Playing for nothing more than playoff seeding that was entirely out of their control, Seattle went to Arizona and won, 36-6. The Seahawks have some momentum now going into the wild card round, while the Cardinals will be the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
While the MVP talk has centered around Cam Newton and Carson Palmer, fourth-year quarterback Russell Wilson continued his impressive second half by throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions in the rout. Wilson made some franchise history in the process.
From @ESPNStatsInfo: Russell Wilson first player in NFL history to record 4,000 pass yds., 30 pass TDs & 500 rush yds. in a single season.— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 3, 2016
Wilson will be going to the playoffs for the fourth time in four seasons, and when he plays his ninth postseason game next week, he'll tie Joe Flacco for the most playoff starts through four seasons in NFL history with nine. If he and the rest of his Seattle teammates play like they did on Sunday against Arizona, arguably the best team in the NFL over the course of the year, it's going to be hard to keep him from getting his 10th playoff start.
Or for the Seahawks to become the first team in NFC history to make three straight Super Bowls.
To do that, Seattle will likely have to go through Carolina and ... Arizona, again, who would have hopefully cleaned up some issues by then.
With a potential No. 1 seed on the line, Palmer was disrupted for most of the first half on Sunday, completing 12-of-25 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The 60.2 passer rating and 5.2 yards per attempt were his lowest such totals of the season for Palmer. Much of that was due to the Seahawks shutting down the Cardinals rushing attack, holding David Johnson to 25 yards on 11 carries.
Most of the offense -- though there wasn't much of it -- went through Larry Fitzgerald, who finished with 55 yards and his ninth touchdown of the season.
Things were much more fortuitous for some of Seattle's unlikely heroes of the 2015 season: Rookie Tyler Lockett had four punt returns for a franchise-record 139 yards, tight end Chase Coffman caught a touchdown after being signed weeks ago to fill the void left by injuries to Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson. Christine Michael rushed for a career-high 102 yards.
Michael was traded to the Cowboys before Week 1, just two years after being a second round pick for the Seahawks. His disappointing track record in Seattle followed him to Dallas, though, and he was released a couple of months earlier before being waived and picked up by the Redskins, only to be released by them shortly thereafter. The Seahawks were in desperate need for a back after injuries to Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, so they turned to the only player who had more experience in Pete Carroll's system than anyone available: Michael.
Wouldn't make fun of Christine Michael's name pic.twitter.com/Akz0VPQQc8— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 3, 2016
The unlikely hero came through in a big way in Arizona, including a 45-yard run in the first quarter that set the tone for how the rest of the game: Total domination by Seattle.
If these two teams meet again in the playoffs, the result may or may not be the same, but the message is clear: The Seahawks' 10-6 record is not to be taken likely. They're headed into the postseason as dangerous as they've ever been.
Russell Wilson is the 1st QB in NFL history w/ 24+ pass TDs & 1 or fewer INTs in a 7-game span within a season pic.twitter.com/5qdr26v047— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) January 4, 2016