Hawks Come Up Big, Pound Cardinals 36-18

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This is all that is left of Arizona's playoff chances.

Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks exploded Sunday, sweeping away the Arizona Cardinals 36-18 and finding themselves alone again in first place.

The Hawks offense, which had been non-existent the past three games, erupted for 490 total yards during the rout. Matt Hasselbeck broke the backs of the Cardinals with big play after big play, which was punctuated with a beautiful 63 yard pass touchdown play to Deon Butler in the second quarter.

Arizona jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but that was it for the Cardinals. The Seahawks responded with a long drive to tie the game and never looked back. Leading 17-10 at the half, the Seahawks erased any doubt of who was going to win by not allowing the Cardinals to gain a single yard in the third quarter. They were in cruise control after that.

There were plenty of heroes to go around. Hasselbeck, despite breaking his non-throwing wrist during the second quarter, lit up the Cards by going 22 of 34 for 333 yards and a touchdown. Mike Williams woke up after two quiet games and caught 11 balls for 145 yards, including a big one-handed catch in the fourth quarter. Kelly Jennings played Arizona monster – and Seahawk killer – Larry Fitzgerald about as well as is possible, and the defensive front tallied five more sacks.

What does this game mean? The Seahawks are back in first place at 5-4 and, although it sounds funny, are in control of the NFC West. They face a huge challenge at New Orleans next week, but with this win the pressure to upset the champs is lessened. The loss for Arizona all but sealed their fate as they are now essentially three games behind the Seahawks.

The game was a huge resurgence for Matt Hasselbeck. He hasn’t had a lot of support this year, which has resulted in some inconsistent play and calls for his replacement. Seahawks fans got another glimpse of what life with Charlie Whitehurst might look like. With Hasselbeck getting his broken wrist attended to, Whitehurst started the third quarter and got the Seahawks deep into Arizona territory. Unfortunately Whitehurst threw a horrible interception killing a potential scoring drive. Hasselbeck was able to come back in the game with a cast on his left wrist and restore order to the Hawks offense. Hopefully the calls for Charlie will subside for a while.

Despite the win there were still some concerning trends that popped up in this game that need to be addressed. On more than one occasion the Seahawks could not convert on short yardage plays. One stretch in the fourth quarter they got stuffed on three consecutive run plays from inside the one yard line. Running the ball has been a problem all year, and will need to see some improvement in order to make the play-offs. Left tackle Russell Okung missed the game again, although reports are that he is close to returning. It’s hard to say one guy will fix the problem, but during his limited play this year the Hawks have run the ball well.

Despite the run problems, this game showed that Pete Carrol and this team are resilient. After being dismantled the past two weeks it would have been easy to pack it in and make off-season plans. But this team showed up big on Sunday, which is encouraging. They have already matched last season’s win totals, and are contending and rebuilding at the same time. While they are still not a Super Bowl contender this season, Coach Carrol is building a pretty impressive foundation that could cash in during the next couple of years.

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