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Week 17 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 26, Seattle Seahawks 24
What you need to know
Prior to the game, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Sundayís game would be Arians last and that the months of retirement speculation were accurate. While nothing has been confirmed (Arians has a Monday morning press conference scheduled) all indications after the game supported Schefterís report. Assuming it is true, Sunday marked the end of the most successful era of Arizona Cardinals football. Arians win on Sunday gave him his 50th as the Cardinals head coach, one more than his predecessor and requiring one less season to accomplish it. For a team that has spent the majority of its existence in futility, this is not something that should pass lightly. While this split is probably in the best interests of both parties at this time, with Arians having had many health scares over the last few seasons and the team desperately needing to enter a rebuild phase, the uncertainty of what is next for the franchise brings with it great trepidation. It is not inconceivable that the organization will never find a greater coach. There is obvious excitement starting a new chapter, but the presence from the last one will loom large for quite some time.
The 2017 Seahawks ended their season with a whimper, albeit with a glimmer of hope. As with every game this season, so much rode on the shoulders of Russell Wilson
. Wilson followed the now familiar routine of starting off slowly (and inevitably falling behind) only to turn on the jets in the 4th quarter and mount a comeback. That it fell short was partly a case of too little too late, and partly due to a missed field goal that would have given them the lead with under a minute on the clock. The much ridiculed ground game actually had itís moments, with each of the trio of backs Ė Mike Davis
, J.D. McKissic
, and Thomas Rawls
Ė showing their mettle; while the receiving corps was mostly quiet. Doug Baldwin
reminded us that he is potentially an elite receiver, with two touchdowns on the day.
|QB Drew Stanton, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 34 - 145 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Stanton perfectly exemplified the theme of the Cardinals offense yesterday; the numbers fail to tell the whole story. Stantonís box score is bad; there is no getting around that. And the truth is Stanton, and the offense as a whole, struggled throughout most of the second half which the numbers accurately reflect. But in the first half this offense was dominant despite settling for field goals, and at the end of the 4th quarter it was the offense that put together a long drive leading to a the go-ahead field goal. Stanton engineered it all, playing behind an offensive line down to its last active player, a group of mediocre at best skill players, and apparently a torn ACL as per Larry Fitzgerald
. To have won this game in the environment that Seattle presents, against a division rival playing for a playoff spot, and with the context of knowing his coach and advocate would likely be retiring afterwards, this game should be viewed as a feather in the cap that is Drew Stanton
ís career, and not be overlooked for the box score alone.
|RB Kerwynn Williams, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 75 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)|
By the end of the afternoon, Williamsí yards-per-carry average dipped well below any impressive benchmark, and none of his box-score statistics does a great job painting a picture of Williamsí day on Sunday. Kerwynn was simply fantastic, specifically in the first half, as the diminutive running back consistently snapped off positive plays, leaving an under-manned offense in good position all afternoon. Williams strong and shifty running never found the end zone, but consistently in manageable down and distance situations all day, while converting plenty of first downs in the process. With a new staff and system, Williamsí role going forward will remain just as precarious as it has been the entirety of his Cardinals career, but the tape he put forth in 2017 should absolutely be enough to have him strongly in contention as the teamís #2 running back next season.
|RB Elijhaa Penny, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 39 - 1 (1 targets)|
Penny played his best game as a professional on Sunday, spelling starter Kerwynn Williams
enough to help the team eclipse 100 rushing yards on the afternoon, while also scoring the teamís lone rushing touchdown. With an offseason that will likely bring great change, Williams and Pennyís role on the 2018 team will be interesting to watch. The team has continually sought out bigger names to back up David Johnson
, but Williams, and Penny to some extent, have continued to outplay those bigger names when given the opportunities. Will their roles finally be cemented on next yearís team, or will a change in staff and scheme have them on the outside looking in once again?
