Linebacker Daryl Washington and the Cardinals bring down Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch during a crucial late first-half sequence during Sunday's 17-10 win in Seattle.
SEATTLE – Marshawn Lynch was edging into his vaunted beast mode here Sunday, and then a gang of birds pulled him back down to human levels.
The Seahawks' star running back was finding holes and breaking tackles for much of the first half, racking up 58 yards on his first nine carries. The Cardinals' rush defense, though, flexed its own highly touted muscle the rest of the way, bottling up Lynch in one of the keys to the 17-10 upset at CenturyLink Field.
On Lynch's final nine carries, he accumulated only 13 yards, finishing with 18 for 71 for a 3.9 yards-per-carry
average. Defensive end Calais Campbell said there weren't any adjustments, just the NFL's top-rated run defense playing to its capability.
"I think they realized that we came to play," Campbell said. "They're a good running team, but we work hard and we take pride in stopping the run."
The shift began late in the first half, when an interception by Malcolm Smith set up the Seahawks with 1st-and-goal from the 3. Lynch gained two yards on first down and nearly stretched the ball into the end zone but was marked just short.
On second-and-goal, Karlos Dansby and Dan Williams made one of the biggest plays of the contest, standing up Lynch for no gain. Seattle threw incomplete on third down and Steven Hauschka missed a 24-yard field goal on fourth to keep the game tied at 3 entering halftime.
The Cardinals dominated the line of scrimmage after intermission.
"Our defensive line coach (Brentson Buckner) was on us all week: 'Knock these guys back and make (Lynch) bounce side to side, because that's not what he's good at,'" defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "He's good at coming downhill. We worked hard at it, and hard work paid off today."
MICHAEL FLOYD TRIES, TRIES AGAIN
Two times on Sunday, quarterback Carson Palmer threw the ball to wide receiver Michael Floyd in the end zone against one-on-one coverage, and it didn't end up so well.
Floyd caught a 32-yard pass for a touchdown late in the second quarter, but it was negated because of offensive pass interference when he pushed Richard Sherman. On the second attempt, with the Cardinals nursing a three-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Floyd darted left while a heavily-pressured Palmer threw right, and Sherman picked off the pass.
Palmer wasn't deterred. He saw Floyd matched up in single coverage again as the Cardinals trailed 10-9 with under three minutes remaining. Palmer threw a deep pass down the left sideline, and while Floyd initially bobbled it, he held on, sliding across the end zone for the game-winning points.
"I knew it was a good ball and I knew Mike was going to get by him," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "It was just a matter of, was he going to be able to finish the catch?"
It was Floyd's lone reception.
"If we're going to get beat, they're going to have to be on ESPN about it," Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said.
"Mike, that goes to show the resiliency I am talking about," Palmer said. "His number wasn't being called and he wasn't getting opportunities all game long. And then the biggest opportunity he gets all game, it is the game-winner.
"It's hard when you are being asked to block linebackers and linebackers and linebackers. You finally get a chance and to keep your mind in the game and keep the focus on pulling in the ball speaks to his maturity."
SECONDARY DOES MORE THAN JUST WEATHER INJURIES
The defensive backs were without starting free safety Tyrann Mathieu and his backup, Rashad Johnson, but the group completely neutralized the Seattle passing game. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was 11-of-27 for a career-low 108 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
"For whatever reason, we just couldn't find guys open," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "You have to give them a lot of credit. They did a nice job."
Undrafted rookie free agent Tony Jefferson started at free safety and finished the game with three tackles – including a big one on Lynch near the goal-line – and a quarterback hit.
Cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Patrick Peterson played very well, as Golden Tate finished with two catches for 34 yards and Doug Baldwin had one eight-yard reception. They were targeted a combined nine times.
"We were all over their guys," Arians said. "Jerraud Powers made some great plays. He has great ball skills and did a great job."
EXTRA POINT PENALTY RAISES EYEBROWS
Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka had an extra point blocked by linebacker Daryl Washington, which kept the game knotted at 9 with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter. However, Washington was flagged for an illegal formation penalty for lining up over the center, which gave Hauschka a mulligan, and he made his second try for the 10-9 lead.
"The defender has to be completely outside the frame of the center's body," referee Scott Green said. "In this case, we felt that he was covering his shoulder, and that's why the call was made."
Mike Pereira, the former Vice President of Officiating for the NFL, disagreed with the call.
"Arizona did not attack the center," he tweeted.