4:25 PM ET, December 9, 2012
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
While a pair of fellow rookie quarterbacks continue to dominate the headlines, Russell Wilson is quietly putting together an impressive campaign of his own.
Selected in the third round of this year's draft, the 5-foot-11 Wilson had to answer concerns about his lack of height, a big reason five quarterbacks were taken before him. While No. 1 pick Andrew Luck and No. 2 selection Robert Griffin III have both thrived, Wilson has too, leading Seattle (7-5) into the thick of the playoff race.
"I don't think Russell gets enough credit," cornerback Richard Sherman told the team's official website. "I think he should get rookie of the year consideration even over those other guys because he is leading our team in some great games."
Wilson has been superb while the Seahawks have won three of their last four, throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions. He came up especially big in last Sunday's 23-17 overtime win at Chicago, recording a season high-tying 293 passing yards and two TDs and an additional 71 yards on nine carries.
He orchestrated a 97-yard drive to give Seattle the lead with 24 seconds left in regulation, then found Sidney Rice for the game-winning score in OT to cap an 80-yard march.
"He's just so beautifully poised and so confident that it gives himself a chance to play at this level," coach Pete Carroll said. "It's just surprising that anybody could be like that, not just a rookie or a young guy in his first shot playing in Chicago or whatnot. He just continues to be impressive in all of those ways."
The Seahawks have to like their chances of keeping things going at home, where Wilson has posted an NFL-best 122.0 passer rating in helping them open 5-0. Seattle's defense has also wreaked havoc at CenturyLink Field, yielding 13.8 points per game to rank second in the league.
The Seahawks had taken three straight in this series before losing the last two, including a season-opening 20-16 defeat at Arizona (4-8) on Sept. 9. While the Cardinals went on to win their next three games, they've since managed just 11.9 points per contest in dropping eight in a row.
They haven't lost nine straight within a single season since going 0-10 in 1943 when the team was located in Chicago.
"This whole streak we've been in isn't any fun," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You work hard as a team, you prepare. I don't see any finger-pointing or fracturing. We've got a good group of players and a good group of young leaders. Make no mistake: they want to win."
Arizona's offense struggled mightily again in last Sunday's 7-6 road loss to the New York Jets. The Cardinals had a franchise worst-tying five first downs -- going 0 for 15 on third down -- and totaled 22 yards of offense in the second half.
Safety Rashad Johnson had 40 of the team's 81 rushing yards on a fake punt. Rookie Ryan Lindley, making his second consecutive start, completed 10 of 31 passes for 72 yards and an interception, a performance that prompted Whisenhunt to change quarterbacks again.
With Kevin Kolb likely to miss a seventh straight game due to a rib injury, John Skelton will get another shot to start. Skelton, benched in favor of Lindley in Week 11, has an NFL-worst 64.4 passer rating this season.
"You can't take any opportunity for granted," Skelton said. "If it comes at the beginning of the season, the end of the season, when you're losing, when you're winning, you've just got to take advantage of every opportunity you get."
Skelton will face a Seattle team without one of its starting cornerbacks. Sherman is expected to play after appealing his four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, but Pro Bowler Brandon Browner dropped his appeal of a similar ban this week and will miss the rest of the regular season.
Walter Thurmond will slide into his spot.
"I've been disappointed about the whole situation, that it is something that he had to deal with it and we had to deal with it, but there is nothing we can do at this point," Carroll said.
Seattle will also be without starting left guard James Carpenter, who was placed on the season-ending reserve/non-football illness list after leaving last Sunday's game with pain in his surgically repaired knee.
Rice, who took a big hit on his game-winning TD grab against the Bears, cleared all concussion tests and is expected to play.
Cards-Seahawks: What to watch
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 14 Cardinals-Seahawks matchup.
• Get to the quarterback: No matter who is behind center, the Cardinals are arguably the league's worst when it comes to pocket protection. Seattle is one of the few teams that can generate a strong pass rush from its base front, which allows it to devote maximum numbers to coverage. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will be asking his defensive ends, especially Chris Clemons and rookie Bruce Irvin, to get upfield and force Arizona into some mistakes in the passing game.
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|Avg Points Allowed||22.5||15.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||ARI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||ARI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Seattle leads 12-10|
|Sep 9, 2012||ARI 20, SEA 16|
|Jan 1, 2012||ARI 23, SEA 20|
|Sep 25, 2011||ARI 10, @SEA 13|
|Nov 14, 2010||ARI 18, SEA 36|
|Oct 24, 2010||ARI 10, @SEA 22|
|Nov 15, 2009||ARI 31, SEA 20|
|Oct 18, 2009||ARI 27, @SEA 3|
|Dec 28, 2008||ARI 34, SEA 21|
|Nov 16, 2008||ARI 26, @SEA 20|
|Dec 9, 2007||ARI 21, @SEA 42|
|Sep 16, 2007||ARI 23, SEA 20|
|Dec 10, 2006||ARI 27, SEA 21|
|Sep 17, 2006||ARI 10, @SEA 21|
|Nov 6, 2005||ARI 19, SEA 33|
|Sep 25, 2005||ARI 12, @SEA 37|
|Dec 26, 2004||ARI 21, @SEA 24|
|Oct 24, 2004||ARI 25, SEA 17|
|Dec 21, 2003||ARI 10, @SEA 28|
|Sep 14, 2003||ARI 0, SEA 38|
|Nov 10, 2002||ARI 6, SEA 27|
|Sep 15, 2002||ARI 24, @SEA 13|