Fitzgerald did all of his usual things on Sunday, leading the team in targets, catches and receiving yards, all by a significant margin, but Fitzgerald largely disappeared after heavy production in the first half. Some of this was a function of the offense as a whole slowing down, as well as Seattle second-half adjustments, but Fitzgerald did seem out of rhythm when the team tried to reincorporate him late. Larryís future is pure speculation at best, but unlike last week or week 17 of last season, nothing about Sunday had the feel of a swan song for Fitzgerald. Whether that is a sign of his likely return or simply because heís truly undecided is up for debate, but it does add a level of comfort for Cardinals fans that he will be back. With so many records in sight and still playing at such a high level, it is hard to imagine Fitzgerald walking away, but with so much change in store for the Cardinals this offseason, nothing will be more impactful than Fitzgeraldís decision. Certainly nothing will have Cardinals fans holding their collective breath more.
|WR Jaron Brown, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 25 - 1 (5 targets)|
Brown only caught one pass Sunday, despite being targeted five total times, but made sure his last reception of the 2017 season would matter. Brown scored the teamís first touchdown of the game, the only receiving touchdown the Cardinals would score Sunday, capping off an impressive opening drive. A broken play led to the score, with Stanton narrowly avoiding a sack, scrambling as he directed his receivers to an open area where he hit Brown streaking across. Beyond scoring an early touchdown to take a lead they would not relinquish until late in the 4th quarter, the touchdown also capped a drive in which the Cardinals completely exerted their will, pushing the Seahawks defense around and firmly establishing their intentions for the remainder of the afternoon. Brown may not have caught another pass all afternoon, but he left a mark on the entire game.
|QB Russell Wilson, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 29 - 221 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 36 - 0|
Wilsonís routine of starting slow and ending with a flourish continued, though a missed field goal at the end meant the comeback ultimately fell short. After one of the Seahawks worst first half performances, Wilson found another gear as the game wore on. He made downfield blocks for his running backs, gained 31 yards himself on a designed QB keeper play, and found favourite target Doug Baldwin
not once but twice in the end zone. At times, there was far too much pressure, which forced him into mistakes like a botched handoff; on the other side of the coin, he came through in the clutch, as with a great 4th and 6 laser beam throw to Jimmy Graham
to get them in scoring position. Wilsonís double-TD fourth quarter not only extended his NFL-record 19 4th quarter touchdowns in a season, but also made him the overall passing TD leader, with 34 scores through the air.
|RB Mike Davis, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 48 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)|
Davis was rock solid but after only his second carry, left the game with an injury for a short while, so his touches were slightly limited. He returned in the second half and looked great finding small gaps in the blocking ahead of him, as well as being relied on as an outlet in the short passing game. Davis has made a case for being on some teamís roster next year Ė whether in Seattle or somewhere else -- and given the ground game woes the Seahawks have had this year, itís anyoneís guess what the hierarchy will look like in 2018.
|RB J.D. McKissic, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 9 - 0, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)|
McKissic showed off his versatility in the final game of the season, and though his final line was mediocre, his value to the Seahawks is clear. Heís a big play waiting to happen, whether lining up wide or rushing the ball. Early on, he was used on a swing pass that gained nine yards. Later, he made a great play on a tipped pass, showing excellent concentration as he adjusted to the ball in motion. His rushing line is nothing to write home about, but on a couple of the carries, he looked like he might break loose at any moment.
|RB Thomas Rawls, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)|
Rawls saw some action when lead back Mike Davis
went down in the first quarter, and he actually looked quite good with his small amount of touches. He made a good pickup on a screen pass, in addition to a few carries in which he made a truly lousy offensive line look almost average. The Seahawks likely havenít seen enough from him this year to guarantee him a role on next yearís team, but Rawls came on late, playing well in the last two weeks.
|WR Doug Baldwin, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 90 - 2 (5 targets)|
Baldwin just may be the most mild-mannered elite receiver in the league. After a couple of games to forget, he snagged two touchdowns in this one, for his only multi-TD game of the season. The second was a true highlight catch, as he dove for the ball in the end zone, getting his toes down in bounds just before he hit the ground out of bounds. He has had his up and downs all year, but the Wilson-to-Baldwin connection has had more hits than misses, and should continue for a few seasons to come.
|WR Tyler Lockett, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (4 targets)|
Lockett made his presence felt in the return game, as he brought back one for a score early in the first quarter. In the passing game, Lockett did some nice route running and showed excellent vision on short routes mainly, notably on a crossing route that got the Seahawks a clutch first down.
Richardson surprisingly was only targeted twice, and not until the fourth quarter. Late in the game he uncharacteristically dropped a pass on a slant pattern, which is the closest he would get to the box score.
|TE Jimmy Graham, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (6 targets)|
Graham had a fourth down conversion and a 21-yard gain on a seam route.