Cardinals keep playoff hopes alive with win in Seattle

The Seattle Seahawks lost at CenturyLink Field Sunday for the first time in 729 days.

The Arizona Cardinals sent Russell Wilson to the first home loss of his career, scratching out a 17-10 victory to keep their shaky playoff hopes alive.

Here’s what else we learned in Sunday’s game:

1. To reach the postseason, Arizona will need help. In addition to beating San Francisco at home in Week 17, the Cardinals need the 49ers to lose to the Falcons Monday or have the Saints to fall to the Buccaneers in their season finale.

2. Regardless of the Cardinals‘ postseason fate, Bruce Arians deserves Coach of the Year consideration for the second consecutive season. Arians told reporters earlier this week that it was a different Arizona team that was trounced 58-0 in Seattle last season. After Sunday’s game, Arians quipped, “I guess we are 65 points better than last year.”

3. No one disputes CenturyLink Field as the NFL’s biggest home-field advantage, but the Seahawks have now been beatable in three of their seven home games (Titans, Buccaneers, Cardinals) this season. Seattle will still wrap up the NFC’s No. 1 seed as long as they take care of business while hosting the Rams next week.

4. By the start of the fourth quarter, Jon Ryan had as many punts (8) as Wilson had completions. Ryan’s nine punts resulted in six return yards for Patrick Peterson. Amazingly enough, those six yards represent one-fourth of the punt-return yards allowed by the Seahawks for the entire season. It’s an incredible statistic, proving the excellence of the special teams unit.

5. Wilson entered the game second only to Mike Glennon in percentage of snaps under pressure, per Pro Football Focus. Pass protection was a problem again Sunday, as the Cardinals racked up four sacks, nine quarterback hits and over a dozen pressures on a uncharacteristically hesitant and inaccurate Wilson. Todd Bowles‘ defense also held Wilson to the lowest yards per attempt of his career and the lowest passer rating of his season. Now healthy and intact, the offensive line has to play better in the playoffs.

6. The Seahawks defense deserved a better fate. They forced Carson Palmer into four interceptions, eight passes defensed and nine quarterback hits. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas remain in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year even with the Panthers‘ Luke Kuechkly and the RamsRobert Quinn excelling again Sunday.

7. Give NFL Media’s Dave Dameshek credit for predicting the biggest upset of the season.

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