Seahawks punt returner Tyler Lockett gets loose for one of his big gains in the second quarter.
Drew Butler has been maligned for inconsistent punts this season, but coach Bruce Arians thought he "kicked the (expletive) out of the ball" in Sunday's 36-6 loss to the Seahawks.
The problem was the lack of coverage when Tyler Lockett caught it.
The star rookie continually gave the Seahawks advantageous field position in the game-deciding first half. Over a three-punt stretch in the second quarter, Lockett returned punts 66 yards, 42 yards and 31 yards. The first two allowed Seattle to start drives at the Arizona 16 and 27, with both resulting in touchdowns.
"Lockett's a good little returner," Arians said. "We kicked the ball really, really well, and we just didn't get down there to make tackles."
Lockett finished with four returns for 139 yards on the night, and would have had even more if a 22-yarder following the Cardinals' first possession wasn't called back due to an illegal block above the waist.
"He's a great returner, obviously," Pro Bowl special teamer Justin Bethel said. "I think we just weren't in the right place and didn't have good net coverage. He was pretty much able to run right down the middle and we didn't find a way to stop it early, so they just kept coming at us."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said it was a combination of good blocking and Lockett's natural elusiveness.
"He just looked unstoppable," Carroll said. "That's a bunch of guys working together to get that done. Tyler will be the first to tell you that. It was a tremendous effort by our guys and I'm really proud. It really kind of led to the fire of the game. We kept getting field position and taking advantage of it."
Butler averaged 47.3 yards per punt on six attempts, but had a net of only 24.2 per punt because of the long returns.
CATANZARO STRUGGLES WITH KICKS
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed his only two kicking attempts of the day, an extra point after Larry Fitzgerald's first-quarter touchdown and a 51-yard field goal attempt before the half.
While Catanzaro is still 28-of-31 on field goals this season, it was his fifth missed extra point, which has Arians concerned.
"Every time he kicks one I hold my breath," Arians said. "So I'll be holding my breath every time he kicks one in the playoffs."
Catanzaro said he felt like he rushed himself on the missed extra point. He said the field goal attempt felt good, and while it was close, the ball knocked off the upright and back into the end zone.
"I just feel really sick right now," Catanzaro said. "It's not representative of how I work and my preparation. I just feel really sick right now. Five extra points, there's no excuse for that. I don't care what distance they are. I didn't help the team today."
Arians was asked if Catanzaro is struggling mentally right now, and said "ask him. I'm not kicking the damn thing. He's got all of the talent in the world."
Catanzaro said his confidence is still there but admitted "it's going to take a couple days to wash this off."
SHERMAN TAUNTS CARDINALS SIDELINE
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after taunting the Cardinals sideline near the end of the third quarter.
He mimed sitting down on a bench in a message he said was directed at Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in reference to wide receiver John Brown.
"You hear some of these guys talk sometimes and you never forget anything," Sherman said. "This offseason I think the kid Brown said I couldn't guard him one on one. Laughable, you know what I mean? Things like that are laughable, but then I say this in a press conference and I'm a bad guy. But you can find the article. He said I couldn't guard him. That's the kind of disrespect you make sure they remember."
Arians thought the taunt was directed at him, not Palmer or Brown, but didn't seem concerned about it.
"Sherman's a good player," Arians said. "I don't get into all that crap."
SENDLEIN, REDDING LEAVE GAME WITH INJURIES
One of the main goals for the Cardinals was to avoid impact injuries in the game, and for the most part that was accomplished, as none of the stars went down.
However, there were some guys who got nicked up. Center Lyle Sendlein limped off in the second half and didn't return with what Arians termed a bone bruise. Defensive tackle Cory Redding left early with an ankle injury.