Here it is, the moment of truth: The Seattle Seahawks open their 2012 season Sunday against the NFC West rival Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. And they’re showcasing to the entire nation why they’ve chosen rookie Russell Wilson as the starting quarterback.
All eyes are on Wilson after he beat out Matt Flynn for the starting job in the offseason. Despite his being selected in the third round of April’s NFL Draft, he’s drawn a lot of hype leading up to this opening NFL weekend. For instance, one sportswriter, Bill Simmons of Grantland.com, is predicting Wilson to lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl this season.
Yet another big storyline for Sunday’s game is Marshawn Lynch. While, according to a report by CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Lynch won’t be facing suspension this season for a DUI charge over the summer, he is facing back spasms that could keep him from being the formidable force the Seahawks need him to be Sunday. He is listed as active for the game, but it is unknown whether he’ll get much playing time.
Kickoff is at 1:25 p.m. The Seahawks game is being broadcast on Fox TV, 710 AM ESPN Seattle radio and 97.3 FM KIRO radio.
Stay tuned to this post for updates throughout the game. Meanwhile, here are five things to watch as the Seahawks open their season against the Cardinals.
– And we’re off! Seahawks get the ball on kickoff. Lynch carries for 2 yards on the first play.
– A 50-yard field goal attempt by Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka is no good — it may have been blocked by the Cardinals. Arizona’s offense gets the ball.
– But the Seahawks recover a fumble on the very next play and take over at the Arizona 42-yard line.
– Seattle is first on the board after a 27-yard field goal by Hauschka. The Seahawks lead the Cardinals 3-0.
– The Cardinals marched down the field in their second possession, but the Seahawks defense kept them from scoring a touchdown even after first-and-goal at the Seattle 2-yard line. Arizona ties the game at 3 on a field goal.
– After a poor outing by the Seattle offense, which included 15 yards in penalties, the Cardinals once again threatened at the Seahawks’ 2-yard line. But this time, Arizona was able to capitalize as RB LaRod Stephens-Howling ran it in for a touchdown. The Cards take the lead 10-3 over the Seahawks with 5:58 left in the second quarter. Arizona’s drive was 11 plays for 58 yards.
– At halftime, the Cardinals still lead 10-3 after a messy final 2 minutes of the second quarter. The Seahawks got the ball back with less than a minute to go in the half, but after a few penalties ran the clock down to 10 seconds, Wilson tossed a Hail Mary that got intercepted by safety Adrian Wilson. There was no score on the return and the clock ran out to halftime.
Wilson has been looking more like a rookie than he did during Seattle’s four preseason victories. He has connected on six of his 11 pass attempts, earning 59 passing yards in the first half. But he hasn’t had much of a chance to shine, as Seattle’s offensive line has had trouble containing Arizona’s pass rush. Wilson has, for much of the first half, had to avoid the sack while looking for an open receiver downfield. And they haven’t been open very often.
The Seahawks have been ying on Lynch and fullback Leon Washington for much of their offense. At halftime, Seattle had 59 rushing yards to Arizona’s 30. Meanwhile, the Seahawks had just 54 yards through the air; the Cardinals had 129 passing yards. All told, Seattle had 113 total yards and Arizona had 154 total yards in the first half — fairly even.
But the Seahawks look like they are still working out some kinks. The secondary hasn’t been as effective as expected in covering Arizona’s receivers, and Seattle’s pass rush hasn’t been as suffocating as was perhaps anticipated. The Seahawks had no sacks in the first half and just two hits on Cardinals QB John Skelton, who was 11-for-17 with 124 passing yards and no touchdowns.
– With 11:03 left in the third quarter, Wilson threw a backward pass to Lynch that was incomplete and picked up by Arizona. By rule, that’s a fumble. Originally called an incomplete pass, the call was challenged by Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who won the turnover upon official review.
