Ousted last week from the postseason by San Francisco at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks have to muster non-playoff goals against the equally heavy-lidded Cardinals team that also was ousted, losing to the Cincinnati Bengtals 23-16.
If the Seahawks win, they will finish 8-8 for the fifth time in franchise history. That would also mark the 20th time Seattle has gone 9-7, 8-8 or 7-9 since the NFL adopted the 16-game schedule in 1978.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week that he has no plans to rest his starters.
"I don’t think we’re changing anything in that regard, " Carroll said. "We’re going to try to win the football game. To look at something for the future is not on our minds at all. We want to come back and play another good game. We’ll do that (look at backup players) as we go into preseason next year and with our off-season work and all of that stuff.
“We’re cranking up for this last game. It’s a big game for us and we’re looking forward to trying to get this thing ended on a good note against a team that’s been hot as a pistol here lately. We’ve seen the Cardinals turn their season around in similar fashion as we have, and I know what that gives them is a great belief in what they’re doing and a resolve that allows them to know that they have a chance to win every football game. They’ve been finishing in amazing fashion with fourth quarter wins and overtime wins, so we’re up against a very difficult Cardinals team right now and we’ve got to have a great week to get ready for them.”
The Cardinals feature a young quarterback in John Skelton, who has unimpressive passer rating of 68.1 (Skelton played college football at Fordham).
"It hasn’t been all numbers because his numbers aren’t great," Carroll said of Skelton. "But when it comes down to crunch time he’s making things happen with his legs a ton. He’s not a real fast guy, but he runs very effectively. We pointed it out in our preparation to our players that he’s a good scrambler and he’s made first downs doing it. He’s made big plays and he’s also done a really good thing that he knows where Larry Fitzgerald is all the time and he gets him the football. So he’s got great smarts about him."
This will mark the first time in Carroll's tenure as head coach of the Seahawks that he (and his players) won't be involved in a game with playoff implications.
“I’m disappointed in that we weren’t able to get to it," Carroll said. "The circumstance that we were handed here at the end by our own doings – we left way too much up to chance and left it out there by our play early in the season. But as it is, with two teams in our division battling to be at .500 and get the 8-8 thing done, it still feels like there’s a lot going on in this game. So we’re making a big deal about it because it is a big deal. It’s important to us.”
While the Seahawks made a turnaround from a 2-6 start to get to 7-6, the Cardinals started 1-6 and now find themselves 7-8.
“For us, we had a lot of new faces in here," said Skelton. "Obviously, we installed a new defense. We had Kevin [Kolb] coming in, trying to run a new offense on the fly. I think we were one of the teams that was really affected by the lockout and not having the offseason. Once guys started to buy in, started to get on the same page, it was really night and day between early in the season and what we’re doing now.”
RIVALRY: Dates to Sept. 12, 1976, when the Cardinals, then in St. Louis, defeated Seattle 30-24 in the first regular-season game in Seahawks history. The Seahawks have won their past three match-ups with the Cardinals, following a four-game losing streak to Arizona spanning (2008-09). Seattle is 1-4 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
LAST REGULAR-SEASON MEETING (Sept. 25): Tarvaris Jackson put the Seahawks ahead with an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Seattle's secondary shut down WR Larry Fitzgerald for the final 32 minutes, and Kam Chancellorhad an interception with 1:04 left to seal a 13-10 victory. Jackson finished 18 of 31 for 171 yards as the Seahawks rebounded from a 24-0 shellacking at Pittsburgh for their first win of the season.
LAST GAME (Seahawks, Dec. 24): The 49ers made sure the Seahawks would not return to the postseason with a dominant second half and a timely takeaway inside the two-minute mark, winning 19-17 at CenturyLink Field. Trailing by what became the final score, Seattle had an opportunity to score on its next to last possession, but the 49ers' Larry Grant stripped a scrambling Jackson with 1:07 remaining and recovered his fumble. By the time the Seahawks got the ball back, they had less than a minute to drive for a winning field goal, and couldn't do it. Seattle's Marshawn Lynch (107 yards) became the first back since 2009 to rush for 100 yards in a game against the 49ers, and the first in 2011 to score a rushing TD against the NFC West Division champions.
LAST GAME (Cardinals, Dec. 24): Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton threw two more touchdown passes, becoming only the fourth rookie to have 20 in a season, and Cincinnati held on to beat Arizona 23-16. The Bengals got a break when the NFL's top comeback team tripped up in the closing minutes. Wide-open receiver Early Doucet tripped at the goal line and went down, letting a fourth-down pass fall incomplete with 1:12 left. The Cardinals (7-8) got the ball one more time, but the clock ran out after a completion.
COACHES: Pete Carroll is in his second season as head coach of the Seahawks. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won two national championships and seven Pac-10 titles.
