Earl Thomas III and the Seattle Seahawks defense endured 90 plays by one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL, allowing just six points in a hard-fought 6-6 tie with the Arizona Cardinals.
Earl and his teammates made some spectacular plays defensively, including two critical pass breakups and a touchdown-saving tackle on the goal line by No. 29.
“We just let it hang and just go,” Earl said. “We stayed together, we moved as one, and we were so confident. Confidence is very, very powerful. And we had so much courage.”
Although the NFL’s top-ranked defense played well enough to win, the headlines were stolen by potential game-winning field goals missed by each kicker.
Chandler Catanzaro was in position for a 24-yard field goal late in overtime, but it bounced off left upright, giving Seattle new life. The Seahawks drove downfield quickly to put Stephen Hauschka in position for a 28-yarder, but his attempt with 11 seconds remaining missed wide left.
“It was a really amazing football game. My brain doesn’t know where to go with this one. An incredible match of two teams battling,” Pete Carroll explained. “There were so many times where we could have given up. Everything went OK timing wise on the Hauschka [potential game winning] field goal. He just didn’t hit it. Unfortunately, nobody won.”
Seattle ended up punting on its first nine possessions before a blocked punt by Tanner McEvoy led to a game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter. As both teams battled in this defensive slugfest, ET III did his part and made some game-preserving plays that kept the Seahawks afloat.
The first major highlight for Seattle came early in the second frame when Bobby Wagner made a terrific play on a highlight-reel leaping blocked field goal attempt that gave the Hawks D momentum after Arizona looked primed to come away with the first points of the contest.
One of the more impressive plays Earl has made this season game late in the first half when he was shadowing David Johnson, who was running a deep route down the sideline. Using his terrific ball skills and instinct, Thomas got in the way and prevented the star running back from making a play.
The defended pass saved a potential touchdown, but Arizona was able to come away with the first points of the game a few plays later on a 46-yard Catanzaro field goal. After another Seahawks punt on the ensuing possession, Thomas made another standout play that would have been his third pick of the season, but it was negated due to a defensive holding penalty on Richard Sherman.
The All-Pro safety’s potential interception came when he was in coverage against Johnson again. Carson Palmer was targeting his running back on a short pass in the middle of the field but Earl anticipated it quickly enough to make the play on the ball.
The uneventful third quarter featured both teams trading punts, and the start of the fourth was more of the same. No. 29 nearly scored the game’s only touchdown early in the fourth. A brilliant defensive play call by Seattle sent corner Jeremy Lane in on a blitz, forcing Palmer to get the ball out quickly to Larry Fitzgerald—but Earl read it all the way. He jumped the route with a diving attempt but couldn’t quite corral what could’ve been a pick-six. Still, the incredible play halted Arizona’s drive around midfield.
After Arizona’s next drive, the Hawks finally got on the board. McEvoy’s blocked punt set up a 40-yard Hauschka attempt that tied the game at three. The two teams went into overtime and traded back-to-back successful field goals to extend the game before the Catanzaro and Hauschka both missed potential game-winning kicks that made this bout result in an unsatisfying tie.
“I’ve never been a part of a game like this. I’ve never been part of a tie. It was two teams fighting to win. It just sucks that we came out of it with a tie,” Cliff Avril said after the game. “We did some great things on defense, but there’s always room for improvement. We’ll watch the film, keep getting better. It’s a bitter-sweet type of feeling.”
The Seahawks (3-1-1) travel to New Orleans next week to face the Saints (2-4) at the Superdome. New Orleans is coming off a disappointing 27-21 loss at Kansas City, but Drew Brees and the Saints are a whole different animal on their home turf.
New Orleans has a plethora of weapons on offense, headlined by a receiving corps featuring Brandon Cooks, Willie Snead and breakout rookie Michael Thomas. Tight end Coby Fleener will use his speed and size to make life difficult for Earl and Co., along with running back Mark Ingram who is a threat in the passing game.
The game is slated to kick off at 10 a.m. PT on Sunday from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and will be aired on FOX.