DAN BICKLEY

Cardinals’ rivalry with Seahawks gets Sunday Night Football’s national stage

Oct 23, 2020, 6:45 AM | Updated: 6:22 pm
Quarterbacks Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals...
Quarterbacks Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals meet at midfield following the NFL football game at State Farm Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 27-10. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

The Cardinals and Seahawks are in the midst of a bitter blood feud. It helped them earn a berth on Sunday Night Football.

These teams represent the essence of rivalry. One is sunshine. The other is rain. One town is transparent about its transient nature. The other is fiercely parochial, deeply in love with itself, a place where outsiders are not welcome.

Each team beats up on the other. There is no hammer or nail. They bark loud and perform lewd gestures: Marshawn Lynch grabbed his private parts during a belly-up dive into the end zone in Glendale, mocking all of Arizona. Carson Palmer was fined over $11,000 for doing something similar to the crowd in Seattle. Emotions run so rampant that Earl Thomas even flipped off his own coach while being carted off the field during this rivalry.

Each team loves being a rude guest. The Cardinals were the first team to beat Russell Wilson in Seattle. But they haven’t beaten him in Arizona since Week 1 of his rookie season in 2012.

The Seahawks love to claim ownership of our football stadium. They haven’t lost in their last six games at Arizona, frequently fueled by road-tripping fans who’ve staged hostile takeovers in Glendale. They’ve also suffered their most painful defeat ever inside State Farm Stadium, losing a Super Bowl to the Patriots on a goal-line interception.

From 2012-16, the Cardinals scored six points or less in five of eight games. The last two Arizona head coaches ended their head coaching tenure in Seattle. Bruce Arians was the beneficiary of a missed game-winning field goal, while Steve Wilks lost on a field goal as time expired.

A third head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, effectively lost his job after a 58-0 loss in Seattle on Dec. 9, 2012.

The Seahawks lead the all-time series by a narrow margin, 21-20-1. And nothing is more hideous than that last column:

The Cardinals and Seahawks played to a 6-6 tie in their last appearance on Sunday Night Football in 2016. Some mistakenly refer to the draw as one of the worst games in recent memory.

To the contrary, it was an epic battle, full of drama and pathos and building suspense. It featured a tragic ending to a game the Cardinals absolutely dominated. It remains the most crushing game the Cardinals have never lost.

To wit:

The Cardinals ran 90 offensive plays; gained 443 yards; had the ball for more than 46 minutes; and still couldn’t score a touchdown. Meanwhile, Seattle had only four drives that exceeded 10 yards, and two of those occurred in overtime.

Never before has a hated rival been dominated so thoroughly for so little reward.

This game offers a new twist in the raucous rivalry. It looks better on the marquee than Titans vs. Steelers, a pair of unbeaten AFC teams that were not promoted to Sunday Night Football. Because this game pits the future MVP (Kyler Murray) against the current MVP (Wilson), a pair of quarterbacks who have electrified the audience in 2020.

As usual, bet on the plot twists and the unexpected outcomes. The mark of true rivalry.

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