First Half Observations: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 17
Scoring on the opening drive in just three minutes, the Seahawks never relinquished their lead in the first half, building a 27-17 halftime advantage over the Cardinals on Sunday Night Football.
As expected in this NFC West rivalry, there were several incredible plays from both sides in the first two quarters. Seattle found the end zone three times with two touchdown catches by Tyler Lockett and a 24-yard scamper by Carlos Hyde, while Kyler Murray connected with DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk for a pair of scores.
Here are some quick thoughts from the first half at State Farm Stadium:
1. Spectacular effort plays led to a 14-point swing midway through the second quarter.
If Seattle manages to hold on to win a tough road game in Glendale, DK Metcalf's heroics will be a major reason and it has nothing to do with his receiving stats. After Russell Wilson was picked off by Budda Baker at the goal line, Arizona's star safety had nothing but green in front of him and looked to have a gimme pick-six. But showing off his incredible track speed, the 228-pound Metcalf managed to race the former Washington star down and brought him down at the Seattle eight-yard line. The phenomenal hustle wound up saving the Seahawks, as they made an impressive fourth down stand near the goal line to turn away the Cardinals without a point.
Moments later, to cap off a 97-yard touchdown drive, 35-year old tackle Duane Brown was out in front as a lead blocker on a toss sweep to the left. Leading the way and showing off his incredible athleticism pulling outside, he made the key block to spring Hyde, who tip-toed down the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 20-7. Instead of trailing by one, Metcalf's refusal to let Baker score on the interception created a monumental 14-point swing, which could be the difference maker at the end of regulation.
2. After a couple quiet games, the Cardinals had no answer for Tyler Lockett.
While Metcalf finished with a single catch in the first half, Wilson continued his season-long cooking show by torching Arizona with several downfield bombs to Lockett. Right off the bat, the sixth-year receiver somehow reeled in a one-handed grab on the first play of the game for a 35-yard gain. Later in the drive, he beat his defender on a quick out route in the end zone for a three-yard score to put Seattle out in front 7-0.
Fast forwarding to the second quarter, shortly after the Cardinals cut the lead to 20-14 on a touchdown from Murray to Kirk, Wilson lofted a deep ball that may have hit the top of a skyscraper, dropping it right over the top of cornerback Patrick Peterson into Lockett's hands for a 47-yard touchdown. Coverage was near perfect on the play, but a better throw and better catch were ultimately made to extend the lead back to 13 points with under a minute to play in the half.
3. Seattle has had issues defending the pass, but run defense has been strong overall.
Entering Sunday's game with the worst pass defense in the NFL, it shouldn't be a surprise the Cardinals found success through the air against the Seahawks. Murray made a perfect 35-yard throw to Hopkins over Quinton Dunbar's shoulder to cut the deficit to 10-7 late in the first quarter and a pair of coverage breakdowns late in the first half allowed him to find a wide-open Kirk in the back of the end zone. He finished the half with 186 yards passing and two touchdowns while completing 15 out of 19 passes.
But while Seattle's coverage has been shaky in the first two quarters, coach Pete Carroll has to be thrilled with the team's run defense so far. Running back Kenyan Drake was held to 10 yards on seven carries and Murray himself rushed for 20 yards on six carries. Using his speed to his advantage against his former Big 12 foe, rookie Jordyn Brooks has played a big role in that success, recording four tackles and a tackle for loss in the first two quarters. His biggest play came on Seattle's superb goal line stand after Wilson's interception, as he ran down Murray in pursuit for a one-yard loss to set up 4th and goal from Arizona's three-yard line.