How the West Was Won: It’s the Seahawks, then everyone else
Another week, another uninspiring, incomplete effort from the Arizona Cardinals.
As a result of losing to the Minnesota Vikings on the road Sunday, the Cardinals (4-5-1) would be wise to shift their focus from winning the NFC West to trying to secure a Wild Card spot — or maybe just playing winning football.
While the Cardinals lost, the red-hot Seattle Seahawks kept on winning, and picked up a full game on every other team in the NFC West in Week 11.
Here’s a closer look at what went down in the division this week.
Minnesota Vikings 30, Arizona Cardinals 24
Incomplete. That’s really the best way to describe the Cardinals’ performance Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Their defense was superb, holding the Vikings to 217 total yards. Their offense was really good for a half, before finding some tough sledding in the final 30 minutes of the game. In fact, the Cardinals netted just 30 yards in the second half.
Arizona’s special teams was ABYSMAL. Cordarrelle Patterson’s 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half set the tone for the rest of the game. It just happened to be Minnesota’s second 100-yard return touchdown in the game; Xavier Rhodes returned a Carson Palmer interception 100 yards for a score late in the second quarter.
The Cardinals had chances, but couldn’t protect Palmer in obvious late-game passing situations. Minnesota’s front-seven feasted on Arizona’s patchwork offensive line, which lost guards Mike Iupati and Earl Watford for stretches of the game. Palmer was sacked four times, hit 23 (according to a Fox graphic during the telecast) and harassed all game long.
Quotable: “We didn’t block well enough in the fourth quarter to protect our quarterback. We didn’t run good enough routes in the fourth quarter to get open for our quarterback.” — Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians
Stat of the Game: The Vikings, according to Elias Sports Bureau, became the first team since the 1962 Dallas Cowboys to have a 100-yard interception return and kickoff return for touchdowns in the same game. Teams that have benefitted from both an interception return and a kickoff return for a score in a single game are now 28-12 since 1970.
Seattle Seahawks 26, Philadelphia Eagles 15
Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham and caught a scoring strike from Doug Baldwin in Seattle’s latest win — their third straight.
Running back C.J. Prosise opened the scoring with a 72-yard touchdown run on the Seahawks’ second possession of the game. Philadelphia answered early in the second quarter when Carson Wentz hit tight end Zach Ertz on a 4-yard touchdown pass that gave the Eagles their first and only lead of the game.
The Seahawks then reeled off 20 straight points over a 25-minute span to put the game away.
Wilson’s touchdown catch was his third career reception and first touchdown catch. In fact, it was the first touchdown catch by any Seattle quarterback in the history of the franchise, which began back in 1976.
Quotable: “I’ve been begging for that play for the past two or three weeks. They doubted my arm ability, they doubted I could make the throw, so I’m glad I got to prove them wrong.” — Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin
Stat of the Game: Prosise’s 72-yard touchdown jaunt was the longest run of his brief career. His previous high was 10 yards.
New England Patriots 30, San Francisco 49ers 17
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers lifting the Patriots to a relatively easy road win at Levi’s Stadium.
Brady found Julian Edelman on a 4-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in the first quarter. But it was his two fourth-quarter touchdown passes that opened up a tight game.
On the first play of the final quarter, Brady hit Danny Amendola on a 5-yard touchdown pass. About four minutes later, he hooked up with Malcolm Mitchell on a 56-yarder that put the Patriots up 27-10 with ten minutes to go.
Quotable: “We’re not good enough to throw it every down.” — 49ers head coach Chip Kelly, referring to the desperate spot he found his team in down big in the fourth quarter.
Stat of the Game: Brady had his 21st career game with four touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Miami Dolphins 14, Los Angeles Rams 10
The Rams put the shackles on the Miami Dolphins for nearly 56 minutes Sunday. The last four were a problem.
Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes in the final 4:02, lifting the Dolphins to a come-from-behind win at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The win was the Dolphins fifth straight after a 1-4 start.
The win spoiled the professional debut of number-one overall draft pick Jared Goff, who made his first start for the Rams. Goff completed 17-of-31 passes for 134 yards in the game.
The Rams jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 24-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley, which was the second-year player’s longest run from scrimmage this season. Greg Zuerlein booted a 46-yard field goal late in the third quarter to stretch L.A.’s lead to double-digits.
Miami had punted on 10 of its first 11 possessions, netting 92 yards in the process. But they flipped the switch when they needed to, gaining 11 first downs on their final two scoring marches of 77 and 75 yards.
Quotable: “To play three-and-a-half quarters of good football — even though we didn’t get the points — and then to let things slip away was really disappointing. But that’s the National Football League.” — Rams head coach Jeff Fisher
Stat of the Game: Tannehill went 12-of-13 for 115 yards and two scores on Miami’s final two drives. That’s a QB rating of 143.1.
Week 11 Award Winners
Offense: Russell Wilson, Seattle — 18-of-31 for 272 yards and 1 TD; 1 catch for 15 yards and 1 TD
Defense: Bobby Wagner, Seattle — 15 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Special Teams: Jon Ryan, Seattle — 6 punts for 279 yards (46.5 average), 3 punts inside 20-yard line
What’s on Tap:
• Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1) at Atlanta Falcons (6-4) – Sunday, Nov. 27 – 11:00 a.m. at the Georgia Dome
• San Francisco 49ers (1-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-4) – Sunday, Nov. 27 – 11:00 a.m. at Hard Rock Stadium
• Los Angeles Rams (4-6) at New Orleans Saints (4-6) – Sunday, Nov. 27 – 11:00 a.m at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
• Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) – Sunday, Nov. 27 – 2:05 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium