No-Fly Zone: Cardinals 37-34 OT win vs. Seahawks

What else is to be expected from the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, leaders of the dominant NFC West, than a 37-34 nail-biting overtime finish? A 48-yard field goal by Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez, with 15 seconds remaining in OT, edged out the divisional foes and ended the Seahawks undefeated season in dramatic fashion.

The 5-1 Seahawks remain leaders in the NFC West, while the Cardinals at 5-2 are trailing at second place in the division by a half of a game. The Seahawks and Cardinals both came to play in the primetime Sunday night game at State Farm Stadium and had an absolute shootout until the end. 

This was the first game in NFL history where both quarterbacks passed for over 300 yards and rushed for more than 50 yards. This is an amazing achievement and represents the threat these two QB’s present.

Kyler Murray finished the game completing 34-48 for 360 yards, passing for three touchdowns and one interception. Murray additionally kept the ball 14 times for 67 yards and one rushing touchdown.

Russell Wilson’s final stats looked very similar to Murray’s, completing 33-50 passes for 388 yards, passed for three touchdowns but also threw three untimely interceptions. Wilson kept the ball six times and rushed for 84 yards.

Wilson and the offense marched down the field in their first drive scoring within the first three minutes of the game. Wilson was looking to test Cardinals’ safety Patrick Peterson right away, and in tight coverage wide receiver Tyler Lockett made an amazing one-handed grab moving the ball 34 yards up field.

This was a theme of the night for Wilson and Lockett, especially in the first half. Lockett was Wilson’s most favored receiver, finishing the game with 3 touchdowns and averaging over 13 yards per reception. 

Wilson’s moon ball is almost impossible to defend and the dynamic both players had during the game was the main reason the Cardinals couldn’t take the lead and had to play catch up for 57 minutes.

Cardinals’ tight end Darrell Daniels missed a wide-open pass from Kyler Murray to start their opening drive and could not move the ball anywhere. The drive ended up as a three and out. There was also a false start on the first drive, which stunted the momentum the Cardinals were trying to gain on offense and kept them on their normal track of miscommunications.

One of the most successful drives the Cardinals offense lead was a 75-yard drive ending in a perfect 35-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins. The catch resulted in a TD and during the play, the whole offense was looking right to throw off Seattle’s defense while Hopkins blew coverage on the left sideline up field. 

On the next drive, Hopkins fumbled after the offense gained momentum and committed the first turnover of the night.

Cardinals’ safety Budda Baker made a huge play by intercepting the ball on the Arizona 5-yard line. Baker was chased down, “hawked” by D.K. Metcalf and tackled on the opposite side of the field.

The offense could not get it going through the first three downs and went for it on fourth down on the Seattle 3-yard line. Murray dropped back and couldn’t find anything and sent the ball high and to the back of the end zone.

The next drive put together by the offense was almost one of the best I’ve seen from them this season. Larry Fitzgerald had some very nice catches on the drive and also reached over 1,400 receptions in his career. He is one of only two players to do it (Jerry Rice).

The Cardinals were down by 10 points in the fourth quarter with 3 minutes remaining in regulation. Gonzalez was set up to kick a 52-yard field goal to bring the game within 7 points. The kick was good, but Seattle had a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which gave the Cardinals a first down on Seattle 19 and removing the made kick from the scoreboard.

Two plays later Kirk and Murray connected on an 8-yard TD play. Then the Cardinals held Seattle to a punt after 5 plays on offense. With 59 seconds in regulation the Cardinals had a strong drive to get into field goal range and Gonzalez put it through the up rights from 44 yards pushing it to OT. 

The missed kick from Gonzalez was after Seattle couldn’t score on the first drive in OT and Kingsbury was playing conservative. Kingsbury called for a field goal attempt on 2nd and 15. Then Kingsbury iced Gonzalez to avoid a delay of game and Gonzalez missed the second field goal keeping the game alive and tied. 

Wilson and the Seahawks fell apart in OT and could not put a drive together to score any points. On their last drive in the game Metcalf had a great catch and run to get it into the endzone which looked to be the end of the game. 

A holding penalty, however, brought them to a 3rd and 14. On the next play, Isaiah Simmons intercepted the ball and brought it back to midfield, giving Murray and the offense great field position and the perfect opportunity to put some plays together in the last drive of OT. Gonzalez kicked the game winning 48-yard field goal to win the game.

Gonzalez finished the game going 3/4 with his longest kick from 49 yards.

Offense:

The Cardinals did see improvements on offense. I loved how they are trying to get the tight ends in the mix. Targeting Dan Arnold and Darrell Daniels during the game proved beneficial when utilized efficiently.