– The Cardinals put three more points on the board with another field goal. But it almost didn’t happen, as Kam Chancellor picked off Skelton in the end zone during Arizona’s drive. That play was called back, however, because Seattle’s Chris Clemons jumped offsides before the snap. While the Seahawks held the Cardinals to just a field goal, they’re still looking fairly shaky. Arizona now leads 13-3.
– Leon Washington returns Arizona’s kickoff for 82 yards. The Seahawks now take over from the Arizona 24-yard line. Big play — it may be just what Seattle needs to gain some momentum and energy.
– Wilson connects with WR Sidney Rice for Seattle’s first touchdown of the season. Washington set up the touchdown with his huge kickoff return, and Wilson came through on the third down. Seattle now trails 13-10.
– Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman gets an impressive interception on a throw-away by Arizona’s Skelton, who didn’t throw the ball far enough out of bounds. On the heads-up play, Sherman appeared to drag both feet on the green before falling out of bounds. The play is confirmed after official review, and the Seahawks take over at the Arizona 34-yard line.
– After three fruitless offensive downs, Seattle ties it up with a 47-yard field goal by Hauschka. The Seahawks and Cardinals have a new game at 13-13.
– The Seahawks defense looks much stronger in the second half, pressuring Arizona QB Skelton much more. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll must have had some choice words for them during halftime. In fact, the Seahawks haven’t even allowed the Cardinals to get a first down in the second half.
– Another big run for Washington, who returned an Arizona punt for 52 yards. Seahawks take over at the Arizona 16-yard line and are threatening to take the lead.
– Wilson drew a flag by throwing the ball away illegally, and Russell Okung was called for another false start, spoiling Seattle’s chances at a touchdown. But Seattle did take the lead on another Hauschka field goal. The Seahawks are now up 16-13 with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter.
– With 8:33 left in the game, Arizona finally got their first first-down of the second half. But now Cards QB Skelton is down on the field.
– Skelton has been taken off the field on a cart with a right ankle injury. QB Kevin Kolb takes over under center for Arizona.
– Kolb teams up with Arizona receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Todd Heap to march down the field against the Seahawks offense. On second down at first-and-goal, Kolb connected with Andre Roberts for a touchdown, and the Cardinals have taken back the lead. With 4:59 left in the game, Arizona leads 20-16.
– Wilson is driving the Seahawks downfield, connecting with receiver Charly Martin for a big first down and letting Lynch do his thing on the ground. The Seahawks are at the Arizona 42-yard line at the two-minute warning. Seattle needs a touchdown — trailing 20-16, a field goal won’t cut it.
– Seattle lineman Okung, who has been struggling with his snap timing all game (a few false starts, some of them not called), has limped off the field. No good.
– On fourth-and-6, certainly the biggest play of the game, Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson was called for pass interference, giving Seattle another four downs to score the touchdown they need. Seahawks have 42 seconds and two downs to get it in the end zone from the Arizona 13-yard line.
– Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin is down on the field after dropping a catch in the end zone. He walks off the field under his own power.
– On third-and-10 from the Arizona 13-yard line, Arizona cornerback William Gay is called for pass interference on a toss. Seahawks now have first-and-goal from the 7-yard line.
– On first down, Lynch runs for a gain of 2 yards. Seattle calls a timeout, but Arizona argues the Seahawks don’t have any timeouts left because Baldwin went down during the final two minutes of the game. Under NFL rules, stoppage for an injury results in a timeout for the team with an injury. The replacement NFL refs say Seattle did have a timeout to call because Baldwin’s injury came after an incomplete pass, which stops the clock.
– Two incomplete passes bring up fourth-and-goal.
– A pass to Braylon Edwards is incomplete and the Seahawks turn over the ball on downs. That should be the game — Arizona will likely just take a knee.
– Yep, that’s the game. The Seahawks lose their season opener 20-16 in Arizona. It came down to the very last play, but Wilson and the Seahawks just couldn’t quite get it done. Stay tuned for stats and much more information.