Cardinals coach Bruce Arians hugs assistant coach Tom Moore after the Cardinals beat the Seahawks, 26-24, Sunday.
SEATTLE – There were emotions in the locker room afterward, but Bruce Arians insisted it wasn’t because of any decision he had made about his coaching future.
And it made sense, given that the Cardinals improbably won again at CenturyLink Field against the Seahawks, this time a 26-24 victory Sunday to make Arians the franchise’s all-time winningest coach.
“We just love celebrating in this locker room,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “That was the emotion here today.”
With constant speculation that Arians could retire after five seasons with the Cardinals, he said again he had yet to make a decision. There will be the normal team meetings Monday, he said. Arians promised not to drag out his choice.
“Nothing has changed,” Arians said.
That included the Cardinals’ feelings about playing in Seattle. The Seahawks (9-7) were officially eliminated
from the postseason during the fourth quarter, when the Falcons’ victory over the Panthers became official. But the Cardinals (8-8) drove the stake through – winning for the fourth time in five Seattle trips since Arians became coach – with the win.
Leading much of the game, the Cards were behind by a point before quarterback Drew Stanton manufactured a drive to set up Phil Dawson’s 42-yard field goal with 2:21 left. Then the Cards had to withstand Seattle’s retort, which came down to Blair Walsh’s 48-yard field goal with a little more than a half-minute to go.
Unlike last season, when Chandler Catanzaro’s field goal on the final play beat the Seahawks for the Cardinals, Walsh’s field goal drifted wide right. It meant Arians received his 50th career win, one better than Ken Whisenhunt.
Arians’ reaction? “That word, ‘YES,’ in all caps,” he said.
“I cannot say I came up here as a head coach expecting to beat that team that had to win to be in the playoffs,” Arians added. “I knew we’d fight our asses off. But for them to win that game is a tribute to them individually and collectively.”
The Cardinals dominated the first half, building a 20-7 lead and holding the Seahawks to only 24 yards offense – their lone touchdown coming on Tyler Lockett’s 99-yard kickoff return
But the Seahawks bounced back, with Russell Wilson tossing a pair of second-half touchdowns, and the Cards started falling apart physically. Already shorthanded, the Cards lost starting offensive linemen Evan Boehm and Alex Boone, while tight end Jermaine Gresham tore his Achilles. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones hurt his knee, and the remaining tight end, Troy Niklas, wasn’t even expecting to play much coming back on a still-bad ankle.
“We always know it’s going to be a dogfight up here,” Stanton said.
Stanton finished just 15-for-34 for 134 yards, a touchdown on a fantastic scramble-and-throw to Jaron Brown and an interception. But he evened his record as a starter in Seattle to 1-1 and finished 3-1 this season as a starter.
“God bless Drew Stanton,” Arians said. “He’s just a winner.”
Arians has been too, and in an offseason where much change is possible, what Arians decides to do tops the
list. The players insisted it was not what they were thinking about Sunday, and Arians did not bring it up.
“We’re paid to go out there, perform and win games,” said wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had eight catches, all in the first half. “That was the focus. That was always going to be the focus. Guys will make their decisions when they make them, but the priority was trying to get a win today.”
Defensive lineman Frostee Rucker said there was a lot to build on, given that the team reached .500 with a score of crucial injuries. Rucker wants to see this group stat intact to have that shot, but as far as Arians goes, “we don’t know anything that’s going on.”
Arians hasn’t lost any of his swagger, regardless of what he decides to do. After a kerfuffle last week when Arians’ comment in the locker room with him telling players CenturyLink was the Cardinals’ home field was broadcast on national TV – which Arians did not know would happen – the coach couldn’t help himself as he got to the podium postgame Sunday.
“Thanks for coming to my house,” Arians said, albeit softly.
Now, the wait is on to see if Arians will return to Seattle – or more specifically, with the Cardinals – next season.
Images from the regular season finale in Seattle