Beating the Falcons proved that Seattle can defeat a quality opponent. Atlanta is one of the two or three best teams in the NFC; the Seahawks showed they could play with them and prevail.
Beating the Cardinals wasn't a big deal, but the manner in which Seattle won the game was important. The Seahawks have been a front-running team incapable of closing the deal, even against inferior opponents. They hadn't even scored in the second half before Sunday.
But with 14 third-quarter points against the Cardinals, the Seahawks finally put away an opponent in the second half.
The defense set the tone with disruptive play from the tackle tandem of Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby. Defensive end Bryce Fisher dominated at times and helped knock Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner from the game with a groin injury. And free safety Ken Hamlin made his presence felt with physical play in the secondary.
Seattle made a point to get younger and more energetic on defense this season. The plan is working so far. Seattle's defensive intensity has been there every week.
"That's the great thing about playing with so many young guys," Fisher said. "It doesn't get old for Lofa (Tatupu) and LeRoy Hill and Tubbs. We feed off that."
Over the last two weeks, Seattle's defense showed it can handle teams that are one-dimensional (Atlanta) and overmatched (Arizona). The next step is to prove its mettle against a more physical offensive front in a hostile environment. Seattle gets that chance against the Redskins this week at FedEx Field.
"We just have to continue to get better," Darby said.
The Seahawks used a balanced offense and punishing defense to humiliate the Cardinals 37-12 on a sun-soaked day at Qwest Field. Shaun Alexander tied a franchise record (his own and Curt Warner's) with four rushing touchdowns in a single game, moving past Larry Csonka and Thurman Thomas on the NFL's all-time list, as Seattle controlled the game from start to finish.
Alexander carried 22 times for 140 yards. Matt Hasselbeck completed 21 of 30 passes for 242 yards, a dramatic improvement over his four-interception game at Arizona last season.
The Seahawks dominated so thoroughly that coach Mike Holmgren felt comfortable playing backup quarterback Seneca Wallace and backup running back Maurice Morris from the midway point of the fourth quarter. Wallace came through with a 42-yard bomb to Peter Warrick on a third-down play.
--WR Darrell Jackson dominated his matchup with Arizona CB Antrel Rolle. He caught eight passes for 140 yards, one week after putting up similar numbers against Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall. Jackson is stepping up his game this season.
--RB Shaun Alexander tied a franchise record with four rushing TDs as Seattle's ground game had its way with Arizona. The highlight for Alexander might have been a 45-yard run on which he did not score. Alexander reversed field and showed great speed in accelerating away from defenders.
--TE Jerramy Stevens made some tough catches over the middle against Arizona and paid the price more than once. He held onto the ball and helped keep the chains moving. Stevens' only slipup was a dropped pass.
--DE Bryce Fisher dominated his matchup with Cardinals RT Oliver Ross. Fisher got three hard shots on Cardinals QB Kurt Warner, helping to force Warner out of the game. One of those hits was good for a 9-yard sack.
--CB Marcus Trufant was backed by a strong pass rush Sunday, helping him take Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald out of the game for long stretches. The Cardinals simply couldn't get anything going downfield.
--CB Kelly Herndon suffered a concussion Sunday and missed part of the game.
--CB Andre Dyson became ill Sunday and missed most of the game, playing sparingly late.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck was efficient Sunday but did not throw any TD passes because RB Shaun Alexander was carrying the load. Hasselbeck gave way to backup QB Seneca Wallace in the final quarter as Seattle had the game wrapped up.
--WR Peter Warrick got deep for a 42-yard reception Sunday, his first as a Seahawk.