Week 16: Cardinals 17, Seahawks 10 — ‘Hawks Half Bad at Home, Lose at Home

Let’s get the officiating stuff out of the way first.  Four things:

  1. Russell Wilson‘s loss-clinching interception almost certainly hit the ground.  I thought there was enough to overturn it, but I can see why the ref didn’t.  It reminded me a lot of Golden Tate‘s “fail mary” last year actually.  “Indisputable evidence” doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody.
  2. On the Seahawks’ challenge, I think the ball was out before Rashard Mendenhall was down.  But I also think the replay referee made the right decision in not overturning the call of the field.  There was no definitive angle.  You could piece things together from several different replays and surmise he fumbled.  But if you have to break a replay down like the Zapruder film, the call isn’t going to be overturned.  It was just bad luck that there wasn’t a shot that showed the loose ball and Mendenhall’s un-downed arm together in the same frame.
  3. I don’t think the refs should have called the big pass interference penalty on Richard Sherman.  The contact that dropped Larry Fitzgerald was incidentally.  I hate, hate, hate when refs bail out the offense on a play that had almost no chance of working on a questionable defensive penalty.
  4. If the ref’s don’t call Daryl Washington for lining up over the snapper on the blocked extra point, I don’t think anybody is screaming in outrage.  I guess the refs enforced the rule properly, but I still feel like the ‘Hawks caught a bit of a break there.

Now let’s move on to the recap proper.

The Seahawks played badly, and they lost.  That’s it.  Well, not quite.  They played half badly, and they lost.  That’s the accurate way to put it.  The defense held the Cards to less than 4.5 yards-per-play and created four turnovers; they couldn’t have done much more to win the game.  I mean, I suppose they could’ve stopped Arizona on their final drive, but even then it’s not like they were shanghaied.  That drive was basically three things: a fluke-scramble play where Carson Palmer eked out a toss to Jake Ballard, a holding penalty on Malcolm Smith that wasn’t exactly egregious (but wasn’t a bad call), and an up-for-grabs, one-on-one ball that Michael Floyd was able to bobble and haul in despite pretty good coverage by Byron Maxwell.  Those aren’t examples of defensive failures; those are acts of god — the random gods of football physics.  In my opinion, the lapse on 3rd-and-16 in the first half and the stupid personal foul on Clinton McDonald were the only things the Seahawks’ D did “wrong” all day.

The offense, obviously, was a different story.  Completely different.  Not even in the same part of the library.  Russell Wilson was harangued all day by a stout Arizona defensive front who played much better than I expected.  As a result, Wilson was off all day.  Even when he had time, he made too many bad decisions and bad throws.  He didn’t play well.  And it wasn’t just Wilson.  Nobody on offense played well.  The Cardinals defense played really well, and they forced the Seahawks to play really poorly.  If there’s anything more to it than that, it’s beyond me.

So a loss is a loss and losses suck, especially at home (the ‘Hawks have been spoiling us recently).  But there is good news and bad news.  The good news: The Seahawks can effectively make this game not matter by winning next week against the Rams and clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs (or the 49ers could lose tomorrow night against the Falcons, but that’s about as likely as Steven Hauschka missing a 24-yard field goal).  The bad news: we all remember the last Rams game.  It looked a lot like today’s game.  The Seahawks are 1-1 when their offense goes AWOL.  I’d rather not see the rubber match.