GLENDALE (AP) — Just in time for the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks are looking like a contender again.
The Arizona Cardinals entered Sunday’s contest on a nine-game winning streak and were the talk of the NFL as a possible Super Bowl darling. And Seattle dismantled them 36-6 in the teams’ regular-season finale on Sunday.
Seattle (10-6) has a tough road to reach a third consecutive Super Bowl. Despite the win, they Seahawks finished as the No. 6 seed and will play at NFC North champion Minnesota in the wild-card round next weekend.
Arizona (13-3) already had locked up the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
The only way the Seahawks and Cardinals meet again would be in the NFC championship game.
Although it had no impact on the standings, the magnitude of the victory was the surprise. Nobody had beaten the Cardinals that way all season.
And it was a big turnaround after Seattle’s home loss to St. Louis a week earlier.
“I’m really proud for everybody that we were able to end on this note heading into the playoffs,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s really great to have that feeling.”
It was the most one-sided loss for Arizona since coach Bruce Arians came to the desert three seasons ago. He’s never beaten the Seahawks at home.
Arians said he saw this effort coming with a poor week of practice. Now he wants to turn the beat-down into something positive as the Cardinals prepare to host a playoff game in two weeks.
“You’d like to go in with a 10-game winning streak,” he said, “but sometimes getting the hell beat out of you is better.”
Here are some things to note from Seattle’s dominating victory.
LOCKETT’S LEGS: The Cardinals could not contain Tyler Lockett.
The spectacular rookie’s 139 yards in punt returns broke the franchise record set 17 years ago by Charlie Rodgers.
“He just looked unstoppable,” Carroll said.
Lockett set up touchdowns with punt returns of 66 and 42 yards and with a 36-yard reception.
“I think he’s the rookie of the year,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “There are some other guys, but you watch Tyler and the different things he can do. … You think about the special player he is. He’s one of a kind.”
WILSON’S NUMBERS: Wilson threw for three touchdowns and broke the Seahawks franchise records for yards passing and touchdowns.
He became the first Seahawks player to pass for 4,000 yards, finishing the season with 4,024, breaking the record of 3,966 set by Matt Hasselbeck in 2007. His 34 touchdown passes breaks the record of 32 set by Dave Krieg in 1984.
“Every year, I just want to get better,” Wilson said. “Every year, that’s my mission. But the ultimate mission is to win and we’ve been playing winning football.”
Wilson is the first player in NFL history to have at least 4,000 yards passing, 30 touchdown passes and 500 yards rushing.
LOSING MOMENTUM: The Cardinals tried to brush aside suggestions that the loss had destroyed the momentum they had built going into the postseason.
“This team is very talented. We have proved it,” defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. “We are a 13-3 team and today was just one of those games.”
Carson Palmer said “We’ll bounce back.”
“We’ve done it numerous times with this group of guys we’ve had in this locker room for three years now,” Palmer said. “We’ll bounce back and be ready to roll.”
PAT PROBLEMS: Arizona’ Chandler Catanzaro’s string of 19 consecutive field goals came with his 51-yard attempt bounced off the right upright.
But his persistent problem has been conversion kicks.
His miss on Sunday was his fifth of the season
“I just feel really sick right now,” Catanzaro said. ‘That is not me. Five extra points, there is no excuse for that.”
Catanzaro wasn’t alone. Seattle’s Steven Hauschka also missed a PAT.
CARDINALS RECORDS: Almost overlooked in the ugly loss were a couple of franchise records set by the Cardinals.
Carson Palmer, with 4,671 yards passing, broke the single season record set by Neil Lomax in 1984.
Larry Fitzgerald’s six catches gave him 109 for the season, breaking the franchise record of 104 he set a decade ago in his second season in the league.
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