By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks are storming into the postseason with a rousing victory over the Arizona team that had dethroned them as NFC West champions.
Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes in a second-quarter outburst, and the Seahawks emphatically snapped the Cardinals’ nine-game winning streak in a 36-6 rout Sunday.
“Absolutely, this was a statement,” the Seahawks’ Christine Michael said.
Playing on the same field where they lost a Super Bowl heartbreaker last February, the Seahawks (10-6) dominated from their opening possession and led 30-6 at the half.
“It was just us playing our style of football,” Seattle’s Richard Sherman. “I think sometimes people forget who we are.”
It was the most one-sided loss for Arizona in coach Bruce Arians’ three seasons in the desert, and a sour end to the regular season for the Cardinals (13-3), who had clinched the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye.
“This was a valuable lesson today,” Arians said. “We could see it coming all week. Coaches, players, everybody fell into that reading the press clippings that were anointing us Super Bowl champs. It’s a nice wakeup call. We got beaten in every phase of the game.”
Tyler Lockett set up three of Seattle’s four first-half touchdowns with punt returns of 66 and 42 yards, and a 36-yard reception.
Seattle will play at either Washington or Minnesota in the wild-card round next weekend, depending on the outcome of Sunday night’s game between the Vikings and Green Bay.
“These guys are confident that we can go wherever we got to go,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We still don’t know, but it isn’t going to matter.”
Arizona’s Carson Palmer, who broke the franchise’s single-season record for passing yards, did not play in the second half. Wilson sat out the fourth quarter.
Seattle improved to 3-0 at Arizona since Arians became the Cardinals’ coach. Arizona beat the Seahawks in Seattle 39-32 on Nov. 15.
The Cardinals emphasized they have two weeks to straighten things out and get back to playing the way they did in a 38-8 rout of Green Bay last week.
“We’re not in any way panicking or freaking out,” Palmer said.
Michael rushed 17 times for 102 yards, including a 44-yarder on Seattle’s first touchdown drive.
Wilson, repeatedly burning the Cardinals with misdirection plays, completed 19 of 28 passes for 197 yards. In a span of 3 minutes, 54 seconds, he threw TD passes of 7 yards to Will Tukuafu, 8 yards to Chase Coffman, and 24 yards to Jerome Kearse.
Tukuafu’s touchdown was his first reception of the season.
“That’s a playoff football team, one that’s been to the Super Bowl over the last two years,” Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald said. “So we understand what we’re going to be dealing with, the kind of competition it’s going to be, and we have to raise our level of play, plain and simple.”
Wilson became the first player in NFL history with at least 4,000 yards passing, 30 touchdown passes and 500 yards rushing.
Arizona’s lone score came when Palmer threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald. For the fifth time this season, Chandler Catanzaro missed the conversion kick and Seattle led 10-6.
Then came the Seahawks’ deluge.
Wilson threw 36 yards to Lockett in an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with the touchdown toss to the fullback Tukuafu. Lockett’s 66-yard punt return, plus a facemask penalty against the Cardinals on the play, led to the touchdown pass to the third-string tight end Coffman.
Lockett’s 42-yard run set up Wilson’s touchdown pass to Kearse that made it 30-6 with 2:06 left in the half.
Seattle’s first punt came with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
Are the Cardinals concerned about possibly having to face the Seahawks in the playoffs?
“They should be concerned,” Sherman said.