Better late than never, here’s our post-game review of how our Five Things to Watch unfolded:
1, The running game: As I wrote before the game, Arizona’s biggest statistical strength ran right up against Seattle’s — its run defense, which ranked fifth in the NFL, allowing 90.7 yards per game. Seattle, meanwhile, was second in the NFL in rushing per game at 157.7. Seattle came closer to its average than did the Cardinals, with 135 yards and 4.2 per carry, which was a big key for the Seahawks in pulling away for a 34-22 win.
2, Turnovers: For the third straight game, Seattle got a push in turnovers, each team losing two. Seattle’s two picks led to 14 points while Arizona’s two fumble recoveries led to 10. Seattle has yet to lose the turnover differential in a game this season, and coach Pete Carroll undoubtedly thinks that’s no coincidence in the team’s 6-1 record.
3, Sherm and Fitz: As I wrote before the game: “The best individual matchup of this game will occur when Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman faces off against Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a certain future Hall of Famer.” Sherman wasn’t always directly against Fitzgerald, but he played his part in holding Arizona’s most dangerous offensive weapon to just two catches for 17 yards. The pass rush (displayed above in a John Lok photo) helped greatly in the effort, as well.
4, The passing game: The most important number of the night here was Russell Wilson’s 122.1 QB rating, his highest of the season. His efficiency meant a lot more than the total yardage number of 235. Wilson was 18-29 and for the third time this season did not throw an interception. And as has been well-documented there should be help coming in the passing game soon with the return of Percy Harvin.
5, Special teams: Seattle had had big breakdowns the previous two weeks leading to easy touchdowns for the opponents — a blocked field goal against the Colts and the fumble on the field goal against the Titans. But Seattle played a clean game in special teams against the Cardinals, other than the penalty that nullified Golden Tate’s apparent punt return for a TD. Steven Hauschka hit two more field goals and is now 16-17 on the season, the only miss the block against Indy.