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Seahawks optimistic despite OT loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks are 7-9 again after a heartbreaker in the desert.

Last year, that record was good enough to win the weak NFC West. This year, it just means the season is over.

Despite the 23-20 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Seahawks believe they are a better team than they were a year ago, and are headed in the right direction.

"Regardless of what happened today, I'm very clear and very charged about where we are going, without question," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

The Seahawks will be a tough, run-oriented team, he said, but that approach wasn't enough to derail the Cardinals in a matchup of teams that had experienced turnarounds after awful starts to the season. Arizona began 1-6, then finished 7-2 to go 8-8. Seattle started 2-6 and won five of its final eight.

"We know we have a better team this year," Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. "We are young, but the experience that we got this year and all the plays we made we can build on that next year."

Seattle trailed 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, then rallied to tie it and send it into overtime. The Seahawks had the first chance after winning the OT coin toss, but they couldn't move the ball, then Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald made a pair of spectacular catches to set up the 28-yard field goal that gave Arizona the win.

"This game was kind of typical of our overall season," said quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who completed his first year at the controls for Seattle. "We kind of got off to a slow start and picked it up during the second half."

While Carroll said the Seahawks are a running team, they can look to a future with a talented young receiver in rookie Ricardo Lockette, whose 61-yard TD catch tied it at 20 midway through the fourth quarter.

"His upside is through the roof," Jackson said. "He can run, he can catch. He has ball skills to make a bunch of big-time catches. It's just about getting him to understand the NFL game."

The Seahawks played their first overtime game since the second week of the 2008 season. Arizona played its fourth in the last nine weeks. All four were at home, and the Cardinals won every one of them.

Fitzgerald made a leaping grab against two defenders early in the winning drive for a 26-yard gain, but he saved the best for last, a diving, one-handed catch for 8 yards that got the team within field-goal range and eventually set up the deciding score.

"I actually thought it was too far," quarterback John Skelton said of his throw. "I just saw his arm stick out, stick it, and stick the landing. We come to expect that from Larry. It's almost like it's not even a shocker anymore because he does it so often."

Skelton didn't mention it, but he fainted in the locker room before the game after getting fluid drained from a knee.

"Pregame, he scared us all. He fell out and he had a little fainting issue in the locker room," Fitzgerald said. "We were all nervous about him being able to play today and he fought through that and was able to go out there and perform and get our team a win. That shows the kind of toughness he has."

Seattle (7-9) had rallied to tie it after trailing 20-10 early in the fourth quarter.

Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 149 yards after one reception for 2 yards in the first half. It was his 32nd career 100-yard receiving game, sixth this season.

"The performance of Larry Fitzgerald, he is an incredible football player," Carroll said. "He is as good as you can get in this game and he showed it. I just marvel at the things he does. He has done it before and he did it again and it proves who he is."

Fitzgerald joined Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison as the only players to top 1,400 yards receiving in four seasons.

Skelton completed 22 of 40 for 271 yards and a touchdown with one interception for Arizona. Jackson was 21 of 35 for 222 yards and a touchdown with one pick for the Seahawks.

Arizona's Patrick Peterson, who made the Pro Bowl on special teams as a rookie, returned a punt 42 yards to set up a field goal, then blocked Steven Hauschka's 24-yard field-goal attempt. It was the NFL-leading fifth blocked field goal for the Cardinals, two by Peterson.

Seattle won the toss heading into overtime, and Leon Washington's 47-yard kickoff return gave the Seahawks the ball at their own 40, but they failed to move it and had to punt.

Down 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, Seattle tied with a pair of big plays by two rookies, Richard Sherman and Lockette. First, Sherman stepped in front of intended receiver Andre Roberts for an interception that set up a chip shot field goal by Hauschka, then Jackson lofted the long pass to Lockette, who beat cornerback Marshay Green, and it was 20-20 with 7:47 remaining. Green had just been activated from the practice squad Saturday.

Notes: Marshawn Lynch's string of 11 straight games with a touchdown came to an end. ... Peterson set an NFL rookie record for punt return yards (699), the second-most of any player in league history. ... Seattle's Doug Baldwin became the first undrafted rookie free agent to lead his team in receptions and yards receiving since Bill Groman did it for the Houston Oilers in 1960. ... The University of Phoenix Stadium roof was closed even though it was sunny and 83 degrees outside. ... The stadium already had extra seats installed for Monday night's Fiesta Bowl matchup between Oklahoma State and Stanford.

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