Takeaways from Seahawks 27-24 win over Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks

SEATTLE -- It happened and it's over. May we never speak of it again.

The Seahawks regular season came to a sputtering end with a lackluster 27-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, who finish with the worst record in the NFL in 2018.

The win gave Seattle a sixth 10-win season in nine years under head coach Pete Carroll. But outside of that, the victory didn't carry all that much meaning as it turned out. With the Minnesota Vikings losing to the Chicago Bears, the Seahawks would have been the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs even with a loss to Arizona.

It was an ugly game in many aspects for Seattle. The Seahawks went three-and-out on seven of their 14 offensive possessions in the game. The special teams allowed a fully blocked punt that went for a touchdown, a partially blocked punt and a 45-yard punt return to Pharoh Cooper.

Home games against the Cardinals have been difficult for Seattle to win for years and it proved to be a tough task against on Sunday. But the game, and regular season, is now in the books and the particulars of the win over the Cardinals won't be all that important with the playoffs coming next Saturday in Dallas.

So with that in mind we'll go a slightly different direction on the takeaways from the final Sunday of the regular season:

1. Seahawks appear to avoid any significant injuries against Cardinals.

Maybe the most important aspect of the win was that they came out of the contest mostly unscathed.

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin turned an ankle covering Larry Fitzgerald in the first half and did not return. However, the issue doesn't seem to be overly concerning in the immediate aftermath of the win.

"He turned his ankle and (it) was kind of a slight ankle sprain," head coach Pete Carroll said. "He was dying to get back in. We just held him out because we knew that Akeem [King] could play and we didn't think we had to push it right there just to make sure that we didn't overdo it with him."

Right guard D.J. Fluker suited up but did not play against the Cardinals as Seattle had him available only in an emergency role. They hoped to get through another week without risking any more strain to his sore hamstring.

"Fluke was ready to play today. We held him out," Carroll said. "He was ready if we needed him, which is great, so he goes back in there and that allows (Germain) Ifedi to go back to tackle and George (Fant) to go back to the tight end stuff that we've been doing. And we're pleased with that.

"We talked about (putting Fluker in) at halftime. ... Decided not to."

Left guard J.R. Sweezy was told to stay home from the game today to stay off his injured foot. Carroll said on Friday they thought he'd be able to play next weekend despite the injury he sustained being a 3-4 week recovery.

"He'd going to do everything he can and if it can happen, it'll happen," Carroll said.

With Sweezy out and Fluker sitting, the Seahawks moved Germain Ifedi to right guard with George Fant at right tackle. Ethan Pocic filled-in at left guard in Sweezy's absence. They'll return to status quo - as much as possible - next week.

Free safety Tedric Thompson also did not play against the Cardinals due to an ankle injury. He was a game-time decision against Arizona but was held out. Delano Hill started for a second straight week at strong safety with Bradley McDougald moving to free safety.

2. Final special teams showing of the year was concerning.

If there was one particular aspect of Sunday's win that left a sour taste, it was the showing of the special teams unit. 

Michael Dickson had two punts at least partially blocked with the second of the two recovered in the end zone for an Arizona touchdown. Additionally, Pharoh Cooper returned a punt 45 yards that set up a 50-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal.

"Gosh, I don't know. We've got to go to work," Carroll said of the mishaps. 

Linebacker Dennis Gardeck careened through safety Delano Hill to get a hand on the first punt from Dickson as Seattle was backed up at its own 6-yard line. The punt traveled just 21 yards and the Cardinals would score on a 15-yard pass from Josh Rosen to Larry Fitzgerald.

"On the first punt block, it was just a regular guy forcing the punt, and he broke down the edge and got a hand on the ball," Carroll said.I

The second block came on a pressure from Arizona that resulted in defensive end Cameron Malveaux surging past long snapper Tyler Ott to get a hand on Dickson's punt. 

"The whole field position thing just messed this game up totally," Carroll said. "We could have lost the game today just because of that. Fortunately we hung in there and didn't allow that to happen, but the big punt return was huge. That was a change of field position. Of course both blocks, enormous."

Add in some of Sebastian Janikowski's shakiness this season and this is one area of the team the Seahawks could be mildly concerned about entering the postseason.

3. Stat-O-Rama

Here are some of the notable stats from the 2018 season for the Seahawks.

-- Russell Wilson set a new franchise record with 35 touchdown passes on the season. Wilson's 2017 season with 34 touchdown passes had been the previous mark. Wilson also set a franchise record with a 110.9 passer rating for the year, besting his 2015 mark of 110.1.

-- Jarran Reed finished the season with 10.5 sacks, the third-most ever by a defensive tackle in franchise history. Only Cortez Kennedy in 1992 with 14.0 and John Randle in 2001 with 11.0.

“It means a lot man," Reed said. "I worked my ass off to do that, but also I couldn’t do it without the other three guys that rush with me. It was a collective effort and I appreciate them.”

-- Frank Clark finished the season with 14.0 sacks, the most by a Seattle player since Patrick Kerney had 14.5 in 2007. It's also tied for fifth-most in franchise history.

-- Reed and Clark combined to have 24.5 sacks on the year, which ranks third most for a duo in franchise history. Only Jeff Bryant (14.5) and Jacob Green (13.0) in 1984, and Michael McCrary (13.5) and Michael Sinclair (13.0) combined for more sacks in a single season.

-- Tyler Lockett finished the season with 57 catches on 71 targets for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns. Russell Wilson had a perfect 158.3 passer rating on throws where he targeted Lockett this season. Lockett also posted just the 13th season in franchise history with a player recording at least 10 touchdowns in a season.

-- The 2,540 rushing yards posted by the Seahawks this season are the third-most in team history. It ranks only behind the 2,762 yards of the 2014 team and the 2,579 yards of the 2012 team.

-- The 428 points scored by the team is the second-most in franchise history behind only the 2005 team, which scored 452.

--The Seahawks finished the year with an NFL-best plus-15 turnover differential. First time leading the league in that stat since 2013 when they were plus-20. They also finished with tied for the third-fewest 

-- Russell Wilson was sacked 51 times this season, including six times on Sunday by the Cardinals. Only Dave Krieg in 1985 was sacked more times with 52 on the year.

2019 Opponents:

Home: Arizona, L.A. Rams, San Francisco, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Minnesota.

Road: Arizona, L.A. Rams, San Francisco, Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia.

Next:

The Seahawks will play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. on Sat. Jan. 5 at 5:20 p.m. PT on FOX.


Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 30: Tyler Lockett #16 of the Seattle Seahawks catches the ball against the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter during their game at CenturyLink Field on December 30, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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