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EGGERS: Seahawks still look Super

by: COURTESY OF MICHAEL WORKMAN - The Seattle Seahawks offense and QB Russell Wilson were bottled up well Sunday by the Arizona Cardinals, who upset Seattle 17-10 at CenturyLink Field.SEATTLE — It had to happen sometime. The Seattle Seahawks just didn't want it to happen on Sunday.

With the NFC West championship and homefield advantage through the playoffs on the line, the Seahawks couldn't get it done, falling 17-10 to division rival Arizona at CenturyLink Field -- the first home loss of quarterback Russell Wilson's NFL career.

Seattle (12-3) can still wrap up both of the aforementioned luxuries by beating St. Louis here next Sunday in the regular-season finale.

"We look forward to big opportunities," said Wilson, the second-year quarterback who is now 14-1 in front of the CenturyLink denizens. "Our goal each week is to go 1-0. We've been saying it all year. It doesn't change at all.

"We lost this one. We shouldn't have lost it, but we have a great opportunity ahead of us. We're not going to shy away from it. Our guys will be ready to go against a very good St. Louis team."

It was Seattle's first setback at CenturyLink in two days short of two years, snapping a 14-game win streak dating to a 19-17 defeat by San Francisco on Dec. 24, 2011.

The 49ers (10-4) still need to beat Atlanta Monday night and then win at Arizona next Sunday to share the NFC West title with the Seahawks, should they lose to the Rams. Even so, Sunday's game was an opportunity squandered for the Hawks, who have now lost twice in the last three games with a chance to wrap up the division in the balance.

"We have to flip the switch, from the frustration of not getting it done today, to turn the next one up, which is (next Sunday)," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "We'll see if we can finish this thing off and get this division."

Seattle couldn't win despite forcing four interceptions by Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer. The Hawks had too many penalties (nine for 102 yards) and were 2 for 13 in third-down efficiency, among other inadequacies.

Arizona's defense -- which entered the game No. 1 in the NFL against the run and No. 7 overall -- did a number on the Hawks, holding them to a season low in points and total yardage (211). The Cardinals also laid the wood to Wilson, sacking the NFL's most elusive scrambler four times and holding him to a career-low 108 yards passing. Wilson got loose for a 27-yard scramble in the third quarter, but that was pretty much it.

"Give Arizona's defense credit," said Wilson, who completed only 11 of 27 passes with one touchdown and one interception. The Cardinals "played a great game, did a really good job of making some plays and not letting me look to run.

"Their defense has played really well the past seven or eight weeks. But we can play better."

It was very much an offensive loss for the Seahawks, who held Arizona to 17 points and 307 yards total offense, numbers that usually translate to victory.

"Our defense can't play any better than that," Wilson said.

The Seahawks had season lows in first downs (10) and total offense (192) and rarely seemed to have any receivers find seams in the Cardinals' secondary.

"It was hard today," Carroll acknowledged. "The protection was really good. (Wilson) had plenty of time, but they were covering us up pretty well. For whatever reason, we just couldn't find guys open. We couldn't get the completions. That's uncharacteristic of us."

It appeared as if the Seahawks might survive when they put together their lone touchdown drive, Wilson finding tight end Zach Miller on an 11-yard pass in the corner of the end zone with 7:26 remaining. They even got a huge break when Steven Haushka's go-ahead PAT attempt failed, but the Cardinals were flagged for illegal formation on defense. Haushka made his mulligan and the Hawks led 10-9.

But Arizona responded, moving 80 yards in 10 plays. Michael Floyd's 31-yard touchdown catch and a two-point conversion pushed the visitors ahead 17-10 with 2:13 left, and an interception on Seattle's first play from scrimmage sent the Seahawks faithful home unhappy for the first time in a long while.

"It's a disappointing loss," Wilson said. "It was one of those games where we were an inch off here or there for whatever reason. (The Cardinals) made some plays. We didn't make some plays we normally do. It wasn't our luck today."

  • I'm not sure there's a lot to worry about. The Seahawks still wear the look of a Super Bowl team. They didn't get much done offensively Sunday against one of the NFL's better defensive units, and that result and the 19-17 defeat at San Francisco on Dec. 8 may give you pause.

    But the Hawks' defense is superb in all areas, Marshawn Lynch is one of the game's better running backs and Wilson is, well, Wilson. I'll be surprised if they don't beat St. Louis and set themselves up for using the home crowd through the playoffs to get to Super Bowl XLVIII Feb. 2 at East Rutherford, N.J.

    "I look at it this way," said Wilson, in the convincing fashion of a master politician. "Everything doesn't go perfect. You're going to have some ups and downs. The important thing is keeping everybody together. We need to go back to work, keep our heads down and get ready for St. Louis."

    Now that the Hawks have been vanquished at home for the first time in ages, is the stadium's aura of invincibility shattered?

    "We still have that mind-set," Wilson said. "CenturyLink is still the toughest place to play in the league. Our fans are still amazing.

    "We've had a really good season so far. We just have to finish strong. It's still a championship week, same thing as last week. It doesn't get any better than that. But you don't want to let too many championship opportunities pass you by."

    It would have been optimal for the Seahawks to have already clinched the NFC West crown, have homefield advantage locked up and allow Carroll to give the regulars some rest next Sunday against the Rams.

    All things considered, though, the Hawks are in a very good place -- and in position to reach an even better spot a few weeks from now.

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    Twitter: @kerryeggers