SEATTLE — Bobby Wagner sprinted into the end zone and CenturyLink Field shook. The Seattle Seahawks were back in the lead, having erased a 19-point deficit. They were set to make the NFC West a race for the remainder of the regular season.
Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals had other ideas, handing Seattle yet another blown fourth-quarter lead.
Baring a collapse by the Cardinals, the NFC West no longer goes through Seattle.
“I don’t know man. It’s a team game. Everybody has to do their part. We just haven’t been able to finish games,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.
Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns, Andre Ellington had a 48-yard touchdown run with 1:58 remaining and the Cardinals moved three games ahead in the NFC West with a wild 39-32 victory over the Seahawks on Sunday night.
Palmer helped the Cardinals (7-2) build leads of 19-0 and 22-7 at halftime, only to watch Seattle (4-5) rally and take a 29-25 lead early in the fourth quarter on Wagner’s 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown. It was Seattle’s second touchdown in less than 2 minutes and the second coming off a fumble by Palmer.
But Seattle couldn’t close it out, just like the losses to St. Louis, Green Bay, Cincinnati and Carolina, all times this season when the Seahawks led in the fourth quarter and walked away with a loss.
This time it was Palmer leading an 83-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 14-yard strike to Jermaine Gresham with 8:41 remaining. The Cardinals stopped Seattle on its next possession and Ellington added the punctuation, sprinting down the sideline on a third-down run to cap Arizona’s big night.
“Unfortunately at 29-25 we didn’t hold it, we had them, we had a chance to win the football game, we just didn’t hold the lead there and then we couldn’t get back up on top again,” Carroll said.
A year ago, Arizona was in command of the division at the midpoint of the season, only to crumble down the stretch after Palmer was lost to a season-ending knee injury.
Arizona now has a hefty cushion with only seven weeks left in the regular season, leaving Seattle to look at the wild-card race.
Russell Wilson was 14 of 32 for 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but Seattle committed 14 penalties and couldn’t overcome the mistakes of the first half.
The Seahawks got a 46-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka with 58 seconds left to make it a one-possession game, but Larry Fitzgerald recovered the onside kick and Arizona was able to celebrate winning in Seattle for the second time in three years.
“Just on to the next, but it shows that we’re here and we mean business,” Arizona safety Deone Bucannon said. “Seattle is a fantastic team. It just lets everyone know that we’re here.”
Arizona capitalized on Seattle’s inefficiency and mistakes on offense and hit big plays against the Seahawks vaunted defense. Michael Floyd had two fantastic touchdown receptions. He sneaked behind Richard Sherman and tapped his toes for a 27-yarder on the first, then had a 35-yard catch-and-run score, plowing over the pylon to cap a 19-point run in less than 9 minutes.
Seattle responded after halftime, controlling most of the third quarter and getting the break it needed on the second play of the fourth quarter. Cliff Avril came unblocked off the edge and sacked Palmer, knocking the ball free. K.J. Wright recovered and was ruled down at the 3, and Marshawn Lynch bulled his way in for his third touchdown of the season on the next play. Wilson’s 2-point conversion pass was incomplete and Seattle trailed 25-23 with 14:44 left.
And almost immediately after the Seahawks were done celebrating Lynch’s score, Seattle was in the lead thanks to another sack and fumble on Palmer. This time it was Wright coming unblocked to knock the ball free. Wagner scooped the fumble and returned it 22 yards for his second touchdown of the season and a 29-25 Seattle lead with 13 minutes left.
But that was the only time Seattle found itself ahead.
“Got to be a lot cleaner against teams like that,” Seattle’s Russell Okung said. “The margin of error is really small and you only get a certain amount of times to do what you really need to do.”
NOTES: Seattle has lost two straight at home for the first time since the middle of the 2011 season. … Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald had 10 catches for 130 yards, his most receptions since Week 14 of 2013. … The 39 points were the most allowed by Seattle since giving up 40 to San Francisco in Week 14 of the 2010 season. … Arizona had 30 total first downs, the most against Seattle in the regular season since 2010.