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Seahawks dominate Cardinals in statement game

The (10-6) Seattle Seahawks authored one of their most impressive performances of the year in a postseason tune-up, blowing out the first-place (13-3) Arizona Cardinals in a 36-6 victory. Here's what you need to know:

  1. This was a statement game by the two-time defending NFC champions. The Seahawks were intent to avoid a two-game skid entering the playoffs and showed more focus than the NFC West champions. They dominated the line of scrimmage, had their way with Arizona's secondary and ran circles around the Cardinals' special teams units. Although the defense hasn't been lights out this year, they finished a fourth consecutive season with the fewest points allowed in the NFL.
  1. Despite Bruce Arians' insistence that the Cardinals were approaching this matchup as if it was "Game 1 of the season," his team played as if nothing was on the line. Carson Palmer had his first truly bad game of the season. His wide receivers dropped passes. The special teams unit missed a slew of tackles. The secondary appeared overmatched without Tyrann Mathieu. Arians told FOX's Erin Andrews at halftime that he wouldn't pull any of his starters except Palmer because he wanted to see more effort the rest of the way. This was a sloppy performance -- and the first time all season that Arizona was severely outplayed.

Arians stated after the game that this was a valuable lesson for players and coaches reading the press clippings all week. This game film will give him plenty of ammo as he motivates and re-focuses the troops for the next two weeks.

  1. Russell Wilson has rivaled Cam Newton as the NFL's best player since the last time these two teams met in Week 10. He leads the league with 24 touchdowns versus just one interception during that span, finishing with a 110.1 passer rating -- the 15th best figure in history. He became the first player ever to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns while also running for 500 yards. Along the way, he set franchise records for touchdown passes (34) and passing yards (4,024). Wilson's offense is peaking at the ideal time. Nobody wants to face this buzzsaw in January.
  1. Pro Bowl return specialist Tyler Lockett had punt returns of 66, 49 and 42 yards in the second quarter alone, setting the franchise mark for most punt-return yards (139) in a game. His 1,915 all-purpose yards are the most by any rookie in Seahawks history. It will be interesting to see if he gets love from Offensive Rookie of the Year voters.
  1. Pete Carroll suggested last week that Marshawn Lynch should return from abdominal surgery for the Wild Card round of the playoffs. If he's rusty, though, the Seahawks can be confident in Christine Michael as an alternative. Coaches have praised Michael's renewed commitment, and he showed an impressive blend of power and speed en route to 102 yards on Sunday.
  1. The Seahawks now travel to Minneapolis for a wild-card rematch after the Vikings won 20-13 in Lambeau on Sunday night.
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