Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes and survived a strip-sack assault that resulted in three fumbles, two lost, in leading the Seahawks to a 34-22 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium Thursday night. The Seahawks, who had trouble all night protecting Wilson, won their second in a row and improved to 6-1 — a first in in club history.
The previous best was 5-1 in 2003. The Seahawks would have won by a far bigger margin had they been able to protect Wilson more effectively.
Wilson threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to WR Sidney Rice in the first quarter, a 15-yard TD to TE Zach Miller in the second and a one-yard TD to backup TE Kellen Davis in the third. Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 91 yards, also scored for Seattle on a two-yard run and Steven Hauschka kicked field goals of 51 and 42 yards.
Seattle’s defense did a remarkable job against the Cardinals, holding Arizona to just 234 net yards, only 30 rushing. The Seahawks sacked Carson Palmer seven times for 54 yards in losses and intercepted two of his passes, one each by Earl Thomas and Brandon Browner. They also held All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, hampered by a hamstring injury, to two catches for 17 yards.
“I thought we did a great job going against a great defense,” Wilson told Fox Sports. “The defense did a great job and was lights out once again. We’ve got to credit coach (Pete) Carroll for the great job he did in preparing us. Right now, 6-1 doesn’t mean anything. We’ve got to go 1-0 every week. Every week is championship week.”
The Cardinals put constant pressure on Wilson. The two lost fumbles turned into 14 Arizona points. But Wilson, when allowed to operate, delivered another boffo performance, completing 18 of 29 for 235 yards, no interceptions and a passer rating of 122.1. He also rushed for 29 yards.
“He has become such a special aspect of our team that I don’t know what we would be without him,” Carroll said of Wilson.
“It was a big win for us,” TE Zach Miller told Fox Sports. “We had to battle all night for it, but we did real well at converting on third down (7-for-12). We put the ball on the ground too many times, but we were excited to see how well our defense played.”
The Seahawks, who have won five of their last seven against the Cardinals and have a game and a half lead in the NFC West, scored on an 83-yard drive five plays into their first possession, a scrambling Wilson connecting with Rice in the right corner of the end zoner for a 7-0 lead. The TD was Wilson’s ninth of the season and Rice’s third. Wilson went 3-for-3 on the drive for 57 yards and scrambled once for 11 yards.
Thomas’s fourth interception of the season, off a passed tipped by Browner, and the 12th thrown by Palmer, set up the Seahawks at their 28-yard line for their next drive. The 11-play, 72-yard sojourn culminated in Wilson’s 15-yard TD pass to Miller and a 14-0 lead.
Before halftime, the Cardinals struck back with two scores in 1:10, getting on the board with a 49-yard field goal by Jay Feely at 4:02 and then closing to 14-10 when, after a strip sack of Wilson, the Cardinals tallied on Rashard Mendenhall’s three-yard run.
Hauschka kicked a season-best 51-yard field goal just before halftime, lifting the Seahawks to a 17-10 lead. Seattle would have had a larger lead had a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown by Golden Tate not been called back on a holding penalty against Mike Morgan.
Feely hit a 52-yard field goal early in the third quarter to make it 17-13, but the Seahawks went on an 80-yard, 10-play drive that culminated in Wilson’s one-yard TD pass to Kellen Davis. Lynch did the heavy lifting in the drive with a 17-yard run and a five-yard smash that was originally ruled a touchdown, but nixed when officials ruled he was downed at the six-inch line.
On Arizona’s ensuring drive, Brandon Browner plucked his 10th career interception and nearly had a pick-six of 49 yards before stumbling and falling inside the 5-yard line. Lynch pounded it in for a 31-13 Seattle lead.
Feely cut the margin to 31-16 with a 22-yard field goal after a third strip sack of Wilson set up the Cardinals at the Seattle 15-yard line. But Seattle retaliated with Hauschka’s 42-yard field goal.
As Seattle fell into a zone defense, Arizona scored with less than five minutes left on Palmer’s eight-yard touchdown to Jaron Brown — the Cardinals’ first substantive drive, 71 yards, of the game.
NEXT: Seahawks have 10 days off before they travel to St. Louis to face the Rams (3-3) at the Edward Jones Dome on Monday Night Football. Seattle plays at CenturyLink Field Nov. 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.