Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was obviously pleased with how his team played in a 36-18 win over Arizona down here in the desert.
Paired with St. Louis Rams losing to San Francisco in overtime 23-20, the Seahawks sit alone in first place in the NFC West at 5-4, while the Rams are 4-5 and the Cardinals and the Niners are tied at 3-6.
But even know he’s pleased at where his team sits, Carroll understands there’s a lot of season left.
“There is a lot of football left,” Carroll said. “But you know to be past the halfway point and leading our division, it is the position new had set our sight on a long time ago. Really from the first meeting that we ever came together, now it’s our to work our way through and control the thing. It’s all we ever wanted, was this opportunity.”
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Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck suffered a cracked left wrist on the fourth-and-1 play from Arizona’s 16-yard line with just over a minute left in the first half. The Seahawks failed to get the yard on the play for the first down.
Hasselbeck went to the locker room for x-rays and came out midway through the third quarter with his left wrist in a splint. Initially Hasselbeck said he didn’t think he could go, but he took a couple snaps from backup center Chris Write and deemed himself ready to play.
“I went out there and wasn’t sure what I could offer, wasn’t sure I could make it happen,” Hasselbeck said. “But they worked with me a little bit with some of the play calls, and I just really feel like the guys – my teammates – really stepped up and really made spectacular plays.”
“I texted my wife and say, ‘Hey, I hurt my wrist,’” Hasselbeck said. “She wrote back, ‘Good, I thought it was your head.’”
Hasseleck said while in the locker room he had his helmet with him so he could hear the plays being called in.
“I was following along,” he said. “And it’s not a good way to listen to a game, just hearing the plays with nothing else.”
Hasselbeck finished 22 of 34 for 333 yards and a touchdown for a 106.6 passer rating, his best performance statistically in a year. Coincidentally, Hasselbeck had not thrown for over 300 yards since his last trip to Arizona, finishing with 315 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-20 loss to the Cardinals last year.
Both Hasselbeck and Carroll said better protection was a key issue for the Seahawks, allowing them to open up the playbook and take some shots downfield. Seattle had five pass plays of 22 or more yards in the game. Heading into the contest Seattle had only 10 pass plays of 25 or more yards through eight games
Hasselbeck said on the 44-yard play to tight end Chris Baker everyone was running a go route, and because of the formation Baker got a good matchup against the linebacker.
“Basically it was like you do at recess, everybody go long,” Hasselbeck said. “That’s basically what the play was, but we tried to use a formation we thought would help us. It worked.”
Hasselbeck said it was important to get a win down here, the first time the Seahawks have beat the Cardinals in Arizona since the team’s Super Bowl season in 2005, because Arizona had owned the division for the last, two years.
“We gave them an opportunity down here and they took it,” he said. “And they didn’t look back. They went to the Super Bowl. And for the guys that were here, we know what needed to happen. We had to earn it back.”
One of Hasselbeck’s favorite targets was Mike Williams. The big receiver had another big day against the Cardinals, finishing with 11 catches for 145 yards, including a long of 32 yards.
The Cardinals eventually got tired of Williams picking on cornerback Greg Tolar and replaced him with Michael Adams. In the first game against Arizona back at Qwest Field, Williams had 11 catches for 87 yards and a score, so the Seahawks obviously saw something when they played Arizona for Williams.
The most spectacular of Williams’ catches came late in the game with the Seahawks backed up after an offensive holding penalty. Hasselbeck threw a seam route to Williams, who was matched up on Arizona safety Adrian Wilson, and Williams somehow reached back with his backhand to bring the ball in with one hand – the same hand he actually suffered a broken finger on in practice on Thursday.
“We got tangled up, and I was fighting him off,” Williams said. “Battling him slowed me down. It’s one of those plays where the ball is kind of out of reach and you just make an attempt at it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. That was one of the plays that did.”
* Justin Forsett finished with nine carries for 64 yards and a touchdown. Forsett also had a good game down here last year, finishing with 123 yards and a score.
* Aaron Curry finished with his first two-sack game of his career and tied for the team lead in tackle along with Earl Thomas with seven. Curry seems to be getting a better feel for what his role is each week. The Seahawks continue to use him at defensive tackle at times in passing situations.
* The Seahawks won the turnover battle 2-1. Derek Anderson threw an interception that was tipped by Jordan Babineaux and Kelly Jennings corralled, and also was sacked by Curry, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Chris Clemons.
* Speaking of Clemons, he finished with two sacks on the day, raising his team-leading total to 7.5 sacks.
* Lawyer Milloy turned 37 today, and got a sack on his birthday.