Russell Wilson and company answered that emphatically, amassing a team-record 596 yards and scoring five times in a stunningly offensive 35-6 victory that served notice to the entire league that the Hawks are poised to run over anyone in their path on the way to another Super Bowl title.
Wilson played perhaps his best game of the season, throwing for a career-high 339 yards and two touchdowns and running for 88 yards and a score. He and Marshawn Lynch both turned in mindboggling TD runs — juking, stiff-arming and overpowering Arizona defenders — to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
Combined with a defense that expectedly shut down the Cardinals — 216 yards, just 29 rushing — it was Seattle’s most complete, dominant victory since the opener against Green Bay. And it was Arizona’s first loss of the season at home.
It gave the Seahawks control of the NFC West and the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs — both of which can be theirs with a home win over the St. Louis Rams next week.
You can tell Pete Carroll knows the Hawks are sitting in prime position to win the Super Bowl again. He called the dominating win “about as much fun as you can have playing NFL football in the regular season. … I had a freaking blast tonight.”
He has reason to be confident: This team appears to be even better than the one that won the Super Bowl last season.
The Hawks struggled down the stretch last season, losing two of their final four and then squeaking by New Orleans (23-15) and San Francisco (23-17) before the shocking Super Bowl blowout of Denver (43-8).
That team had trouble scoring against all of the good defenses it faced in December. This offense had been having similar issues, scoring just seven touchdowns over the last four games. Then it scored five vs. Arizona on Sunday night.
The offensive explosion came despite Seattle being without two starters on the offensive line, and with two others banged up.
Carroll credited Tom Cable’s unit, which consisted of Alvin Bailey making his second start of the season at left tackle on place of Russell Okung and fourth-string center Patrick Lewis starting over Lemuel Jeanpierre with Max Unger out for a fifth straight week. They helped the Hawks run for 267 yards — the fifth time this season they have gone over 200.
For the second time in three years, the Hawks have eclipsed the team record for rushing yards in a season. They have 2,630, which is more than the 2,579 they amassed in 2012. It’s 442 more than they had last year (2,188). The big difference has been Wilson, who has 303 more rushing yards than last season. His 842 yards are the fifth-most by a quarterback in NFL history.
Lynch gained 113 yards on 10 attempts vs. Arizona and is third in the league with 1,246 yards — his fourth straight season over 1,200 yards for Seattle. His two rushing touchdowns gave him 12 for the third time.
Wilson was spectacular. He rattled off a career-best 55-yard run and threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Luke Willson, which tied Wilson’s longest pass.
Wilson was sacked just once — a marked improvement over the seven takedowns he suffered in a 19-3 win over Arizona four weeks ago. Much of the difference can be attributed to Wilson making quick, smart decisions to throw the ball away — or taking off when he saw an opening.
“Russell was just ridiculous tonight,” Carroll said. “He was so good tonight in so many ways. All of the yards and all of the conversions on third down (5 of 12), the fantastic big throws he made, the plays to get out of trouble so that he could make a big play. It’s just as good as you can get. We’re so lucky that he’s playing for us.”
Meanwhile, the defense continued to put the clamps on. After surrendering just 33 points in the past five games, all wins, the Hawks are poised to pull off a double-double (first in yards and points) for the second straight year. Only three other teams have done that, according to NBC statisticians: the 1954-55 Cleveland Browns, the 1969-70 Minnesota Vikings (the Purple People Eaters) and the 1985-86 Chicago Bears.
The Hawks should be able to hold on to their No. 1 rankings in the finale against the Rams. Seattle finds itself in the exact scenario as last year’s finale: at home needing a win to get the No. 1 seed.
The Hawks won 27-9 last year and — if the blowout in Arizona is any indication — could win by a similar margin this time.