GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Geno Smith spent the first half of the season making game-winning plays that propelled the surprising Seahawks to the top of the NFC West.
His impressive response to a potentially losing game is proof that Seattle’s rise is no fluke.
Smith lost his mind for Seattle in the third quarter by throwing a pick-6but then led the offense on touchdown passes for 75, 81 and 85 yards on the stretch, pushing the Seahawks to a 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
“What a rebound, what a fantastic ending to this game,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
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Smith threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns while rookie Kenneth Walker III rushed for 109 yards and two scores. The Seahawks have won four straight games while the Cardinals (3-6) have lost four of five.
For a moment, the Seahawks seemed to be in trouble. The Cardinals took a 14-10 lead in the third quarter when Zaven Collins returned a 30-yard interception for a touchdown.
Smith said all he could do was acknowledge Collins had a great game and then work on making amends.
“The NFL is full of guys like that making great plays,” Smith said. “Sometimes things are going to happen where the ball doesn’t bounce in your direction. It’s how you respond. I think we reacted well as a team.
“Going three consecutive practices, ending with touchdowns, it was long practices, difficult practices. Everyone in the stadium knew the magnitude of these workouts. For us to go down, get scores, get touchdowns, it shows the type of team we are.
Seattle took the lead for good late in the third quarter on Smith’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett. That capped off a 13-game, 75-yard drive.
The Seahawks extended their lead to 24-14 midway through the fourth. Smith led a 13-game, 81-yard walk that ended when Walker ran for a 1-yard score.
Walker — a second-round pick from Michigan State — has averaged more than 100 rushing yards over the past five games.
Seattle has fired Kyler Murray four times, including two by Uchenna Nwosu, and held the Cardinals to 262 total yards.
Arizona scored a late touchdown to go 24-21, but Seattle immediately responded with a 51-yard gain on a pass from Smith to Noah Fant, who caught the short throw and rumbled down the right sideline . Four plays later, Walker ran for a 5-yard score to cap the 85-yard run.
The Cardinals lost the first of a three-game streak to divisional opponents. Murray threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns, but lost a crucial second quarter fumble.
Collins gave the Cardinals some hope in the third quarter. Smith threw a short pass down the right side that was aimed at Walker, but Collins lost a block and jumped into the path of the throw, ripping the ball in the air and running towards the end zone.
But like all season, the Cardinals have been hurt by their own mistakes. They were called for 12 penalties and were plagued with missed passes and sloppy snaps.
“We’re hurting each other,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We have to give ourselves a chance. This self-inflicted thing is killing us.
Says Murray: “We just play bad football. It’s not winning football and it’s the result you will get when you do things like that.
The Seahawks led 10-7 at halftime. They took the lead early in the second quarter when Smith found DK Metcalf for a 4-yard touchdown. The Seahawks took a break in the previous game when cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. dropped a potential interception.
The Cardinals looked like they could score late in the first half, but Murray fumbled in a run when Seattle’s Ryan Neal hit the ball from behind. The Seahawks recovered.
It was Seattle’s 16th forced fumble of the season, which leads the NFL.
Murray hit DeAndre Hopkins for a 22-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter for a 7-3 lead. Hopkins made it to the end zone untouched thanks to a block from running back James Conner, who had missed the previous three games with a rib injury.
It was the first time this season the Cardinals had scored a touchdown on their first possession and it was their first touchdown in the first quarter.
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Seahawks: WR Marquise Goodwin (groin), LB Darrell Taylor (groin) and S Joey Blount (quad) were among the inactives. … LB Cullen Gillaspia (knee) was helped off the field in the second half and did not return.
Cardinals: C Rodney Hudson (knee), G Max Garcia (shoulder) and LB Dennis Gardeck (ankle) were among the inactives. … RG Will Hernandez (chest) left the game in the first quarter.
Seahawks: Travel to Munich, Germany, where they will face Tampa Bay next Sunday.
Cardinals: At the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
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