Seahawks show Cardinals what a Super Bowl team looks like, 35-6

Super Bowl will be in Arizona's home stadium, but Seattle looks far more likely to get there in 35-6 blowout

The Phoenix area is already preparing for February's Super Bowl, with tickers all over town counting down the days to the NFL's championship game.

But if the Arizona Cardinals hope to be there when the tickers hit zero, they have a lot of work to do. In getting blitzed by the Seattle Seahawks, 35-6, on Sunday night, the Cardinals not only lost a game, they probably lost the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the postseason as well.

Seattle and Arizona both go into the final week of the regular season with 11-4 records and have clinched postseason berths, but because the Seahawks hold the tiebreaker, the only way the Cardinals can avoid starting the playoffs on the road is to win in San Francisco next Sunday while Seattle loses at home to St. Louis.

That's not a likely scenario.

"Obviously not the outcome we were looking for," Arizona Coach Bruce Arians said after his team's first home loss this season, and most one-sided defeat since 2012.

"We still play next week and we'll find out if we'll be the division champion. If not we'll be a wild-card team and travel East. It's not the end of the world for us. Our goal still hasn't changed."

But while the Cardinals are suddenly scuffling — they haven't scored a touchdown in two weeks, and they allowed Seattle to set a franchise record with 596 yards in total offense — the Seahawks are peaking at just the right time.

"I don't even know where to begin," a giddy Coach Pete Carroll said. "Personally I couldn't have had more fun. I had a blast.

"We're doing things the way we want."

The defending Super Bowl champions have won eight of their last nine, and they've done it in convincing fashion, with their league-leading defense allowing only three touchdowns in the last five games.

Sunday they limited the Cardinals to 29 yards rushing and forced them to punt nine times in 13 possessions. And on offense tight end Luke Willson caught two touchdowns passes (including an 80-yarder), Marshawn Lynch carried the ball 10 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns (including a 79-yarder) and quarterback Russell Wilson threw for a season-high 339 yards and ran for 88, the last a five-yard scoring scramble.

Lynch did all of his work in three quarters, after sitting out the first quarter with what the team said was an upset stomach.

Nothing worked for the Cardinals, who were limited to a pair of Chandler Catanzaro field goals, from 27 yards in the second quarter and 32 yards in the final minute of the third.

Quarterback Ryan Lindley, who was on the San Diego Chargers' practice squad last month, struggled in his first start since 2012, completing 18 of 44 passes for an offense that saw nine drives end in fewer than six plays.

So afterward the talk in the Arizona locker room was about moving on and getting ready for the playoffs, which are now likely to include a lot of unwelcome travel.

"You have to wipe it away. Can't hang our heads," running back Stepfan Taylor said. "We still have football left. That's the best thing about this. We're not out of anything."

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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