From 1999 to 2010, I attended more than 100 Seattle Seahawks games, home and away. But nothing I ever saw in person came close to the defensive effort I saw the Seahawks put forth on Sunday against the lower-than-low Arizona Cardinals. And now, the Seahawks aren't only in position to control their own playoff spot destiny, but can pass the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West title.
No bigger story could be found in the division, and maybe the entire NFL, than how the Seahawks dismantled the Cardinals in Week 14. Eight turnovers. Four fumbles recovered. Four interceptions. Two defensive touchdowns. Two 100-yard rushers. Two Patrick Peterson muffed punt catches. Forty-one fantasy points. The most lopsided win in Seahawks history and the franchise record for points in a game. And yet, only the first division win of the season for Seattle (8-5).
This site has already looked long into what happened to the Cardinals on Sunday. Complete disaster. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And now, coach Ken Whisenhunt's job is in more jeopardy than ever.
The simple reason for that is this: You cannot be blown out in that kind of fashion by a division opponent. It doesn't matter what the teams' records are. There is pride at stake, and the Cardinals (4-9) showed none. This is a clear sign that their coach has lost them, and now that the losing streak has reached nine, the calls for Whisenhunt's job can only get louder.
Now, the rest of the West.
The San Francisco 49ers got back to their defensive ways and got rushing TDs from Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon in a 27-13 win over Miami. But it was especially nice to see rookie LaMichael James finally get a chance to show what he can do.
The Niners are 9-3-1 and poised to win the division, but most go to New England and Seattle over the next two games. The Seahawks go to Buffalo this week but get the 49ers and St. Louis Rams the final two weeks of the regular season.
The Seahawks, then, still have a chance to win the division even without suspended cornerbacks. The Rams are a big longshot, but at 6-6-1 after a win over the Bills Sunday, that defense looks like it can keep the Rams in the hunt for the playoffs.
Six wins in St. Louis is already cause for some celebration given where that team has been in recent years. The Rams won just twice all of 2011, and have winnable road games against Minnesota and Tampa Bay ahead plus the finale in Seattle. Given that the Rams beat the Seahawks earlier in the season, that's no gimme for Seattle.