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Seahawks defense dominates first-place Cardinals

SEATTLE -- After 10 games, the defending champions needed to ask the difficult questions of each other. Most of all, whether the Seattle Seahawks were willing to put aside egos and get back in the NFC West race.

Led by a stingy Seattle defense reminiscent of a season ago and some more playmaking by Russell Wilson, the Seahawks handed the Arizona Cardinals their second loss of the season, 19-3 on Sunday.

"There was something that was missing," Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. "There was a subtle difference there and I feel like today we kind of found it. We talked about it throughout the week. Like I said, just trusting each other, respecting each other and going out there and playing for each other.

"I definitely felt it today."

Seattle won for the fourth time in five games, putting aside the missed chances from last week's loss in Kansas City and announcing the Seahawks aren't done by knocking off the league-leading Cardinals.

"Hard talks. Arguments. Like a family, and just like a family we came together," Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.

Wilson was sacked a season-high seven times by Arizona's ultra-aggressive defense and the assortment of blitzes they called to confuse and fluster the Seahawks quarterback. But when Seattle (7-4) needed a scoring drive, after squandering advantageous field position throughout the game, Wilson delivered.

Considering the circumstances, it was probably Seattle's most important drive of the season, capped when Wilson found backup tight end Cooper Helfet on a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the third quarter. It was a must-win for Seattle if it had any hopes of catching Arizona (9-2) in the NFC West.

"It's a special win because we did it together," Thomas said. "For the first time this year, I think we played for pure reasons, for no motives attached. That's what you love about this team: We can put our egos aside and we can admit when we're wrong. Guys stayed true."

Wilson finished 17 of 22 for 211 yards and added 73 yards rushing. He was at his best on the lone touchdown drive going 6 of 6 for 70 yards as Seattle moved the pocket and made him less vulnerable to the Arizona rush. He escaped the arms of Lorenzo Alexander for a possible sack and found Marshawn Lynch open for 23 yards. Wilson also ran for 15 yards on third-and-11 to get Seattle inside the Arizona 20.

"I think we let Russell Wilson be Russell Wilson on too many occasions," Arizona safety Tyrann Mathieu said.

Helping out Wilson was Seattle's defense that was finally healthy with the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Arizona was held to a season-low 204 total yards. A week after throwing for a career-high 306 yards, Drew Stanton was 14 of 26 for 149 and one interception.

Stanton was minus a weapon with Larry Fitzgerald inactive due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and wasn't helped when Jaron Brown dropped a touchdown late in the first half.

Fitzgerald sat for the first time in 110 games and for just the fifth time in his career due to the knee injury suffered last week against Detroit. John Brown continued his stellar rookie season with three catches for 61 yards, but Michael Floyd was shut out, defended much of the game by Richard Sherman.

Arizona saw its six-game win streak snapped.

"The second half, we had it right where we wanted it and we messed it up ourselves," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "Everything was self-inflicted. Give them credit, that's a good football team, but we self-inflicted a lot of things."

Seattle missed plenty of chances to make the victory even more of a blowout. Wilson had a possible 49-yard touchdown run in the first half brought back on a downfield holding call. Lynch was corralled by Arizona's third-best rush defense and held to 39 yards on 15 carries, making it 21 straight games the Cardinals have not allowed a 100-yard rusher.

Seattle started three first-half drives inside Arizona territory, but never found the end zone. Steven Hauschka hit on field goals of 27, 32, 52 in the first half and a 40-yarder in the third quarter after DeShawn Shead blocked Drew Butler's punt. It wasn't a designed punt block but Shead noticed the Cardinals had only 10 players on the field and rushed.

"Any way you look at it, it's a big opportunity for us in the division and a really nice performance," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "I loved the way the guys rallied to play together."

NOTES: Arizona DE Calais Campbell had a career-high three sacks. His previous best was 2½ in 2011 against Seattle. ... Lynch spoke at his locker after the game following his $100,000 fine by the league earlier this week for violating its media policy. Lynch gave mostly one-word answers. ... Recently signed TE Tony Moeaki led Seattle with four receptions.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

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