Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Seahawks Still Rule the NFC West

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Seahawks Still Rule the NFC West

Article excerpt

SEATTLE

It was the worst play-call in Super Bowl history. Down 28-24 to New England, the Seahawks needed 1 yard to finish off back-to-back Super Bowl victories and cement the team's legacy as one of the best in league history. But instead of giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch, the best power back in the game, or allowing QB Russell Wilson to fake into the line and head for the perimeter, Seattle coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called a pass. A pass?

Patriots rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler came up with the play of his life, jumping the route and knocking Ricardo Lockette out of the way to make the interception with 20 seconds to play to secure the fourth league championship for New England.

Now, as they prepare for the 2015 season, how will the Seahawks respond? The Rams will be the first to find out as the teams square off Sunday at noon at the Edward Jones Dome to open 2015.

Seattle is a team with talent in all positions. The defense, even with standout safety Kam Chancellor involved in a contract holdout, is as strong and hungry as ever. And the offense added a new toy in the offseason, trading center Max Unger and a No. 1 draft pick to cap-strapped New Orleans for tight end Jimmy Graham, a three-time Pro Bowler who has averaged 77 catches and 10 touchdowns in his five- year NFL career.

Make no mistake, the Seahawks are the team to beat in the NFC West.

ARIZONA

The Cardinals had it rolling last season. Heading into their game with the visiting Rams they were 7-1 with a two-game lead on Seattle in the division. Then quarterback Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Arizona rallied to finish strong against the Rams and knocked off Detroit to push the record to 9-1. But when backup QB Drew Stanton also went down, so did the Cardinals' season. They lost four of their last six regular-season games and then, in their first playoff appearance since 2009, lost 27-16 in the wild-card round to 7-8-1 Carolina.

The Cardinals, who've won 21 games since Bruce Arians took over as head coach, should be as tough as ever on defense with linebackers coach James Bettcher taking over at defensive coordinator for Todd Bowles, the new head coach of the Jets. …

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