How The West Was Won: Seahawks win; keep two-game lead over Cardinals
For the Arizona Cardinals, the plan was simple.
Come back from a bye week, hand the San Francisco 49ers their eighth straight loss, then sit back and watch the New England Patriots do you a favor and beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football.
Half of that equation came to fruition.
The Cardinals did squeak out a 23-20 win over the 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium, but the Seahawks wouldn’t follow the script. They beat the Patriots 31-24 to keep a two-game lead in the NFC West with seven games to play.
More importantly, Seattle sent a message. They moved the ball at will on the New England defense, racking up 420 yards — 324 of those through the air. Russell Wilson looked as healthy as he has all season, throwing for three touchdowns — all to Doug Baldwin.
And the Seahawks did it on a short week. After hanging on to defeat Buffalo in Seattle Monday night, they traveled across the country and efficiently knocked off the AFC’s best team.
Here’s a closer look at what went down in Week 10 in the NFC West.
Arizona Cardinals 23, San Francisco 49ers 20
Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cardinals a hard-fought three-point win over San Francisco. It’s the fourth straight time Arizona has beaten the Niners.
It looked like it would be a blowout. David Johnson scored twice in the game’s first 16 minutes. The second-year running back caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to open the scoring. Then, early in the second quarter, he busted an 18-yard touchdown run around the left side, diving to the pylon to give Arizona a 14-0 lead.
But San Francisco hung tough. Colin Kaepernick hooked up with a wide-open Jeremy Kerley in the second quarter to put the 49ers on the board. Then the teams traded field goals — two each from Catanzaro and Phil Dawson, and the Cardinals led 20-13 in the fourth quarter.
Kaepernick capped an impressive 57-yard scoring drive with a 4-yard touchdown run — his first of the season with under two minutes left to tie the game at 20-20. Armed with plenty of time and three timeouts, Palmer marched the Cardinals on a 69-yard drive — 60 of those yards coming through the air. The big play was a 26-yard pass to Michael Floyd on second down from the Arizona 15-yard line. Two plays later, Palmer hit Larry Fitzgerald on a 14-yard completion to put the Cardinals into field goal range for Catanzaro, who redeemed himself following two big late-game misses (against New England and Seattle) that gave the Cardinals a loss and a tie.
Los Angeles Rams 9, New York Jets 6
The Rams have now played three games this season in which they haven’t scored a touchdown. Amazingly, they’re 2-1 in those games.
Sunday was the latest. Greg Zuerlein booted three field goals, including a 34-yarder with 6:52 left, to lift Los Angeles to an ugly three-point win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium, snapping a four-game losing streak and keeping the Rams in the NFC playoff conversation.
The Jets had a chance on their last drive, but Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree picked off a Bryce Petty pass at the New York 44-yard line to preserve the win.
But the biggest play of the game may have been a punt. With the game tied 6-6 early in the fourth quarter, the Rams faced a 4th-and-1 at their own 17-yard line. Punter Johnny Hekker completely flipped field position by unleashing a 78-yard boot which Jalin Marshall fielded at his own 5. The Jets went three-and-out on the possession and punted back to the Rams, who turned field position into Zuerlein’s go-ahead field goal.
“That’s why he’s a three-time captain and two-time Pro Bowler. He’s a special punter. They don’t get a lot of credit, but he helps us out a lot,” Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said.
Seattle Seahawks 31, New England Patriots 24
Wouldn’t you know it? A game between these two teams would come down to a crucial late-game situation from the 1-yard line.
Back in Super Bowl XLIX, Seattle’s ill-fated decision to throw from the 1-yard line ended in a Malcolm Butler interception that clinched a title for the Patriots. Sunday, it was New England’s turn. On 4th down from the Seattle 1-yard line with :14 left, Tom Brady’s fade pass to Rob Gronkowski, who was battling with Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, fell incomplete and the Seahawks left Foxborough with a huge road win.
New England failed on four chances from inside the Seattle 2-yard line at the conclusion of the game, which featured eight lead changes.
Russell Wilson played arguably his best game of the year, completing 25-of-37 for 348 yards and three touchdowns and the Seahawks got a huge contribution from running back C.J. Prosise, who racked up 153 yards from scrimmage in his first career start.
Week 10 Award Winners
Offense: Russell Wilson, Seattle — 25-of-37 for 348 yards and three TD passes
Defense: Alec Ogletree, Los Angeles – 10 total tackles, 2 passes defensed and game-clinching interception
Special Teams: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles – 7 punts, 51.7 average (including 78-yarder), 4 inside-20
What’s on Tap
Three NFC West teams have home games in Week 11. The Seahawks return home to host Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at CenturyLink Field in a game with major playoff ramifications. The 49ers entertain New England at Levi’s Stadium, while the Rams play host to the Miami Dolphins.
The Cardinals are the only division team traveling this week, as they head to U.S. Bank Stadium to face the Minnesota Vikings, losers of their last four games.
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