Like a dented truck on the side of the road with its hood up and smoke billowing, the Seattle Seahawks’ offense had sputtered most of the season.
But in Sunday’s 36-18 victory over Arizona, Seattle’s offense purred like a finely tuned Ferrari.
The Seahawks finished with 490 yards, their most since a Dec. 30, 2007, game at Atlanta.
And a lot of those yards came in chunks. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates emphasized the need for Seattle receivers to make more explosive plays, and they responded.
Prior to Sunday, Seattle had 10 passing plays of 25 yards or more, putting it in the bottom third of the league. The Seahawks had five such plays against the Cardinals.
Coach Pete Carroll said better pass protection allowed his team to take more shots down the field.
“The fact that we believed in our pass protection is really the key to all this,” he said. “We believe we could do a good job against these guys and that was really the factor that allowed us to go after them and throw the ball as much as we did.”
Receiver Deon Butler, who had a 63-yard reception for a score, agreed.
“That’s a great feeling to be able to take deep shots like that,” Butler said. “We talk in our (receiver) room all the time about being able to do stuff like that. Every week we’re watching highlights and guys are just bombing people.”
Center Chris Spencer said the offensive line, which had given up 22 sacks this season, was determined to do a better job of protecting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was sacked once Sunday.
“We just had to take more pride in it,” Spencer said. “And I think that gave us the confidence we needed, knowing that we’re all in this together. It’s not just one person. When things go wrong, it’s all of us.”
No play was more surprising than the 44-yard pass play to blocking tight end Chris Baker early in the second quarter to set up one of Olindo Mare’s five field goals.
“Basically it was like you do at recess, everybody go long,” Hasselbeck said. “That’s basically what the play was, but we tried to use a formation we thought would help us. It worked.”
CURRY SHOWS UP.
Linebacker Aaron Curry had his best game of the season, finishing with a team-high seven tackles and two sacks. The Seahawks had five sacks, including two by defensive end Chris Clemons, raising his team-leading total to 7.5.
Curry, in his second-year out of Wake Forest, was the most active he’s been all season, and even saw time again at defensive tackle in passing situations.
“The energy on the field felt awesome,” Curry said. “You could just tell at any moment somebody was willing to make a play. … It was a combination of energy, and (defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) calling calls at the perfect time. He was putting everybody in a position where you just had to beat one person. And I think in our defense that’s to our advantage.
Reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was disappointed with his performance last week against the New York Giants, but he got an opportunity to redeem himself when Hasselbeck went down with a wrist injury just before halftime. And Whitehurst responded, leading the Seahawks on a scoring drive in the second half. But he also threw his third interception of the season, a throw intended for Ben Obomanu that cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie picked off. “I think we moved the ball,” Whitehurst said. “Obviously there was one bad one in there. But you’re able to put last week behind you a little bit when you’re able to contribute, for sure.” … Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock was arrested on suspicion of DUI early Saturday morning in Seattle, according to Washington State Patrol. According to the report, Brock was pulled over early Saturday morning on NE 45th Street over Interstate 5. He was not booked and released by the arresting officer. Brock played Sunday but was not in the locker room when it was opened to the media. … Tacoma native Lawyer Milloy celebrated his 37th birthday Sunday with his 21st career sack.