Beware NFL, the Seahawks may be peaking at just the right time.
It was hard to come to any other conclusion Sunday as the Seahawks thoroughly dominated the Arizona Cardinals, winning 36-6 based on terrific efforts from the offense, defense and special teams, alike.
Russell Wilson continued his torrid play, tossing three touchdowns in the first half to help Seattle take a 30-6 lead into the break.
Wilson certainly had plenty of help.
A week after the Seahawks' pass rush failed to rattle Case Keenum and the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin (among others) dominated the line of scrimmage in Arizona, throwing off Carson Palmer's rhythm and bottling up splashy rookie running back David Johnson.
Palmer's receivers struggled to find openings against a Seattle secondary playing its best football of the year. Earl Thomas recorded his team-leading fifth interception and contributed to another when Jeremy Lane picked off Palmer after Seattle's All-Pro free safety got tangled up with Larry Fitzgerald. DeShawn Shead recorded Seattle's third interception of the game in the fourth quarter after Arizona had replaced Palmer with Drew Stanton.
This was a stark contrast to Seattle's passing attack which was again led by Doug Baldwin (five catches for 46 yards) but saw its touchdowns caught by Jermaine Kearse, fullback Will Tukuafu and even reserve tight end Chase Coffman, who was signed off the street only a few weeks ago.
Perhaps the most impressive individual effort for the Seahawks was turned in by rookie Pro Bowl returner Tyler Lockett, who consistently gave Seattle terrific field position with four returns for 139 yards.
Despite Alvin Bailey (LT) and rookie Mark Glowinski (RG) starting in place of Okung and Sweezy along the line of scrimmage, Seattle's offensive line held up well, providing a clean pocket for Wilson to throw from and clean running lanes for Christine Michael, who rushed for a career-high 102 yards on 17 carries.
While the Seahawks re-shuffled offensive line certainly plenty of praise for the resounding win, give credit to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and running game coordinator Tom Cable for a terrific game plan designed to get the ball out of Wilson's hands quickly.
Fortunately for both playoff-bound teams, there didn't appear to be any new injuries suffered in this game with the Cardinals lifting Palmer and the Seahawks subbing out Wilson, Richard Sherman and Bennett (among others) down the stretch to preserve them for the playoff run.
By virtue of the Vikings win Sunday over the Packers, the Seahawks (10-6) will be heading back to Minnesota in the wild card round with kickoff set for 10:05 (Pacific Time) Sunday.