Murray was very upset after the offense could not convert a third down on a drive they needed to get in the end zone. Multiple players missed blocks and let the Seahawks’ defense stop the play at the line of scrimmage. Murray was yelling at players on the sideline and although I can’t understand the emotional pressure and stress he is enduring, I don’t think yelling is the correct decision. 

Not to say people make mistakes, but people make mistakes. Murray needs to hold players accountable, but I don’t think he would appreciate it if players on offense yelled at him on the sidelines after he threw an interception the next play after a huge defensive turnover.

Kenyan Drake was injured on a play after he converted a third down. Chase Edmonds came in and demonstrated he might be the running back the team needs. He is quick, works hard and is always making plays. Even still, Arizona lacks a legitimate and consistent rushing attacker. For future games, Edmonds might be the guy they need depending on when and if Drake is coming back this season, pending the seriousness of his ankle injury.

Defense:

Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph and rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons both win the MVP of ‘No- Fly Zone’ this week. Joseph called an aggressive game and defensive play in the second half of the game and in OT which ended up winning the game. The result of this game brought a new culture to the defense and I can’t wait to see how much they can grow in future weeks.

Joseph and the defense administration haven’t been able to find Simmons a home on defense because he hasn’t learned all the ins and outs of the defense. Then Joseph puts him in the game in OT and he picked off Wilson, one of if not the best QB’s in the league, enabling the offense to get back on the field and put together a winning drive. This was a confidence booster not only for him but also the team, as they have faith in his abilities to be a game changer and vital key to the defensive core moving forward.

The Seahawks are powerful in the red zone, having attempted only two field goals out of their first five games. The Cardinals held them to two field goals, matching their field goal attempts so far this season.

Outside linebacker Haasson Reddick proved crucial in the game and has stepped up as the defense sees more injuries as the season progresses. Reddick finished the game with one sack (in OT and first sack of the game) and 11 total tackles. The other sack Wilson saw, or didn’t see, was from cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. 

I’ve talked about penalty issues the team faces. With a huge decrease in penalties committed in this game, I think shows how the team is recognizing how penalties can be game changing. There was less penalties (six for 40 yards) the defense and special teams played a well-rounded and disciplined game.

There were three interceptions from the Cardinals defense, where two of the three were in their own territory⎯one was even in the red zone. Wilson threw almost the exact same interception to Baker as he did to Malcolm Butler in the same stadium in Super Bowl 49. 

There were several great pass deflections. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was key in this area in the game breaking up threaded passes while fighting through injuries. Baker was great in the edge rush like he was last week, putting Wilson in a bind helping the defense get sacks and make stops. Baker brings so much pressure to offenses and will almost destroy his own body making sure he finishes plays. I love watching him play and he is really one of the most exciting players in the NFL.

Kingsbury’s decisions:

Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury deserves some hype after the win. It is also safe to say he will not play conservative ever again. It wasn’t the prettiest win or the most well coached game, but it was a win at home against a tough divisional opponent and against one of the only undefeated teams in the league.

Kingsbury gave the go-ahead on a 4th down on their own 3-yard line in the second quarter trying to take the lead from the Seahawks who were currently ahead by 6 points. The offense could not find the end zone and turned the ball over on downs after a Murray scramble and throw away pass. 

I thought it was a great idea. Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll is very aggressive and everyone knows he would have called the same go-ahead if the roles were reversed. Kingsbury knew he was against an aggressive and assertive team and he knew he was going to have to step up to the plate if his team was going to get the win.

The only thing I saw that could have helped score on that drive was if Kingsbury called a timeout before the play. The offense gets a little carried away when they have big gains on offense because of the youth and talent the team possesses. Regrouping and finding the perfect play, I believe, would have resulted in a different outcome.

Something I was confused by was when the Cardinals were down two possessions with the end of regulation nearing and Kingsbury kept calling plays to hand the ball off to Drake, all for small gains. 

Didn’t make sense. 

Then they drive up the field and he ices his own kicker?! Mistakes like these are great to get out of the way in the regular season so they don’t happen in the playoffs.

Then he completely blows it out of the water on the last drive in OT and called an almost flawless drive to win the anxiety filled game. Amazing.

I said it last week and I will say it every week, but if the Cardinals keep tidying up the small errors being made, people cannot undermine their ability. They will continue to squeak away with the wins like they did against Seattle.

The Cardinals are headed into a bye week which is great after a huge win and long Sunday night game. I will be back next week to talk about the future and where this team is going this season.

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