With the Minnesota Vikings knocking off the Green Bay Packers, a win over the Seattle Seahawks would see the Arizona Cardinals reclaim their seat at the summit of the NFC. And the Cardinals did so in a fashion befitting the crown. The Cardinals were dominant against the Seahawks, who, at 3-7, look to be a shell of the team they have been over the last decade. The win not only saw Arizona once again become the NFC’s top seed but also saw the team eclipse their win total of eight from last year, doing so in only 11 weeks.
The Cardinals were dominant, and the 23-13 scoreline does not actually do their performance justice; they were far more efficient than a ten-point margin of victory. If not for Matt Prater missing two field goals and an extra point, albeit with a stand-in long snapper, then the Cardinals would have hit that 30-point mark that has been such a symbol of their consistency this season. But the Cardinals won, the Seahawks are fading, and Colt McCoy was very, very good.
Arizona Cardinals Week 11 Win Has Them Atop the NFC Once Again
Game Plan Helped Colt McCoy’s Resurgence
Colt McCoy likes his wins with a loss in the middle. Against the San Francisco 49ers, McCoy was good, but against the Carolina Panthers, he was poor. After a down week, like the rest of the team, McCoy returned to form against Seattle. A pass-heavy game plan reflected Kliff Kingsbury‘s belief in his backup quarterback; McCoy threw the ball 44 times, with 35 completions, 328 yards, and two touchdowns. Despite his horrendous display against Carolina, McCoy repaid Kingsbury’s faith and played like a starting quarterback. As a result, the Cardinals were dominant in the air against a Seattle side missing their top cornerbacks.
Kingsbury has to be in the running for Coach of the Year at this point. Against Seattle, he coached to win, as the Cardinals threw the ball over 40 times with a backup quarterback. He even got McCoy moving around a bit and McCoy did some admirable Kyler Murray impressions to avoid sacks, but Kingsbury has been confident in McCoy’s ability to move around, and he utilized it against Seattle. He noted that McCoy “can roll a little bit”, and added that the 11-yard quarterback keeper on the last touchdown drive has been in his back pocket since last week. Just as Murray proved he can perform without his head coach, Kingsbury proved he can win without Murray.
Against the Seahawks, McCoy managed the game well, executed Kingsbury’s game plan, and actually helped the Cardinals to a win. With Arizona heading into the bye week, and the expectation being that Murray will return following the break, McCoy’s short stint as Arizona’s starting quarterback looks to be coming to an end. The Carolina loss caused some kneejerk reactions, but a 2-1 record with McCoy is an excellent result. In the early parts of the season, McCoy was lauded for his role as a mentor for Murray, but now his legacy with the Cardinals should also recognize his role as a player.
Cardinals Were Dominant On Offense and Demonstrated Depth of Offensive Arsenal
Doubts about McCoy after his showing against the Panthers led many to predict a big day for James Conner against the Seahawks. Instead, Arizona used Conner in a role not dissimilar to the one he played in the early parts of the season; the efficiency of Arizona’s passing game saw Conner deployed and thriving in the short-yardage situations he was ostensibly signed to exploit. He got his on Sunday, getting starter carries, with 21 on the day. Conner’s 62 yards and touchdown might not be his most impressive performance as Arizona’s bell cow, but he got involved in the passing game and helped the Cardinals to convert a few key third and fourth downs. He also strengthened his lead as the NFL’s scoring leader with another touchdown. McCoy deservedly drew much of the praise, but Conner did his bit too.
A team having their starting quarterback standing on the sideline is made infinitely worse when their star wideout is standing right next to him, but McCoy more than made do without DeAndre Hopkins to lean on. Against the Seahawks, the Cardinals got some prime play out of apparent has-beens A.J. Green and Zach Ertz. Green clearly benefitted from having a full week of practice with McCoy, after Covid disrupted their preparations for Carolina, and it was clear that McCoy trusted Green to exploit an understaffed Seattle secondary. Meanwhile, Ertz led the team in yards and was the recipient of both touchdown passes from McCoy. Hopkins’ replacement Antoine Wesley also had four catches.
Again, Kingsbury did a stellar job of maintaining the dynamism of Arizona’s offense, thanks in part to his heavy use of Rondale Moore; the electrifying rookie led the team with 11 receptions on Sunday. Moore continues to be one of the key factors in unlocking the truly innovative aspects of Kingsbury’s system. Hopkins should return after the bye, but he will re-join a room of receivers who are more than capable. But a team can never have too many weapons. And the Cardinals once again have the best record in the league.