The duel in the desert
The Background: While the Seattle Seahawks had enjoyed the previous decade as one of the NFL’s model franchises, the Cardinals reverted back to NFL dormancy following an NFC Championship appearance in 2015.
Come 2020, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was on his way to a career year and was also in the early running for NFL MVP. Wilson had guided the Seahawks to a 5-0 start and in the process, had a 19-3 touchdown to interception ratio.
This game was not initially scheduled for prime time. But given the COVID protocols in place, it forced the NFL to shuffle the schedule, putting this duel in the desert into the national spotlight.
The Moment: The Seahawks’ offense dominated early. They kept Wilson’s uniform clean and racked up 377 yards and 27 points. Wilson’s only blemish came at the goal line when Budda Baker picked him off for an apparent Pick Six. Only for DK Metcalf to unleash his inner-speedy superhero powers and track him down short of the goal line in a play that will be remembered throughout the ages.
The Cardinals pulled back in the second half. But after an amazing and controversial touchdown catch by Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, it looked like Seattle was once again on the way to another win. Down by 10 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Kyler Murray and company did all they could to come back.
And the defense woke up, picking off Wilson and finally stopping the Seahawks offense. After a game-tying field goal from Zane Gonzalez sent the game into overtime, rookie Isaiah Simmons made the first significant play of his NFL career. Picking off Wilson on just his fifth snap of the contest and setting up the game-winning field goal.
The Aftermath: The Seahawks stagnated and the Cardinals surged, ultimately taking control of the NFC West by owning a tiebreaker at 6-3. Unfortunately, it marked the high water mark for the Cardinals and the low water mark for the Seahawks.
While the Seahawks finished the season at 6-1 (including defeating the Cardinals in another thriller on national television), the Cardinals stumbled down the stretch and finished 2-5. It forced the Cardinals to watch Seattle capture yet another NFC West title and a playoff berth.