NFC West: 2012 Week 13 coverage
December, 2, 2012
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
CHICAGO -- Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 23-17 overtime victory against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field:
What it means: The Seahawks strengthened their positioning in the chase for a playoff berth by finally breaking through on the road. This game showed Seattle could beat a winning team away from CenturyLink Field without getting many breaks. Quarterback Russell Wilson was again stellar as Seattle improved to 7-5 while dealing a costly defeat to the Bears. Seattle had suffered close defeats on the road recently when its defense faltered late. Wilson did not let it happen this time, leading go-ahead drives late in regulation and again in overtime.
What I liked: Wilson stepped up in a big way with a 97-yard drive to the go-ahead touchdown and the winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice in overtime. He is looking like one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Wilson converted third-and-long situations early in the game. He made accurate throws and had success trusting his receivers with passes released before they had turned to look for the ball. His 28-yard strike to Rice beat Charles Tillman and helped dig out Seattle from deep in its own end.
Wilson completed 23 of 37 passes for 293 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers.
With the game on the line, Wilson moved the Seahawks 97 yards for a touchdown to take the lead. His ability to manipulate defenders with his running was critical in freeing Rice for a key completion on Seattle's final drive of regulation.
Jon Ryan enjoyed another strong punting performance to back up the Bears more than once.
The Seahawks' defense stiffened after a rough start. The base run defense was particularly strong early. Red Bryant, playing despite an injury, shut down Chicago's ground game early.
What I didn't like: Seattle gave up a 56-yard reception in the final seconds to put the Bears in position to kick the tying field goal. Cornerback Richard Sherman waited for the ball to arrive instead of batting it down aggressively. That allowed Brandon Marshall to make the catch. Once again, Seattle's fourth-quarter pass defense was a problem.
Seattle's defense gave up too many third-and-long conversions early as Jay Cutler completed 7 of 9 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. Seattle had trouble defending Marshall and arguably should have let Sherman match up with him. Instead, the Bears had early success getting Marshall isolated against other defenders, including Brandon Browner.
Seattle failed to capitalize on repeated chances to collect turnovers. Kam Chancellor couldn't handle a pass Cutler threw in his direction. The Seahawks could not recover a muffed punt. They could not recover a fumble following a Bears reception. Those are the sorts of plays a team needs to make, particularly on the road. Seattle had its chances and couldn't convert.
Lynch's day: Marshawn Lynch carried 19 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. There were times when Seattle went away from him, but with Wilson playing so well, that was OK in the big picture. The coaching staff has taken heat for not being aggressive enough. There were times in this game when Seattle opened it up -- including in second-and-short situations -- without getting the desired results.
Wilson did miss an open Zach Miller in the end zone as Seattle settled for a field goal right before halftime. That was one of the few negatives for him.
Rice injured: Rice was injured while making the winning touchdown catch. He finished the game with six receptions for 99 yards. Golden Tate added five receptions for 96 yards. Doug Baldwin had four catches for 46 yards. There was no immediate word on Rice's condition.
What's next: The Seahawks are home against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.
December, 2, 2012
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 7-6 road defeat to the New York Jets:
What it means: The Cardinals have lost eight in a row following their 4-0 start. Coach Ken Whisenhunt's decision to switch quarterbacks continued to produce no dividends, amplifying questions about whether Whisenhunt made the right move in benching John Skelton while leading Atlanta two weeks ago. Ryan Lindley completed eight of his first 25 passes with a pick. That wasn't nearly good enough.
What I liked: The Cardinals' defense continued to do its part. Arizona picked off Mark Sanchez three times, leading the Jets to bench Sanchez. Rashad Johnson gained 40 yards on a rushing play. Larry Fitzgerald had a 23-yard reception. Michael Floyd had a 16-yarder.
What I didn't like: The Cardinals have become unwatchable on offense, and they had five first downs. Lindley completed 10 of 31 attempts. The Cardinals needed to get points after dominating Sanchez and the Jets' offense. Lindley's inefficiency should not come as a huge surprise. He is a rookie sixth-round draft choice trying to assimilate after being named the starter well into the season. Still, if Whisenhunt and his staff know how to develop quarterbacks, we're not seeing evidence suggesting that is the case.
What's next: The Cardinals visit the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14.