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Big Red Recap: Cardinals take 3-game NFC West lead on Seahawks

The Arizona Cardinals stand just a bit taller now in the NFC West.

They’ve taken a commanding three-game lead on their closest competitors with seven games to play after a 39-32 win in Seattle in front of a nationally televised audience on Sunday Night Football.

Carson Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns, while Larry Fitzgerald (130) and Michael Floyd (113) each topped 100 yards receiving. But it was Andre Ellington and his 48-yard touchdown run that sealed the victory, the Cardinals’ third win in a row and first in three tries against the Seahawks.

The Cardinals (7-2) looked as if they would run away with the game, jumping out to a 19-0 lead.

The Seahawks scored 19 unanswered points to take a 29-25 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

Palmer, who turned it over three times, including a pair of fourth-quarter fumbles, responded with a go-ahead touchdown to Jermaine Gresham.

One possession later, Ellington scored on what was third-and-four and the Cardinals just trying to bleed the clock.

For Seattle (4-5), Russell Wilson passed for 240 yards and one touchdown. He was also intercepted.

Marshawn Lynch was held to 42 yards rushing.

The Cardinals outgained the Seahawks 451-343 and held Seattle to just 1-of-8 on third down.

There were 23 combined penalties with the Seahawks flagged 14 times for 131 yards.

THE GOOD

– First Kevin Minter, then Frostee Rucker and the Cardinals are the only defense in the NFL with two safeties this season. Their second was recorded when Wilson fumbled—colliding with an offensive lineman—and fell on the football in the end zone. Rucker was credited with the safety, though Alex Okafor nearly recovered the ball for a touchdown. The play gave the Cardinals a 5-0 lead at 12:25 of the second quarter.

– Against a defense that had not allowed a touchdown in the previous two games, the Cardinals scored on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter. Both times, it was Palmer throwing touchdowns to Floyd; 27 and 34 yards, respectively. Floyd has now caught a touchdown in four straight games for the first time in his career, becoming the first Cardinals player to accomplish such a mark since Fitzgerald in 2013.

– With his six-catch, 81-yard first-half performance, Fitzgerald extended his team record of at least one reception to 172 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. And with his first catch of the third quarter, a 21-yard gain, he went over 100 receiving yards for the third time this season and 41st time in his career.

– With his 235 passing yards at the half, Palmer moved past Boomer Esiason (37,920) for 19th place on the NFL’s all-time passing yardage list. Meanwhile, his two scores to Floyd gave him multiple touchdown passes in seven of his last nine games and 18 of 24 games overall. Only Tom Brady (24) has thrown more touchdowns this season.

– A late entry into the game due to an injury to Floyd, Jaron Brown caught passes for 10 and 20 yards, the latter coming on a ball tipped by Richard Sherman, during a 10-play, 83-yard drive that ended with Gresham’s first touchdown catch as a Cardinal, a 14-yard grab that gave Arizona the lead, 32-29 at 8:41 of the fourth quarter.

THE BAD

– On their first trip inside the red zone, the Cardinals turned the ball over as Palmer was picked off in the end zone by Earl Thomas, spoiling what had been an impressive 15-play, 75-yard drive that exhausted 7:52 off the first-quarter clock. By the way, the Seahawks entered the game with just three interceptions, two by Thomas.

– Scary situation at 9:16 of the second quarter when starting left guard Mike Iupati collided helmet to shoulder of Kam Chancellor, knocking Iupati flat on his back. Iupati was taken off the field in an ambulance and to a nearby hospital for further evaluation (CT scan/MRI normal). The report was he suffered a neck injury but had feeling and movement in all extremities. Earl Watford replaced Iupati in the lineup. Ted Larsen was among the inactives.

– Limited to only 32 rushing yards in the first half, the Seahawks gained 29 on its opening possession of the third quarter. Marshawn Lynch ran for 16 yards, and Thomas Rawls went for 13 more on the next play. Fortunately, the defense held and only allowed a Steven Hauschka 31-yard field goal that made the score 22-10 Cardinals at 11:18.

– After only three first-half penalties, the Cardinals committed five in the third quarter alone. None appeared to be as costly as a holding call on Patrick Peterson which negated a Minter sack; and as luck would have it, on the very next play, Doug Baldwin caught a 32-yard touchdown that made the score 25-17 Cardinals at 4:52.

– Back-to-back Palmer fumbles resulted in 12 Seahawks points in the fourth quarter. Cliff Avril and K.J. Wright each recorded strip-sacks, the second of which was scooped up by Bobby Wagner and returned 22 yards for a touchdown and Seattle’s first lead of the game, 29-25, at 13:00. By the way, Lynch scored after Avril’s forced fumble, running three yards. Missed two-point tries followed both touchdowns.

STAT OF THE GAME

39: The most points ever scored by the Cardinals against the Seahawks and the second-most scored on Seattle under Pete Carroll

HE SAID IT

“Pretty soon it’s going to be a rivalry,” head coach Bruce Arians said. The Cardinals had lost four of the past five matchups.

NOTED

– Midway through the second quarter, defensive tackle Cory Redding exited the game due to an ankle injury. He later returned only to leave again early in the third quarter.

– During the Cardinals’ fourth-quarter go-ahead scoring drive, Floyd suffered a hamstring injury on a 10-yard reception and was called questionable to return.

– Officials missed a first-quarter intentional grounding call which would’ve resulted in a Cardinals safety as Wilson’s pass attempt out of the end zone did not reach the line of scrimmage.

– Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu carried the French flag as they led the Cardinals out onto the field, which was then followed by a moment of silence for the victims of the Paris attacks.

– Among the Cardinals inactives were rookie receiver J.J. Nelson and former ASU Sun Devil cornerback Robert Nelson, Jr. who had been elevated to the active roster earlier in the week.

UP NEXT

The Cardinals will be featured on Sunday Night Football as their matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals was flexed to Sunday night, putting Arizona in the national spotlight for the second consecutive week on Nov. 22.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

These two teams have not met since 2011 when the Bengals won 23-16 on Dec. 24 at Paul Brown Stadium behind then-rookie quarterback Andy Dalton’s two touchdown passes, including one to current Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham.

In that game, Arizona fell begin 23-0 as quarterback John Skelton was intercepted three times and sacked five times.

The Cardinals had won the two previous matchups in 2003 and 2007.

This will be Cincinnati’s first-ever regular season visit to University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Bengals are winless in two prior trips to Arizona, losing in 1994 and 2003 at Sun Devil Stadium.

Overall, Cincinnati leads 6-4 in a series that dates back to 1973.

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