Cardinals end season on high note with 26-24 win at Seattle
SEATTLE -- If this was Bruce Arians' final game with the Arizona Cardinals, he went out in perfect fashion with a win in the place he called "our home field."
"Thanks y'all for coming to my house," Arians cracked on Sunday.
Phil Dawson kicked four field goals, the last from 42 yards with 2:21 left, Blair Walsh missed a 48-yard attempt with 32 seconds left and the Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks 26-24 on Sunday to close the season.
Speculation has swirled in recent days about Arians stepping away at the end of the season. He declined to announce a decision after the victory, but was emotional and spoke with pride about the Cardinals performance and winning a third straight game on the Seahawks home field.
"We'll think about it. I'm not going to drag it out because it's not fair to people if I do decide," Arians said.
Seattle started the day with playoff hopes that were dashed when Atlanta beat Carolina to earn the final wild-card spot in the NFC. Walsh's missed field goal was the final -- and poetic -- blow to an underwhelming season by the Seahawks that started with Super Bowl hopes dashed by injuries and inconsistency.
Arizona's game-winning drive was helped by a careless third down roughing penalty on Seattle's Bobby Wagner when it appeared the Seahawks would get off the field. Arizona (8-8) later converted third-and-2 with a 17-yard pass to D.J. Foster and Dawson connected after hitting earlier in the game from 46, 49 and 53 yards.
Wagner was coming around the corner on the pass rush and said he did not see Drew Stanton had already released the pass.
"I was trying to turn the corner and I was trying to get out of the way and I hit him," Wagner said. "No matter what I still shouldn't have hit him."
Seattle (9-7) got into position for a game-winning attempt from Walsh, but his kick stayed out to the right and the Seahawks were left to lament missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season. It was also the first time Seattle failed to win 10 games since Russell Wilson's arrival in 2012.
"I had prepared myself for the worst-case scenario, but when it actually came to fruition I didn't realize how painful it was going to be emotionally," Seattle's Doug Baldwin said.
Stanton threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown on Arizona's opening drive and Elijhaa Penny had a 4-yard TD run as the Cardinals jumped to a big early lead but stumbled offensively in the second half. Stanton finished 15 of 34 for 145 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The goal among Arizona's players was to get Arians his 50th victory with the club and get back to .500 even though it was eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago.
"We had a great win today and hopefully he'll want to come back and coach another three or four years," Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald said.
The Seahawks needed to beat the Cardinals and get a Carolina victory over Atlanta in order to make the postseason as a wild-card team.
But the Panthers did Seattle no favors, losing 22-10 minutes before the Seahawks game went final. Seattle will be joining the Cardinals in cleaning out lockers on the day after the season ends for the first time in six years.
Wilson overcame an awful first half to put Seattle in position for the victory after the Seahawks trailed 20-7 at halftime and were deservedly booed off the field.
Wilson finished 18 of 29 for 221 yards after completing just 4 of 8 passes for 36 yards in the first half. Seattle had just 24 yards in the first 30 minutes and Wilson was sacked twice.
Wilson threw touchdown passes to Baldwin of 18 and 29 yards in the second half. He connected with Baldwin for 23 yards and Jimmy Graham 21 yards to get Seattle into field-goal range on the final possession. But Walsh missed for the eighth time this season.
"I just kind of played it to an area that didn't go off my foot to the direction I wanted it to," Walsh said. "It stinks, yeah."
Arizona's Chandler Jones finished with two sacks, surpassing Simeon Rice and setting a franchise record. Jones finished the season with 17 sacks. ... Fitzgerald had eight receptions to finish the season with 109, tying his career-high. Fitzgerald extended his streak of having at least one catch to 211 straight games, tied with Tony Gonzalez for the second-longest streak in league history.
Wilson ended up leading the NFL in touchdown passes with 34 this season. Most of them came in the fourth quarter when Wilson threw an NFL-record 19 TDs.
Dawson's 53-yarder was his 42nd field goal of 50 or more yards. It tied him with John Kasey for fourth most in league history.