NFC playoff picture gets a huge jolt as Seahawks upset by Cardinals on final play


The Seattle Seahawks have been the model of consistency the past few years. This season? Not even close.

The Seahawks took another bad loss, this time 34-31 at home to an Arizona Cardinals team that was 5-8-1 coming in. The Seahawks were lethargic most of the game, allowed the Cardinals to hit some big plays in the passing game (that Earl Thomas injury has been as harmful as feared) and even when the Seahawks had an unbelievable rally at the end, they found a way to lose as time expired.

As a result, the Seahawks might lose a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

The Seahawks trailed 31-18 with a few minutes left. Jimmy Graham got a 37-yard touchdown from Wilson to give the Seahawks some hope. Then the Cardinals went three-and-out, and Seattle had good field position with more than two minutes to go. Doug Baldwin gained 31 yards on a catch to get the Seahawks inside the red zone. Paul Richardson picked up a huge third-down conversion and then scored a 5-yard touchdown on the next play.

And then Steven Hauschka missed the extra point. The snap was a little high and the Cardinals got some pressure from Hauschka’s right, but he just hooked the kick wide left. The game remained tied 31-31.

The Cardinals came right back downfield after that miss for the winning points. Carson Palmer hit do-everything running back David Johnson down the sideline for a 29-yard gain into field-goal range. That set up Chandler Catanzaro, who hit a walk-off, 43-yard field goal for Arizona.

With the Seahawks’ loss, the best Seattle can finish is 10-5-1. The Atlanta Falcons are 10-5. The Detroit Lions are 9-5 with two games to go. The Seahawks, who have already clinched the division title, could finish as the No. 4 seed in the NFC. Saturday’s loss means they need help to get a first-round bye. They came into Saturday’s game needing to simply win their final two games to be the NFC’s No. 2 seed and get a bye, and they were favored by more than a touchdown against the Cardinals and will be massive favorites over the San Francisco 49ers next week. Needless to say, Saturday was a potentially devastating loss for Seattle.

Had the Seahawks won their final two games, they would have needed to win one home game, as the No. 2 seed, to advance to the NFC championship game. Instead, the Seahawks could be on the road in the divisional round – assuming they win their first playoff game – unless they win next week and get some help.

The Cardinals don’t have much to play for, but they put a big dent in Seattle’s championship hopes. And they might have changed the entire NFC playoff picture.