Seahawks stymied by Arizona's D in 17-10 loss
All the Seattle Seahawks needed was another win at home. No big deal - they already had 14 straight.
But they may have underestimated just how much the Arizona Cardinals wanted to make the playoffs.
Carson Palmer's 31-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd with 2:13 left gave the Cardinals a 17-10 victory Sunday and kept alive their hopes for their first playoff appearance since 2009.
It was Seattle's first loss at home since December 2011. The Seahawks had been vying to clinch both the NFC West and home-field advantage with a victory. Now they'll need San Francisco to lose at home to Atlanta on Monday night, or a victory at home next week against the Rams to clinch the top seed.
The Cardinals got the best of the Seahawks because of stout defense, not necessarily because they were the hungrier team, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
''We `must win' every week. That's all we understand, and I'm sure they feel the same way,'' Carroll said.
The loss didn't come without controversy.
On the Seahawks' possession following Palmer's touchdown to Lloyd, Russell Wilson took aim at Doug Baldwin with a deep pass. The ruling on the field was an interception by Arizona's Karlos Dansby, a call that stood despite a review.
Baldwin insisted afterward that the ball hit the ground.
''I don't think anybody in the stadium had a better view of it than me,'' he said.
Referee Scott Green was asked about the call following the game, saying, ''We didn't have disputable evidence that it hit the ground and therefore we went with the call as it was made on the field, which was an interception.''
Carroll also challenged a ruling earlier in the quarter over whether Arizona running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbled on a series that led to field goal for the Cardinals to put them up 9-3. The call on the field in that case also stood.
''You never want to blame the officials, you just don't want to let it get to that point,'' Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. ''You just keep grinding and keep pushing it through until something good happens.''
Arizona was the team grinding harder on Sunday and the result was its first victory in Seattle since 2009.
The Panthers defeated the New Orleans Saints 17-13 earlier Sunday, meaning the Cardinals needed to beat the Seahawks in Seattle to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Cardinals fell to the Seahawks 34-22 in Week 7. The last time the Seahawks hosted Arizona, they handed the Cardinals their most lopsided loss in franchise history - a 58-0 blanking to cap a nine-game losing streak.
''Any time you come on the road and the team beats you 58-0 and you have to come back to their place, it lingers to the back of your head,'' Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. ''If you got any pride in any game of football, when a team beats you by 58, you know you think about it and it's stuck on you.''
That memory is now replaced by Arizona handing Seattle its first home loss since Dec. 24, 2011, against San Francisco.
Arizona kept Wilson off-balance for his first loss at home. Wilson completed 11 of 27 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. He also had the final-series interception. It was his first home loss since he was at North Carolina State.
''I thought it was one of those games where we were just an inch off here or there for whatever reason,'' he said.
The defense helped Arizona overcome a sloppy performance from Palmer, who was intercepted four times. He was Kam Chancellor picked him off in the end zone on Arizona's opening drive. He was picked off by Malcolm Smith in Seattle territory in the second quarter, and twice threw interceptions into Richard Sherman's arms.
But Palmer was fantastic on Arizona's decisive drive. It started with a third-down completion as he was about to get sandwiched by Clinton McDonald, flipping a pass to Jake Ballard for 17 yards. The drive was kept going when Smith was flagged for defensive holding on a third-down incompletion.
On third-and-6, Palmer dropped a perfect throw beyond cornerback Byron Maxwell and into Floyd's hands. He juggled it at first but controlled the ball as he hit the turf.
Mendenhall scored easily on the 2-point conversion with 2:13 left.
The Seahawks had taken over the lead with Wilson's 11-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller with 7:26 to go. The extra point was blocked, but the Cardinals were flagged for an illegal formation. Steven Hauschka converted the second attempt.
Before that, the Seahawks went three-and-out seven times. Wilson was sacked four times. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 71 yards, but Seattle had just 22:36 time of possession.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org