NFC West: 2011 Week 5 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Seahawks 36, Giants 25

October, 9, 2011
Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 36-25 victory over the New York Giants in Week 5:

What it means: The Seahawks head into their bye week with a 2-3 record and significant momentum after pulling off an unexpected road victory in the 10 a.m. PT time slot. This victory, following a big comeback in defeat against Atlanta, casts the Seahawks as a young team heading in the right direction. Charlie Whitehurst's 27-yard touchdown pass to rookie Doug Baldwin after Seattle lost starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to a shoulder injury [UPDATE: Pete Carroll told reporters Jackson suffered a pectoral injury] gives Whitehurst credibility moving forward if Jackson needs time to recover.

What I liked: The Seahawks were the better team, particularly early and late. They built off the progress shown during the second half of their 30-28 defeat against Atlanta a week earlier. Seattle allowed no sacks in that game, a victory for the team's young offensive line. This week, Marshawn Lynch and the line took advantage of a Giants defense that has struggled against the run recently. Lynch's 47-yard run helped set the tone early. On defense, Earl Thomas ended his 12-game interception drought and, through his active play, again showed why he's one of the best safeties around. Tony Hargrove's third-quarter safety was another huge play for the defense, breaking a 14-14 tie. Interceptions from Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor showcased some of the Seahawks' young talent on defense. Browner returned his 90 yards for the clinching touchdown.

What I didn't like: Lynch lost a fumble at the Giants' 13-yard line. Fullback Michael Robinson lost one at the Giants' 2. Those first-half turnovers changed the game for Seattle and prevented it from taking control. The Seahawks' inability to stop Giants receiver Victor Cruz, even when they had good coverage, also stood out -- at least until Browner's clinching interception on a pass intended for Cruz.

Rising star: Baldwin continued his impressive play for the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent. He caught eight passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. Jackson and Whitehurst spread the ball around to players other than Sidney Rice. Baldwin and Ben Obomanu each caught a touchdown pass.

Deja vu: Last season, a victory at Chicago in the Seahawks' fifth game proved critical in their ability to win the NFC West. Scoring another road upset in the fifth game improves the Seahawks' chances considerably in 2011. This was a game most of us would have marked down as a likely defeat heading into the season.

What's next: The Seahawks have a bye in Week 6 before visiting Cleveland in Week 7.

Wrap-up: Vikings 34, Cardinals 10

October, 9, 2011
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 34-10 road defeat against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5:

What it means: The Cardinals are 1-4 heading into their bye week and looking like a team that is regressing. Falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter against an 0-4 team reflects poorly on Arizona coaches and players alike. Quarterback Kevin Kolb contributed to the problems early and will rightfully face tough questions about his production to this point in the season. Arizona has now gone 3-13 in its last 16 games under Ken Whisenhunt, who will also face some tough questions in the weeks ahead.

What I liked: The Cardinals turned the 28-0 deficit through one quarter into a 28-10 score by the third quarter. They stopped the bleeding, in other words, but by then the damage was done. Beanie Wells, who entered the game leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns, added another one in this game.

What I didn't like: Arizona set up the Vikings in prime field position repeatedly in the first quarter. The Cardinals lost the punting and punt-coverage game early, allowing Minnesota to begin its first two drives at its own 42 and at the Arizona 18. Kolb's interception and lost fumble on a sack gave the Vikings possession in Cardinals territory two more times. A fourth-quarter pick compounded Kolb's problems. When Arizona tried to get something going in the second quarter, rookie tight end Rob Housler dropped a play-action strike from Kolb for what should have been a decent gain. An Arizona defense that had struggled mostly against the pass had no answer for Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' ground game. Peterson topped 100 yards rushing and scored three first-half touchdowns. The Cardinals' inability to get Larry Fitzgerald more involved was another problem.

Lay off the line, a little: Ripping the Cardinals' offensive line for poor second-half pass protection would be easy, but protecting the passer in the Metrodome while trailing by a wide margin is tough duty for any team. The Cardinals also lost left guard Daryn Colledge, arguably their best offensive lineman, to a head injury.

Historic performance: The Cardinals became the 11th team since 1940 to allow 28 or more point while scoring none in a first quarter, according to Pro Football Reference.

What's next: The Cardinals have a bye in Week 6 before facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at University of Phoenix Stadium.