Seattle breaks records in 58-0 win over Arizona
What Pete Carroll saw as a reward for his Seattle Seahawks was just another chapter in the nightmare season for Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt.
While the Seahawks are rolling toward the playoffs, Arizona looked for an end to the misery induced by its nine-game slide.
''It's a reward for all of the hard work. You work so hard and so often, the games don't afford you that opportunity,'' Carroll said. ''For everybody to play, everybody to contribute, so many guys can get on the stats sheets and all that stuff, and contribute. It's really very positive.''
Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner each had two interceptions, Marshawn Lynch ran for three touchdowns and the Seahawks set a franchise record for points in a 58-0 rout of the Cardinals on Sunday.
The Seahawks forced eight turnovers and kept a firm grasp on the final NFC wild-card spot. Seattle (8-5) also holds a slim chance of catching San Francisco in the NFC West depending on how everything plays out over the next two weeks.
By the time Seattle returns home on Dec. 23 to face the 49ers, they could be playing for the division lead. For now, the Seahawks were relishing a day in which their starting quarterback could be pulled just a few minutes into the second half and while leading by 45 points.
''We have a lot of energy, a lot of great players that can really fly around and make a lot of different plays. To be able to do that, it's great to see that,'' Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ''But at the same time, you can't get too high. That's the fear that we all have; we can't get too high, we have to stay focused on what we can do to control our destiny.''
After two straight weeks of games decided in the final seconds or overtime, the Seahawks got a chance to relax. Seattle also picked up its first division victory of the season and gave Carroll his first eight-win season in three years here.
But no one could have expected this kind of rout.
Leon Washington's 3-yard run with 2:32 left pushed the Seahawks past the old record of 56 points scored against Buffalo in 1977. The eight takeaways were their second most, equaling a 1998 achievement.
Lynch ran for 128 yards on 11 carries and scored on runs of 20, 4 and 33 yards. His last score on the first drive of the second half tied his career high for TD runs in a game and was the capper to his afternoon. Lynch's backup, Robert Turbin, also topped the century mark with 108 yards.
Wilson became the first rookie quarterback to start and win his first six games at home since the 1970 merger, though he wasn't required to do much. Wilson completed 7 of 13 for 148 yards and one touchdown.
Matt Flynn finally got his first regular-season action in a Seahawks uniform after Wilson was pulled in the third quarter with Seattle leading 45-0, and finished 5 of 9 passes for 68 yards.
''It was unbelievable it was a total team effort,'' Sherman said. ''Guys were playing out of their minds.''
While it was a day to celebrate for Seattle, the Cardinals were left pondering how it could get any worse.
It was an effortless performance by the Cardinals (4-9), who have lost nine straight, the longest slide for the franchise since 1944. The Cardinals gained just 154 yards and had almost as many turnovers as first downs (10).
Larry Fitzgerald had one reception and that didn't come until the fourth quarter. John Skelton made numerous ill-advised throws into coverage and was intercepted four times. He was picked off twice each by Wagner and Sherman, with Sherman taking the first interception back 19 yards for a touchdown.
But that was just a small part of a Sunday the Cardinals would rather forget.
Arizona actually started well, with Skelton completing his first three passes. When Skelton finally threw in the direction of Fitzgerald the day quickly spiraled out of control. Skelton's pass found Fitzgerald's hands, but was wrestled free by K.J. Wright, tipped from hitting the ground by Walter Thurmond and into Wagner's hands.
Wagner's return set up the first of Steven Hauschka's three field goals and Lynch added touchdown runs on consecutive drives for a 17-0 lead.
That's when the turnovers became comical for the Cardinals.
Skelton was stripped by Chris Clemons for the second Arizona turnover. He followed by throwing into triple coverage to Fitzgerald and Sherman caught the poor throw, returning it 19 yards for a touchdown.
Patrick Peterson muffed a punt deep in his end, the ball was batted around and eventually tipped to Malcolm Smith, who caught it out of midair at the goal line for a 31-0 lead.
And finally, Peterson was hit from behind and fumbled on a punt return late in the first half. Wilson hit Zach Miller for a 24-yard TD with 6 seconds left in the second quarter.
About the only bit of fight shown by the Cardinals came late in the third quarter during a pushing and shoving match that resulted in Daryn Colledge getting a personal foul for unnecessary roughness. By that point, the Seahawks led 51-0.
''Obviously I would never imagine anything like this,'' Fitzgerald said. ''You got to give those guys credit, they played good ball today.''
NOTES: Seattle had two running backs top 100 yards for the first time since 2005 vs. Houston. ... The Seahawks' 284 yards rushing were the fourth-most in franchise history. ... Fitzgerald was held to just one reception for the fourth time this season.
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