Can the Arizona Cardinals make the playoffs in 2013? Yes. But, they will certainly be needing some help. Alot of the Cardinals hopes come down to the fate of other teams.
With the Cardinals big win in Seattle, the doors remain open for the Cardinals chances of making the playoffs.
The last time Arizona walked into CenturyLink Field, they were handed the worst beating in franchise history, a 58-0 rout by Seattle that still resonated more than a year later.
That’s last trip made the Cardinals’ 17-10 win over the Seahawks on Sunday even more meaningful. They erased the memories of the past, while taking down what was widely considered the best team in the NFL at a place no visiting team had won in nearly two calendar years.
First thing is the Cardinals must win Sunday against the 49ers. There is no avoiding that. Then to get the sixth seed, the Cardinals need the Niners to lose on Monday to Atlanta and then to Arizona next week. Arizona would be 11-5 and San Fran would be 10-6.
If the Niners beat the Falcons and lose the to Arizona, both teams would be 11-5. The Niners hold the divisional tiebreak. So Arizona needs the Saints to lose at home to the Bucs. The Saints would be bumped out and the Niners and Cards would be the five and six seeds.
“We’re a different team, different mindset and today was definitely a team win,” Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We’ve been playing for each other maybe the last eight, nine, 10 weeks. We definitely knew we had the chance to come here and get a victory.”
Carson Palmer overcame four interceptions to find Michael Floyd for a 31-yard touchdown with 2:13 left, and Arizona (10-5) won for the seventh time in eight games and snapped the Seahawks’ 14-game home win streak.
The Cardinals were nasty on defense, frustrating Russell Wilson into the first home loss of his pro career and giving Palmer a chance to come through late. Palmer did and now Week 17 has meaning for Arizona.
“We’re not the same football team we were earlier in the year, that’s evident,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. “The belief in this locker room is strong. I can’t wait until next week. I know you have to watch what you wish for.”
Seattle (12-3) saw its chance of wrapping up the NFC West title and home-field advantage through the playoffs delayed by at least a week. They were unable to get started offensively, failed to capitalize on scoring chances and go to Week 17 still playing for something rather than resting up for the postseason.
“It’s a good thing that it happened here because now we know that we’re not invincible at home,” Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “This is going to help us, not only with the next game next week, but through the playoffs if we get home field advantage.”
Here are five things learned from the Cardinals’ stunning victory over Seattle:
NASTY STREAK: Arizona already had the best run defense in the league entering Sunday. What showed up was a pass defense that made Wilson indecisive in the pocket and struggle to find open receivers. He was sacked four times and forced from the pocket many other times. He completed only 11 passes and none of his receivers had more than three receptions. The 108 yards receiving was the lowest total of Wilson’s career and his 49.6 passer rating was his worst of the season.
“We have one of the best defenses in the league, and to be one of the best defenses in the league, you’ve got to go on the road and beat a team like this,” Arizona’s Darnell Docket said. “We had our minds set to win this battle. This was a team win.”
GOAL-LINE STAND: Lost in the two late touchdowns of the fourth quarter was a key goal-line stop by Arizona late in the second quarter. Malcolm Smith had just intercepted Palmer and returned it to the Cardinals’ 3.
Seattle tried Marshawn Lynch on first and second downs but he was stopped short both times. On third down, Wilson was rushed and threw incomplete. Following a penalty, Steven Hauschka pulled his 24-yard field goal attempt off the left upright. It was his first true miss of the season, his only other missed attempt was blocked.
SUPER SHERMAN: Even though it came in a losing effort, Richard Sherman continues to make his case to be in the conversation for defensive player of the year. Sherman had two interceptions to reach eight picks for the second consecutive season.
His first interception he ran the route better than Larry Fitzgerald and was in perfect position to grab Palmer’s pass. The second was more luck as he happened to be in position to react on Palmer’s pass that floated after he was hit.
LUCKY BOUNCES: Seattle got two fortunate bounces on two of the four interceptions Palmer threw. But the bigger breaks came to Arizona on two possible turnovers. Running back Rashard Mendenhall was ruled down before fumbling in the fourth quarter on a drive that led to a field goal. Then on Seattle’s final drive, Karlos Dansby intercepted a deflected pass off Baldwin that appeared to hit the ground.
Both plays were reviewed and referee Scott Green said there was not indisputable evidence to overturn either call.
HOME SWEET HOME? The Seahawks were believed to be impenetrable at home. They had won 14 straight by an average margin of more than 18 points. The home dominance was why so many were already penciling Seattle in for a trip to the Super Bowl if it got home-field advantage in the postseason.
That still may happen, but some of the sheen has been taken off Seattle’s home aura.
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