Football" game in New York in a week.
The Cardinals are 2-0 on the road for the first time since 1991, and beating the Giants – on national TV – would really create a buzz around a team that has had it's ups and downs.
But if the Cards find a way to fulfill Whisenhunt's hope of four full quarters, there is a confidence they can win anywhere.
"We talked about that at halftime," Whisenhunt said. "This time ,we made plays in the second half.
"We played together well as a team today."
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