The Seahawks needed this win. They needed to avoid the first three-game losing streak of Russell Wilson’s career. They needed to beat Arizona to get a big win in the NFC West and finally beat another good team after losing to three over the last four weeks.
They got it thanks to a balanced offensive attack and a defense that played its best game of the season, finishing with a big sack by Carlos Dunlap that gave the Hawks a 28-21 win.
Dunlap tallied two sacks, three QB hits and two tackles for loss against Kyler Murray and company. His second sack finished Murray and the Cardinals on their final try for the end zone.
Dunlap, the star pass rusher the Hawks really needed, sparked a defense that held a defense under 350 yards for the first time (Arizona had 314).
“That’s why we brought him here – a huge, huge addition,” Wilson told FOX after the game. Pete Carroll called it a “walk-off sack.”
The Seahawks’ offense brought back the balance it needed, running for 166 yards on 30 carries while Wilson hit 23 of 28 passes. Carlos Hyde returned after missing three games and gained 79 yards on 14 runs. Bo Scarbrough, recently brought back and elevated, added 31 yards on six runs before leaving with a leg injury.
“It felt like the Seahawks,” Carroll said of the balance.
The win was costly. Beyond Scarbrough, the Hawks lost Greg Olsen (torn plantar fascia) and Brandon Shell (ankle) to injuries.
The offensive line already was a cluster, missing injured Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons and Kyle Fuller. Rookie Damien Lewis slid from right guard to center, a position he had never played, and he looked like it. He gave up a sack on the first drive, then had a bad snap for a fumble on the next, then got bulled over and called for holding on the third possession, negating a 41-yard pass to DK Metcalf.
Brian Schottenheimer did well to bring back the run for Seattle, which had run the ball just 48 times (16 per game) for 153 yards (51 per game) over the past three games – since last playing Arizona. The Seahawks could have run away with it if Schotty had called more inside runs. Arizona was missing their best interior defenders, and the middle was wide open for Hyde all night. They need to continue that kind of balance.
Meanwhile, the defense rose up. Quandre Diggs and D.J. Reed both made big pass breakups ahead of Dunlap’s clinching sack. The Seahawks, who did not hit Murray once in Arizona’s overtime win in Week 7, hit him seven times and sacked him three this time.
The win put the Hawks (7-3) back on top in the West, pending the Rams’ game against Tampa Bay on Monday night.
Fortunately, the Hawks have a mini-bye — three days off for the players and 11 days before their Week 12 Monday night game in Philadelphia. As Jamal Adams said, they can use the time to get healthy.
They should have starters Pocic, Shaquill Griffin and Chris Carson back for that game, which will kick off the easiest part of their schedule. The Rams in Week 16 are the only currently above-.500 team they will face among their final six. That game likely will decide the NFC West.
“There’s no reason that we can’t come together and play really good football,” Carroll said. “There’s no reason from this point forward.”