Sunday, September 9, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 20-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks following their Week 1 matchup at University of Phoenix Stadium:
What it means: The quarterback drama and questions that dominated pregame discussion aren't going away. Kevin Kolb, all but written off in Arizona, came off the bench to throw the go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter after an ankle injury knocked out starter John Skelton. Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson answered by quickly leading Seattle down the field, but his final pass fell incomplete in the end zone on fourth down with 18 seconds left. In the bigger picture, both teams are still looking up at the San Francisco 49ers. The standings show a tie atop the NFC West, but neither Seattle nor Arizona played anywhere near the level San Francisco demonstrated while handling the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Both teams appeared limited offensively. Both have big injury concerns.
What I liked: Kolb was ready when called upon, moving the Cardinals into position for the go-ahead score.
Skelton had good pass protection for most of the first half, a big surprise after injuries left the Cardinals short-handed at offensive tackle. Skelton had little trouble driving Arizona down the field. When Skelton finally took a hit, he bounced right back by finding Todd Heap over the middle to the 2-yard line. The Cardinals got a touchdown out of that drive as they built a 10-3 halftime lead.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt's replay challenge produced a turnover when officials determined Wilson's incomplete pass was actually a backward one. Linebacker Paris Lenon recovered.
Whisenhunt and offensive coordinator Mike Miller seemed to have a good plan early in the game. They got a rushing touchdown against Seattle's stout run defense by sending LaRod Stephens-Howling, not Beanie Wells or Ryan Williams, up the middle. They also gained yardage with a reverse. Give offensive line coach Russ Grimm some credit, too. His inexperienced tackles, D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie, held up better than expected early in the game.
The Cardinals' defense held up with the game on the line and despite enduring some questionable officiating, including when officials appeared to incorrectly award the Seahawks an additional timeout.
What I didn't like: Skelton completed only one of his seven attempts in the third quarter as Seattle took control of the game. He had trouble finishing drives and threw an ill-advised pick on the perimeter in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks' excitement over Wilson was palpable before the game, but their conservative game plan seemed to treat him as just another rookie. Either that, or Seattle thought its defense could win the game.
Wilson did move Seattle into position to win on the Seahawks' final drive. He needed some help, however. Doug Baldwin couldn't hold onto a tough pass over the middle in the end zone.
Inconsistent administration of pass-interference penalties seemed to frustrate both teams.
Costly injuries: The Seahawks lost left tackle Russell Okung to what appeared to be another lower-leg injury. Okung limped off the field with 1:39 remaining and Seattle driving. Skelton's injury was the big one for Arizona.
What’s next: The Cardinals visit New England in Week 2 for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff. The Seahawks are home against Dallas for a 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff.