Cardinals pick up unmeasurable victory in primetime vs. Seahawks
Tis the season for ghosts and demons. The Cardinals exorcised a bunch of them on Sunday Night Football.
They beat the Seahawks 37-34 in overtime. They won a slugfest on national television. They vaulted into contention in the NFC West. They finally beat their dreaded rivals in Arizona. They are 2-0 in the division entering their bye week.
And that’s only a whiff of the story.
The beleaguered rookie, Isaiah Simmons, came up with the defensive play of the game, an interception that paved the way to victory. Imagine what that might do for his confidence. Imagine what that might do for Vance Joseph’s defense.
“I was just in disbelief when Isaiah got that pick,” Chase Edmonds said.
Weren’t we all?
Kliff Kingsbury can also breathe a sigh of relief. He iced his own kicker at the worst moment, calling timeout just before Zane Gonzalez drilled the game-winner in overtime. Of course, Gonzalez missed the reset attempt, setting up the Cardinals head coach for a week of vitriolic scrutiny.
“It was pretty bad, pretty much a complete debacle … it was about as bad of a coaching job as possible by me,” Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury was then asked about his decision to eschew a field goal near the goal line in the first half, a reckless call that cost his team three points.
“Do we have any positive questions?” he asked.
It was a fair request. Because the Seahawks have been our nemesis, the agent of our inevitable downfall in Glendale. Because Arizona fans understand that torment comes in many colors, mostly blue, green and grey.
“That team was undefeated and playing at a really high level,” Kingsbury said.
This was an enormous psychological victory. For the Cardinals. For football fans in the Valley. And for the way we are perceived across the NFL.
Arizona’s defense was shredded by Wilson in the early stages, absorbing every ounce of his greatness along with a Seattle offense that posted 377 yards in the first half. And yet Joseph made some adjustments after halftime, dialing up a huge blitz at a key moment of the game.
And for all of Wilson’s transcendent talents, he was trumped by Kyler Murray in the end.
Wilson passed for 388 yards and rushed for 84 yards. Murray passed for 360 yards and rushed for 67.
But Murray made fewer mistakes. And he led the Cardinals on a game-tying drive at the end of the game with uncanny poise and surgical precision. He was more than cool. He was ice cold.
“I thought he was phenomenal,” Kingsbury said. “Super competitive. He had that look in his eyes the whole game.”
Murray’s dominant performance arrived just on time. He dismissed concerns about his throwing accuracy and never quit competing against Wilson, occasionally breathing fire on his own sidelines.
“For me, I just want to be great,” Murray said. “The guys on the sideline understand that.”
The Cardinals are obvious winners. They notched their second victory on national television in the span of one week. They beat a well-rested Seahawks team for the first time since Wilson’s first game as a rookie in 2012.
They survived a first-half onslaught and 592 yards allowed. They shook off zero points from a drive that began with Budda Baker’s 90-yard interception return, ending when he was caught from behind by D.K. Metcalf, who was clocked running at 22.64 miles per hour.
They forced overtime, conjuring up all those vile memories from a 6-6 draw with the Seahawks in the previous appearance on SNF. They stared down a defeat and another potential tie that would’ve felt just like another loss.
But you know who else wins? The NFL. Locally, this was the end of a tired narrative. Nationally, this was the beginning of something new and wonderful. This was their first truly epic battle between Murray and Wilson. And you can bet league executives will save their future encounters for only the biggest of stages.
As it should be.
Reach Bickley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.