Home USA News Genea Smith, Kenneth Walker sent the Seahawks past the Cardinals 31-21

Genea Smith, Kenneth Walker sent the Seahawks past the Cardinals 31-21

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Gene Smith turned to his teammates on the offensive sideline. He tapped his chest.

“It’s on me,” the quarterback told them. “I’ll take it. I’ll own it. And I’ll move on from it.”

He just threw the worst pass of his breakout season, a soft throw too low on a screen. Arizona’s Zaven Collins scooped it up and ran with it into the end zone for an easy interception. Smith gave the Seahawks the lead to the last-place Cardinals. For the first time this season, the game against Smith was really tough.

Smith’s response was similar to his season.

Brilliant.

He made nine of his next 11 shots. He made seven consecutive third downs. He ran twice, consecutively, for 31 yards — including a 19-yarder on third-and-12 after rookie right tackle Abe Lucas cleared the lane by pushing Arizona’s Marcus Golden past him.

Smith’s 12-yard pass to Tyler Lockett on third-and-12 put Seattle through midfield. Smith’s 9-yard toss to Lockett’s chest to Bud Baker put the Seahawks back in front.

His second straight scoring drive in 13 games, capped by rookie Kenneth Walker’s 1-yard touchdown run, put the Seahawks up 24-14. It also revived Smith and Seattle’s remarkable season in their fourth straight victory Sunday, 31-21 over the Cardinals at Sawham Stadium.

Smith had his thoughts after his interception: “Next play.

“After all I’ve been through, I’m not fazed by something like that.”

Coach Pete Carroll was still smiling at the reaction from Smith and his team 30 minutes after the game ended.

“We saw how we responded,” Carroll said. “We turned the ball over, they scored a touchdown.

“And our guys just GOT at it. And we finished the game the way we dreamed of finishing it.”

After those scrapped Seahawks improved to 6-3 and remained in No. 1 atop the NFC West, the bass was so loud it made the walls of the visiting locker room shake.

Bruce Irvin looked back at the smiles, the laughs, the chants and the buzz of this Seattle team that wasn’t meant to be this season after trading Russell Wilson and destroying Bobby Wagner. The 35-year-old quarterback and 2013 Super Bowl champion Seahawks smiled.

“A lot of people said it was a rebuilding year,” Irwin said.

“This year is not like a rebuild.”

Arizona (3-6) pulled within 24-21 with 3:32 left on Murray’s touchdown pass to Zach Ertz.

But on the next scrimmage, Smith calmly rolled away immediately under pressure and passed to Noah Fent. Fant went around the corner, past a block from fellow tight end Colby Parkinson, and scampered 51 yards.

It was Smith’s 10th completion on 12 passes for 123 yards since the interception. That led to Walker’s fourth-quarter touchdown to give the Seahawks a 31-21 lead.

Immediately following the interception, Smith was 7 for 7 on third down conversions. The NFL’s canned backup has also rushed for 31 yards twice in the past seven seasons and four teams before that. He managed three touchdowns. Seattle fell from 14-10 to a 31-21 lead.

“What he models for our team and what our whole team has come to is through all our ups and downs and lumps to just keep playing. And that’s exactly what he did,” Fant said of Smith.

“He was the first one to come to the sidelines and say, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ We are doing well. We’re going to be fine…we’re going to win this game.”

“We all took it very well. It is very good to have such a leader.”

It was exactly the answer that vindicates the 32-year-old Smith new, rich contract in addition to the seven straight one-year deals he’s had as a full-time NFL backup.

Until now.

Smith approached the same teammates on the sideline he had apologized to two drives earlier. He tapped their helmets and backs to congratulate them.

“It’s how you respond,” Smith said. “I think we responded really well as a team, going on three straight runs with a touchdown. Long rides, hard rides. Everyone in the stadium knew the scale of these drives. And when we go out there and score points, get a touchdown, that shows you what kind of team we are — and what kind of team we can be.”

Smith completed 26 of 34 passes for 275 yards and touchdowns to Lockett and D.C. Metcalf. It was Smith’s sixth game this season with at least 23 passes and seventh with at least two TD passes.

