Beyond the winner finishing with a .500 record, there wasn’t much at stake in Sunday’s game between the Cardinals and Seahawks.
They didn’t let that stop the two teams from playing an entertaining game of football, though. The Seahawks tied the game with 10 straight points in the fourth quarter, but two great plays by Larry Fitzgerald helped the Cardinals move the ball in overtime before Jay Feely ended the proceedings with a field goal for a 23-20 Cardinals victory.
It was the fourth overtime win of the year for the Cardinals, who closed the season on a 7-2 tear after starting 1-6. Sunday’s win was thanks in large part to Fitzgerald, who offered a performance that will linger in the mind of all Cards fans during the long offseason. Fitz had nine catches for 149 yards, including three for 46 yards on the winning drive. The first of those catches was a short pass from John Skelton that Fitzgerald turned into a 26-yard gain by bulling his way around and through Seahawks defenders. The third was a diving, one-handed play that will go on any Fitzgerald highlight reel that you care to make.
The only problem with the way the Cardinals closed out the season is that it really muddies up the quarterback picture for the team. Kevin Kolb, owner of a big contract after the offseason trade that brought him to town, did not play well when he was healthy this season and was the quarterback when the team dug itself a huge hole in the early part of the year. John Skelton didn’t set the world on fire, but he won games and the offense came up with plays they needed to make when Skelton was in the lineup. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle things as they head toward 2012.
It will also be interesting to see what the Seahawks do at quarterback. Pete Carroll said this week that Tarvaris Jackson is his man for next season, but he continued his erratic play in Week 17. He had some good moments — the game-tying 61-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Lockette, for example — but he couldn’t get the team into field goal range after Leon Washington took the opening kickoff of overtime near midfield. With Marshawn Lynch coming on and a young defense that played well down the stretch, the Seahawks have the bones of a team that can contend for a playoff spot. They just need a head for those bones and Jackson hasn’t made a convincing case that he’s that head.
At any rate, there’s reason to hope for better teams in both Arizona and Seattle, which won five of their last eight, next season. That should make for an interesting division as they chase the 49ers for supremacy in the NFC West.