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Seahawks plan to continue dominance in Arizona

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has had incredible success against the Cardinals in Arizona. (Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has had incredible success against the Cardinals in Arizona. (Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The storm, they insisted, had lifted by the time the game ended.

One of the oddest quarters in recent Seahawks history — the third last Sunday against Atlanta, destined to forever be remembered for Richard Sherman’s epic sideline outburst — was followed by yet another fourth-quarter comeback, the 20th in 79 games since 2012.

“That’s what teams do, that’s what families do,’’ said linebacker K.J. Wright. “They fight, get mad at each other, kiss and make up later on. … it happens. Cool. Correct it. Fix it. Move on. That’s what we did. We moved on.’’

So, the message all week was … don’t worry about any lingering issues from the third quarter. Remember instead the fourth.

Still, this has been an odd Seahawks season so far, featuring two victories in which the postgame conversation centered mostly on the unhappiness of the defense (remember the anger after two fourth-quarter touchdowns by the 49ers?), injuries to the team’s most durable if not most valuable player (Russell Wilson) and a surprising inability to run the ball — along with the defense, the trademark of the team’s rise since 2012.

But nothing yet has truly defined where this season might be headed.

That could change Sunday when the Seahawks play at Arizona in a 5:30 p.m. game.

Despite the unevenness of the first five games, Seattle sits at 4-1, a game and a half ahead of Arizona, which entered the season considered the Seahawks’ only real threat to winning the NFC West.

Arizona has likewise seen some identity shifting in the opening of the season, suddenly seeming more of an offensive threat with its David Johnson-led running game than with Carson Palmer and a passing attack.

But despite some shaky moments of their own, the Cardinals are coming off two decisive victories against the 49ers (33-21) and Jets (28-3) – which also are the only two teams Seattle has beaten without needing some fourth-quarter heroics – to get back to 3-3.

Beat Seattle on Sunday and the Cardinals can feel they are truly back in the race for the NFC West. But a Seattle victory and then the division becomes the Seahawks’ to lose.

It was Arizona that basically ended Seattle’s hopes last season of winning the division – and having any home-field advantage in the playoffs – with a victory at CenturyLink Field in Week 9.

Seattle got some measure of revenge with a 36-6 victory in Glendale to end the regular season, a win that perpetuated the Seahawks’ dominance of the Cardinals on the road. Seattle has won three in a row in Glendale by a combined 105-34.

Asked about that, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said:

“I think one of the big things is the home team defense is really hard to communicate. I think it’s one of the reasons we play so well up there, that the defense has a tough time communicating because the crowd noise and the fans are into it. We’ve had some lack of communication at times.”

Told of Arians’ comment, Wright replied, “If that’s what he thinks, that’s what he thinks. But that’s not a good excuse.’’

Whatever the reason, the Seahawks have been absurdly good in Arizona the past three years.

Wilson has completed 57 of 88 passes for 771 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions, with a passer rating of 121.6 or higher in all three contests, all coming against Arizona defenses that ranked seventh or better in the NFL in points allowed.

The Seahawks also have held Arizona to a combined 87 yards rushing in the three victories in Glendale. They jumped out to early leads in each, having outscored the Cardinals a combined 61-17 in the first half.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll seemed stumped for a reason for his team’s dominance in Arizona, pointing mostly to the large contingent of Seattle fans that usually attends, while noting he knows the Cardinals are “aware of it, as well.’’

The Seahawks then will hope for a return to a more normal in Arizona on Sunday in a season that has seen more than its share of the unusual.

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