Ken Whisenhunt: Whisenhunt is in his fifth season as head coach of the Cardinals. He has led the club to two NFC West titles, in 2008 and 2009. Following the 2008 season, Arizona lost the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Prior to joining the Cardinals, Whisenhunt served as offensive coordinator of the Steelers from 2004-06.
SEAHAWKS STATS/NOTES: The Seahawks rank 28th in the NFL total yards (299.6), 21st in rushing yards (105.3), 24th in passing yards (194.3) and 24th in scoring (20.1). Defensively, the Seahawks rank 9th in yards allowed (328.5), 13th in rushing yards (111.1), 13th in passing yards (217.4) and fifth in scoring (19.5) . . . Marshawn Lynch is Seattle's leading rusher with 1,118 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has scored at least one touchdown in 11 consecutive games, a franchise record . . .Tarvaris Jackson has thrown for 2,869 yards and 13 TDs with 12 INTs and a passer rating of 79.5 . . . Rookie Doug Baldwin leads Seattle's receivers with 48 catches for 748 yards and four TDs . . . On Earl Thomas' first Pro Bowl selection, Carroll said, "I think it’s a great reward for the hard work that Earl puts in. Earl is an intense competitor and he wants to be the best in every way. He works at it. We’re really excited about it for him and it’s really just an indication of what he can do and can continue to grow as the years come. In his second year to do that is really special, so we’re really proud of him.” CARDINALS STATES/NOTES: The Cardinals rank 23rd in the NFL in total yards (320.3), 25th in rushing (99.6), 17th in passing (220.7) and 25th in scoring (19.3). Defensively, the Cardinals rank 19th in total yards (354.2), 18th in rushing (120.5), 18th in passing (344.7) and T 17 in scoring (21.9) . . . Beanie Wellsis Arizona's leading ball carrier with 1,047 yards and 19 TDs . . .John Skeltonhas thrown for 1,642 yards and 10 TDs . . . Larry Fitzgerald caught 71 passes for 1,262 yards and eight touchdowns . . . Fitzgerald has four career 100-yard receiving performances against Seattle, topped by a 151-yard effort on Nov. 16, 2008.
ART THIEL'S TAKE: This is the worst kind of NFL regular-season game: Teams who were in the playoff hunt until a week ago, and now have to tape up and shoot up for a game that gets them nowhere. Yes, it's what professional do, but they're also human too and can't help but feel the futility of the final exercise.
The outcome depends on who has the most adequate players healthy enough to contribute, and which coach can talk his way around the obvious. Nobody is better than that than Carroll, Skelton is a bad quarterback. and Marshawn Lynch does not know when to quit, Skittles be damned. Seahawks 20, Arizona 16.
STEVE RUDMAN'S TAKE: The Seahawks do not plan on sitting their starters despite the meaninglessness (to fans) of the season ender. Fact is, the game is not meaningless to the Seahawks, who have an opportunity to finish the second half of the season with a 6-2 record (following a 2-6 first half).
On only five occasions in franchise history have the Seahawks compiled a 6-2 (or better) record over their final eight contests, in 1984 (6-2), 1990 (6-2), 1995 (6-2), 2005 (7-1) and 2007 (6-2).
It wont help their draft position next spring, but I suspect the Seahawks will in. Seattle 24, Arizona 17.
COMING UP: The 2012 NFL draft (first round) is April 26, followed by the second and third rounds on April 27 and rounds 4-7 April 28. 2011 Seahawks Schedule/Results
|9/11/11||at San Francisco||1:15 p.m.||FOX||L||33-17||0-1|
|9/18/11||at Pittsburgh||10 a.m.||FOX||L||24-0||0-2|
|9/25/11||vs. Arizona||1:15 p.m.||FOX||W||13-10||1-2|
|10/2/11||vs. Atlanta||1:05 p.m.||FOX||L||30-28||1-3|
|10/9/11||at N.Y. Giants||10 a.m.||FOX||W||36-25||2-3|
|10/23/11||at Cleveland||10 a.m.||FOX||L||6-3||2-4|
|10/30/11||vs. Cincinnati||1:15 p.m.||CBS||L||34-12||2-5|
|11/6/11||at Dallas||10 a.m.||FOX||L||23-13||2-6|
|11/13/11||vs. Baltimore||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||22-17||3-6|
|11/20/11||at St. Louis||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||24-7||4-6|
|11/27/11||vs. Washington||1:05 p.m.||FOX||L||23-17||4-7|
|12/1/11||vs. Philadelphia||5:20 p.m.||NFLN||W||31-14||5-7|
|12/12/11||vs. St. Louis||5:30 p.m.||ESPN||W||30-13||6-7|
|12/18/11||at Chicago||10 a.m.||FOX||W||38-14||7-7|
|12/24/11||vs. San Francisco||1:15 p.m.||FOX||L||19-17||7-8|
|1/1/12||at Arizona||1:15 p.m.||FOX||---||---||---|