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Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks defense shuts out Cardinals in second half, helps overcome offensive mistakes in 20-10 win

Devon Witherspoon of the Seattle Seahawks tackles Rondale Moore of the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter of the game at Lumen Field on Sunday in Seattle.  (Getty Images)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – In one of the more unartful games in recent Seahawks history, there was at least one moment of unquestioned beauty.

Or as coach Pete Carroll called it: “A frickin’ circus grab.”

And that play – Jake Bobo’s two-toe-tap near the back of the end zone – as well as Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s first touchdown of his career, combined with a stout defense to prove enough to overcome three turnovers and lift Seattle to a 20-10 win over Arizona at Lumen Field.

The three turnovers were as many as Seattle had combined in its first five games and were as many as the Seahawks have had in any game since the second contest of the 2022 season.

Arizona, meanwhile, didn’t have any, giving Seattle about as hard of a degree of difficulty to win a game as there can be.

“It’s so hard to win it, minus-3 in a game,” Carroll said.

In fact, Seattle hadn’t done so since one of the most memorable games in team history – the 2014 NFC title game win over Green Bay when the Seahawks prevailed despite losing five turnovers to the Packers’ two.

But they got it done due to a defense that allowed just 249 yards overall and holding Arizona to 26 yards or fewer on 10 of its 11 drives.

And they won because they got just enough done on offense, highlighted by Bobo’s 18-yard TD catch from Geno Smith with 4:41 to go in the second quarter that put Seattle ahead for good, 14-10.

Bobo, who took on an increased role with DK Metcalf out with rib and hip injuries, lined up wide right in man coverage against Arizona cornerback Starling Thomas V on a play which called for him to do a double move.

Bobo did but didn’t get a lot of separation. Smith threw it to him anyway, and with Thomas draped all over him, Bobo somehow snared the ball while getting his left foot down with about 12 inches to spare, and then dragging his right just as he went out of bounds.

Only, the officials didn’t initially see it that way, ruling it incomplete.

As Bobo got up off the turf, he asked field judge Trawick Boger if it was close.

“He said ‘real close,’ ” Bobo recalled.

As assistant coaches Carl Smith and Nate Carroll got additional looks at the replay in the press box, they implored Carroll to throw his challenge flag.

“I had Nate and Carl screaming in my ear to challenge it right down to the end of it,” Carroll said.

Finally, he did to the delight of the 68,781 at Lumen Field and the rest of the team.

“I couldn’t tell,” Carroll said. “We saw it on the sidelines, saw what they showed on the board. I was just trying to evaluate whether or not they’d give us a shot to really look at that thing. They gave it great consideration. Right now it’s an eyelash between him making it and not making it. But looked like the right call. That’s why we challenged it. We went for it.”

Bobo could do nothing but hope as the officials examined the replay.

“Just give it to me,” he said he was thinking.

Finally, they did, the officials overturning the ruling awarding Bobo the second TD of his NFL career.

“Gosh, it was a great throw and great catch under duress and the whole thing,” Carroll said. “It was a fantastic play.”

Seattle, though, scored only six more points the rest of the way on two Jason Myers field goals, with a Cardinals team that fell to 1-6 and was as much as a nine-point favorite hanging around until the last two minutes. This was due largely to two turnovers by Smith in the second half – an interception at the 1-yard line and a fumbled snap – and the Seahawks inability to get score after a first-and-goal at the 1 on their first drive of the second half.

Smith now has three interceptions in the last two games. Sunday, he tried to roll to his left and hit Bobo at the goal line only to instead toss it to Arizona’s Garrett Williams. Smith said his arm got hit changing the trajectory of the ball.

But Carroll said he shouldn’t have tried to throw.

“He’s sick about it,” Carroll said. “He should have just eaten the football or run with the football right there. That’s what the options are.”

In the fourth quarter, Smith simply fumbled a snap when the team was trying to go up-tempo.

“Quick on the snap, and we didn’t handle it right,” Carroll said.

Said Smith: “That can’t happen putting our defense in tough situations. Luckily we have a great defense that continues to go out there and show us that no matter where the situation is or what it is, they have backbone.”

Indeed, the defense bailed out the offense time and again, allowing only three points off the three turnovers (including a DeeJay Dallas fumbled punt in the first quarter).

The defense has now allowed just 30 points in the last three games and is allowing just 4.7 yards per play for the season, far below the 5.5 of last season. That includes holding each of the last three foes to 4.0 yards or less.

That two of those three teams – the Giants and Bengals – entered the weekend ranked among the bottom four in total offense can’t be ignored. Neither can Arizona being in full rebuild mode and going with backup QB Joshua Dobbs, who is now 1-8 in his career as a starter.

Far tougher tests, to put it simply, are in the offing.

But the Seahawks also feel they are building something. The secondary is thriving with the return of Jamal Adams and emergence of rookie Devon Witherspoon, allowing the Seahawks to play much of the game in nickel and dime formations.

Witherspoon continued his hard-hitting, playmaking ways throughout and might have had another Player of the Week type of performance had not a sack and an interception been negated by penalties away from the play.

“The Spoon was out there,” Carroll said. “Two great plays, another great hit, three great plays in the game. Unfortunately, the penalties take those plays away. But you know he’s out there.”

It left Adams feeling giddy following what was his second full game back following the torn quad muscle that cost him all but one game of the 2022 season.

“If we keep that up, the sky is the limit,” Adams said of how the defense is coming together.

Just how high, he was asked?

“The highest of the highs,” he said. “A Super Bowl, that’s our goal. But one game at a time. That’s our approach. We don’t look forward, we don’t look in the past. We just try to keep our head down, fix whatever our mistakes we need to fix and continue at it. We still left a lot of things on the table.”

But Sunday, they ended up eating well enough anyway.