Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown grabs his facemask in frustration after dropping a touchdown pass in the first half of Sunday's 19-3 loss to the Seahawks.
SEATTLE – The day started with the end of one streak and finished with the end of another, and in between, the Cardinals managed to make the mistakes they hadn't most of the season.
Perhaps more than the 19-3 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field will be that knowledge, that the Cards simply didn't play well at the game's basic levels.
"Very simple analysis for this one," coach Bruce Arians said. "If you don't block, catch, tackle, kick, you can't win."
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was declared inactive before the game with a sprained knee, ending his consecutive games played streakat 110. The loss snapped the Cardinals six-game winning streak, although the Cards (9-2) still hold a two-game edge over the Seahawks and 49ers (both 7-4) in the NFC West with those two teams playing Thanksgiving night.
But the big picture wasn't the talk. The Cardinals are confident they can move quickly on from this loss as they have pushed to do after all of their wins. As poor as the final score was, Arians wasn't dismayed. Fitzgerald's absence wasn't at the heart of the offensive issues, There were crucial points in the game, but none were more painful that the near back-to-back sequences at the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third.
The struggling Cardinals' offense put together it's one good drive of the game late in the first half, and on
third-and-goal from the Seattle 7-yard line, quarterback Drew Stanton found a wide-open Jaron Brown in the end zone as the Seahawks blitzed.
Brown dropped it.
"That's a catch I gotta make," Brown said. "It's a catch I make every day. I left my feet and I think I tried to body-catch it. That's just something you never want to do. Just disappointed in myself."
The Cardinals kicked the field goal, making the score 9-3 at the half, and then sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson twice in three plays to start the third quarter. Field position, for the first time in the game, flipped. The Cardinals got the ball near midfield.
But it was another three-and-out for the offense. On the punt, Seattle's DeShawn Shead broke through for the block that set up another Seattle field goal. The Cardinals only had 10 men on the field; Arians said running back Stepfan Taylor was the missing body.
"It changed field position in the game, and that's what we talked about at halftime," said safety Rashad Johnson, the "up" man on the punt team. "We knew were going to be up (on defense first), we stopped them, and then it was time to punt. We needed to punt and pin them down there … and that blocked punt was critical.
"As personal protector, I've got to see the guys out there. I take full responsibility for that."
It wasn't the points that hurt, but the momentum shift lost. The Cardinals never could seem to retain it. As well as the defense played much of the game – seven sacks – Russell Wilson proved to be a killer. The Seattle quarterback/escape artist finished with a game-high 73 yards on 10 carries and completed 17 of 22 passes for another 211 yards.
More importantly, the Seahawks played mistake-free football.
"We played well (defensively), but I just don't think we forced any turnovers," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "We didn't make any splash plays."
The Cardinals had too many mistakes. Chandler Catanzaro missed a 49-yard field goal. There were dropped passes besides Brown's, and Stanton threw another interception, leading to a field goal. Pass protection, particularly right tackle Bobby Massie, struggled early. Stanton only had 149 yards passing on 14-of-26 passes, while Andre Ellington managed just 24 yards on 10 carries.
"We had our chances, we just didn't make the most of them," Stanton said. "Everybody took turns today.
"We put our defense in some tough situations. We have to swallow this one. It was difficult and we knew it was going to be difficult. We didn't play as well as we would have liked. You flush it down the system and move on."
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch only had 39 yards rushing on 15 carries. The Seahawks' offense, even with some success late, was uneven all day too.
That's what stuck with the Cardinals after the game, knowing it wasn't going to be easy to knock off the Seahawks on the road but understanding they had a chance.
"We'll rebound from it," defensive end Frostee Rucker said. "Good teams don't lose two in a row. But it sucks. We wanted to bury them and they got us."
Teams chasing the Cardinals – the Seahawks and Niners in the NFC West, the Packers (8-3) for the NFC's best record – all won Sunday. In the rarified air the Cardinals are competing in right now, there is no more important streak to have end than a losing streak.
Maybe that's why, not more than 20 minutes after the game, players were already talking about going to play the Falcons in a week.
"Can't wait to go to Atlanta," Johnson said. "Everybody has a very bad taste in their mouth right now. We are ready to go to work (Monday) and we will be ready Wednesday.
"We are very excited about (Atlanta) already. That's all anybody was talking about when we came in (to the locker room). We want the bad taste out of our mouth and the Falcons are the next team."
Images from the game between the Cardinals and Seahawks