SEATTLE – Patrick Peterson called the season a “roller-coaster.” A short time later, David Johnson used the same phrase, and when it was pointed out Peterson had said it, Johnson smiled.
“I felt like I was on that F-16 (fighter jet) again,” the running back said of an Air Force ride he had taken. “It’s been a tough season.”
The Cardinals went to CenturyLink Field Sunday and almost found an upset. Instead, the Seahawks beat them for a second time this season with a field goal on the final play of the game, this time, 27-24. The loss dropped the Cards to 3-13 on the season, the worst mark in the NFL. It sealed the No. 1 overall draft pick in April.
The discussion postgame, however, wasn’t about the way the special teams had a great game, or that it might’ve been Larry Fitzgerald’s final time in uniform. It went directly to the status of the head coach, Steve Wilks.
“You saw someone composed, willing to fight,” safety Tre Boston said of Wilks. “Pressure busts pipes or it makes diamonds. That’s a diamond right there.”
Wilks said he had yet to discuss his future with GM Steve Keim or team president Michael Bidwill. “I’m sure we will find some time (Monday) to sit down and talk.”
“The season is over now,” Wilks added. “So now we're trying to find some direction and clarity.” Wilks also said he felt he deserved to be retained.
The Seahawks (10-6) are going to the playoffs, but the Cardinals, even at the end of a bad season, made them sweat. Zane Gonzalez booted a 55-yard field goal with less than two minutes to go to tie the game. They sacked Russell Wilson six times. Special teams got a blocked punt from Cameron Malveaux that was recovered by Dennis Gardeck for a touchdown, and Gardeck had a partially blocked punt that led to a field goal. Pharoh Cooper had a 45-yard punt return to set up another field goal.
The Cardinals couldn’t slow the best running attack in the NFL – the Seahawks ran for 182 yards. They also suffered from what looked like two busted coverages, both to Tyler Lockett, the first a 29-yard TD pass early in the game, the second a 37-yarder to set up Sebastian Janikowski’s game-winning kick.
Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was up and down as has been his season. He completed 18-of-34 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. He had no interceptions but could’ve been picked off a couple of times, and lost a late fumble to set up a Seattle go-ahead field goal.
“I saw a lot and a lot happened, good and bad (this season),” Rosen said. “There’s a lot to learn from.”
Fitzgerald had a better game than his final stats would indicate, making a wonderful 15-yard touchdown catch one-handed – with his left hand – and making a couple other excellent plays (including one that was called incomplete than was arguably good on the sideline.
Fitzgerald, who hasn’t decided if he will play in 2019, had four receptions for 36 yards.
“During these times, you learn a lot about yourself,” Fitzgerald said. “The way we competed today I think is indicative of the players and the coaching staff we have on this team.
“We don’t accept moral victories, but everybody could’ve laid down if they wanted to, and they chose to compete.”
That effort, Wilks said, “speaks volumes for the men in that locker room.”
The question now is what impact it will have, if any, on the decisions the organization will make in the coming days. As they have done recently, players talked about liking Wilks as both and man and a coach. Boston, who is scheduled to become a free agent, said even if he is not a Cardinal he hoped Wilks remained in place.
“We all know fans and owners want to see ‘W’s’ and the opportunity to see ‘W’s,’ ” Peterson said. “Coach Wilks has done a tremendous job putting us in position. We let him down. A lot of stuff falls back on Coach, but a lot of stuff falls back on the players as well.”
Peterson said the Cardinals needed to play well Sunday not just for Wilks but for “us as men.” But in a “weird” year, the roller-coaster was a hard ride. And the ride may not be over yet.
“You know that first drop when you get nauseous a little bit?” Peterson said. “That’s kind of like what I’ve been feeling the whole season.”
Images from the regular season finale in Seattle