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How the West Was Won: Week 1 – Seahawks in NFC West cellar by themselves

It’s only one week, one game in the grand 16-game scheme of the NFL season, but fans in three NFC West cities are rejoicing.

That’s because the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks are in last place all by themselves.

The Seahawks fell in overtime to the St. Louis Rams on the road, while the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers notched convincing wins in their respective openers.

Here’s what transpired in the division in Week 1:

Arizona Cardinals 31, New Orleans Saints 19

Arizona naysayers used the offseason to call the 2014 Cardinals “lucky” due to the fact that Bruce Arians’ team was able to win a lot of close games on their way to an 11-win season and a playoff appearance.

It was fitting in Week 1 that the Cards got a chance to win another close game by dominating the fourth quarter and making plays when the game was in the balance. Leading 17-13 entering the fourth, the Cardinals outscored the Saints 14-6 the rest of the way. The clincher was a 55-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to David Johnson on a 2nd-and-6 at the Arizona 45-yard line, when everyone in the stadium expected a run to melt the clock.

Palmer threw three touchdown passes in the win, and Arizona is now 14-2 in the last 16 games started by the veteran.

St. Louis Rams 34, Seattle Seahawks 31 (OT)

This anticipated matchup was arguably the best game of the opening weekend in the NFL. St. Louis quarterback Nick Foles hit tight end Lance Kendricks on a 37-yard touchdown pass with :53 left to tie the game at 31-31 and send it into overtime.

After kicker Steven Hauschka opened the extra frame with a botched pooch kickoff (or was it an onside kick?), the Rams got a Greg Zuerlein field goal to take a three-point lead. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the St. Louis 42-yard line, Russell Wilson handed off to Marshawn Lynch, who was stoned by Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers for a game-clinching 1-yard loss.

San Francisco 49ers 20, Minnesota Vikings 3

Did you stay awake for this one? It wasn’t exactly must-see TV. But Carlos Hyde ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns and the San Francisco defense completely shut down a punchless Minnesota offense in a 17-point win.

Colin Kaepernick improved to 5-0 as a starting quarterback in Monday night games.

howWestmiddle2015WK1standings

Top Offensive Performers – Week 1

Passing

• Carson Palmer (ARZ) – 19-32-307-3-0 (122.8 rating)

• Nick Foles (STL) – 18-27-297-1-0 (115.8 rating)

• Russell Wilson (SEA) 32-42-251-1-1 (90.1 rating)

• Colin Kaepernick (SF) 17-26-165-0-0 (83.0 rating)


Rushing

• Carlos Hyde (SF) – 26-168-2 TDs

• Marshawn Lynch (SEA) – 18-72-0 TDs

• Andre Ellington (ARZ) – 12-69-1 TD

• Benjamin Cunningham (STL) – 16-45-0 TD


Receiving

• Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) – 6-87-0 TD

• Jared Cook (STL) – 6-85-0 TD

• Darren Fells (ARZ) – 4-82-1 TD

• Benjamin Cunningham (STL) – 4-77-0 TD


Award Winners

Offensive Player of the Week: Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco – The second-year back scored two touchdowns and had the most rushing yards in the league in Week 1.

Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, DT, St. Louis – A one-man wrecking crew with nine tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and three QB Hits. He also made the game-clinching tackle on Marshawn Lynch on fourth down in overtime.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Tavon Austin, PR, St. Louis – Austin’s 75-yard punt return touchdown put the Rams up by 11 points late in the third quarter against Seattle.


What’s on Tap in Week 2

• Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1) – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. @ Soldier Field

• San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. @ Heinz Field

• St. Louis Rams (0-1) at Washington Redskins (0-1) – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. @ FedEx Field

• Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0) – Sunday, 5:30 p.m. @ Lambeau Field

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