Seahawks wrap up No. 5 seed with 27-24 win over Cardinals
By TIM BOOTH
SEATTLE (AP) There was a sense of frustration that overwhelmed the accomplishment of the Seattle Seahawks winning 10 games for the sixth time in seven seasons.
The Seahawks know they must be better than what they showed Sunday or their return to the playoffs after a one-year absence will be brief.
"You can't be so frustrated because we got the win and we have bigger goals ahead of us, but it's not as satisfying as it could have been," Seattle left tackle Duane Brown said. "We won the game, got 10 wins on the season so you have to be grateful for that but we know the kind of product we're used to putting out on the field and today wasn't it."
Seattle escaped its lackluster season finale with a 27-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday thanks to Sebastian Janikowski's 33-yard field goal on the final play. The victory wrapped up the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs and a matchup at Dallas in the wild-card round on Saturday night.
But it was an ugly performance filled with protection issues, special teams mistakes and a matchup that ultimately meant very little a week after the Seahawks (10-6) wrapped up their postseason berth. With how things played out on the final day, Seattle could have lost and still been in the same position.
"I think what it comes down to is nobody wanted to play in Chicago. We wanted to play in Dallas in a dome," Seattle WR Doug Baldwin said. "It's just one of those games where you got to come out and put your best foot forward even though you already know you're in the playoffs and do the best you can to make it a game."
Despite the issues that emerged, Seattle coach Pete Carroll was quick to point out the highlights that came out of the victory: Another big day running the ball, forcing two turnovers and sacking Arizona QB Josh Rosen six times, and putting together a game-winning drive in the final two minutes.
Seattle took a 24-21 lead earlier in the fourth quarter on Janikowski's 42-yard field goal, but watched Arizona (3-13) answer with Zane Gonzalez's third field goal of the game, from 55 yards with 1:49 left to tie it. Gonzalez hit earlier from 36 and 50 yards.
After converting a third-and-1 early in the drive, Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for 37 yards to the Arizona 25-yard line. After a couple of running plays, Jankowski hit the winner for the second time this season against the Cardinals. Seattle will go into the postseason winning six of its final seven games.
Chris Carson rushed for a career-high 122 yards and a touchdown, but Wilson was sacked six times and a litany of special teams mistakes allowed the hapless Cardinals to stick around far longer than expected. The six sacks were the most allowed by Seattle since Week 2.
Wilson was 12 of 21 for 152 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the first quarter that ended Seattle's hopes of matching the NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season.
Rosen was 18 of 34 for 149 yards and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. The loss ensured the Cardinals the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and the question will continued to linger if Fitzgerald will return to play with that draft pick.
"I feel like we've done this dance before. Same song, same dance. I'm going to go play golf tomorrow, I know that, I'm looking forward to it," Fitzgerald said.
In his 15th season, Fitzgerald caught the 116th touchdown pass of his career and became the third player with at least 1,300 career receptions. The question will linger whether there's a 16th season in Fitzgerald's future, although he still showed the skill as an exceptional pass catcher. His first reception came on the final play of the first quarter and extended his streak to 227 straight games with a catch. His best catch was in the second quarter as he initially faked a block, slipped behind cornerback Akeem King and made a one-handed reception for his sixth touchdown of the season.
His 116 career TDs are tied for sixth with Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.
"I told him he was coming back," Cardinals RB David Johnson said.
Seattle went three-and-out on five straight offensive possessions starting in the middle of the second quarter through the middle of the third against a defense that has caused problems in the past.
Seattle finally got a first down thanks to a defensive holding penalty against Haason Reddick that negated Wilson's fumble being returned for a touchdown by Peterson. Carson bolted for 61 yards on the next play. Mike Davis later bounced outside for a 17-yard TD run and a 21-13 lead.
Arizona pulled even on a blocked punt by Cameron Malveaux recovered by Dennis Gardeck for a touchdown. It was the first punt block for a TD by the Cardinals since 2008, and the 2-point conversion by Johnson pulled the Cardinals even at 21.
Seattle will have one big question going into next week after starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin left in the first half with a twisted right ankle injury and did not return. Griffin appeared to take an awkward step on the sideline pushing Fitzgerald out of bounds. Carroll said Griffin wanted to return but was held out for precautionary reasons.
Cardinals: Arizona is on the clock for the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
Seahawks: Seattle will travel to Dallas in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.
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Updated December 30, 2018