“You see how he answered the call, he got us to a touchdown,” Metcalf said of Smith, just after throwing his fourth interception against his career-high 15 touchdown passes this season.

“It just shows you the type of person, the type of quarterback we have.”

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Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) makes a touchdown catch as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Hamilton (33) defends during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Glendale, Arizona. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis) Jeff Lewis AP

Walker rushed 26 times for 109 yards, with his sixth and seventh rushing touchdowns since filling in for the injured Rashaad Penny, restoring Seattle’s lead from 4 1/2 games ago.

Senior linebacker Ucheno Nwosu continued his big game on defense with one of three sacks of Kyler Murray as Seattle largely contained Arizona’s offense for the second time in four games.

And the first-place Seahawks (6-3) will not fly to Germany this week to play against Tom Brady and Tampa Bay in Munich. They understand that they can win at their best – and now that they are far from their best results.

“When you go out and see Geno do something like that, it just shows the theme of this team, the heartbeat of this team,” Ryan Neal said (again) on the big safety play.

“It’s us against the world.”

Bruce Irwin, Revitalized

Two days after the details like was grateful to him for this chance to end his career his way, Irvin went on to use his third game with Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.

The 11-year veteran linebacker again played most of the defensive snaps while Darrell Taylor was again out injured. Late in the third quarter, Carroll, a first-round pick out of Seattle in 2012, used a spin to get inside his blocker — and lunged at Murray for a sack. It spoiled Arizona’s 17-14 success at the Cardinals.

It was Irvin’s first sack since December 22, 2019. It was when he played for Carolina in Indianapolis.

“I had two in that game. …It’s been a minute, Irwin said, grinning again. “Jacoby Brissett.

“Yeah, it’s a great day, man. And we won.”

Ryan Neal. Again.

Seahawks safety Neal made another big play for his defense. That kept Seattle in the third quarter.

The Seahawks appeared to sack Murray on fourth-and-4 at the Seattle 40-yard line with 25 seconds left in the first half. The elusive defender ran into the open field, past the line to win. Murray had a loose hold on the ball as he ran to the Seahawks 25. Neal ran up and knocked the ball out.

Teammate Josh Jones recovered the fumble at Seattle’s 23. Instead of at least scoring a tying field goal, the Cardinals fell behind 10-7.

AP22310816261306.jpg
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Kyler Murray (1) fumbles after being hit by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Ryan Neal (26) during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Arizona, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. The Seahawks recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Ross D. Franklin AP

In Week 5 in New Orleans, Neal replaced Jones as the starting strong guard. Neal recaptured what he did in 2021 as a sixth down defense: make sure to get stops in key situations, often on third downs that don’t reach the line to win.

Jones played sparingly early in Sunday’s game at halfback. The Seahawks started the game with nickel back Kobe Bryant on the field for nearly all of Arizona’s nine plays until the first-quarter touchdown. After that, Seattle went 3-4 over the next five plays and most of the rest of the first half.

The Cardinals hadn’t scored since before Smith’s interception in the third quarter.

From Division III to the NFL

Late in the second quarter, practice squad linebacker Joshua Onujiogu lined up on the right side of the defense. Onujiogu dropped into coverage and then ran up the field to tackle the Cardinals, striking out Eno Benjamin after the catch.

It was the first NFL game for the 24-year-old undrafted free agent, who completed his journey from Division III Massachusetts Framingham, his home state.

Onujiogu started the second attack in defense in the second half and was close to Murray after Nwosu lost.

It was Nwosu’s sixth sack of the season, a new career high for the fifth-year Seattle veteran who signed with the Chargers before this season.

The Seahawks placed Onujioga off their practice squad on Saturday to add depth. Taylor missed another game with a groin injury.

Onujiogu, an all-region defensive end at Framingham State, was one of two Division III college players to sign with an NFL team after the draft this spring.

This story was originally published November 6, 2022 4:12 p.m.

Greg Bell is a Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019, he was named the Washington State Sports Journalist of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. He began covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season in 2005. In the past, he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the US Army, so he might ask you to give it up and give him a 10.

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